Where to Donate Clothes in Sofia, Bulgaria

donate clothes in Sofia

Decision to Donate Clothes in Sofia
When writing this post, it is in the middle of November, and the weather starts to get a bit more chilly. Yesterday we decided to give away warmer sweaters to a second-hand shop. We considered a charity shop or to give to the homeless person on the streets, but settled for the charity shop. The choice won because we know that someone could choose the clothes by themselves and would like them.

Which Area We Went To
There is a street with several second-hand stores on Alabin Road, near Vitosha Boulevard, and close to Palace of Justice. Since it was so convenient with a couple of stores in the same place, we thought this would be a great place to go.

Second-Hand Stores Don’t Accept Donated Clothes
In Sweden, it’s common to give away clothes to the store, washed and folded, so we assumed it worked the same way here. It turns out it doesn’t, and that’s why we decided to write this post to help others who plan to donate clothes in Sofia.
We went to the street with some warm sweaters to give away and started to enter the stores.

“Is this a second-hand shop?” I asked.

“Yes.” said the shop owner.

“Could we donate some warm clothes here?”, I kindly replied

“No, it’s a second-hand shop!”, the owner responded a bit irritated

“I understand, we want to give you some nice clothes to sell” we tried again.

“No, we only sell second-hand clothes” the owner responded.

The dialogue went on like this, and we couldn’t reach through.
We had similar experiences in several of the stores. We continued to ask if they knew where to donate clothes. Most of them said no, they didn’t know and seemed to not bother about the issue either. In Humana, a worldwide charity shop, they didn’t know what to do, but then gave us an email address to contact someone else and they might know.

Advise to Try and Give to a Homeless Shelter
Some stores later and we got help with translation from one young girl and her mom. They told us that people don’t donate clothes in Sofia and that we could try a homeless shelter instead. It felt a bit weird to have to fight so much to giveaway nice and warm clothes that help keep someone else. Sure, we could go to a homeless shelter also, but we wanted to give away the clothes the same day and without spending half a day or more.

Finally, we found one store that wanted the clothes and was happy to accept them although we had to explain several times what we meant before they understood. So, this approach can work, but it it’s a long process to find the right store.

Where Do the Clothes Come From?
We kept wondering; the stores have lots of clothes, where did they all come from?
Which countries donates most clothes to Bulgaria?

After some research online, I found out that most clothes come from Italy, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Humana, for example, has a sorting center in Slantchevo, 20 km outside of Varna. Some of the clothes they receive are then sold and shipped to countries in Africa.

Proceeder on Donated Clothes from Bulgaria
Red Cross placed several containers for second-hand clothes in Sofia during spring 2016. The garments are first disinfected then sorted and at last enter the stores or go to textile recycling. This procedure might be the answer why they no one is accepting donations.
.

Conclusion, Where to Donate
The best option would be the Red Cross containers, but the problem is, where to find them? I searched a lot online and even emailed them twice for a list of addresses but sadly got no response. If you want to donate clothes in Sofia, the best option would probably be to find someone to give them too or to try how it would work in a homeless shelter. Hopefully, the Red Cross in Sofia will update a list of addresses for their containers soon, so it will be a smoother process to give away clothes.

Photo Cred: Birgitte Tohm

This Is Why We Love Village Hopping

Village hopping near mountain northen India

What Is Village Hopping?

Village hopping is an excellent way to discover small villages and get more insight into local life. You might wonder, what exactly is village hopping? And what are the benefits of trying it out?

Village hopping means to discover villages for a shorter period, from a few hours to a few days. Sometimes it includes visiting several places during one day. It is a way to get a glimpse of local life but also a way to get some adventure.

Being Spontaneous While Doing Village Hopping

True adventure while traveling includes being flexible, spontaneous and let curiosity guide you. When doing so, you will meet interesting people, see new places and create memorable days. Village hopping offers it all, with the unique charm, closeness to nature, and local life. It doesn’t have to be a small village, suburbs or the outskirt of a city can also have a smalltown vibe.

