Cyrillic Jungle

It can be quite confusing out here, not being able to read most of what you see… You can imagine my surprise when I walked past a wall with a poem on it in Latin letters…. but imagine the surprise when I recognized the language!

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If you click it, you get a bigger version and you can actually read the (Dutch) poem. In my eyes it’s pretentious crap, but hey, nobody appointed me as the art critic. I was later told that this is part of some international art project and it’s on a wall of/near the National Art Gallery. Go Holland-Bulgaria!

P.S. New photo’s on my Picasa!

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I’m in love…

Bulgaria is seriously awesome. I had a lot of doubts about the place and quite a few negative stereotypes in my mind apparently, but I have to say, Bulgaria is possibly my best international experience so far.

Last night I had dinner in a pub, talked to the girl at the bar (who thought I was a food critic, because I was writing (lyrics) – she gave me a fork and knife with my fries ;)), drank a few beers and then went to my hotel. Back there, I was bored and I wanted to drink more (Irish blood.. once you start, you need to keep going), so I went outside to see if there was anyone hanging out at the hotel (for some reason some ‘friends of the hotel’ hang out there) and there was.. So I asked the guy where I could get beer, he told me.. I got beer and a few extra, then came back, sat down with him and started drinking. We talked, I learned about the culture here. Then this 64-year old guy came and inquired where I was from. I told him I was from Holland, and he started complaining about liberalism, homosexuals and wanted to know what I knew about communism.

It was hilarious. He explained everything to me, how Lenin stole his ideas from Jesus, how Marx was a clever Jew, how imperialism is ‘ominous’ (evil) and well… I didn’t really try to remember, in fact, I tried to forget. The other guy I was talking to, who was about my age, clearly didn’t agree with the guy.. oldskool vs newskool.

Ok… so I’m renting my appartment from a Bulgarian fashion designer who’s apparently rather famous. The Bulgarian National Radio people are showing me all the ins and outs of the radio and they’ll be introducing me to a young team of people next week, who are launching a local radio station for Sofia soon.

I think I’ve been really lucky when it comes to connections. Somehow I’m falling into webs of important or sometimes even famous people (probably because euro’s are worth A LOT in Bulgaria (kilo of paprika (peppers) costs about 80 euro cents, for instance)). I am really looking forward to how this all will develop in the future. It looks like I’m going to be having a rather busy life soon.

Anyway, I’m going to try and get internet soon, now that I have an address. I’ll start putting up photographs then (of the city, but also of graffiti).

I was worried about not being able to find cool places to go out, but apparently there are drum ‘n bass parties multiple times a week here… Better than Holland!

Some more prices (in euro’s) to tease everyone who’s not here right now (yes, I mean you):
– Beer, 0.5 litre.. 1.30
– A hot meal… 2 – 8 euro’s. (you can easily have a good meal for less than 6 euro’s, incl. drinks) Today I went out for lunch with a colleague (or boss, I think) and it was 4.50 total, tip included.
– Taxi, I paid about 4 euro’s to get to the city from the airport. Same distance in Holland: 30 euro’s.

And the language isn’t even that hard. I am getting used to the Cyrillic alphabet and I can already understand quite a bit of what is said around me. (I know some numbers, “cheers”, “thanks”, “good afternoon”, “okay”, “yes/no”, and maybe a few words more, but for some reason, it’s not very tough to understand it..). If you know some languages well – English and Dutch for me – and some other languages on a basic level – German and French for me – then it helps a lot. Dutch people can understand one of the Bulgarian words for ‘receipt’. Of course it doesn’t sound like “bonnetje”, but they say a word very similar to “kwitantie” (spelling?? hmm….). I guess that would be understandable for French people too? Don’t know.

Anyway… don’t let all of the negative stereotypes be an excuse not to come. The weather is not as unpredictable as in Holland, prices are low, people are nice, gypsies are… well… gypsies (nobody really appears to like the gypsies.. sometimes you hear people saying things about gypsies which could be put right into the Borat movie, I hope some anonymous person doesn’t mind me quoting: “my mom told me not to play with the gypsies”).

