Oh what a beautiful and wonderful day of firsts. Today I awoke to a beautiful morning that was already toasty at 9:00 in the morning. After another buffet breakfast, a group of us wandered into Varna with our wonderful tour guide Deanna. We split into groups of four and stuffed ourselves in tiny yellow taxi cars. That was an experience. In Varna there are speed limits and police, but yet driving rules don't seem to apply. They drive fast and don't tend to yield to pedestrians the same way Americans do, that's for sure. Our driver dropped us off and we met up with the rest of the groups where we headed off for souvenir shopping and other odds and ends.
A group of twenty people will attract attention, especially when that group is American and doesn't speak Bulgarian. Way to blend in...not. It was fun though. Shops here are quaint and small and crammed to the brim with merchandise. You can point and pick and try things on and even barter for your goods, but in the end you can come away with some good stuff. The flea market was a lot of fun. It reminded me of the ones we have at home during county and state fairs . Tables packed with silver jewelry, wooden spoons, wallets, belts, pots, and so much more... There was so much to see and very little time, but I believe we all came away with some good stuff. The Bulgarian people were very friendly too and they all seemed to know a little English which made conversation easier. However my favorite gentleman was this little old guy who had some beautiful handmade mugs and coffee cups. We resorted to sign language and charades, but came to a conclusion that seemed to please both of us.
Rehearsal was incredible today. It consisted of all us Americans and the maestro from the Bulgarian chorus as the director. I have never been in such an intense rehearsal. When you have a conductor give you a direction and then the translator tells you what the conductor said, it can get complicated! It was an eyeopening experience though, having to let ourselves rely strictly on our conductor's movements and decide whether he was asking us to crescendo or decrescendo or if he wanted more legato or whatnot. Tomorrow we might start rehearsing with the orchestra too which will really add to the mix. Anticipation fills the air for all.
After the rehearsal and a slight mix up with directions, so most of us ended up at the church where we listened to a concert by our baritone soloist Doug (I have to look up his last name) from Florida and his wife and friends. It was beautiful. They opened with an organ solo and then Doug and a wonderful soprano named Johanna sang "Pie Jesu." Then Doug's wife played a cello solo. The concert continued with a medley of excerpts from "Porgy and Bess" and "Ach Ich Fuhls." At the end we all got to sing a song that was special to an elderly woman in the audience. The song moved us and certainly her to tears. It was beautiful. All in all it was a busy day and one that wore everyone out I think. Sleep will definitely come fast tonight.