Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bulgarian Oddities

Betsy and I spent quite a bit of time in central Sofia yesterday, exploring the cafe culture, quaint shops, and cobbled streets.  It reminded us very much of Oxford, and served as testament that Bulgaria is definitely more EU than Communist block.  The tall cement buildings still remain from the Soviet era, and there is certainly bureaucracy to compliment them, but overall, we got the sense that a European culture is striving to emerge from Bulgaria's tenuous history.  Which is fitting, since Bulgaria has very much been at the crossroads of competing empires for much of its life.  Alternately flashing it Ottoman, Greek, and Russian heritage, its culture now also seems to be moving west.  It is an exciting time to be here.  
With that in mind, above are a few pictures that capture Bulgaria's dual (or tri, or quad) nature.  The first is a classic juxtaposition of old and new.  If you look closely at the second picture, you'll see that the shop window is actually on the ground, and the sales clerk is peering up at his companions.  The third picture is a police box, common at major intersections.  Not sure why they're there.  I then purchased some grilled corn from a street vendor, but was able to resist the pizza with corn, ham, and ketchup.  I suspect, however, that it's only a matter of time before I develop a liking for it.  
Betsy and I discovered a great sight-seeing loop yesterday, taking in many of the major attractions and passing by some mouth-watering restaurants.  So if you have a hankering for Sofia, let us know.  We'll take care of you...

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