Issue 101

VAGABOND'S 100TH ISSUE PARTY

The party was held at the offices of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which supports our High Beam section. Some of the guests are pictured below.

Maxim Minchev, director general of the Bulgarian Telegraph AgencyMaxim Minchev, director general of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency

 

Belgian Ambassador Anick Van CalsterBelgian Ambassador Anick Van Calster

 

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RAT, A short story

Jacques loved his home town. And why wouldn't he – Paris was the most beautiful city in the world. Everybody loved Paris, people came in throngs. Tourists prowled every nook and cranny. It had long ago become impossible to take a stroll around the Latin Quarter, by the Eiffel Tower, or down the small, picturesque streets of Le Marais. Not to mention Montmartre or the Champs-Élysées.

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TOTI BADZHAKOV

This year's 11th salon will open in the Yambol City Gallery in March, 2015.

Born in 1986 and still looking for his true self, Yambol photographer Toti Badzhakov is young and healthy. Everyone may be young and healthy, but then everyone can fall ill, which is what happened to Toti last year when he had to spend a week laid up in hospital.

There, he found a new subject for his photography, the atmosphere of Bulgarian hospitals outside the capital Sofia – a subject rarely if ever touched upon by Bulgarian photographers.

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GREEK PLEASURES

Forget the summer. The best time to visit Thessaloniki is the cold months, when the Aegean weather is mild and the air is fresh and salty from the sea. A short drive from Sofia, Greece's second city will give you everything you might be missing in Bulgaria at this time of the year: sunshine, fresh fish, and an exciting shopping experience both in the department stores and the open-air market.

The city spreads along the coast of Thermaikos Bay and curls around the feet of the nearby hills, and the best bits to explore are squeezed along the promenade.

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BORDER OF DEATH

Black winter birches cover the steep slope, their naked skeletons creating a colonnade which hides the foot of the hill, so the creek running there is only heard, not seen. White mist rises from the ravine, red leaves cover the ground. All around are more trees, more hills, more mist: this secluded landscape in the Rhodope, beyond the now disused barbed-wire fence which, under Communism, sealed off the border with Greece, stretches to the horizon.

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WHO WAS KOLYU FICHETO?

Bulgaria's traditional architecture of the 18-19th centuries has a charm that few – if any – newer buildings in the country can compete with. Preserved in small towns and villages, it is a harmonious blend of building and landscape, the intelligent use of natural materials and simple layouts which create nice living spaces during both hot Balkan summers and freezing winters. In the minimalist interiors, each detail matters. This architecture, both civic and religious, is aesthetically pleasing and designed to last for centuries.

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CHURCHES OF ARBANASI

Comfortably spread out on a narrow plateau overlooking the dramatic landscape of Veliko Tarnovo, the traditional village of Arbanasi is something of a conundrum. It is an architectural heritage site, yet it is filled with mansions and hotels in dubious "traditional" style, all built in the past 15 years.

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SOFIA SNOWED UNDER

Sofia and snow do not get on well together. Every year, and with each snowfall, the city council is notoriously "taken by surprise," resulting in even some of the main traffic arteries being blocked by snow. Both citizens and business owners are equally unresponsive and only reluctantly – if at all – clear the narrowest possible strip of pavement, leaving the rest under a thick cover of dirty, compacted snow and ice.

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SARAH RILEY

Sarah Riley first joined the British Embassy in Sofia in September 2014 as deputy head of mission. Since January 2015 she has managed the embassy as chargé d'affaires – while trying to take in as much as possible from Bulgaria's culture, sites and entertainment.

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100 VAGABONDS

Vagabondis not a propaganda magazine – despite some local expectations, based on the parochial fear of "not showing our dirty linen to outsiders," that it should be. There is nothing parochial in Vagabond. Starting with its challenging name, this magazine has the self-confidence to show what life in Bulgaria is like through its problems. Instead of pouring out platitudes, it investigates, criticises and is daringly ironic. This is a way of getting to like present-day Bulgaria once you have come to know it from the backside of the compliments and the self-conceit.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

When I saw the French security services' operation in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, I started to think better of the Bulgarian ones.

Valeri Simeonov of the Patriotic Front

There is a slight increase in crime and this is the result of the reforms of the previous government.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov, former interior minister, on the increased number of assassinations during the second GERB government

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