These places can often be found in the more remote end stations on metro lines or buses. It is a refreshing feeling to step out of the bus and having a fixed plan on where to go. A fun and exciting way to explore a new area is to follow your gut feeling or go after visual clues. Some example of visual clues can be a mountain, a walking path or a house that looks interesting. If you spot something you are curious about, let that be your direction. During your way look at things you find interesting, notice small details. In most cases this approach is safe, but be aware of where you are in and the current situation. Not all countries have the same security and if not village hopping is better to avoid.

Interact With Locals and Learn About the Culture

Smiling is a universal language, most people respond and smile back. Being kind can open up for conversations, making new friends and get closer to the culture.

From earlier travels, village hopping has led us to amazing experiences. Some of them are making new friends, sharing a cup of tea and learn about local plants. This lets us see coffee plants, black pepper trees, and pineapple plants in the backyard of new friends.

We have also joined many different local festivals, for example, the women’s day in Laos, when a few local women invited us to join their celebration. It all happened because we got curious, followed the sound of music and then found their place. We didn’t talk much since we didn’t share a common language, but for sure it was fun to dance and laugh together. Meeting people like this helps to stay humble, feeling connected, and increase tolerance. Our cultures and beliefs can be different, but in the end, we all want to be safe, happy and have a good time.

Get Some Perspective by Slowing Down

Village hopping is not only about connecting with people. Sometimes, it can be about getting a bit of perspective, a place to think or connect with nature. Spending time in green areas and slow down helps to bring harmony into life, making it easier to be in the present moment and enjoy life. I like to find a sit under a tree, strolling around or go to a local café and observe daily life.

 

Village Hopping Is for Everyone

This travel approach is for everyone to apply, no matter your age, travel experience or language skills. There are many adventures waiting ahead or you! By being spontaneous, open and trying something new is a great way to invite adventure into your life.

– Nature Is Our Church

Nature is our church, Chris looking out over mountains

 

Importance Of Nature In Our Lives

To compare nature with a holy place like church highlights the importance of nature in our lives. Treating nature as a church is for sure a great idea. Nature brings calm, relief from stress and is a place to get things into perspectives. Science also shown that increased memory, lower blood pressure and improve the mood. Even though this is something we all are aware of we still don’t take enough time in nature. How could we change this? For starters, one way could be to think more about the positive benefit nature gives us. Second we could make sure to make it a prioritiy to find ways to connect with nature. Connecting with nature dosn’t only mean to get out in the forest.

Time In Nature Helps Create Clarity

We all deal with difficulties in different ways. In one episode of the TV show Gilmore Girls, the main characters, Lorelei stands at a crossroad in life. She needs clarity and plans for a long hike inspired from the book Wild. Even though she didn’t end up doing the hike she still got time in nature which was transformative for her. She got insights on how to continue her life and where to go from where she was at the moment. Even though this was a TV show I still thought this was such a beautiful story. Many of us should turn to nature when things are difficult and we need some space.

Reframing The Word Nature To Nature Is Our Church

By reframing the word nature to nature is equals holy place, it helps to show the impact and importance. This reminder encourages us to get out in nature more and focus on taking the time. Nature brings us so much happiness and calm. Small actions, for example, notice to the blue sky or finding a favorite tree to sit under helps to bring that calm. Which small things could you do to connect with nature, starting from today?

 

Small Things Matters

It is easy to cut down on things that seem less important and focus more on things that in the end will give some form of result. Most things are so result driven and we are encouraged to make everything more effective and increase our results. Otherwise, it can be seen as a failure, but does everything has to be count into results?

 It is too easy to compare ourselves with other people who are pros and wonder why to bother at all when not being able to be near their results.

Like drawing or singing that many of us enjoyed as children but then discover that others are much better which leads to quitting even though it was something that made us happy.

Meditation is another a great example for this, we simply need to sit down and relax and not judge the process. We should put in the effort but not rate the session. If we are too caught up in the process of getting results and having a focus to relax it many times have the opposite effect. If we are more understanding and forgiving when thoughts come up, and they do for sure, we can more easily see the thought, let go and continue.

I have many things I enjoy doing but that won’t give any other result then my wellbeing in the long run and to make me feel more satisfied at the end of the day. Seeing it with some perspective, the small things really do matter.

