02.04.2010 16 °C
Some clues as to my whereabouts this past weekend:
Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, orthodox churches, pork saucisson, Russian dolls, Faberge eggs, Soviet monuments, an Easter fixation, and a honky tonk train.
A couple further hints...
1. Clearly I was not in Turkey, as I was eating pork. (Woohoo!) The Easter fixation and the churches might have given that away (ie: this was not a Muslim country).
2. I was obviously somewhere within the ex-USSR umbrella (that was a freebie).
3. Hitler might be a bit of a throw off, but his omnipresence meant I was in a country which had fought with the axis powers in World War II (at least for part of the war).
4. Finally, being on a tight budget meant I was in a country easily accessible by train, not plane.
This would probably be easier if I had telepathic hearing. (Too bad!) But it wouldn't really matter anyway. On this blog, everybody’s a winner!
I was in Bulgaria! Sofia, to be precise.
Before I begin...just a brief note about Lent (I know I talk about sugar a lot, but this will be brief! Only 2 more days and I will be released from purgatory!). Anyway, since I was going to a new land, I was tempted to give myself ‘sugar amnesty’ while abroad (for the sake of cultural learning). Of course I would limit myself to only ONE desert – if and only if I came across a desert so special and typical of the region that eating it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Without it, I would be less of a person. It had to be that type of desert. Alas, the idea of sugar amnesty only brought on waves of guilt and feelings of failure. I’ve come this far already, why cave in now? So I said no! I put my foot down and returned to Istanbul chin held high and belly growling. The downside: though I congratulate myself on my strong will (everyday actually...focussing on the positive here), I have been nursing an enduring wound inside my lower lip. A battle wound, if I may. It turns out, this sugar deficiency has turned me into an aggressive gum chewer. Read: overzealous to the point of self-mutilation. In fact, my lower lip boasts several bite marks. Like a starving dog with a fleshy bone. And when the gum doesn’t cut it, sometimes I reward myself with a (tiny tiny) juicebox of chocolate milk. It’s become my bread and butter. At first I was surprised at how little milk it contained, until I realized how I was literally hoovering the milk down like my life depended upon it. Five sips and the fun was already over. Hoooooooover.
But I digress. This post is not supposed to be about lent. It’s supposed to be about the allure of the East and the luxuries of the Orient Express – although I’m not sure it really is the Orient Express anymore. If it is, it’s not quite as luxurious as it may once have been. Charming, yes. Luxurious, no. One visit to the train loo and you will know this to be true. Suffice it to say that I preferred to suffer in my bed for several hours rather than venture out of the cabin, wanting to pee but fearing the facilities. But the cabins – so cozy! Fresh white sheets, comfy bunk beds, warm wood panelling, all accompanied by the comforting gentle sway of the train. Gentle for the most part at least. I do recall a certain segment of the journey where I was obliged to use my pillow as a protective device so my head wouldn’t repeatedly knock against the wall. Otherwise, I slept like a baby.
Sofia, is a lovely town, but I won’t give you a long schpeel about it. The golden church domes, clunky orange trams, Soviet army memorial, delicious cheeses, communist references, Cyrillic alphabet, and Lenin mementos all contributed to my sentiment of Eastern European immersion. More disturbingly perhaps were the sheer number of Nazi relics in the local flea market. Hundreds of them! From pocket books to cigarette holders, military medals to cutlery. Massive collection. I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed by their historical significance or just appalled at the sheer number of them. An uncomfortable experience in many ways, though definitely an interesting one.
Anyhoo, for fear of chewing your ‘eyes’ off, here is a random smattering of my favourite pictures...
(Plus, I currently have no internet at home and have been sitting in this cafe for three hours. Although I ordered more tea, I think they’re waiting for me to go.) Till next time!
2 MORE DAYS TILL SUGAR TIME!!!! WOOHOOOOOO!