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  • My friend Jonathan met a wonderful Bulgarian girl who worked in DC at the World Bank, and they chose to hold their wedding in Sofia. Jonathan has many friends, we have always called him ‘the man’s man’, and so he had about a dozen buddies from all over the world converge in Sofia for the weeding. I won the award for traveling the farthest, from San Diego, just beating the guy from Las Vegas. I arrived first, about a week before the wedding, but over the next few days people trickled in from various parts of the globe.

    One of Jonathon’s best friends also happens to be Bulgarian, Ivan, who had gone to college in the US. He was absolutely ecstatic that Jonathan was marrying a Bulgarian, so he put all the guys up in his apartment, and paid for the vast majority of the wedding itself. And over the course of a week, that apartment increasingly became to reek of unwashed men and empty beer bottles. Being the oldest in the group, I claimed elder privilege so I got to sleep on the couch, but there was very little sleeping going on, as most of our time was spent drinking and going to the go-cart race track down the street. Sometime between drinking bouts I bought this snow globe, of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the main church in Sofia and the center of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which by historical happenstance is actually named after a medieval Russian prince.

    The wedding itself was a good example of a middle-class, urban Eastern European wedding. I did not last for three days, with musicians traveling between bride and groom’s homes and everyone from nearby villages showing up, but there was one night of complete gluttony and alcohol abuse. On each table was a collection of alcohol, vodka, whiskey, champagne, Bulgarian plum brandy and whatever else. I chose the Ukrainian Vodka, with an orange Fanta chaser.

    On my way back from Bulgaria I realized that I am too old for week-long drinking binges anymore. Maybe if I still lived in Eastern Europe, but I don’t just sit around a drink bottles of vodka at a sitting anymore. I had a great time, and have many stories, but I don’t see myself returning to that lifestyle anytime soon. On my return flight I had a 22-hour stopover in Amsterdam, and I spent most of it in the bathroom exploding out of every orifice. Ugh.
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