That’s why it is actually great to stick to the small things that we really want to do. For me it is to take the time to plan my day, meditate, taking a morning walk, write a text to process my thoughts which help me grow as a person and practice Chinese. I tried to make it shorter to save time and do things that only focused on the result but in the end, I felt empty and missed the things that brought me joy and being in harmony with my values.

I think which hobby we have is irrelevant as long as it gives value to us and brings us joy and positive feelings. In the end, everything that actually counts is made by many small steps and actions in harmony with our values.

31 Days To Connect With Nature

picture of nature, title, 31 days to connect with nature

 

1. Feel the structure of the trees
Walk to a green area in your neighborhood and find a place with trees. Feel the structure of the trees, leaves and rocks with your hands. Look at the colors and the pattern of the surroundings. Take some deep breath, notice how it feels.

tree in a park

 

2. Look up into the sky
Go outside for 10 minutes, look up in the sky. Focus on the colors. What color can you see? Look deep into the sky and focus on what you can see. Can you see any birds around in the trees, roofs or far away? Can you hear them sing?

sky and a bird


3. Connect though e
xercise
Do some exercises outside such as take a walk, bike ride or a run. Choose an area where it’s less stressful and you can feel relaxed. If you live in the city center it there might be some streets with less traffic and where you  can go-
cycles in the woods

 

4. Write a list of green areas close to where you live
Spend 10 minutes to write down what possibilities you have to connect to nature in everyday life. What green areas do you have close to your home? ( E.g a park, forest, national park, walking path, some green areas in city and so on.)feel a bit more relaxed.
Write down everything you can come up with. Later when you need to calm down you can visit some of these places.

noteblock and pen

 

5. Make sure to get time to visit the the places
Go and visit one of the areas you wrote down yesterday :)!

taking action, jumping

 

6. Bring a book and find a nice spot
Bring a book and walk until you find a bench where you want to sit. Take 15 minutes to just sit down and relax while reading a good book.

a book next to the sea

 

5. Do some cloudspotting
Go outside, take 10 deep breaths. Look at the clouds in the sky. What do they look like? If it’s cloudy you can probably see different shapes in the clouds and come up with what it looks like?
If it’s rainy/ snowing look what it looks like when the water/snow falls on the ground, feel how it feels when it hits you, and smell how it smells like. :)

clouds

 

6. Bring a cup of coffee/tea/ smoothie 
Bring a nice cup of coffee/tea/ smoothie and go for a walk while enjoying the drink, the exercise and the surroundings. Focus on all the green areas, plants, flowers, trees and bushes you see. Do you recognize any of them?

smoothie

 

7. Spot animals outside
Get fascinated of all the animals that you meet outside, look for squirrels, ants, beetles, bumblebees, cats, dogs and so on.
If you like animals and do not have any allergy you can ask a dog owner of it’s OK to pet his/her dog:)

bumblebee

 

8. Pick berries or fruits
Do you have any berry bushes in your areas or any fruit trees? Are there any public ones where you are allowed to pick your own or a place where you can pay and pick your own?
What kind of fruits and berries grows in your area/ country?
Go out for a look and bring a fruit/ smoothie with you to enjoy.

berries

 

9. Listen to  sound of water
Are there any places where you can walk along a beach, river, lake or see some water, perhaps even a water fountain? If so go there and sit for a while. Listen to the sound of the water and if you want feel it with your hands.

small river

 

11. Feed some birds
Bring some bread and go out and feed some birds! Look at the variety of their colors and patterns and how they interact with each other and their surroundings.

a man feeding the birds

 

12. Sit under a tree
Choose a favorite tree and sit under it and close your eyes and take some deep breaths.

book and glases

 

13. Discover the area with your camera
Bring your camera and try to be curious, take pictures of what makes you happy outdoors. Maybe it is a dog, a flower, a nice sky, your walking shoes or a friend you are walking with?
purple flowers and shoes

 

14. Take a longer hike /bicycle trip
Consider taking a longer bicycle trip/ hike. Pack some food and drinks and you are ready to go! Don’t know where? Walk and investigate new places in your city.

autumn in the woods, hiking trail covered in yellow leaves

 

15. Whatch the sunset
Note what time its sunset. Decide to go out/ look through the window at that time to see the sun.

sunset


16. Listen to a audiobook or podcast while enjoying nature

Bring your cell phone and listen to an audiobook, podcast or music while walking / sitting on a bench and enjoying being surrounding by nature. Choose any media that makes you happy. Feel how you connect with nature by simply just getting outside :).

