Monday, January 24, 2011

Pleven

BH spent the weekend in Paris, so, in order not to go crazy alone in Sofia, I made a last minute decision to see another city in Bulgaria and visit Sophia, another Bulgarian grantee, for the weekend. Pleven is north central Bulgaria, and about three hours from Sofia by train. I arrived around 11 pm, and Sophia and her friend picked me up at the train station, and, since it was a Friday, brought me straight to a club. Oh Bulgaria. Naturally, there are fewer clubs in Pleven than Sofia, but cheaper drink and a different atmosphere. Needless to say, we danced for a couple of hours, before crashing at Sophia's apartment.
The next day, we met up with one of Sophia's co-teachers for coffee and then a tour of the city. I was in high spirits, and realized how important it is for me to get out of the capital. Clean air, less ugly apartment buildings, and friendly people made for a fine trip. The city center had this great pedestrian only area, a must for any city.
Sophia and I in f
The city is most well known for the Siege of Pleven during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878. A lot of the monuments honor Russian generals and those who died defending Bulgaria. The highlight is the panorama, a huge 360 degree painting of the siege. Unfortunately, the building that houses the painting was built in a glorious modernist style.
Gross gross gross
After seeing the panorama, we had a great discussion about politics, history, and the way people view the history of the Balkans. Sophia's friend was such a good conversationalist, that having an open-minded discussion about the history and politics of southeast Europe made the trip. We just chatted for hours about everything.
The evening finished out with some bars and clubs in Pleven. And this scene.
Victoria Secret minus classy
The problem with popular clubs in Bulgaria is they tend to be Chalga clubs. This is a music style that I mostly cannot stand. Check out this music video if you are interested:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvpSrLLA8HY
Part of chalga is the importance of scantily clad women. Seriously. It is important. So they had women strutting on the stage all night.
By Sunday, I was ready to see my Sofia. Although it is kind of a dirty and ugly city, I still missed my apartment. Sophia gave me a great weekend. If anyone is planning to go to Pleven, make sure you take the train. During the day. The bus is faster, but then you would miss out on this view:

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