Бузлуджа (Buzludzha)

If you’ve ever read an article listing strange abandoned places, you’ve probably seen this one. A massive building on top of a peak in the Bulgarian mountains, this place used to be a tribute to the Communist Party until the regime fell. It was supposed to impress everyone going there and show how strong the party was (like everything else they build). And to this day, when you are driving towards this place you see it from kilometres away and you think this thing must be huge. And it is. It’s also falling apart.

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King Samuel of Bulgaria

It’s been some years since I’ve studied Bulgarian history in school and even there, it was never a particularly favorite subject of mine. But still, there are some stories that one remembers long after the school test has passed. One such story is the one of the Bulgarian king Samuel. He ruled right before the time that shit hit the fan with Byzantium and we disappeared from the map for 300 years. Anyway, he was a mighty king who fought a lot of wars until he sent his army to fight the Byzantines in 1014. They lost and 14 000 soldiers were captured. The Byzantines proceeded to blind all of them (by bringing burning hot swords to their eyes). They left 1 out of a 100 soldiers with 1 eye, so that they could lead the army back to the king. When the blinded army returned to Bulgaria the king saw them and suffered a heart attack. He died shortly after and I have been traumatized ever since I learned about this in school.

There is a statue of king Samuel in the center of Sofia, which is relatively new. A lot of people made fun of it when it was first revealed because its eyes glow in the dark. I haven’t seen it in the dark yet, but his eyes do look very intense during the daylight too.
At least he has eyes… unlike his soldiers. Might as well show them off.
Ha-ha.
Too soon?
Come on, it was literally a thousand years ago.

Шипка

Shipka is a historical site in the Bulgarian Balkan mountains. It is where Bulgarians and Russians fought against the Ottomans in 1878. It is arguably where the war was won. Now there is a big monument to commemorate the battle. I finally visited it last year as a part of an epic road trip through central Bulgaria. And I had to climb many, many stairs to get to it.

New Year’s Eve in Sofia

I spent this New Year’s Eve in Sofia, my home town. My boyfriend and I went to a friend of a friend’s apartment on the 20th floor of a typical socialist looking building. The view was amazing – we saw half the city. We weren’t facing the centre, so at midnight when everything exploded with fireworks, it wasn’t an official show or anything like that. It was just a lot of people, who bought a lot of fireworks, celebrating the beginning of the new year.

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And yet, New Year’s always makes me sad. It’s hope and desperation all at once. It’s a moment when the passage of time is celebrated, because it brings us away from the bad things that happened in the past and forward, towards a hypothetically better future. And maybe it will be better for some of us. Maybe it will be worse.But I can’t think about the passage of time without feeling powerless and … temporary…

So hey, happy new year to everybody!

A beach library in Bulgaria

Aimlessly scrolling down my facebook newsfeed I stumbled upon an article about the Albena beach library and I thought wait…this is in Bulgaria? And it turns out that yes, it fucking is! A German architect had the wonderful idea of making a library on the sea side of my home country. There are around 2500 books in a number of different languages and they are all completely free to borrow.  Continue reading “A beach library in Bulgaria”