How did Bulgaria look like? I had no idea prior to my arrival. Maybe some old-fashioned houses, some typical Eastern European influence? I touched down in Sofia and was surprised. Everything looked rather familiar. If you had shown me a picture of some of the streets I curiously strolled along, I would have guessed them to be in Prague. But the more I walked, the more I seemed to have travelled back in time…
Where Did the GDR Go?
Pretty pastel houses with intricate Art Deco ornaments towered above the streets. Awe-inspiring churches dominated big plazas. Sure, there were some ragged looking side alleys, which I walked down as well, of course. (And no, not just because I got lost a couple of times. Getting lost is part of the adventure!)
Naturally, I sent home tons of photos. (Here’s an affiliate link in case you need some free digital space with Dropbox as well.) The response was: “This very much looks like back home in the GDR.” I guess it did. No wonder it somehow felt familiar. I had been born into a Communist country, though I doubt I actually had any specific memories about it. The Berlin Wall had been stretching all the way to Bulgaria. How did I forget?
Strolling the streets around the country, certainly felt like a walk in the past at times. Run down shop fronts, plaster escaping off unstable looking balconies and crumbling brick walls didn’t make for the most exciting photo opportunities. The square apartment blocks to accommodate as much people as possible all looked the same. That was the original point. Communism was about equality. Though of course, some were more “equal” than others, but that is another topic.
Where Decay Meets Colour
It was a strange sensation to walk in a foreign country and see streets that could have taken out of your childhood. Communism sure had a sweeping effect in the East of Europe. And its goal of overall assimilation certainly seemed lofty but when it came down to first impressions, it succeeded if you asked me.
However, that is not only what I remember when I think back to the streets of Bulgaria. For every street façade that seemed to crumble, graffiti brought new paint. All over Bulgaria, street art popped up. No matter if you are into such public displays of expression, whether you consider it art or otherwise, it definitely is an eye catcher.
One thing is for certain, Bulgaria is much more colourful than I had expected it to be. And it is constantly growing and developing. Let’s see where this goes when more people discover this beautiful country as a holiday destination. But better than just talking about it, I thought I would just show you.