But first, the number of smoke breaks for yesterday's hospital trip – I honestly cannot tell. Dani was in the hospital the entire time and therefore could not/would not smoke. Marty was not in the hospital so he probably had more freedom as to his smoking. However, before we came back, they both had a smoke. I would contend that before I came down, they probably both had a smoke, and I would guess that Marty could have had two smokes while we were in there, so that means that….six could have been reasonable. But in the end I cannot say, so unfortunately, we all lose. Thanks for playing!
OK, so the metro is probably familiar to many folks who live in a big city, but it is a little scary considering that you can’t read the Bulgarian and have a very loose (at best) concept of where everything is. So, with some research and careful planning, I was able to find the route on the metro to go from the closest metro station to the metro station outside of the mall.
Now that’s great….but you have to do it, not just plan it. Ah….that’s the tricky part.
First issue to deal with is that Soshko was not feeling cooperative and to be honest a little on the tired side. The last couple of mornings, he had awoken at 5:00 or so and was not napping or going to bed in a commensurately appropriate hour in the evening. So, feeling a lucky, I strapped the Ergo (our little person carrier) to my back sans Soshko in the hopes that he would prefer to ride on my back rather than walking.
Yeah, that didn’t work out.
Soshko was fantastically rebellious all the way from the hotel to the local metro station. It was to the point that I had said that if he didn’t get better by the metro station, I would abort my end of the deal. So, once I saw that he was still rebelling a little at the station, I decided to go anyway. Way to make a plan and stick with it! You get a golden star by your name!
He would have a grip on the container for about 25 steps before it would start to slip from his hands at which point Soshko would let go of my hand and then readjust the water bottle before moving onward.
Another thing is that Soshko insisted on pillaging Levi’s toy music box again. The Clauses agreed to relinquish the toy in the hopes of a peaceful trip; Levi was doing awesome.
So anyway, here we are where Soshko insists on me holding his wrists while we walk. And most importantly, hold the wrist with the water so that he could operate the toy with his other hand. Every few steps he needed to adjust his water hand and it made walking slow going. Every five minutes or so we had to slow down for tantrum meltdowns. So, I just wanted to let you know what is going on the background as we got through this next part.
The metro station that we were at was one stop away from the main hub, the crossroads of the two lines. Oh yeah, I guess it would be helpful to explain that there are two lines. Oh, you know what, you can see what its like for yourself:
OK, so we started at the Lavov Most station (probably translates to Lions’ Bridge station) and we needed to go to the Opalchenska station. So, the route we needed to take was to go one stop to Serdika and then change lines and go one stop over to Opalchenska.
One difficulty was that the signs for the trains did not show what was the next exit (e.g. Serdika). Rather, they showed two other places that I guess was to show the two extremes. Kind of like if you were in Kansas City and you were at a train station. You wanted to go to Denver and the two trains to choose from were Washington DC or San Francisco. You would choose San Francisco.
Well anyway, we fumbled through it and figured it out. The signs were very easy to follow when it came to switching lines in Serdika. We figured which train to wait for, took it, and arrived at the Opalchenska stop which is approximately one block from the Mall of Sofia.
“Blah blah blah,” a girl said to us. It was in Bulgarian.
“I don’t understand,” one of us responded. I think that it was Josh, but I could be wrong.
“Oh, uhm. Do you know where the mall is?” she asked. Obviously in English since I knew what to write. At this point Soshko collapsed onto the floor into a fit and I couldn’t keep up with what happened next. But I was amused that even the locals had issues trying to find this thing. Eventually we figured out where the mall was.
The mall itself was quite interesting. There were three levels with stores and a couple of lower levels for parking. Overall, it was quite large and quite busy. At least in my neck of the woods, malls tend to be dying out, so this was a pleasant surprise considering that I wanted this to be the stop for our metro mission.
We spent the first 15 minutes or so trying to get a feel for the place. We all agreed that it was much larger than any of the malls that were around us. Soshko had his first ride on an escalator and his first meltdown in the middle of a mall. Once he calmed down a bit, we got him strapped to my back where he went to sleep for about 10-15 minutes.
Even though it was much larger and livelier than other American malls, it also was very much the same as any other mall. There wasn’t anything that set it apart from other malls other than the size.
While Soshko slept, I hit a bookstore and picked up some goodies for the kids. I also picked up, on recommendation from the store clerk, two Bulgarian metal albums. When I read through the lyrics later though, I realized why – again – that I chose to listen to Christian metal. Overall, the sound is enjoyable (for those that like metal) and is well done, but I’m just not a secular metal kind of a guy. These may turn into souvenirs….
Oh well, Soshko woke up just as I was checking out. He was loud.
We then tried some of the Italian gelato, in the hopes that Soshko would enjoy it. He is the first kid that I know of who would turn down ice cream…really! It probably was that the temperature threw him for a loop and that he probably did not get much sweet/cold stuff at the orphanage.
After that we went to the Happy Grill, a chain restaurant in Bulgaria that has pretty nifty menus with pictures of the dishes. I think that the menus also are in Bulgarian and in English. Anyway, Soshko was more than happy to oblige in a sit down at a restaurant because he knew that he was getting food.
Unfortunately for me, I did not have any food for Soshko, so I was hoping that they would have some yogurt or something that he would like to eat at the Happy Grill. I did pack a yogurt (and honey), but when I tried to feed him at the subway in an attempt to diffuse his tantrum, he refused to eat it. Not having any other option to store it, I had to toss it.
Well anyway, just for further background, most of the sauces in Bulgaria are yogurt based. So, in other words, I was pretty certain that they had some yogurt in the kitchen, so I felt pretty comfortable in ordering some yogurt for Soshko. Here comes Ms. Sunshine, our waitress and….
What? No yogurt? No really, I can’t order yogurt? I was in a pickle. Considering that he had been eating bread all along, I reasoned that I might be able to get by feeding him bits and bobs from my plate.
Once everyone’s food arrived, Soshko started to pipe up in anticipation of some nice yummies. I offered him some fries from my plate, and he wouldn’t have anything to do with them. I offered him water and he wouldn’t take it. He was starting to get restless and I started to give up hope.
He started to grab towards the sauce ramekins on Chelsea's and Josh’s plates.
“He can have them.”
Score! I gave him the first forkful and he liked it. Between forkfuls of the sauce I wolfed down my lunch.
After lunch, the Clauses needed to go shoe shopping for Levi so Soshko and I joined along in their hunt for some better fitting kicks. Once found, we headed back to the hotel the same way we came.
One thing that I figured out about the little guy is that his tantrums do not last forever. If I can just stick with him and wait it out, he usually comes around.
Well, off to bed for me!
St. Christopher, Pray for us!