Issue 61-62

In Europe with European thinking

IN EUROPE WITH EUROPEAN THINKING

Many years ago, in the salad days of Bulgaria's English Magazine, we brought out a portfolio of at times exuberantly preposterous signs thought up by Communist Party apparatchiks and manufactured by state-employed artisans. Bulgaria's rulers from 1944 to 1989 surmised that they needed to inform citizens what to do in public toilets, in parks, in their gardens and on the staircases leading to their prefabricated blocks of flats. The deeper purpose was to show the Party's omniscience in all areas of life, as well as its Catch-22 type of vigilance in case anyone strayed.

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 14:57
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DZHABA

I'm almost finished delivering Literary Newspaper. After stopping off at the Youth Theater, I take a detour through the Ladies' Market, it's dusk, all sorts of shady characters are coming out, hawking stuff on tarps, you can even buy yourself a Latin American dictionary for five bucks. I stroll through the darkening market, the vendors are packing up their stalls, others are letting down the shutters, I spot a little fish stand and head over to it.

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 16:38
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Ancient geographers believed that this rocky islet is the only remain of the European part of the Symplegades

AT THE CONTINENT'S END

Cosmopolitan Istanbul has straddled the Bosporus in a way that has rendered the city and the strait synonymous. But alongside the passage of water between the Black and the Marmara seas an explorer can find some utterly un-Istanbul-like highlights, which differ immensely from a standard sightseeing tour of the strait.

One of them is Rumeli Feneri.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 16:46
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castle sozopol.jpg

ONLY IN BULGARIA

If you have already been to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and seen modern Bulgarian "architecture" of the Micky Mouse theme-park style, with its pseudo-Gothic Towers, pseudo-Baroque yet shoddy opulence and its pseudo-Las Vegas water fountains and casinos, you might easily overlook it. But the initiated, when passing by Sozopol (itself now replete with brand-new "ancient" fortification walls), will not fail to notice what at first glance appears to be a late-Medieval folly, incongruously perched amid the scorched undergrowth near Ravadinovo.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 16:16
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Samuel "Sancho" Finzi

SAMUEL FINTZI

On the eve of the millennium a snowstorm forces a German flying to Istanbul to stop in Sofia. Wishing to reach the Bosporus as quickly as possible, he decides to take the train instead. It is only a matter of time before he falls into the surreal Bulgarian reality, and becomes a part of it himself.

Blueberry Hill (2002) is a film by Aleksandar Morfov, an emblematic Bulgarian theatre director who mostly lives and works abroad. So is Blueberry Hill's star. Samuel "Sancho" Finzi has been living in Berlin, where he went to study acting, since 1989.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 15:03
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Todor Zhivkov monument, Pravets

SHAME!

Imagine erecting a statue of Erich Honecker somewhere near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Or setting up a pageant to celebrate Gustav Husak in the Czech Republic. Or holding a mass rally to mark the anniversary of Enver Hoxha in Albania. Or hanging a Communist-era banner from the balcony where Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu gave his last speech before he fled in a helicopter from the roof.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 14:44
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gypsies bulgaria 2.jpg

GYPSY PUZZLE

Marching youths are chanting racist slogans while edgy riot police with Darth Vader-like helmets block the streets. Armed with spades, poles and other makeshift means of self-protection, worried residents of Gypsy areas are on the alert, anticipating attacks on their property.

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 14:49
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Valchanov Bridge still (dis)connects Bulgaria and Turkey

OTTOMAN BULGARIA

East of Malko Tarnovo, in the outermost reaches of Bulgaria, a bridge spans the Rezovska River. Once it had three high, beautifully crafted stone arches, but now only one remains – that on the Turkish bank. The thick Strandzha forest surrounding it is quiet, inhabited only by deer, wild boar and hornets. You can only find the dirt road leading to the bridge with a local guide, preferably driving a 4WD.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:30
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HOW CORRECT?

Theoretically, data produced by an EU government, with the possible exception of Greece, should be trusted. At the same time, the Bulgarians have this joke about the three levels of lies. There is a small lie, there is a big lie, and then there is statistics...

So, how correct is the data produced by the 2011 census?

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 14:31
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FREE AND FEAR?

At first, Bulgaria ticks all the boxes of an European democracy. For the past 22 years it has had a multiparty system, church and state are theoretically independent of each other, and all citizens who own passports have the right to travel (if they've paid their taxes). Human rights are generally not an issue, the media is free and varied and all eligible citizens have the right to vote.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 14:21
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THE HOUSE ON SALT HAY ROAD

A recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, as well as residencies at Yaddo and the Hermitage. She lives in Massachusetts with her two children and is currently at work on her second novel.

They stepped out of the door and the wind howled around them with a sound like that of a train going past. Off the porch, to the west, the surf ran in a wide torrent, awash with wreckage from the houses on the dunes.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 16:28
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Trapezitsa Hill

BULGARIA'S NEW RUINS

Extensive and menacing, perched high above a particularly steep meander of the River Yantra, Tsarevets Fortress is one of the most recognisable sights in Bulgaria, a must for every tourist to Veliko Tarnovo. That town used to be the capital of Bulgaria from the 12th to the14th centuries, and today has one of the few medieval fortresses in the country. Tsarevets's precipitous walls are the stage for lavish open-air opera performances as well as a 1980s Sound & Light show.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 16:05
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Hisar Kapiya is the most spectacular part of Plovdiv medieval fortress walls still preserved

PLOVDIV PLEASURES

The gentle sun caresses the skin, its beams turning the foliage on the trees into explosions of red, yellow and orange, and the multicoloured Revival Period houses in the city's old quarter look so cheerful that you forget about the cobblestones that are so difficult to walk on. Plovdiv is beautiful 365 days a year, but in autumn it becomes a true pleasure that you would be silly to deny yourself. The mellow autumn weather and the relatively few tourist are only a fraction of the reasons for thinking about an autumn trip to Bulgaria's second-largest city.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:56
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The Timok

ALL QUIET ON THE TIMOK

Knee-deep in the water, the fisherman casts his line. He pays no attention either to the small sheep outlined on the opposite bank or to their shepherd's distant shouts. The two men can see each other quite clearly but do nothing to acknowledge it. They act as if they were on different planets.

And in a way they are. The fisherman is wading in Serbian waters, the shepherd and his flock are in Romania, and we are observing the scene from Bulgaria. We are all divided by the Danube and its tributary, the Timok.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:51
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Grows, but doesn't?

THE MOTTO OF THE CAPITAL SOFIA IS "GROWS BUT DOESN'T...

1. The shooting of The Expendables 2, a sequel to the critically acclaimed movie of 2010, brought to Bulgaria...

A. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger

B. Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci

C. Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton

 

2. Which Bulgarian ruler made a golden cup of a defeated enemy's severed head?

A. King Simeon the Great

B. King Kaloyan

C. Khan Krum

 

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:13
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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

Horrible! Nobody has been brave enough to tell that woman how to dress. She has all the village rugs's colours on her.

Celebrity coiffeur Stylist Kapanov on the personal style of Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva

I warned you explicitly that nothing will happen if you don't irritate me. If you do, however, we shall sign up just to spite you.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to protesters against shale gas deposits research

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 14:13
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boyko borisov painter.jpg

AM I A PAINTER?

The proposal, approved by the management of the Union of Artists, was motivated by the prime minister's decisive role in securing the building at 6 Shipka Street in Sofia for the use by said union for exhibitions and offices. For years, the ownership of the building had been legally disputed by the University of Sofia, situated across the street.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 14:04
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