Monday, January 24, 2011
Snowy sunday in Sofia
So much for my theory about the warmer weather in the south – I awake at 05.00 Sunday to the sight of the streets and buildings suffused in the yellow glow of street lighting with snow which has followed me south. I count my lucky stars that I decided to make a break for it yesterday rather than delaying until today when the road conditions will be horrific. Good also that I have brought my mountain boots in the car which I’ll need to struggle to the galleries and Knigomania bookshop today. But first another trip to the detested Mall – arriving just before it opened at 09.00 and had the place to myself. One of the cleaners was very helpful in taking me to get the papers stuff – I shook his hand – such kindness is becaming rare. Perhaps my (collapsible) aluminium stick helps!
I try to avoid the wine section – but, after picking up rye bread and gorganzola cheese, am drawn like a moth to a flame to the section – of course just to check what new brands there might be a year or so since I had the leisure for such an aesthetic trip. Katarszynski wines had something new but its too pricey – so I buy a Chardonnay from the Magret range I found a couple of years ago produced in the gangster lands at the Greek and Macedonian borders (3 .50 euros a bottle) and what purports to be a 2006 Brestovitza merlot reserve which I used to get from my wine cave on Macedonski Bvd (3 euros a bottle). The bottles are entirely for scientific purposes (!) – to test against the 2 euros a litre Romanian wines I have brought with me (the Romanian Recas white scores; and so does the Brestovitza which has a buttery finish) . Having dumped the produce in the flat, I found the ticket booth for the tram tickets open and was able to get a 22 tram to just beneath the lovely Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – few antique touts were braving the weather conditions in front – so I went on to the City Gallery which had just started an exhibition of Nikolay Boyadjiev (what’s the connection with Petar I wondered) – but it did not open until 11.00. Graffiti outside the empty little art kiosk just to the Gallery’s left tell me that „Danes are racists” What’s that about ??
So on to the Knigomania bookshop – near the British Embassy. Glad to see it’s (still) open – but slightly disappointed with the range (and prices). After an hour of browsing (and tempted only by Katharine Mansfield, Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway) I emerge with a nice edition of Louis de Bernieres Birds without wings about the emptying of the Greek Anatolian villages a century ago - I had left my hardback copy in the library of the Azeri Civil Service Agency. My knees are beginning to ache – but I wanted to get back to see the City Gallery’s special exhibition – picking up a couple of discs to have for the music system (Cesar Franck; and Giuliani) and also an update of the great little guide of the Bulgarian Association for alternative tourism www.baatbg.org which gave me a couple of years fantastic prices (12 euros) for superb rural accomodation here. A must!! And prices are still very reasonable.
I was very taken with the N Boyadjiev exhibition – the first, it claimed, since his death in 1963. He was born in 1904 and, according to the publicity sheet, was kicked out of the Painters’ Association just before his death for refusing to toe the line on socialist realism (as so many of the younger PhD generation is now toeing the line on EU integration!!).