Category: Culture

Cosplay Pictures And Video From Aniventure Comic Con Bulgaria

This past weekend over 10,000 people by my estimates attended Aniventure Comic Con Bulgaria, in the country’s capital city Sofia, including myself. One the best moments for me was meeting The Awkward Yeti cartoonist, Nick Seluk. His personal story of quitting his job and it’s connection to Heart and Brain, Lars, and his other comics was very inspirational. It’s a video I highly recommend you watch, especially if you’re pondering whether or not to follow a dream in your life.

I’ve been to lots of Star Trek conventions but this was my first dedicated comic convention. In terms of cosplay, Comic Con Bulgaria attendees had more elaborate, high-quality, handmade, work in much larger percentages than you see at a Star Trek convention. Cosplay was a big part of the Aniventure Comic Con and I took as many pictures as I could to share with you.

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Since I’m not completely up on anime, I don’t have the descriptions of the costumes above. But, if you recognize any, please let me know in the comments below!

A 15 Year Old Explains How To Get Hamilton Tickets Easily For List Price

This is a guest post by 15 year old writer and #1 Potterhead Brian Selcik, a student at the Metropolitan School of the Arts. Brian has previously been a guest here before, writing how you can plan your very own Harry Potter tour in London. He also works for the Harry Potter Fansite MuggleNet and runs an Etsy shop where you can purchase hand knit goods.

hamilton broadway playbill

Hamilton is a great Broadway show that will live up to your expectations but you have to get your hands on some very elusive tickets first. For most people, finding Hamilton tickets isn’t easy or inexpensive but I was able to get tickets for my family and friends at list price, rather quickly, using a simple trick.

Here’s how I was able to get those most-wanted tickets for Hamilton on Broadway without paying an extra cent and how you can too.

Start Subscribing

I follow Hamilton’s Twitter page where they post a lot of Hamilton related content but also occasionally announce ticket specials. Those specials sell out very quickly so when I was actively looking for Hamilton tickets, I turned on notifications for all of the tweets from the Hamilton Twitter account.

1. To do the same, the first step is to follow @HamiltonMusical on Twitter.

hamilton broadway twitter

2. Now, activate notifications for all the Hamilton tweets so you can react fast when they have a ticket deal. To do so, click on the bell icon (it’s near their profile picture).

twitter notifications bell

3. Don’t forget to select ‘All Tweets‘ under Account Notifications.

twitter account notifications

This past spring I got a notification from Hamilton on my phone saying that a block of tickets would be released in 10 minutes for shows from November to January. I immediately followed the link they posted to their site to confirm what I was seeing – sure enough there were the tickets!

I clicked ‘Book Tickets‘ right away before the ten minutes to find they were already available. It’s important whenever Hamilton release a block of tickets on Twitter to check as soon as they announce it.

I called my travel partner and best friend, and confirmed that we were going to go. We quickly decided on a date and purchased our tickets for the list price ($200 per ticket). This may seem like a lot, but we chose great seats and tickets prices before this were ranging up to $5,000, so we were beyond thrilled.

hamilton play

Other, Less Reliable Options

You can also get email notifications by signing up through HamiltonBroadway.com. There will only be an option to enter your email if there are no tickets available. The email notifications are much slower that Twitter, so chances are you won’t be able to use them to get a ticket deal before they sell out. Liking the Hamilton Facebook page is another option but the least effective one if you are interested in taking advantage of ticket deals.

Hamilton was great, worth every bit the small effort I had to put in to find tickets at normal prices. Seeing Hamilton is a wonderful experience if you are planning a trip to New York City that won’t disappoint! Now you know how to get tickets to the show without having to pay the very high resale prices.

Thank you very much Brian for sharing your Hamilton travel trick with us! You can find Brian working behind the wizarding scenes of MuggleNet on Facebook and help support his next adventure by checking out his Etsy page.

Momo Man At Berlin’s Street Food Fair Will Make You And Your Stomach Very Happy

holy nepal berlin

Beating in the center of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood is a weekly street food festival that brings together artisans cooking up the best non-menu items from all around the world. Reflective of Kreuzberg itself, once the shunned, poor, and mainly foreign part of town, street food is being embraced for many of those now exotic qualities.

