Posts Tagged ‘glogovo’

Slowly Back to Sofia

[Aside: Clearly, writing on the road did not go well on this trip. It proved difficult on the tour, and then I caught a bug of some kind in Albania, and even after the cold symptoms cleared up, the cough didn’t, and I needed to devote any available energy to travel rather than writing. Now I’m home, and an antibiotic has improved matters some, so I’m going to try to finish up. And plan the next trip…]

Sept 27, 2011: We left Veliko Tarnovo at 9:00, but we arrived in Sofia at 17:15, with no time for for any last minute activities. Fortunately, I had asked Lyuba on day one whether I would have time to buy a bus ticket when we got back to Sofia, and she had told me not to worry, one of her colleagues would take care of it. Well, I didn’t worry, until around the Black Sea stage, when I learned that a four day holiday might interfere. (The Rick Steves people seem oddly clueless when it comes to scheduling tours around holidays.) Luckily, the trainee guide who met us back in Sofia had been able to buy the ticket, that day.

Outside Glogovo's Kindergarten

So, what did we do on the way? Another village visit. I have to say, some of the group – the extroverts, perhaps – thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Others, not so much. My sympathies lay entirely with the young boy at the high school, giving us the evil eye as we filed past. In his place I’d have done the same, assuming I hadn’t managed to disappear entirely.

The kindergarten kids greeted us with a song, after which we toured their empty classrooms. The school had been built during the Communist era, and impressed us. The main rooms were bright and well-lit, and darker side rooms held rows of cots for naps. One of the teachers took at least as many photos of us as we did of the school. The high school seemed older and shabbier, with outdated equipment. (As an ex-techie I was interested to see the dual-alphabet keyboards in the computer room.)

The kids

The computer room at the high school

After a Q and A session with the village secretary (the mayor had just stepped down to run for re-election), we settled in on benches behind one of the houses for lunch. We were served the foods usually prepared for wedding feasts: potato salad, beef soup and bean soup, with the local fire water, rakija, for those who wanted it. We were entertained by a trio of musicians and a young, award-winning singer, and they sounded pretty good even to me. After lunch Lyuba and one of the women in the group dressed up in local costume, an opportunity for cultural exchange I was happy to pass up.

Our audience - we were on show, too

Two generations

The young singer

When we finally arrived back in Sofia we heard that the area round the Parliament Building should be avoided as there had been demonstrations against the Roma, the Roma “king’s” son had apparently murdered someone….

Our farewell meal at the Architects’ Club round the corner from the Crystal Palace should have been a highlight, but we were separated into small groups and the food was surprisingly bad. Drinks afterwards in the hotel lobby, where we said goodbye to Lyuba and our charming driver with small gifts (wine for the driver and noise makers for Lyuba) went better.

Next morning I shared a final meal with a few of the group and said a fond farewell to my particular friends. But when my taxi eventually arrived, and I was driven off to the bus station to start the next leg of the trip, I experienced a rush of delight at my recovered freedom. On to Skopje!

Lyuba and the noise makers

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