Traveling in Bulgaria

The Bridge of the First Shot

In the summer of 1998, Rali and I visited her godmother in Koprivshtitsa, a small town of great importance in Bulgarian history. It was the site of the April Uprising in 1875 (I think), where Bulgarian revolutionaries rose up against the Ottoman occupying forces (the "Turkish Yoke"). This is the Bridge of the "Purvata Pushka", or "first gunshots". Koprivshtitsa is a beautiful town with none of the ugly cement apartment blocks that mar most of Bulgaria's cities. The whole town looks like the houses in the background of this photo.

The enormous concrete horse

Look closely and you'll see me perched beneath the horse's forequarters. This is an enormous concrete statue of Georgi Benkovski, one of the leaders of the April Uprising. It's on a hillside overlooking the town, visible from everywhere in the town.

Angel at the barbecue

On New Year's Day, 1999, we went with our friends Angel and Dessi to Angel's parents' villa in the tiny village of Kovatchevtsi, about an hour to the west of Sofia. Kovatchevtsi's place in Bulgaria's history books is that it was the birthplace of the "father of Bulgarian communism", Georgi Dimitrov. Dimitrov's resting place is an enormous mausoleum in the center of Sofia, which, following the "changes" in 1989, was put to good use by the citizens of Sofia as a public toilet.

But enough about Georgi Dimitrov. We had a wonderful weekend. Angel's parents, upon hearing that he and his friends were heading out to the villa on such a cold day, were concerned that we might not be able to fend for ourselves, so they got in the car and beat us there. There was a fire in the stove when we arrived (although the house was completely frozen, including solid ice in the teakettle), so we warmed up quickly. The weather was absolutely beautiful, although very, very cold (did I mention that?). On our second night, we had a barbecue, and Angel was the Head Chef. Notice the odd shape of the barbecue? Yes, it's a recycled toilet tank!

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