bench


17. Try Geocashing

Have you ever tried Geocaching? If so find what caches that’s close to you. If not, download the app geocaching and get a username. Search in your areas through the app to find new places.
geochashing coin pirate


18. Have a picnic or a BBQ

Bring food for a picnic or BBQ! Choose some of the places you have written down before at day 4.

picnic

 

19. Do some outdoor exercise
Do some kind of exercise you enjoy outside: walking/ running/ orientation/ biking/ canoeing/ skiing and so on.

snow landscape next to sea

 

20. Watch the stars
Wait until its dark and look if you can see any stars or the moon. Are they any? Do you know any star sign? Maybe you want to learn some stars/ signs? Takes some minutes to look at the dark sky and what it might show you.

milkyway

 

21. Go out for a walk in the early morning
Notice, does it feel different? In that case how? Pay attention to how this will affect your day.

sunrise


22. Discover what kind of trees you have in your area

Go out and see what kind of trees you have in your areas. Can you recognize any? If not can you ask someone or Google?


23. Visit a park with a friend

Decide with a friend to visit a park together.

parks with cherryblossom

 

24. Brings some flowers to your home
Consider if you want to have some more flowers in your home. Walk by and visit a flower shop if you want. Or just take care of your flowers at home and give them some water.

simple yellow flowers in a vase

 

25. Do some planning while being outdoors
Find a nice place and do some planning and thinking outdoors instread of doing all planning indoors.

yellow jacket, notebook and pen outdoors

 

26. Go outside for 10 minutes and notice how it affects you
How does it affect your mood and feelings?

holding hands sunset

 

27. Take photos on how you connect with nature during one day
Take photos of everything that relates to that connection, for example: do you eat vegetables, look at the flowers, enjoy the sun?

vegan breakfast

 


28. Pick up trash from the nature

Do something good for nature and pick up three things from the ground and put it in the trash. Notice what a good deed you did! Enjoy a cleaner place to leave behind.

 

29. Give away something to second hand
Do you have something you don’t need any more that someone else might use? Think about how much giving away things for second hand connects you with nature and other people.

 

30. Listen to the birds and focus on your breathing
Notice if you are stressed or not. How does this exercise help you?


31. Choose your favorite activity and do it once again

Congrats your final day!! You have done a lot of things to connect with nature. Since this is your last day of this challenge you are free to choose your favorite exercise and do it again:)!

Perspectives On Japan

20160320_151628Thought to share some perspectives on our notes from Japan and what we reacted to and thought was interesting and something you might be interested to see too. This is a personal reflection so of course it is based on us and doesn’t mean everything is exactly like this but only from out trip. the people we meet and so on:)

The list:

Small size and food
Small sizes- both bars,restaurants, portion size, living areas and even some karaoke bars with up to 5-7 people

People eat less and many plans when and what to eat rather what is good to digest and how it affects the body. The eating to you got 80% full is not that uncommon.

Supercute lunchboxes and really makes an effort in making the food look nice and cute. Seems that Japanese people are good at mindful eating.

Costs and ATM
Transportation and living cost is high! Like most expensive countries, Japan is a country that is better to plan well in advance to get better deals and be able to book the most affordable places when they are still available.

Apartments are very small and costly. Many people commute and some people who work even choose to live in short term places and even stay in net/manga cafes and renting a chair to sleep in. This manga places sell some food and hygiene products and even has showers.

ATM closes early, not to good when needing money (this was in Kyoto)
Borrow glasses at the bank machine. Never seen that before.

The people
The picture I had about Japanese people as hip, modern and cool clothes and very induvial with many more alternatives hobbies is not what we experienced in Japan. Of course, it exists but the picture I mostly got from newspapers, media and so on.
Ore impression during my stay in Japan and meeting Japanese people was rather that most Japanese people are very happy, friendly and quite shy. I think they don’t want to take any attention or make any scene, want’s to fit in and even speaks quietly. And of course everyone is different and we are all individuals.
 
