Plovdiv Part 4

Seen below: the pool and fountain in the middle of the park. Beside it is a fancy establishment. Also the fountain and a sculpture in the city center.

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The shrubs spell the word “Plovdiv” in Cyrillic.

Plovdiv, Part 3

Excavated ruins, a serene public park, brutalist art and architecture, monuments to national heroes, Cyrillic text.

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You can see some people in the distance in various shots. I usually try to keep people out of my photos unless there are swarms of them.

Not shown: the Kebab shop where I purchased probably five kebabs.

Graffiti always stands out to me wherever I go. I mentioned to someone as we were walking in the area seen in the first five photos above; “There’s a lot of graffiti here” to which he replied: “You ah, don’t have graffiti in America?” I paused, and said actually yes we do. I just don’t notice it much.

Plovdiv, Part II

(Note: I have been using my Samsung to take photos, so the lighting has been somewhat deficient. In the future I’ll go back to using a digital camera of some kind.)

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Walking across a bridge toward the city center (see if you can spot the yellow arches…),

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The mosque in the city center, by the now-excavated theater. Both are in popular use. Really the only tourists I saw were in this area; including an English-speaking middle-aged couple complete with beige shorts, colorful shirts, and cameras around their necks.

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This area is nicer than the area by my place. People walk up and down the street without interference from vehicles.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

In early June I arrived to the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Plovdiv is one of the oldest and most continuously populated cities in Europe. It was conquered by Philip II of Macedon in 342 BC, giving the city the name Philoppopolis. Visiting the city and seeing the people and architecture around me thrust into my imagination ancient imperial machines, tribal wars, the pysche of Orthodox Christianity, Turkish occupation, and the austere soullessness of communism.

After I got settled in my room, I went outside to get something to eat. I had not eaten in several hours. I had been warned that nothing would be open except convenience stores selling alcohol, soda, chips and candy. This turned out to be the case. Along my walk from the apartment building I examined life late at night in the first Eastern European country I’d been to. I definitely felt a small degree of culture shock. The people I saw around me were, frankly, uglier than in the West. The typical man is more muscular, and there are many young men who walk around with their arms extended to the side to exaggerate their strength. A teenage couple approached me, asking me something. When it became clear that I did not speak a word of Bulgarian, they walked away. I found nothing of substance to eat and went back to my room and watched House of Cards (perhaps more on that later).

The following photos are from one of the first evenings I was there.

Let us begin with some random cubist art on the side of a building:

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The ancient theater is often used for events, and looks out at the city, neighboring towns, and the mountains beyond.

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Old town:

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Someone I was with who had been abroad for a few years looked at the ugly Soviet-era buildings and remarked that as unattractive as they looked, they represented home.

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“We don’t experience the world that way” one of my college professors once said in one of my creative writing classes, referring to the chronological structure of typical storytelling.

Perhaps this is sufficient reasoning (or an excuse) for chopping up the chronology of my experiences in these posts.

Anyway, here are a few photos of Madrid, Spain:

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Buda

The following photos were taken after a midday run through Pest, across the Danube and into Buda on June 29th. I was among hundreds of tourists; people from Europe, America, China, and Africa. The day began cloudy. It had poured the night before.

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Of all the places I’ve been to, I’ve done the poorest job here of following up on the history behind the buildings and sculptures I see around me. But that’s not all bad. My art professors used to keep us from reading the plaques beside the paintings. It’s an experience, after all. With each experience I become less interested in doing this kind of documentation. We’re now in the world of Google images, instagram, and so on.

You need to see it for yourself, if you can. The photos, though selected deliberately, do not lie. This is a beautiful city.