17 de mayo de 2011

Shipka and Veliko Tarnovo. Day 78

Day 78:
Temple of the Birth of Christ.Shipka
Destination: Veliko Tarnovo. Shining day. Although we had met at 7:45, we finally got moving at 9:15 (Spanish punctuality). The team was quite promising: The newcomers (Charli, Luisma and Saul), The “malagueños” (Adri and Josemi), Monroy, Pacas and me. We drove heading East, with only one stop for a coffee in a isolated place. Stara Planina mountains were at our left side all along the way. Almost in Kazanlak, we took the deviation to Shipka, a historic place surrounded by mountains. There are a wonderful church there, vividly colored and quite beautiful. We found a little restaurant in the village in which we had a nice homemade lunch, accompanied by the first beers of the day.

But before leaving the place, we were REALLY intrigued about a strange construction in the top of a nearby mountain.

-What’s that???

Sofia-Veliko via Shipka Pass
-“An artificial viewpoint!”, said someone.

-“No, a watchtower”, said other.

-“No, no, no, it must be a meteorological station!”, replied another one.

-“An UFO??, Superman?? … What the fuck?"

Ceiling: Hammer and sickle
Definitely, we had to investigate that. It was so strange, and we would have awesome views from there! But we asked some villager how to get there, and nobody knew exactly (or at least they said that). Finally we *the road back, and took a deviation which headed to the mountain. We found a hard slope upwards, and after a few kilometers, the reward! We reached the Buzludzha monument, which has a really interesting background, explained in Nikola Mihov’s webpage: “The House of the Bulgarian Communist Party is the largest monument in Bulgaria. It is located on mount Buzludzha (1441 m) in the Balkan Mountain. It was erected for the 90th anniversary of the Buzludzha congress, where the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Workers' Party, the predecessor of the Bulgarian Communist Party, was founded. It took military construction units almost seven years to complete the monument. Altogether more than 6000 workers and experts took part in the construction work. More than 20 leading Bulgarian artists, worked for 18 months in order to complete the interior decoration. Verses of “The International” and “The Worker’s March” were inscribed on the entrance of of the meorial. The interior used to be partly covered in marble. The staircases were decorated with red cathedral glass. In the 15 meter-high main hall of the memorial a 500 sq.m. fresco present portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov. The dome of the structure was covered with thirty tones of cooper. Two 12m stars of ruby glass was built-in on the top of the 70m high pylon of the monument that symbolizes a waving communist flag. Buzludzha stars were made in the Soviet union, and they were three times bigger than those in Kremlin. On 10th of November 1989 Zhivkov stepped down after 35 years in power. Immediately afterwards, Politburo ordered the removal of his portrait from the memorial. In 1991 the monument, which still belonged to the ex-communist party, was ceded to the state and was abandoned, looted and left to self-destruction.”

Inside the Buzludzha monument.  Completely abandoned.

Pacas & Charli (Navy Seals)
We were there for a couple of hours, absolutely amazed by our lucky discovery. The most exciting moment came when we found a hole in the main building and we entered inside. Wow!!! It was like travelling 50 years back to the past, but with a sense of mystery and destruction really intriguing. The building was absolutely abandoned and you could enter everywhere (on your own risk). There were stairs going down to the building basement, but they were absolutely dark and we hadn’t torch to light it. Anyway, it would have been so scary!!

Once we had visited all the sinister “UFO”, we took the road and continued to the North, across Shipka pass (1.200 m). There, in the top of another hill, it’s erected The Shipka Memorial, which remember those who died for the Liberation of Bulgaria during the Battles of Shipka Pass in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. More stops in a small ethnographic village called Etara, and in Sokolsky Monastery.

Adri and The Shipka Memorial
Well done folks!!
We finally arrived Veliko Tarnovo by night, and we went to Hostel Mostel, a nice hostel in the earth of the city. They gave us an (unbelievable) welcome, like heroes coming from the battle. The dinner (lentils!) was included in the price, pretty nice extra. They invited us to drink a beer in the main living-room, with SPECTACULAR friendliness. All this flattering treatment resulted to be dangerous: Adri and Monroy started to feel like in their own home and went to a supermarket to buy Vodka and Rum. A calm living room transformed progressively into a hardcore party, with Monroy half-nude and Adri destroying some furniture. The situation went out of control for the staff there, and they finally called the boss, who came and throwed us out to the basement, where we would not disturb. But incidents followed and the boss appeared again to invite us to leave the Hostel definitely, thing that happened at around 1 AM. It was crazy, I’m not proud of that, but to be honest I’ve to said that it was very funny… We continued partying in Organza Club (3 floors, very big and full of people) until 3:30 AM. Long day, too much activity!!!

15 de mayo de 2011

Again in Sofia.From one visit to another.Days 74-77

Days 74-77:

Our visitors left Sofia on Tuesday afternoon, after had been walking around the city and knowing some of its highlights (Ivan Vazov Theatre, Santa Sofia Cathedral…). They bought lots of freaky things (soviet hats and hipflasks, a gas mask from the cold war, Kalashnikov t-shirts…) in the street market beside A. Nevski cathedral. And their last lunch was the famous moussaka, and some other Bulgarian dishes.

Monroy, Luisma, Charli and Saúl
The next two days were quiet, studying and recovering some classes. But action backed very soon, because on Thursday night came three good friends: Charli, Luisma and Saúl. First thing we did after pick up them in the airport was go to Dybaka (yeah, it’s a routine). They enjoyed like children (and who not?). There was an Erasmus party in Club Alcohol to which we had been invited, so it was a nice opportunity for the newcomers to socialize. They took it seriously, partying until very late.

Tough opponent for me!
On Friday, 5th November, we had our first English Exam (level B2.1), which took us the entire morning to complete it (we passed). That afternoon we tried to play "beer-chess" in the square beside Ivan Vazov Theatre, but all the tables were busy and the only way to play was betting money with one of the elder local players. I tried it (and I lost, of course), while the rest were playing Spanish cards, game in which they feel much more powerful against bulgarian competitors... After that, it was time to plan and to prepare the car for a new trip: Veliko Tarnovo, in Bulgaria's heart!