29 November 2015
One is dreadfully ignorant. Personally, I try to disguise the fact with all sorts of ruses – waffle being the chief among them. One does not like to expose one’s ignorance. Then suddenly you are rumbled and must come clean: astounded by a fact, a picture, a place, or a person, you suddenly realise, good golly, I am this old and I know absolutely nothing about – in my case very recently – Bulgaria.
I fear it’s too late to go to Plovdiv or Varna; and climbing the Vitosha mountain is out of the question. I did know about the fabulous and largely unspoiled churches, but that’s it.
A son-in-law has just returned from a lengthy trip filming there, and is full of its beauties, people, and culture. He is a well-travelled fellow, having been born in the South of France and explored most of Europe on his motor bike. (He’s the sort of chap with whom BH wouldn’t mind sharing a slit-trench.)
When he finished the job as Art Director on the film and came home, his team presented him with an icon, painted and framed by themselves. Here it is:
We have not yet seen it in the flesh, as it were, so I can’t describe the icon exactly, what type of paint, or the actual size; but by appearances it looks to become an heirloom in the family.
The fourth century soldier martyr George is patron of countless countries including England and Bulgaria, and despite his exploits being largely mythical (the dragon, for example) he is hugely popular. There are many churches throughout Bulgaria dedicated to him; this one is in the capital, Sofia:
The dominating Hotel Sofia Balkan almost swamps, but cannot crush the little church’s perfection.
Does the Tourist Board tempt you to visit the country? I don’t find this very inviting; it’s the introduction on Bulgaria’s website:
Bulgaria is a Balkan nation with diverse terrain encompassing Black Sea coastline, rivers, including the Danube, and a mountainous interior. A cultural melting pot with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian influences, it has a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes and crafts. At the foot of domed Vitosha mountain is its capital, Sofia, dating to the 5th century B.C.E. Etc.
Does that make you want to go there? Me neither. But the icon and the image of that little round church in Sofia most certainly do.