Thursday, February 14, 2008

WELCOME TO THE BALKANS

SOFIA, BULGARIA - JUNE 2006

In June 2006 I visited Bulgaria for the first time. On my way, I made a stopover in London and had dinner at the Wagamama, Covent Garden, a nice restaurant in a lovely area. By the way, do you know which is the only street in London where you drive on the right hand side of the road?


"SAVOY - A great (and expensive) hotel"

***

Sofia is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, its history dating back to the seventh century BC, when Thracians established a settlement there, and the monuments of its Thracian, Roman, Bulgarian and Ottoman history can be seen side by side with modern contemporary buildings.



"GRAND HOTEL, SOFIA is also a nice hotel. The pictures however (including the blurred) do not make justice to its fine quality"


"VIEW from room 512"



"NATIONAL THEATRE - Ivan Vazov's National Theatre is the oldest theatre in the country. The Neoclassical building was finished in 1906 and opened on January 3rd, 1907. Unfortunately, the water was not springing from the beautiful fountain..."




"THE CITY GARDEN, existing since 1872, is Sofia's oldest and most central public garden. Originally arranged in the last years of the Ottoman rule, the garden was named the Alexander II Garden in honour of Russian tsar Alexander II, who initiated the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, which led to the Liberation of Bulgaria. The orientation of the garden has been changed, and nowadays is no longer oriented towards the former royal palace, but towards the Ivan Vazov National Theatre. The garden is a favoured place for chess players, amateur musicians, and young lovers"


"THE FORMER ROYAL PALACE at Battenberg Square, a typical example of Second Empire architecture, now hosts the National Art Gallery. The Gallery houses the country's largest collection of medieval paintings, including more than four thousand icons"


"BANK - a beautifully restored building near the former royal palace and the city garden"


"THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS is usually known as the Russian Church. Finished in 1912 and inaugurated on November 11, 1914, it was built to fulfil the needs of the Russian community in Sofia"


"ST. SOFIA - The Hagia Sophia Church is the second oldest church in Sofia, built on the site of several earlier churches dating back to the times of the Roman town of Serdica. The present basilica is believed to be the fifth to be constructed on the site and was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527-565). It is now one of the most important pieces of Early Christian architecture in South-eastern Europe"


"WINDY DAY - One of my rare pictures in Sofia"




"THE ST. ALEXANDER NEVSKI CATHEDRAL, built in Neo-Byzantine style and occupying an area of 3170 square metres, serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Orthodox cathedrals in the world (it can take 5,000 people inside). According to Wikipedia, «the cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high, with the bell tower reaching 50.52 m. The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons, the heaviest weighing 12 tons and the lightest 10 kg. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials. The central dome has the Lord's Prayer inscribed around it with thin gold letters. The construction of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral started in 1882 (having been planned since 19th February, 1879), when the foundation stone was laid, but it was in fact built between 1904 and 1912 in honour to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule»."

39 comments:

Trotter said...

Hi there! I'm back, and will try to get to your blogs by the weekend! Meanwhile, wish you a Happy Valentine's Day!! Enjoy!

Nick said...

Looks like a city I ought to visit. I've not yet been to Bulgaria - an omission I'll try to rectify soon. Thanks for the pictures and information - fascinating. I'll be almost next door to there - well, Croatia - in June, so maybe I'll try to go just that little bit further east while I'm at it.

Nihal said...

Welcome back to home, Gil:) May you have a Buon San Valentino:)
As far as today's topic about Bulgaria, an important country for me because we're a family rooted from a few Balkans countries which includes Bulgaria as well, my grand-dad comes from there:) The photos are so lively, reminds me all of my be-loved ones. Looking forward impatiently for your reviews about other Balkan countries in a near future.
Have a day full in only 'Red';)

Peter said...

As always, a complete and fascinating reportage! ... and exceptionally, your wife did not accompany you? Happy Valentine anyhow!

(No, I don't know which London street; you will tell us, no doubt, but in a couple of days or so.)

traveller one said...

whooo hooo! You've once again taken me to someplace I've never been and wow it's beautiful!

Susanne49 said...

Very nice series of pictures, Gil!

Happy Valentine to you and your wife!

Cuckoo said...

Lovely pictures with nice report. Your wife didn't accompany you on this trip ?

And you look awesome in that picture. ;)

Shionge said...

Welcome Back and hey, I am so envious of you coz you have been to all the fabulous places on earth :D

Happy Valentine's Day my dear friend :D

Azer Mantessa said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you too.

Good to be on the front seat again ... and on Sofia.

alicesg said...

Hi Trotter, Welcome Back and thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Valentine's Day to you. Nice photos and the buildings are so beautiful.

Ming the Merciless said...

Welcome back!!

I have heard SO MUCH about the Savoy Hotel. It was featured on so many shows in the US including Oprah and Martha Stewart.

