25 de mayo de 2011

Raining days in Sofia, and crazy weekend in Plovdiv. Days 94-100

Days 94-100:

The more it rains, the more we study
I had come to Bulgaria 3 months ago, and this was the first week with a truly bad weather. It was raining nearly all the time, although we found time to play a football match against a Portuguese guys very skilled in the feints and fancy footwork, but without blood in the veins. We won (teaming with some Erasmus friends).

Desislava, a new friend of mine whom I met in Rocknrolla, showed me new and interesting clubs in Sofia. Black Lodge (Aleksandar Stamboliyski 34) was one of them, a nice place for heavy-metal die hard fans, very close to the city centre.

On Saturday, 27th November, we decided to go to Plovdiv, which is the second biggest city in Bulgaria and it’s highway-connected with Sofia. It took one hour and half to go there. I had been there 2 years ago, but I didn’t remember so much. 15 minutes after parking the car, we met three Spanish girls (Erasmus in Veliko Tarnovo, they said) who recommended us to go directly to the Ethnographic museum. Why?? Because they were giving free wine and cheese!!! Yeah, it was enough to persuade us.

So we went there and asked for the free wine. In fact, it wasn’t exactly free… you had to pay 1 € to enter! That’s nice! What in the beginning was a purely touristic trip, started to transform in a alcoholic one: From the Ethnographic museum they moved (we too, of course) to other house, and later to another, and another one… In each house, different wine to taste! Meanwhile, traditional folkloric dances were displayed in front of us. We were invited to join several times, and Adri and Monroy couldn’t resist it. Between wine and wine, we made some friends (Teodoro the best), who were asking us repeatedly what we tought about the wine. –“Oh yes, it’s a wonderful wine! It has a charming wooden taste mixed with aromatic grapefruits!”, we joked. In fact, all the wines tasted pretty much the same for us. –“Where is the coke to make a Kalimotxo??”, asked Josemi. –“Much better is the Spanish wine!!”, claimed Monroy.

With our good friend and advisor TEODORO

Adri with the family

Views from the kitchen (scene of the incidents) at dusk
Three hours later, we stopped to follow the tasting delegation, because we were starting to feel really drunk. –“Fuck!! Who will drive back to Sofia now??” Obviously, we had to find a place to stay during the night, we couldn’t drive in that conditions. We found a hostel (Hikers Hostel) just in the historical city centre. So nice. And they gave us an entire apartment to sleep, because the Hostel building was full. Yeah, an ENTIRE apartment for five drunk Spanish. It was still around 4 PM, but this guys wanted to continue the party until night, so they went to buy some material to drink. We spent the afternoon in that nice and new kitchen, drinking , joking and chatting. And a new friend appeared (WE DON’T KNOW FROM WHERE): Alexander, a strange and rude man who didn’t speak English or Spanish. Gestural communication. But he wanted to impress us as soon as possible, so he decided to drink half-bottle of Rum in one gulp. Perfect. We started to worry when he suddenly fell asleep… ON HIS FEET. And resting against an OPEN window (15 meters to the ground). –“This man is freak as hell!”. We tried to move him to a safer position, but it wasn’t easy. He was strong and heavy, and his body slipped away like jelly. Finally we sat him on a chair. We tried to reanimate him, but no effect. Absolute K.O. We had a problem there…

Night came and chaos continued with Monroy and Adri out of control in the streets… But finally we returned to do something with Alexander’s corpse… We phoned the hostel reception, and one girl came and recognized Alexander. –“Ah, he is!! Don’t worry, move him to his room, it’s on first floor" (we were on 4th floor…). We moved that big body 3 floors down, along a NARROW stairs and with no so much coordination. It was challenging, but we finally dropped him on his bed, the man survived and problem solved. So strange, so freak, but the hostel’s girl said us not to worry, because it was not the first time that happened something similar… With Alexander in a safe place, Josemi went to a discotheque with Monroy and Adri in savage-mode… Good luck, man! Pacas stayed with me in the Hostel, and before the girl left, he had time to say to her some wonderful words, with the unique style that only Pacas have. Soooo funny…!! After promising his eternal love to the lady, we went to sleep and rest after a mad day…

Roman amphitheatre in Plovdiv
On Sunday, we were very hungry early in the morning (we forgot to eat the previous day), so we went to have breakfast at the Hostel. And we DEVASTATE, like pigs to be honest. Pacas re-encountered with his shocked platonic love. It would be better not to return to this hostel. We walked (this time without wine) around the city highlights (Roman Amphitheatre, Noble houses…) in a cloudy day. A few hours later we were back in Sofia, in time to visit the OLD (founded in 1888) city Zoo. It was quite interesting to see the snakes, tigers and pumas, but we also saw an elephant area without elephants, a bear area without bears and a rhinoceros area without rhinoceros. So we left the zoo a little bit confused. Anyway, the money investment had been low enough to not think so much about it (0,5 €).

In Sofia. Visit from Romania and new friends! Days 87-93

Days 87-93:

Soviet Army Monument. Sofia

We also had time to teach!
These days we started to go to Art Hostel regularly, the place where Adri and Josemi were collaborating with. It’s a very nice place, I have mentioned it before in this blog. They often organize cultural activities, and there are a cool atmosphere during the evenings in their cellar-pub. In this warm place we started to meet Miriam and Eli (both are also from Cantabria!), who would be very good friends weeks later. Welcome! ;)

On Thursday, 18th November, we received another Spanish visit, but this time they didn’t came from so far… Juan (a friend from Cantabria) and three Galician friends travelled by car from Timisoara (Romania) where they are studying this year. The same night they came, there was an Eramus Party on “My Mojito” club, so it was a perfect opportunity to receive them properly. All the Spanish crew there, so funny, until late.

