Saturday we went to the Plovdiv International Fair. We had only two hours, so it was just a cursory look at a smattering of exhibitions scattered among 23+ buildings. I’ve been to a few trade shows before, but I’ve never seen such a broadly (un)focused event; there was everything from scientific equipment, heavy machinery, automobiles, manufacturing equipment, and even IT/software stuff (which we never found.) It seemed like each building we entered had at least some building materials and a lathe or CNC on display regardless what the theme of that building was supposed to be. Of course Ryan (an electrical engineer) and I were like kids in a candy store; I’m not sure Julia was as impressed, but it is the biggest trade show in the Balkans!
Above: I had to get a picture of this; isn’t that the cutest little trackhoe you've ever seen? Below is Lada’s version of an SUV; love that Russian styling! ;-)
Later we traveled to Kalofer, a village in the “Valley of the Roses,” where we sampled Rakia and jam made from locally produced rose oil. It feels strange eating or drinking something that smells like perfume. The owner of the guesthouse where we ate and slept had participated in a tourism development program that took her to the US for some educational programs and a study tour of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This US-funded initiative has been very successful for the town; it is own of the nicest I’ve seen so far despite recent flood damage, and it has managed to replace many of the jobs lost when the primary employer (a state-owned munitions plant) closed after ‘the changes’ with tourism-related jobs. BTW, in this town we also saw another instance of still-functioning hydro power (although not electric); I’ve sent pictures to Simon.
Well, Monday is our first day of work; tell you all about it later.