Gender
Women needs to put a bag over their head when trying on a sweater on a fitting room. Yes, this actually happened

We learned that girls and boys are shaped to have a certain role and need since they are small. There are girls day and then girls dress up as a princess or similar and eat cakes with sakura flower taste. Boys celebrate in a totally another way when they are encouraged to be more active and express different ways to have more power and desire, also wearing capes more like superheroes.
Continue reading

How To Behave in Singapore

 

Singapore is known for restrictions and fees on behaviors that are not allowed like jaywalking, bringing a durian (fruit) to hotel or metro, chewing a gum or drinking water in the metro and lots more.
In January 2016 they seem to have a campaign on how to behave on the metro and created cute and funny characters, here are two of them, HushHushHanna and BagDownBenny:)

Singapore standupstacySingapore Bagdownbenny

How To Escape Big Cities And Discover Suburbs

Escape Big Cities - outskirt of Kawachinagano

Escape Big Cities- rice terraces at Kawachinagano

Why Many Ends Up In Bigger Cities

We often end up wanting to escape big cities when things got to hectic and we need some peace. Our travels in Japan has to lead us to some of the major cities that many travelers also ends up in. Travelling between bigger cities are both easier and less expensive. And that’s why this phenomenon happens, ending up in large cities.

Escape big cities and discover suburbs

Time in metropolitan cities, with heavy traffic, crowded spaces, make us crave for calm. We often miss the smalltown charm of simpleness and originality. We found that a great trick while being in a bigger city is to discover suburbs on the outskirt. Suburbs often offers peaceful surroundings, with a slower speed and plenty of nature. One of the best things about suburbs are the surprises and finding some hidden gems.

A day discovering the outskirt of Kawachinagano

Kawachinagano in the end of a metro line in Osaka gave us the most memorable day during our stay in Japan. Arriving and walking around was so exciting, in the air, you could feel like anything could happen. We went to a supermarket and sat and drank some tea with two senior citizens. The atmosphere made us feel welcome and curious at the same time. We had long discussions, even though neither of us understands the other part. It was a mix of Japanese and body language. The ladies spoke in Japanese, but since we didn’t understand, we used body language instead. Even though we didn’t understand so much, we still were a great time and shared lots of smiles and laugher. Some of our favorite gems in Kawachinagano are a 300 years old tree, a traditional sake brewery and a hill with a fantastic view.
 
What’s your favorite part of discovering suburbs?
What surroundings are you longing to explore?

Trying Out The 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit In China

Long Time Since Our Last Visit

It had been two years since I and Chris visited China last time. We needed some space after traveling mostly in China and spend some time in between discovering other countries. Each time I have entered China I have had different emotions and experiences around it. For example, first time was the romance, second time was more of the reality check  and the third time I started to see the bad sides. After that I felt I needed a break and discover other countries for a while.

Problems Faced When Entering China

Now, two years later we thought it was perfect to try the short 72-Hours Transit Visa during our travels in Asia. At first there was  a bit problem to enter the country. Since we had forgotten to print out our next flight we had no prof of transit flight. And we didn’t have it online and couldn’t get any wifi. Anyhow, we were able to solve it with some help. If we hadn’t forgotten to print the ticket it would have worked very smoothly.

Space Helped Us See What We Missed In China

When coming back, Iunderstood how much I had missed some sides of China. There are so many things I like: my friends, the awesome food, and all the contrasts. We ate lots of dinners, stayed with our friends and their family. It was warm feelings coming back seeing all again. During our time we also discovered old areas  that was going to be demolished and could document it. Like always in China we also made sure to get lot´s of time in the parks. The parks are really bursting with life. There are flying kites, people dancing, singing, playing an instrument, painting, drinking tea, playing games and lots more. The garden is like the living room!
I can totally Imagine stop over with the 72 hour visa again. To be be honest, now I really long for a longer period again. It would be amazing to spend some more time in the province Yunnan and a month of two in Shanghai hanging out with friends.

If You In Travel Asia, Don’t Miss China

For us this visa-free stay was perfect and I can Imagine that it will give lots of fantastic experiences for other travelers too.  China has so much to offer, it is worth traveling just for the food itself. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans too. If doing things right, the 72 Hours Transit Visa is really smooth.
Why not make a visit to China on your next trip to Asia?