"Friend Me" — Bulgarian Style
|Freshly-connected with America, Lyuba Boyanin (left) will now be connecting Americans with her native Bulgaria.|
A decade ago, while filming the "Surprising Bulgaria" show for my TV series, I met Lyuba Boyanin in Sofia. She was assigned to our crew by her country's tourist board. She and I clicked, and I knew we'd someday work together. (But back then, Bulgaria wasn't quite ready for prime time as a tour destination.)
Now, for 2010, we've added Bulgaria to our tour program, with Lyuba as our guide. It'll be our worst seller — and that's fine with me. I love Bulgaria and it will be fun partnering with an enthusiastic local to introduce travelers to this southeast European enigma.
As a follow-up to the annual tour alum reunion and guides summit we had here in January, I got a thank-you letter from Lyuba, written after she returned home from her first visit to the USA. The wide-eyed enthusiasm of her letter (with all its fun little language quirks) charmed me, and reminded me of how rewarding it is to work with travelers on both sides of the Atlantic.
I am finally back to Sofia and do not believe that everything what was happened was real.
Visit to Edmonds change me a lot — now I am feeling as member of great family. Like the World is different now. Like I am not anymore alone but with so many new "relatives" and friends. Thank you very much for your hospitality and friendship. Everything we did in Edmonds was so interesting and important for me, but the warm relationship make me to feel very comfortable and to be proud to be a member of your team. Hope we will have successful many more new trips to Bulgaria in the near future and our Bulgarian crew will be bigger and bigger soon (maybe one day at least as big as the Turks!)
My visit was very fruitful and good for the work. Now I am familiar with American style of life, habits, breakfast, pizza, McDonalds, restaurants, museums, tours... This will make me a better guide.
And I received a lot of help from colleagues from your office and Rick Steves' guides. Looks like the baby (our dream that started so long ago to make tours together) has been really born! Thank you so much making my opportunity to be part of your family real. I have not a patience to start the trips to Bulgaria soon.
It will be great if you come here again to make a new show on Bulgaria and its people. This year in August (6-8) we are going to have big authentic folk festival, which is one of the unique festivals of Europe with over 10 000 participants from villages all around Bulgaria.
When you come to visit here we can do American Eve trying to prepare ribs and other food I have tasted in Edmonds. The Rick Steves Cooking book is still missing.
Have a good and successful day and let's hope this year marks great success for the tours. Think always white not black.
With love and many hugs to you and all the Rick Steves Crew!
Find out more about Rick's Best of Bulgaria in 12 Days tour.