I spent Christmas in Kaspichan with Iliyan's family. It was so great to see everyone again. They're a big happy group that argue a lot and have sincere interest in whatever I'm trying to say. It's a great thing to be listened to. It's also a great thing to talk - and I'm good at it! In between my explanations of Obama's low approval ratings and questions about the effect of the crisis in Greece on Bulgaria, they took lots of liberties to ask me questions. In different settings, I kept getting asked why I was still single. I told them it was because half the women in Portland aren't interested in men, and it really limits my ability to meet anyone compatible. I'm really holding out for a woman that's looking for a man. This man:
The main event for the Christmas holiday is, in fact, Christmas Eve. After the pig's been mostly processed, everyone gathers around the table for a feast. A giant feast! We ate and drank till it hurt! It was glorious! Then it was time for Santa to visit. Iliyan played the role of "Grandfather Christmas" this year and handed out presents to everyone. He was so drunk, though, that he was being ridiculous and everyone was laughing hysterically! I swore his mom was gonna have a heart attack!
I was home for a few days after Christmas, before I was to head off to the UK for NYE. My apartment is a bit of a conundrum. It's brand new, made of all the finest plastic from China, yet there seem to be so many issues! For example, every time someone uses the elevator, the entire building loses electricity. I've kinda dealt with that, but on one specific night, the power would go out every 10 minutes or so. I was trying to download The Daily Show so it was really inconvenient. Finally, some guy came knocking on my door to tell me the power was going out. Thanks. I asked him why, in a new building, are there so many problems with the electricity? He explained to me that too many people are using electricity so I should turn some things off... I asked the same questions again and his response then was that the building was not permitted for inhabitants yet so the only electricity coming to the building was meant for the completion of construction. Great. I'm squatting. I asked when the building would be finished and he said, "Next year." Ah, Bulgaria.
With that, I packed my bags and headed to London! NYE was simply amazing! I met Tim Wade, my partner from Supercross08, and his wife, cousin, and sister in-law in London. We rented a giant mini-van that had nothing mini about it and road tripped our brains out to an unknown town in Northern England. The next day, we headed for good old Edinburgh - home of Hogmanay, an old Scottish word symbolizing the Viking gifts of fire, drinking, and explosions! This year, Hogmanay was only 3 days of events and celebrations, which were kicked off by a torch light procession that began in Parliament Square and wound through the old cute streets of Edinburgh to a place called Calton Hill. It was incredible to be in a march of torches, and looking out over the dark city seeing torches for miles! Very cool! To end of the procession, on Calton Hill, there was a giant firework show set to music and then a giant bonfire! It was sooo cool! And I was all kinds of giddy!
After some rest, it was time for the main event! New Year's Eve! My favorite holiday in the world! Oh man, I dyed my manly mustache blue and added white hash marks to symbolize the Scottish flag. People loved it!!! Some gals pulled on it a couple times, which didn't make me too happy, but they needed to see if it was real. We started out at our favorite little pub and then hit the streets.
Tim had his flask of fancy pants Scottish whiskey, but I'm not so excited about whiskey so I made myself a super dirty gin martini - the kind that really gets ya dancing! It got really warm in my jacket so it didn't taste very good at all by the time we made it down to the street party, but it sure did make me dance!
I danced my brains out! Pretty much all night - and I'm pretty sure I was amazing - I'm a great dancer! When it came time for the 10-count, I realized the effect of my dirty gin... I missed the first seven numbers, but managed to get in on the last three! And then there were fireworks! Huge, awesome, sky-covering fireworks! It was absolutely incredible! Five minutes after they stopped, the skies opened up and unleashed the most intense rain and wind ever! At this point, though, I couldn't really see so it didn't bother me, but everyone else wanted to go back to the pub. Tim put on his mad Scottish accent during our walk back (he was helping me walk) and mocked the weather, tempting a "real" storm! I could not stop laughing. My gut hurt more than ever before - I think my abs are getting really strong or something.
On the first day of 2012, we took the traditional hike up to King Arthur's Seat. It was dry, but no less windy - and very cold! Stayed long enough for a picture and then called it a day.
It was a super, super great NYE! Everything was perfect! Took a long road trip back to London via small country roads and then went out for Mexican! Mmmm! Here are more Hogmanay photos if you're dying to see!