Being given a foreign friend’s flat is a great cultural experience - as well as privilege. By definition there are shared interests – and therefore new books and objets d’art to explore and appreciate. My new flat here in Sofia is a bit of an artist’s studio – on the top floor of a 1960s 10 storey building with two huge, heavy rectangular windows in the slanted roof. And the flat is liberally endowed with paintings, sculptures and books – with many of the books being on painting. So I am in my element – already having discovered a beautifully designed book on Bulgarian paintings in the 1920s – published in 1996 by Ruzha Marinska.
For the last 5 years, my base in Sofia has been in the reasonably fashionable Lajos Kossuth St just off Xristo Botev. The new flat may only be 10 minutes’ walk from my old one but it is in the quartier of brutal socialist modernism and post-modern capitalistic brutalism – with one of the early huge Shopping Malls which are now slowly strangling the lifeblood of the vibrant Sofia which first attracted me cheek by jowl with the 10 and 20 story blocks of the 1960s. Fortunately I am still within the same easy walking distance of the swimming and keep-fit facility of Rodina Hotel.