Thursday nights from 6pm-10pm within the brick walls of Markthalle Neun (9), chefs from all over the world serve up their favorite street food from back home. And every Thursday night you’ll find a bright-smiled face waiting for you in front of the Holy Everest stall set up near one of the main entrances.

Momo Man

G.B. (Rajesh) Lama wants people to learn about Nepalese cuisine in the best way possible: by tasting it. So often G.B. says, the “Nepalese” food you find at any given restaurant is actually Pakistani. Similar but not the same, G.B. serves vegetarian momos, dal bhat, Himalayan soup, and the desert shi momo. Markthalle 9 is the only place in Berlin, Germany you can find these Nepalese foods, which is why I affectionately call G.B. ‘momo man’.

holy everest momo

What’s In A Momo?

A momo is a type of dumpling that comes in a number of varieties but the ones at Holy Everest are vegan, steamed, and filled with peas, cabbage, spinach, carrots, garlic, (the full ingredient list is posted on the stall) and covered in a seductively spicy red tomato sauce. You add a little chutney on top at your discretion.

Clearly G.B. has a system. He effortlessly moves momos from bottom to the top of a three layered steamer, calmly serving a long line of customers in between. They smile, he smiles.

Street Food Fair Doesn’t Stop There

Thursday nights the street food festival is an eating, drinking, and lounging celebration. Among the vendors you can find Japanese takoyaki being prepared by a young couple from Osaka (where this fried squid ball originated), homemade chocolates, and a wide spread of Turkish meze (appetizers) you’re not likely to find at a restaurant outside of Turkey.

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Stalls run out of food fast and the lines are long, so it’s best to arrive early for the full selection of eats. Arrive close to closing time and you can avoid the bulk of the crowds, but you’ll be limited in the foods you can find. (The beer however, never runs out.) Other days of the week, there are more special events. The first weekend of each month there is a breakfast festival for example; Saturdays are the artisan market.

From Nepal To Nepal

G.B. spent 16 years as a trekking guide in the Nepalese Himalayas, moving to Berlin in 2013 with his family. He’s brought his unquestionably positive pride in his nation to Markthalle 9, where you can find him some other week days as well. (Markthalle 9 is open from 12pm-6pm daily, with some vendors holding variable hours.)

markthalle neun

All of the momos at Holy Everest are homemade, as are the other menu items. A serving of momos goes well with Himalaya soup – an aromatic vegetarian vegetable broth. (Each are 5 euros.)

himalaya soup berlin

Currently, G.B. is planning on opening a true Nepalese restaurant in another part of the city over the summer so he can reach, and teach more palates in Berlin. But you shouldn’t miss a Thursday night at Markthalle 9 for a taste of the worlds best street foods, most easily reached via the Gorlitzer Bahnhof metro stop, a 7 minute walk away. Be sure to visit Holy Everest, say hello to G.B., have some momos, and you too are sure to have a smile.

This Is A Picture Of The Very First Starbucks

very first starbucks

Although I didn’t know it was at the time, this grainy photo of the original Starbucks is one of the worst, but first, from before foXnoMad was even a concept. For some reason taking a picture of every Starbucks I came across (and/or Bill Gates) became a personal photographic scavenger hunt.

Across from the Pike Place Market, I noticed an odd Starbucks, with the wrong logo and colors. Shutter, click, snap. It wasn’t until seeing another picture of it years later did I realize this was the first Starbucks. In terms of multinational coffeehouse sightseeing, I had taken a picture of the Great Pyramids without knowing it.

The first Starbucks opened on March 31, 1971, but didn’t sell coffee to drink, but the beans themselves. Obviously things worked out from there since old or new, there always seems to be a line out the door.

Cuba Is Not What You Think It Is

havana cuba tourists

There’s a romanticism behind most revolutions, particularly those associated with the now iconic images of Che Guevara. In 2015, a record number of tourists (nearly 3.1 million) visited Cuba, sharing stories online of brightly colored buildings with photos of rebellious ladies in their 60s smoking cigars. The allure of a place stuck in time and misconception, is one of the reasons many, including myself, travel to Cuba in the first place.