Our objective!! Vitosha !

The man!!
The next day they visited city highlights (cultural and gastronomic) and prepared for the trip to Vitosha’s highest point, which is named Cherni Vrah (2.290 m). I was anxious to get it, because I had been living in Sofia for 3 months and I hadn’t try it yet. So there we went Juan and the three Galicians, Pacas, Monroy and me. Miriam and Eli finally didn’t come… buhhh! We arrived to Aleko Hut after a looong way up by car, and the fact is that we thought we were almost on the top… But really not yet, because firstly we needed to walk for an hour and a half to reach Cherni Vrah summit (the second half of the way over snow). There are another Hut which gives life to the place. It was cold up there, with the fog freezing us. After a meal and a beer (we carried it to here, so it was compulsory to drink it), we started the returning. One hour later we were in the car.

That night was a very good one, partying with all these people and Miriam, Eli and Beatrice (an Italian friend). We had been ejected from Sports1 (our preferred pub to watch Real Madrid matches, until that day…) in strange circumstances, so we had to move to a new place. We finished rocking hard in Rocknrolla until closing time. The next day, Juan and the Galicians left Sofia with a big hangover and some good experiences with them!

Pau, Pacas, Monroy, Jon, Toni, Marcos and Juan

23 de mayo de 2011

In Sofia. Days 80-86

Days 80-86:

Saúl left Sofia to continue travelling to Belgrade, as part of his touristic-guide field-work, but Charli and Luisma were going to stay a few days more with us (until Thursday). During the mornings we continued with our classes, but we had the rest of the day free to spend time with them. On Tuesday 9, we went to the west side of Vitosha mountain, where Kopitoto TV tower is. We explored a bit around an abandoned chair lift and took some pics of the city. We also stopped at the nearly historic Boyana church, but it was being repaired and closed to public.

Views from west Vitosha

On Wednesday, at last, we went to the Museum of Military History, a desired visit for weeks. Also, we met there with Milena, a couchsurfer who wanted to learn a little Spanish. We were delighted by the impressive outdoor collection of tanks, missiles, jet-fighters, helicopters and rest of stuff. Most of them from Cold War times, but also from I and II World Wars. But not less spectacular was inside the museum building (entrance fee only 1€), with three floors full of war History. In addition, they were chronologically arranged, starting with Prehistoric items and weapons, continuing with ancient Thracian remains, medieval armors and swords, Ottoman-times stuff… and finally all the weaponry from both World Wars, Cold War and modern times. I had been in Moscow military museum two years ago , and I can say that this one have nothing to envy the Russian one. It’s complete and fully documented. That visit led us to watch again the memorable serie “Band of Brothers” during the next few days, although there is no direct relation!

Attack Helicopter MI-24 Hind

MAZ-543 Scud Launcher

Soviet 2K11 Krug SAM System
Anti Aircraft Complex S-75 Dvina

Problems in one of my teeth’s nerve fucked me for two or three days, and increased dramatically our PES played hours. A visit to the dentist is quite cheaper than in Spain, but is still a not enjoyable thing to do.

Sofia from Kopitoto (Vitosha)

Putin arriving to President's Office
Vladimir Putin visited Sofia on Saturday 13, and we waited –beer in hand- for his appearance in front of the President’s Office. Many official black cars, tens of bodyguards… and some people cheering him, remembering us the historic friendship between Russia and Bulgaria. That night I went with the “Malagueños” to a Couchsurfing meeting (they do one every 13th) where we were introduced to new people (thanks to Ronnie and the rest). This global community is absolutely fantastic, really good vibrations between people and lots of possibilities. Sofia has an active local CS group, which organizes several activities per month. This time, the event was in “Memories”, a pub in Kniaz Boris 66. It was perfect to practice English again, after a period full of Spanish visits. We moved later to “Backstage”, with an interesting Balkan music DJ.

At the end of the week, we tried (without success) to find a shooting centre. They are quite popular in Sofia, and you pay for practice shooting with different guns and rifles. There is no doubt, we were really influenced by this "military" week!!

22 de mayo de 2011

Veliko Tarnovo. Day 79

Day 79:
I remember when some bulgarian told me: “Trust me, you have to visit Tsarevets Fortress, it`s the most amazing thing you´ll see here in Bulgaria”. It's maybe an exaggeration, but it's true that Veliko Tarnovo’s fortress, symbol of their ancient prosperity and final resistance against the Ottoman invaders, is a “must-see”. Partially reconstructed, the stronghold was erected on a hill from where the entire surroundings are under a 360 ͦvisual control, and is also extra-protected by the river basin.

Tsarevets Fortress

The Asen Dynasty Monument
The skies continued their alliance with us, and we could enjoy a day full of sun while we walked along the medieval traces of the Bulgarian Empire. Interesting and rare pictures inside the upper church.

With that burning sun and a light hangover over us, we walked from Tsarevets to the other side of the historic centre of the sloping village. A big statue with 4 bulgarian kings (remembering the foundation of the Bulgarian Kingdom) attracted our childish attention for a while (as well as the uncommon accumulation of cute girls in this city did).

After a quite afternoon, we drove back to Sofia following the most direct way, which goes over a highway in its last kilometers. Once in the capital, we decided to give ourselves a little reward (or punishment, it depends on how you look at it) having dinner at KFC. The day ended with a Real Madrid-Atletico match in the “Malagueños” house, who are always available to this events!

Veliko Tarnovo