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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Through Tourist eyes - and taste buds

A hectic few days as my youngest daughter and her husband flew in for a long weekend. Sofia and Bulgaria were looking at their best – with the early morning mist, later sun and autumn foliage much in evidence as we visited the isolated redoubt of Koporivishtica village to the east of Sofia and, the next day, Rilski Monastery two hours’ drive south of Sofia.
Koprivshtitsa is a captivating mountain town, unique with its cobblestone alleys, houses painted in bright colors with expansive verandahs and picturesque eaves.
During the Ottoman rule, Koprivshtitsa withstood many a raid- although it was reduced to ashes several times and its inhabitants were frequently robbed and driven away.
The wealthier townsfolk managed to “ransom” Koprivshtitsa from the Turkish rulers and win some special privileges, thus keeping the Bulgarian traditions and atmosphere of the town intact.
In this way Koprivshtitsa was able to preserve its freedom-loving, patriotic spirit and hand it down to its children. Quite a few Bulgarians who laid down their lives for the liberation of their country were born here.
The April Uprising, which broke out in Koprivshtitsa on April 20, 1876, gave voice to the desire and efforts of the Bulgarian people to win back its freedom after five centuries of Ottoman oppression. A lot of foreign journalists reported the events of the spring of 1876 and showed the world that there was a people on the Balkan Peninsula who had not lost their identity and were willing to strive for independence. Eventually, in 1878 Bulgaria won the freedom it had so long yearned for, at least partly helped by the publicity of the April Uprising and its subsequent brutal suppression.
We were not the only ones to visit Rila – one of my favourite ex-pat bloggers about the Sofia scene (now sadly back in the US) was there at the beginning of the month (and also at Plovdiv)

Rilski Monastery is now a UNESCO site and, much as I enjoyed this time the exuberance of the recently repainted artwork,
I felt that it was actually a bit over the top and inconsistent with the soul of the place. The screams of hordes of kids shattered what little calm the Saturday crowds allowed the monks in their warren of cells.

The only calm element were the postures of the 3 Japanese visitors who sketched the buildings.

 In between times a bachanalian  feast of Bulgarian dishes and wines was enjoyed – particularly at the two restaurants in my area, one of which is vegetarian and cooks superb black bread on the premises,

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