Lifted Upon Landing

The passport control in Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport is in a poorly lit hall, immediately behind what is a conspicuous search of carry-on bags. (There’s a detailed list of things you can’t bring into Cuba on the immigration form.) But the friendly, if not slightly bored, faces of the passport control officers puts you at ease. Calmly you’ll walk out into the madness that is the arrivals hall, eventually finding the long, confused line to exchange currency. (The much shorter one is upstairs at departures.) Cuba has two types of currency, one for locals the Cuban Peso (CUP), the other, Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) for tourists. The rate is 25 CUP for 1 CUC.

havana square cuba

Cash in hand, you can see the faces of tourists from all parts of the world light up at the sight of the 1950s Chevy’s lined up as taxis, some colorful, others with fading paint. The car’s seats are boldly taped together, the doors missing interiors, but it’s amazing the vehicles are running as well as they do.

Strict Side Market

Surprisingly, Airbnb is an option in Havana, but you’ll have a less expensive stay at a casa particular. Basically, casa particulares are apartment rooms or sections of homes for rent, since law requires the owner stay on the premises. The particular place in Havana I stayed was an entire apartment floor with multiple rooms, spacious enough for 10 people comfortably.

cuba casa particular

A walk around the street below, the first person I meet is a man asking if I can help carry his bag. Travel scam warnings light up in my head but I do anyway, to see where this is going. Apparently, it’s going about 25 meters because he goes left but before he does, gives me a shot of the rum I was carrying. It’s 9:15 am. Cuba is both confusing, yet convincing, that things are certainly not what they seemed to be.

Many other Cubans are curious, striking up conversations, usually ending with some kind of veiled offer to get whatever (the wink, wink kind) you might want. The first thing that comes to mind is a bottle of water.

Stopped In Time

The heart of downtown Havana is either a rustic rebel against all the nation is deprived of or decades old buildings visibly falling apart despite any contrary effort. People in poverty, including plenty of grandmothers posing with cigars, for a price. The smiles quickly vanish after the photo is snapped or you decline a picture in the first place. Seeing those pictures isn’t ever the same afterward.

old havana

Lunch at Variedades Obispo, a local chicken and rice cafeteria hall, becomes a thought provoking internal debate on Cuba’s food rationing system. People are in a long line for eggs – 5 per month is the allowance – probably the reason small shops aren’t common; there aren’t many local shoppers.

Variedades Obispo

Half-century old cars breakdown. A lot. Those polished, bright, shiny ones you often see in pictures are kept in pristine condition and parked right where tourists can hop in, for $20-30 US dollars, depending on your negotiating skills. Most of the others on the road exhale large plumes of dark smoke, but the ride is still fun, because they often have excellent speakers with good music blasting. Making the most out of the situation is what you see much of in Cuba.

No Time To Scratch Your Head

If there ever were a ride that could symbolize what Cuba is or isn’t, it’s definitely the bright red, double-decker, Habana Hop On Hop Off Bus. What’s an ordinary tour wagon in most major cities, in Havana, the bus an entertaining speedy race around corners at speeds with just enough forward momentum to prevent the vehicle from tipping over. (Watch out if you’re on the sidewalk.) Branches hang low – and I’m serious – if you sit on the top floor without paying attention the best case scenario could be a concussion.

cuba taxi chevy

Some stops are typical: squares, and famous sights but many are big hotels. Aside from housing many tourists, these hotels are pretty much the only places (at least in Havana), where you can find an Internet connection. (And bottled water.) Controlled by access cards that cost about $2 USD for an hour of Internet connectivity, which is, surprisingly uncensored. Many Cubans sit outside of the hotels during the cooler evening temperatures, warming the air with the soft blue glow of their mobile phones. An indication, among many things, that even official salaries aren’t official.

