Day 16: Saturday, 29 April 2023 – Sofia, Bulgaria (42.6966° N, 23.3354° E)

How will they get from Sofia to Zagreb, in four days? Good question…

The last few days have a blur of goodbye hugs, fist bump hellos, espressos, cocktails & laughs. Novel sites, sights, sounds, tastes & taxis with varying themes of The Rip-Off. Not to mention religiosity & art galleries. Four countries in three days. Georgia, Israel, Palestine & Bulgaria. And today, it was condensed into one…three countries in one day: breakfast with Teams in Sofia—learning the intricacies of using Chatbot GPT to game our Balkan leg(?!), lunch with my wonderful, bright daughter in Zurich, and dinner in Ljubljana. Perhaps it’s a good omen too, as my adopted hockey team the LA Kings play the Edmonton Oilers tonight in an NHL playoff elimination game– and the spectacularly underrated veteran Kings captain, Anže Kopitar, hails from Slovenia. I am sure the whole country will be watching, albeit at 5AM! Anyways, my kinda day…

And with sincere apologizes to Father John Misty’s “Mr. Tillman” here’s how I feel…
“One, two
Mr. Chalmers, welcome to Samarkand
It’s sure good to see you again

There’s a few outstanding charges just before we check you in
Let’s see here, you left one of your passports in the mini fridge
And the FedEx left with the desk from Seoul has security concerns
And oh, just a reminder about our hotel policy
Please don’t leave your mattress in the rain if you sleep on the balcony
Okay, did you and your guests have a pleasant stay?
What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face
And whata striking figure your group kinda all makes

And oh, will you need a driver out to Palestine
Your daughter just arrived and drinking buddy’s somewhere around as well
But he seemed a little worried about you…

I’m feeling good

Damn, I’m feeling so fine
I’m living on a cloud above an island in my mind
The Swiss attendant says I’m in the wrong seat

Oh baby, don’t be alarmed this is just my vibe
No need to walk around in shame

Mr. Chalmers, for the seventh time
We have no knowledge of a film being shot outside
Those aren’t extras in a movie, they’re locals on the way to work
And our clientele as well
Your life may seem a movie but this is real life
No, they aren’t running lines and they aren’t exactly thrilled
And those extra charges…who shall we bill
Is it corporate or personal, and where is your wife

Would you like a regalo on the patio?
Is there someone we can call?
Perhaps you shouldn’t drink alone…

I’m feeling good
Damn, I’m feeling so fine
I’m living on a cloud above an island in my mind
The Swiss attendant says I’m in the wrong seat

Oh baby, don’t be alarmed this is just my vibe
No need to walk around in shame
No, it’s not too bad a crime”

…but sometimes, perhaps the lingering effects of all that youthfully ingrained Catholic guilt, I feel that traveling the world, as I do, might be a crime…but, not too bad a crime. 😜 At any rate I am grateful & don’t miss a chance to enjoy it. Life should be fragrant, from the rooftop to the basement. I always feel this way—expansive, exuberant, and even a little bit lighter—on the Euro leg of this travel adventure. Whistling & happy go luck. Why? Because I get a rest for four full days. A rest from herding cats, being responsible & answering inquiring questions 24/7. Teams are all traveling independently & I am free…for a few days, anyway, until we all meet up again for the final two legs of the 2023 Global Scavenger Hunt.

As for the Teams? Well, I dunno? I assume they have figured out their grand land strategies as to how to get from here to there by now. Some have caught buses south to Belgrade, some trains to Macedonia, some have rented cars heading to Albania no doubt. Some even checked out last night before enjoying the joys of the Hyatt Sofia. Others, I saw scurrying out this morning. But frankly, I don’t know where they are. But I do know I will see them all Tuesday night in Zagreb.

Some interesting things to see and do here in Bulgaria…

Mom’s on the Run in Sofia…
Lawyers w/o Borders with Order & Chaos…

Anyway, back to the Teams Point A to Point B predicament…perhaps the southern strategy may be better? I dunno…

Maybe…maybe not?

So, at the beginning of this event, we give our participants a brief Pre-Event Global Literacy Test, here are the first three questions, let’s see how well you do. Remember an uniformed chimp can score 33% on this test.

We know that you travel a lot; you know the world. Please answer these factual questions as best you can.

1. In “low-income countries” in the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A) 20 Percent
B) 40 Percent
C) 60 Percent

2. Where does the majority of the world’s population live?A) Low-income countries (annual per capita income < $1,100 per year)
B) Middle-income countries (annual per capita income between $1,100-$13,500 per year)
C) High-income countries (annual per capita income > $13,500 per year)

3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in “extreme poverty” (<$2.15 a day) has…
A) Almost doubled
B) Remained more or less the same
C) Almost halved

4. What is the life expectancy of the world today?
A) 53 years
B) 63 years
C) 73 years

Perfect…did you know that today is Global Pay It Forward Day? Karma…
We did! So what a great time to pay it forward & give a little. And remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World’s Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship… it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event’s 16th edition, we aim to fund two schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the 2023 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all because we know that every little bit helps a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat, and on 5 May, we will select a winner for a fun special prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!
Pre-Event Global Literacy Test answers:
1. C) 65.4% completed primary school in 2018. Just 20% did back in 1972. (Only, 1 of our 23 travelers correctly answered this question. Did you? Honestly.)

2. B) 74% live in middle-income, 17% high-income, & 10% low-income countries. (Only 4 of our 23 travelers correctly answered this question. Did you?)

3. C) More than halved, ($2.15 a day) gone from  about 30% to less than 10% BUT Covid pandemic has had a huge impact and the number post-Covid are not out yet! (Again, only 5 of 23 travelers correctly answered this.)

4. C) 73.2 in 2021, up from 64 in 1990, and 49 years in 1958 when I was born. (BTW: In the USA it is 76 years, while Japan & Italy it is 85 & Spain & Australia is 84…US is ranked 46th and falling!) (And only 4 answered that one correct.)

How’d you do? Let’s do four more tomorrow…go read about the world elsewhere…

The reason we get these questions so wrong is perhaps specific ignorance. But it maybe a result of more than a little misinformation too?

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One Response

  1. I appreciate your website, however I think you might check the spelling of a few of your postings. Even though I find it quite difficult to tell the truth because so many of them have spelling errors, I will most certainly return.

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