March 2013 archive

TA DA!! Our new place. Shopping for a new home. Part 2 (scroll down for Part 1).

It was meant as a joke, Matt asks our friendly realtor Ivan if there are any cool spaces with stairs. “Stairs! I’ve always wanted a place with stairs, I think it’s so cool, only fancy people have loft spaces!” Matt exclaims excitedly. Ivan gladly shows us a top floor studio loft down the street from a small place we were viewing, “Looking is free, no problem”.

From the moment we pulled up to the cheerfully bright orange building we knew we were in trouble. A secure paved park lot in plain view from the suite, a nice swimming pool, 6th floor, South- West facing, floor to ceiling windows, a nice bathroom with a tub and heated floors and of course, STAIRS! Well, that was it, we’re in love. That night Ivan work his magic and by the next day the loft would be ours if we were willing to pay a premium.

Imagine buying a condo in Canada right now, think of the price difference between a first floor 300 square foot studio with an ugly bathroom, buckling laminate floors and a hotel style kitchenette compared to a brand new, move-in ready, sunny top floor loft with a deck and a bathroom no different than one  in a brand new downtown Vancouver condo. Astronomical difference I’m sure. Not in Bulgaria! I won’t get into too many details but the price difference was less than %25.

We couldn’t be happier, our new loft space is amazing. We’ve been hard at work making the place our own, painting, furnishing and replacing a few things here and there, things are really coming together. Surprisingly Matt and I are on the same wave length when it comes to the decorating, NYC industrial loft meets contemporary beach house. The paint is matched with the blue water of the Black Sea, the furniture is very unconventional yet functional (every centimeter counts in a small space), my kitchen is fully equipped and Matt has the house wired up to the nines with computers, 46 inch TV, tablets, Apple TV and countless other gadgets. 

Here are the “before” pictures, the “afters” will be coming shortly, we might even make a small video to walk you through.

This gives you a good view of our space, the stairs have no landing at the bottom and the kitchen is in a different direction but you get the idea.

 

Having a bathtub in Bulgaria is like winning the lottery, nobody has them. We only discovered the heated floors after we moved in, it’s like a foot spa every time you walk on them, especially in the middle of the night when it’s cold.

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How the heck can I cook in this tiny kitchen!?! I came up with some great ideas, I’m really excited to show you the final product.

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Shopping for a new home. Part 1

By the time we celebrated our 10th month of living in the van we knew that the trip needed to come to a pause, work needs to be done, showers need to be taken and the desire for a somewhat stable routine finally kicked in. Little to worry my travel blog followers, the van will never be sold and we already have a few routes mapped out for our next trips. I know that even if we stay put for a little while the nomad lifestyle has etched something deep within us and we will never truly feel attached to one place for too long.

Decision making time. Last November Matt and I discovered the municipality of Burgas in Bulgaria and completely fell in love with the place; Sunny Beach, the resort town with a wealth of entertainment possibilities in the summer months, Nessebar, the lovely ancient town on an island and Burgas, a cosmopolitan city with so much to offer. When it came time to agree on where we wanted to lay our roots Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast was a no brainer. No time was wasted, the second we parked the van in Nessebar we set out to talk to some real estate agents. We had 3 different companies showing us on average 4 condos a day for 3 days plus one other guy sending us leads via email. Go big or go home right?

This is the first studio we saw and really liked, it’s bright and large with  a very spacious balcony but the bathroom, kitchen and floors need to be replaced. Matt especially loved the building because it has a huge pool with a swim-up bar.       

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Floor to ceiling windows and an interesting space for the kitchen.

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Contender number 2 is a new construction a little bit off the main strip. We considered this place because we could finish it ourselves, the kitchen area is massive, floor to ceiling windows and it’s a walk-up on the first floor with a spot for a mini garden.

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The downsides of new construction are; you have to live in a construction zone for a few months, plus you have no idea what will happen with all the construction around you, will they ever  build a road?

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Most of the other viewings were uninspiring, ranging from communist era looking buildings to tiny hotel rooms with no kitchens, all with an average square footage of 320 sq/ft!

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Spring Rolls.

I love making spring rolls because they’re so easy to make and great for a light meal.

The dipping sauce:

2 teaspoons of sweet chili sauce with equal parts rice vinegar and water.

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The trick to handle the rice paper without it falling apart is to dip them in warm / room temperature water, if your water is too hot the paper will crack leaving you with a sad mess. 

Avocado, smoked salmon, purple cabbage, cucumber, yellow and red peppers, shrimp, basil, caviar and bean sprouts. Pick and choose what you want then roll it up in a sheet of rice paper (be careful to not over stuff your rolls, the paper might crack).

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Ryan in Bulgaria.

Matt’s buddy from Halifax came to visit us for a week as part of his 3 week European tour, unfortunately he arrived exactly at the same time as we were buying the condo which took up most of our time. Ryan was a great sport and helped us out with everything, he truly is a great friend.

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Tomato and guacamole appetizers.

Cut open little cherry tomatoes and gently empty the inners with a small spoon.

With a fork, mash one avocado then mix in 1/4 of a red onion that’s been finely chopped, salt, pepper, a touch of cumin and nutmeg and a splash of lemon.

Fill the cheery tomatoes with the guacamole using a small spoon and garnish with an arugula leaf.

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Penne with tomato sauce.

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