At the end of the wild ride you’re once again slowed to a halt with a confusing reality. An empty Plaza de la Revolucion, with Che Guevara’s determined image looking down. You can’t help but wonder, is this Cuba what he and so many other revolutionaries, romantics, envisioned?

plaza de revolucion cuba

As a traveler it’s difficult to make judgements about something as complex as a society in a short visit. What you see are snapshots from a movie that’s been running for decades. Your Cuban story is colored by critic reviews, and following the advice you’re strongly recommended, talking politics might pose significant problems for everyone involved in the conversation. In a place that prides itself in planning, you appreciate how many long-lived people seem to benefit from an effective and efficient healthcare system. Conversely, the obvious poverty makes you wonder where the lines of premeditation were drawn on who and why.

Cuba isn’t what you think it is. Cuba is not what I think it is. There are very experienced journalists with enlightened insights on Cuba. What I know is what I don’t; a lesson Cuba can teach many of us.

These Sniper Bullet Holes Show How Far Sarajevo Has Come From The Bosnian War

sarajevo sniper bullets

Modern Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a small Balkan city sprinkled with cafes full of stylishly dressed young people. Nearly a quarter of the population is under the age of 25, meaning many were born after the 1992-1995 Bosnian War and as a visitor, you’ll have a hard time believing Sarajevo was under siege for nearly 4 years.

A Generation Lost

I speak with ‘Abdulah’, who leads several tours around the city focusing on Sarajevo’s history of conflict. Abdulah was 8 years old when the war began. He works as a tour leader because he doesn’t want anyone to forget or be ignorant about what happened in Sarajevo – the site of the first genocide in Europe since World War II. Also, he sheepishly admits, because he has no formal education. Abdulah’s primary school years were spent helping to smuggle grains into Sarajevo through the Sarajevo Tunnel, a 1,650 foot (500 meter) long underground passage beneath no-man’s land.

sarajevo tunnel museum

You can visit parts of the Sarajevo Tunnel, open as a museum for around $5.50 USD, open most days of the week.

Sarajevo Roses

He tells us Sarajevo has made a lot of progress in healing but if you look close enough, you’ll see scars from of the war throughout the city. As we walk along the Miljacka River, he notes the small potholes in the pavement filled with red resin, marking bomb craters where people were killed during the conflict.

sarajevo red roses

The paint is nearly faded. There used to be many more but as the years have gone on, newly poured asphalt for reconstruction has replaced these reminders of those lost.

Sniper Alley

Across the river’s waters is the bright, awkwardly yellow Olympic Hotel Holiday Sarajevo. Like Sarajevo’s abandoned Olympic bobsled track, the Holiday Inn was originally built for the 1984 games; later becoming a refuge for journalists covering the war. Walking by it, you’re now in what was known as Sniper Alley. The surrounding mountains as well as high-rise buildings made for ideal sniping locations, the result of which was over 1,000 people wounded, more than 200 killed.

sarajevo holiday inn

Crossing the Vrbanja Bridge, Abdulah tells the story locally known as Romeo and Juliet. In May 1993, deals made with the local government were supposed to grant two lovers safe passage out of Sarajevo. On a bright afternoon day, Bosko Brkic and his girlfriend, Admira Ismic, confidently walked across the Vrbanja Bridge. Halfway across, Brkic, a Serbian, was shot and killed by sniper fire. His wounded love, Admira, a Muslim, died by his side. For 8 days, their bodies laid there, both Muslim and Serbian sides not willing to make the dangerous walk to gather the bodies.

Miljacka river

Facing the Vrbanja Bridge is an apartment building, notable for the bullet holes that dot its exterior. This apartment, the very first photo in this post, like many of the other scars of the Bosnian War isn’t a museum piece. Simply, an apartment building where people still live. For some reason it’s the most jarring of all the war reminders. Perhaps because people live there now, it’s easier to imagine ourselves there today.

sarajevo cafes

You may be wondering if Sarajevo is safe to visit though after a short time in one of the best cities in the world to visit, be surprised anyone even asks the question. How fast Sarajevo has changed is remarkable given its recent history but also a powerful reminder of how quickly any peace can be lost.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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