Abandoned Places

For those who love to discover abandoned places, Sofia is a goldmine. Even after more than a year I love to take a walk and find new places and buildings. So many things are currently in a phase of transition, this contrast between old and new is still very exciting and all-consuming. Here are some of my favorite pics. 

That's what I've discovered here in the Military Academy Park. A kind of open air library or cute place for a book swap.

This is also part of the Military Academy Park: a beautifully decorated pavilion. This park was closed for public, because it is still a part of the Military Academy complex G. S. Rakovski. But three years ago they allowed the access for regular visitors like me and now it‘s one of the quietest and unexcited areas in Sofia.

This is a part of the building of the Military Academy.

A lion - the town's landmark. Unfortunately, a very battered version of the proud beast.

This is - for whatever reason – one of my favorite urban places. It’s not beautiful or impressive but I like the colors and the mood of this house wall. By the way, many thanks to my dear friend Jan for this picture, he took it during his stay with me here last fall. You have to come over again soon!


Once again - A tribute to the weather

I definitively have to be faster regarding my posts about the Bulgarian weather. Couple of weeks ago I found these amazing and stunning pictures of the foggy Sofia, taken by the Bulgarian blogger and photographer Hristo. So annoying and depressing the fog is (it smells badly because of the many coal-burning stoves), so beautiful looks this natural spectacle from a different perspective, from the top of the Vitosha Mountain.

Unfortunately, I was too slow and the pictures are by now out of date. But I still have to share and show them! Meanwhile, we have already beautiful spring weather and lots of sun.

All images(c)inasearchofbalance.wordpress.com


Demonstrations in Sofia – finally a change of mind *

When we decided to move to Sofia everyone told us about the crusty structures of Bulgarian politics. They told us about corruption, resignation, disenchantment with politics, distrust and hopelessness. And in the first few months we could feel and see all of it. There was almost no week in which we haven‘t met a young person who told us about a plan leaving the country. „I want to live, not just survive“ was one of the saddest sentences I heard in the last years.

But now, something has changed. It all began couple of months ago, when the first demonstrations started in summer 2013. The flash point was a precipitous and inscrutable nomination of a politician, the controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski for head of Bulgaria's State Agency for National Security.

Since then, protests take place every single day in Sofia. It is so good and relieving to see all those people who want to participate and who will not longer accept the situation here in Bulgaria. To accept that politicians decide for their own benefit. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer protesters out there, maybe it's due to the bad weather but I fear that a big part of them has already resigned again. The government in any case, decided to sit this out rather than talking to the people.

There is one group of the protesters called „Early Risers“. They are students who really do some creative and well-thought-out protests and happenings and who keep on track of it the whole time. I really hope that they won't give up and that they will win more and more sympathizers over. Maybe I’ll try to have a little interview with one of the founders of the „Early Risers“.

Here are some impressions of the last months regarding this whole topic:

The student group „Early Risers“ has occupied parts of the university and shows their flag, a black fist on a yellow background.

This was one of the roughest nights during the last months. The protesters tried to get access to the parliament by ripping off the protective grating. The police responded very hard and determined, there were several arrests. In addition, the police pushed the demonstrators back farther with a superiority of manpower and destroyed several posters and stalls of the protesters. They also brought some water cannons into position, which was totally exaggerated. Fortunately, the situation has relaxed and they did not use them. As we live in the very center of Sofia, we always sit front-row. The car on the last photo belongs to us, luckily it was still working the next morning. Well, that would have been different in Berlin or Hamburg…

This was quite a strange one… The governing party (Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP) itself announced a big demonstration to declare their own legitimacy. A kind of counter-demonstration. And indeed, it’s true that this party was elected by the majority of the people themselves, although it is the successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party, which has brought so many bad things to the country. But anyway, on this day the BSP decided to bring thousands of people from the suburbs and small cities to Sofia so that they can demonstrate for them. This was pretty bizarre, because I saw round about 40 buses full of rural population driving straight through the city. It was an adventurous mix of modern coaches, old school buses and broken old bangers. The people from the buses all looked very little motivated, as if they were little interested in the demonstration. Many journalists were of the opinion that the government had bought these people, that they were payed to attend the protests. I must say that I had exactly the same impression.

Currently, the demonstrations are getting smaller and the government respond though greatly exaggerated on these people. Even small gatherings will be blocked by the police immediately. 

* Please note that this is just my very own experience and impression of all that. I am not an expert in politics or the Bulgarian population. Being a foreigner, who lives for only a few months here in Sofia, I am well aware that I’m able to understand only a fraction of the circumstances. This is just my very own point of view.


A trip to Boyana Waterfalls

Before winter and snow will arrive here in Sofia (by the way, still sunny and warm in the afternoon, still able to drink coffe on the balcony – and this is November, as a German I am blown away!), I have to share some pictures of a beautiful trip we did this summer. For locals it might not be a big deal as they know their number one destination very well, but for me it was. The Boyana Waterfalls are really stunning and it’s a nice – but quite exhausting – excursion. Besides the great view, we noticed something very curious: Unlike in the city, in the shops, on the stairs and seemingly everywhere else, every single hiker who crossed our way has greeted us. As a close-knit community. Well, it seems you have to have something obvious in common to greet each other, otherwise you are just a stranger – and who would like to say hallo to perfect strangers…. I'll stay tuned on this observation ...


Sofia Pride 2013

Few days ago, the Sofia Pride, the Bulgarian version of the Gay Pride, took place for the 6th time. The parade was postponed from June to September for security reasons due to the fact that the police could not guarantee the protection of the people. Fortunately there were no incidents, riots or abuse at all. For someone who is familiar with the Christopher Street Day in Berlin, the parade was kind of “innocent”, there was one truck with dancers, one single drag queen and one man who danced shirtless. But if you consider that the participants were advised by the police to hide all rainbow-colored flags and other stuff outside the protected area, you get an idea how brave all this is, how committed. So, compared to the CSD in Berlin, where it is mostly about having a good party, the gay Bulgarians fight for recognition, acceptance and equality. And they have to fight with no holds barred.

It was very moving and important to me that I could be there on that day. I also think that you have kind of an obligation to support this community, to support people who suffer from violence, discrimination and harassment. I am thankful that I do not have to struggle with such adversity in my life, that gay friends from my home do not have to struggle with it. Therefore, it should be understood to stand up and fight for others.

I hope more people of the foreign community will support the Sofia Pride 2014! Get up off your butts!


Sunny Times

One of the best things here in Sofia is the sun. The sunny weather, the dry heat, the blue sky. No wonder - Sofia is located approximately at the same latitude as Southern Italy. Never ever in my whole life I could soak up as much sun as this year! And that clearly improves the quality of life and mood. It's so much nicer to be able to drink my coffee in the morning sun and - a special plus – to work and write in the sun. Summer in Germany means the absence of rain, at least most of the time. So that’s a significant improvement, which I absolutely love! Next year, the balcony will be upgraded in any case, because it's definitive worth it. Even now, in September I can still spend every afternoon in the sun. However, I must consistently use sunblocker next year: wrinkle alert!

Minimal beautification of our balcony in the 
spring of this year Next year we tackle 
it properly!

We have also tried to grow vegetables and herbs. 
Here is also room for improvement next year..! 
A lot!

At least, we had some flowers!