I heard they have great high tea there. Did you try the high tea?

Isadora said...

Lovely photos! I believe Sofia must be placed on my list of places to see in the near future. By the way, I've checked the hotels - the one in Portofino that you've stayed at and thought we will be in Italy next month, perhaps....but when I saw the rates...perhaps not in the same hotel. :(

RuneE said...

Now I feel like I have been to Bulgaria!

Thank you for nice comments!

Peter said...

Thanks for your visit on my blog and especially for your OECD comments! Maybe we met on the streets or in the park; I lived 100 meters from the OECD buildings until last year!

Noushy Syah said...

Hi Gil,welcome back and glad to see you around with more postings!

Lovely pics and glad that you brought us with the beautiful places and some short on Sofia..

P/S Gil, thanks for the green light for me to use your pics in my blog in the future, really appreciate that.

Have a gr8 w/end and keep smiling.
Thanks for your generous comment in my blog :)

Olivier said...

je ne connais pas du tout, mais je trouve cela tres beau, surtout cette eglise, elle est magnifique

Dick said...

Welcome back, great pictures of a beautiful city. Are there places you haven't been? Thank you for visiting.

Nihal said...

Hi again Gil,
Great! Your notice and suggestions are very nice and helpful as usual. Among the lots of photos, I am afraid I'm lost;) and made a text-error. Thanks God, that you're simply out there being my Planet Advisor;) I duly did the required correction, Sir:) Mission completed:)
Let me wish you a restful nice weekend for a new week ahead of us.
Kindest,

Nihal

backpakker said...

Hi ,

Welcome back and what a lovely post...stunning pics and history to go with it..was quite awestruck with your description of the cathedral..and how was your trip ? am waiting to hear all about it..
-lakshmi

isabella said...

That tsar Alexanderr sure got around - wasn't he the one to lay the first stone for the Parisian Pont Alexader?

So, in your opinion, is Bulgaria ready for the tourists, now that Eastern Europe is geting oversaturated?

Chris said...

Welcome back, Gil!! I hope your trip was relaxing.

Sofia looks beautiful. I do like the cathedral.

CaBaCuRl said...

Glad to know you are back safe and sound.Fascinating post about Bulgaria...I travelled there in 1979, and I'm afraid i have very bad memories of the country, so your post has helped change those memories a bit. It really gob-smacks me to read about all the different people who have 'occupied' a country over a couple of millenia, and some I have never heard of.Thank goodness for Wikipedia!!!

joy said...

I am convinced! I will definitely visit Sofia.

I didn't know about the right side of the road traffic! How wonderful. I miss driving on the correct side of the road :-)

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo. I've had some problems today uploading my post, but it's now sorted. Please do visit. I've got a really pretty picture. Enjoy the weekend!

joy
A Pinay In England
Your Love Coach
The Goddess In You

b.c. said...

hi gil--again, great photos--always very interesting and informative, makes me wish i could just get on a plane and go...

p.s. it was amazing, just when i thought of visiting your blog, i saw you left a comment on mine...a nice little convergence in the blog cosmos!

leo said...

Welcome back & Happy Belated Valentine. Bulgaria...i sure envy you and Sofia is certainly beautiful! i like the russian church, it's very colorful.
Thank you for finding the time to visit me.

dot said...

Was wondering what happened to you. A great bunch of photos! Really enjoyed looking at them.

JO said...

Great Post! Looks like a magnificent trip!

Pat said...

Amazing photos! I so enjoyed viewing them.

Pat

Guelph Daily Photo, My Photos.

Rambling Round said...

Wow! Such beautiful buildings. Where did you globetrot this time? Welcome back.

M.KATE said...

really loved all the pics here, wishing i could travel like you too :)

lyliane said...

Bonjour GMG. Ce n'est pas de la Bulgarie que vous revenez? La ville a vraiment le style des pays de l'est, c'est très beau, Même sur le fronton du théâtre l'écriture ressemble à celle des russes avec des lettres à l'envers.Elle doit paraitre immense à l'intérieur cette église, car les orthodoxes ne mettent pas de chaises ni de bancs dans leurs églises !Vous avez de la chance de faire tous ces voyages et de pouvoir profiter de ces magnifiques hôtels à travers le monde, je vous envie, mais moi du moment que je pars, dans n'importe quelles conditions, je suis déjà très heureuse. J'ai bien envie d'aller à Budapest et en Octobre , je me suis inscrite pour le Pérou enfin!Bon dimanche à vous deux.

shooting star said...

i dont knnow much about bulgaria!!...so it was nice to see the pictures and read the info u penned down!!.....

flyingstars said...

Welcome back & WoW...some very nicely captured shots form this place...love the architecture of this place...Excellent!

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Great shots - had to laugh - we regularly visit Wagamama and have the cookbook! Good to see you on mine, and look forward to coming back and looking through past posts.

MedaM said...