To us it’s funny, to them it’s every day business. The good news is that hopefully, with the entrance to the European Union, the status of gypsies will improve and there will be less problems or incidents regarding them.

Enjoy your weekends!

I Love Spam

It can be so hilarious. Check out what I just found in my inbox:

DONATION FOR THE LORD
From: Mrs OLU  WINDY
PLEASE ENDEAVOUR TO USE IT FOR THE CHILDREN OF GOD.I am the above name person from Sierra-Leone. I am married to Dr WINDY EMEE who worked with Sierra Leonian Embassy in South Africa for nine years before he died in the year 2001. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his death we
were both born again Christians and we lived happilly. Since his death, I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is really against.
When my late husband was alive he secured $15Million (Fifteen Million U.S. Dollars) with financial institution here in Cote D’Ivoire. Presently, this money is still with the financial institution. Recently, my Doctor told me that from all the test conducted on my health, I am not going to last long, expecially, due to my cancer and stroke. But what disturbs me most now is stroke.
Having known my condition, I decided to donate this fund to churches or Christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to
instruct. I want a church or individual that will use this money to fund churches, Orphanages and Widows. Also, the propagation of the work of God, building and maintaining the house of God through this money, is very important.
The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this
money and my husband relatives are not Christians. I don?t want my husband’s hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers, for their own selfish interest and in an ungodly manner. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bossom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.
I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health, and because of the presence of my husband’s relatives around me sometimes. I don’t want them to know about this development, but I know that With God all things are possible.
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Financial institution in Ivory coast. I will also give you all information regarding the deposit of this money. I will also issue you a letter of authority that will empower you as the original- beneficiary of this fund. I want you and your church to always pray for me because God work in misterious ways. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Who ever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.
Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for a church or christian individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein. Hoping to hear from you soon.
Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs OLU  WINDY

Hi-hi-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho.

SMS

By the way, you can text me at 06-20678810. Don’t expect a text back every time though. It costs me way more than you 😉

I’ll email my Bulgarian number around soon. No time today, sorry.

Welcome to София

Well.. what can I say… this is a slightly different world. Wish I could upload pictures already, but I need to find a better internet center first.

A few things that struck me:
– Advertising EVERYWHERE. Imagine a marketeers wet-dream and then times two. It’s like they’re compensating for all the communistic years.
– Bad maintenance. I wonder how many people break their necks each year on the pavements. And then there’s the buildings, which look like they’re slowly crumbling to pieces.
– Less graffiti than in Holland. More basic styles most of the time, but when they go beyond the basic styles, it’s really a style of it’s own.
– People drive like crazy. My taxi trip from the airport to the hotel was very exciting 😉
– The center is packed with beautiful buildings. However my Lonely Planet guide says it’s mostly limited to the center.

Okay, I got to email some people and then head out to have a look at some appartments.

Halfway there…

Okay, I’ve been stuck for quite a few hours, because I missed my connection due to a delay. I’ll be in Sofia around 10, hopefully be at my hotel at 11pm. That will get interesting. The upside is, I got to see a little bit of Prague. Beautiful city 🙂 I hope I get delayed on my way back, so I can see it snowed under.

I have these moments where it kind of dawns on me, that I’m abroad for 5 months. I wonder when it will really stick. Probably when I get back 😉

Enjoy the sun everyone. Summer’s almost over!

Last Day pt. 2

This is going to be a short one, because I’m really tired now. What a day, what a day. Trouble with cars, metro’s, bureaucracy, lost MP3-player chargers, lost pieces of paper I need, etc. etc. You can imagine what happens when you do stuff at the last possible moment 😉

Some highlights:
– Called Janneke in Ireland from my parents’ house. Spoke to her one final time before leaving. Was tough to hang up.
– Called my grandparents to say goodbye.
– Visited Anton (Bulgarian friend who helped me secure the placement) and received some great Bulgarian hospitality. He gave me a list of numbers I can call in Bulgaria. Friends of his. Awesome.
– Said goodbye to my brothers.

Charging all my electronic equipment and loading some more music onto my MP3-player. It’s gonna be a good trip and a great time.

Thanks for all the support people!