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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After a cold and hectic stay in Lazarevatz and Belgrade, we continued further south first to Sofia and then - to Sliven. My notion of home is turned upside down as I have lived in several cities. However, Sliven is my home if I adopt a definition that home is where I spent my childhood and where parents live. That's also the place where my father's familiy belongs historically, where I have lived the longest (from age 3 to 19) and where I have been to school.

Sliven is also the place where every street speaks with layers of memories as I had written in an old post. Here the air is quite nice and sweet as it is constantly refreshed by the wind from the mountain (Stara Planina or also known as the Balkan Mountain). As I often joke it is difficult to find someone more Balkan than me having grown up with the sight of the Balkan in front of me and having roamed the mountain with friends.

So here is a short photo album of Sliven. Yesterday, when we arrived the sunset was quite beautiful as photographed from our terrace. After icy Belgrade (it reached as low as -19) todays' 15 degrees and sun feel like a premature spring. I associate such sunsets with the arrival of spring.

Sunset

One of our usual and quite nice passe-temps in Sliven is walking (or rather dragging) along the main street and buying all king of stuff to the kids while meeting old friends and acquaintances. This is a portion of the main street with the old clock tower at the end. I have crossed this street thousands of times. It is usually packed with people and cafes which mushroom in summer of course. An usual evening in high school consisted of walking the street several times and meeting all your friends who, of course, were doing the same (and what else could one do at that time?).

Main Street (Largo)

That's a nice house built in 1910 that is now one of the galleries in town. Fortunately, many of the old houses were preserved and painted.

Gallery (1910)

That's the municipality with the old clock tower. The clock strikes at noon now (also 10 pm in the past) with the first chords from a 19 century revolutionary song (Rise, rise, Balkan hero, wake up from your deep slumber!). My father use to work for some years in the municipality as a health care coordinator for the region on top of his work as a doctor.


Sliven Municipality

This is a place friends used to meet and I have spent some time here waiting in the pre-mobile phone times. The place used to be known as the Russian bookstore as it used to sell Russian literature. Naturally, pre-1989, that was one of the ways for cultural transfer and ideological influence. It is a bookstore now as well. The poster features Dan Brown's Lost Symbol instead of Dostoyevski. I am not sure which cultural influence is better but this is a separate discussion.


ex-Russian Bookshop (now - the Penguin Bookshop)

This is a tree that is more than 1000 years old and is one of the symbols of the city. I can't remember the English word for this type of tree. I checked and it is an elm tree - ulmus campestris.


The Oldest Tree in Town

That's a monument of a cool guy - Hadji Dimitar - who was heading a group of rebels in the mid-19th century fighting the Turks. Expectedly, he died at the age of 28 killed in a fight. I like the place as this is a nice monument and because of the cypress trees behind. When we were kids we used to organise cypress cone fights there.

Hadji Dimitar

This is a church - Saint Dimitar - which is opposite the monument and you can also see the clock tower in the distance.


Saint Dimitar Church

This is my old school where both my father and I studied from 1st to 7th grade. I can see my old chemistry and biology classrooms. I have played hundreds of football and basketball matched in this yard and it is usually filled with kids. Memories of what has happened in this yard are so numerous.

My Old School

And this is a nice old clock tower which has been recently reconstructed.

Old Clock Tower



2 comments:

Liss said...

Thank you for showing me around Sliven. I love the architecture of old European cities like this as we have nothing that compares here in Australia.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

Ruslan said...

Dear Liss,

Thanks for stopping by our blog. I hope you are having wonderful Christmas holidays!

Ruslan