Vienna, not quite
Trip Start Aug 20, 2009
14Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Only spent two nights, one day here, the first night was spent playing on the internet and chatting to a German guy sitting next to me doing the same, who noticed that I had exactly (in EVERY DETAIL) two of the same photos of Plovdiv as he did, he showed them to me to prove it
Spent the next day buying a bus ticket to Skopje, had to crunch across the snowy park to do this, going to the National Gallery and generally walking around (very slowly) looking for the recommended sights and getting frustratingly and stupidly lost for about an hour and a half. While snow is lovely when it is white and crisp, as it starts to melt it gets seriously wet and lethally slippery, I wasn't the only one treading very carefully and going for the occasional slide. I also learned the Bulgarian stomp, used to loosen packed ice from the tread in your shoes!
The sights of Sofia are rather reminiscent of Vienna, there is a distinct architectural similarity, but in Sofia they are few and far between, whereas in Vienna you can't walk around a corner without going oooohh haaa look at that!! Plus there is no Stalinesque at all in Vienna, at least not that I saw, even the ugly apartment blocks there have a certain grandeur, that Sofia cannot pretend to.
The National Gallery had a "Faces of Modernism" exhibition on. It was all about Bulgarian (faces of) 'modern' art, if you call the early 1900s modern. There were a couple of notable French artists, Segal for one, and a lot of Bulgarian derivatives of French pointillism and cubism
Nedsky Cathedral was built as war memorial to the many 1,000's who died ridding the Balkans of the Turks during the war of 1777 to 1778 (short for a war I thought). I'm beginning to realise how far the Turks spread their wings of war. Rather dark and meditative inside, it was nice to sit in there for a while.
The small Russian church, was just that, very Russian and very small, with gold onion domes. Walked down to the National Theater, had a beer, watched kids ice skating in a small park opposite, wandered back to the hostel via a Xmas tree and a bar playing some nice music.
And I guess that was Sophia!