Hi Gil, and welcome back. This is another great series of photos this time of beautiful Sofia. You are a great writer of your travels.

Steve Buser said...

As always a most interesting and insightful tour.
--steve buser
New Orleans Daily Photo

Trotter said...

Hi everybody! Thanks for your visits and comments! I’m delighted to reply!

Nick,
Thanks for your comment (first time, I believe). Actually Croatia is not that far, but sometimes the air connections are easier from places a bit more far away… ;)

Nihal,
Glad to know that you liked my Balkan travelogue. Actually, I’ve some posts on former Yugoslavia, on Albania, and on Romania! Hope you enjoy!
Typing error perfectly understandable; and it needed no correction, just an adjustment… ;))

Peter,
Thanks! Actually the street where you drive on the right hand side in London is precisely the small connection from the Strand to the door of the Savoy. You may confirm it by looking at the red cab on the photo…
It’s amazing that you lived 100 meters from le Chateau de la Muette; actually, from 1992 through 2002 I used to have at least three or four week long meetings a year at the OECD, so one day we should have crossed our ways…

Kim,
You’re so close; it’s easy to get there…

Sue,
Thanks!

Cuckoo,
Professional trip, you know… Thanks for the compliment; don’t make me presumptuous… ;))

Shionge,
Thanks! No reason to be envious…

Azer Mantessa,
Thanks! The front seat is yours, and the beauty is from Sofia!

Alice SG,
Thanks! There will be more beautiful buildings in the next posts!

Ming,
Didn’t try high tea; you know, scones are fatal to the cholesterol… But the Savoy is great; actually was (and probably will be), as it is now closed for a 100 million pound renovation…

Isadora,
Thanks! If you intend to get to Sofia, profit while prices don’t escalate… As far as the Splendido is concerned, it must be said it is a once in a lifetime experience… Just hear the music at their site and you’re done… One day! ;))

Runee,
Thanks, but don’t take the pictures for the reality; it’s much better…

Noushy Syah,
Thanks! You’re welcome!

Olivier,
Nevski est une église formidable…

Dick,
It’s not such a small world, but you may have a look at the countries visited on the map at the bottom of my blog… ;))

Lakshmi,
Thanks. The trip was quite an experience. An experience!! I’m still digesting it… Posts will see daylight in 20 months time, taking into account my current delay… ;))

Isabella,
This Alexander (the second) was the father of the Alexander (the third) after whom the bridge in Paris is named, and the one who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. It was Alexander's son Nicholas II who laid the foundation stone in October 1896.
It’s time to get to Bulgaria, before everybody discovers it as a tourist destination. Take my advice… but careful with the summer heat!

Chris,
You have good taste, it’s well known…

Cabacurl,
Well 1979 was another story… But I’ll show a bit of the Thracians treasury in one of the next posts on Bulgaria. You’ll see their value…

Joy,
It’s a good decision, but you should hurry before everybody starts getting there…
On the right hand side in London, you drive only on the small street between the Strand and the Savoy entrance…

B.C.,
Mind convergence… Amazing!
If you wish to get there, you better hurry before everybody has the same idea… Careful with the summer heat!

Leo,
Thanks! The Russian church is beautiful; also inside…

Dot,
It was just a short break! Pictures will come 20 months from now, according to the present delay…

Jo,
Glad to see you back here! Sofia is not only a beautiful name… ;))

Pat,
Thanks for your visit and comment (first time commenting, I think)!

Rambling round,
I’ll give you a chance to find out… there is a new (big) country in the «countries visited map» at the bottom of my blog. Any hint? Otherwise, there will be some posts, probably 20 months from now… ;)))

M.Kate,
Just start traveling, NOW… ;)))

Lyliane,
Bonjour! Non, ce n’est pas de Bulgarie, mais si tu ne le trouves pas, il faudra attendre 20 mois pour les photos… (Je vais essayer de réduire le délai…)! Quand même, tu peux regarder la carte à la fin de mon blog; il y a un nouveau pays (grand) qui y est marqué…;))
La cathédrale Nevski est immense! Et très jolie… Et c’est vrai que les bulgares utilisent l’alphabet cyrillique!
Alors, toi aussi tu pars; et en octobre le Pérou; ça j’aimerais bien le faire: Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Titicaca… Peter l’a fait; maintenant c’est toi; un jour sera nôtre tour…

Shooting Star,
It’s an interesting place, Bulgaria!

Kalyan,
Thanks! So you changed your name?

Julie,
You try Wagamama’s cookbook? I think I would prefer to get there… ;))

Medam,
Steve,
Thanks!

julia said...

Would love to visit Eastern Europe maybe this is as close as I will ever get and this shows us heaps. We had a cow 'thing' out this way too once. I'm visiting while my net speed is fast enough to get here.

Trotter said...

Julia,
Better hurry before prices boost even more they did since the accession to the European Union...
The Cow "thing" has been throughout the world!