Sunday, August 8, 2010

Old and New and Not Much In Between

So, last night, we went out to dinner in downtown Sofia, my first time to the old downtown section. There were some beautiful OLD buildings there, including government buildings, churches, a mosque and a synagogue. I also found out we are actually only a 6 hour drive from Istanbul, a 6 hour drive from Dracula's castle and a 5 hour drive to the Sani Beach Resort in Greece. Hmmm, the wheels are turning. . . .

Sofia is a funny place. They recently joined the EU and so now have an INFLUX of money. With all the EU money and international companies opening up shop here, they are building like crazy (e.g., new homes, new apartment buildings, beautiful new malls, etc . . .). However, there are still many old buildings. Yes, a few are historically old. In general, however, I mean old in terms of dingy, dilapidated, gray soviet era buildings. Add to that the Roma, who are a visible presence here, and it’s all just such a strange mix.

The Roma live in very simple structures and still use horse and buggy to get around. It is not uncommon to see their horse and buggies turning onto busy roads traveling right along with the cars on the same road. It's not just the Roma. The older generation of Bulgarians grew up under Communism and you can see a definite break between the young and the old. It's like third world country and first world country co-existing (not melding, but co-existing).

Of course, you have young and old Bulgarians playing this techno-music (think Sprockets from SNL)in their restaurants, taxis, etc . . . . It’s a whole other weird mix. And, yes, there is A LOT of German influence here for some reason. They must have some kind of special trade agreement with Germany, or something????

UPDATE: Oops, we are a 6 hour drive to the gateway to Dracula's castle, which is then another 9 OR SO hours beyond. At least, to the one that was discussed in the PBS special about Vlad the Impaler. There may be closer ones, as apparently many places claim that they are the location to Dracula's Castle.

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