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Expat Vagabonds "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain


BULGARIA | Monday, 10 October 2011 | Views [753]

Sofia from our window on a rainy day

Sofia from our window on a rainy day

In all honesty, I probably haven’t given Sofia a fair chance.  But then, the lady hasn’t exactly shown her good side, either.  It has rained ever since we arrived and it is so cold that Connie has taken to wearing gloves!

Sofia was never as lovely as Prague.  She wasn’t as exotic as Istanbul nor did she have the culture of Vienna.  It was pretty much of a backwater during the Ottoman occupation and didn’t become the capital of Bulgaria until independence in 1876.  The city was heavily bombed by the Allies in WW II then struggled under half a century of communism.  Today she looks as unkempt as an old whore without makeup.  Potholed streets, broken sidewalks and peeling paint add to the general despair of Soviet influence.

Of course there are places to go and things to see in Sofia, like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Russian Church, but they are not of the quality I expect from a European capital.  One bright spot was the Museum of Foreign Art.  The collection includes several Rodin statues, a couple of Renoirs, and some interesting work by artists unknown to me. One piece that impressed me most was “The Great Wave,” one of thousands of prints from a single woodblock by the Japanese artist Hokusai.  Another print in the British Museum was the subject of “The History of the World in 100 Objects” from BBC Four.  It was instrumental in igniting the West’s interest in things Japanese in the 19th Century.  Another surprise, also one of the “100 Objects,” was a so-called “Bennin Bronze” from Nigeria.  It was cast from bronze bracelets traded by Portuguese slavers.  When it eventually made its way back to Europe it caused a sensation because of the skill in recasting it.



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