With the climate warming becoming more and more prominent, this winter in Bulgaria has been too warm and dry for any snow to stay with us. As a direct consequence, Sofia is rather dark and gloomy instead of full of snow and joy for the kids (the adults are usually less joyful due to the chaotic traffic). In any case I thought it’s actually a perfect setting for an ugly photo tour in the less celebrated parts of the city. Even though you can easily find many nice parks and buildings in Sofia, there are also some really horrific districts that came to existence from the combination of typical communist architecture in the past and the capitalist present where authorities predominantly take care of only certain more classy parts of town together with the real ghettos of the minorities. The following set of photos is actually from a very normal neighborhood (i.e. there are waay worse places), called Hipodruma, very close to the city centre. It’s clear the people living there are not particularly rich, but they are still mostly middle class citizens. So, after this cautious and hopefully educational introduction, it’s time for you to enjoy this Sunday afternoon walk around the neighborhood!
Surely anyone that ever visited Japan felt at times a little bit like being in a futuristic cyberpunk novel or in movie like Blade Runner. Without specifically trying to take photos of this kind, I realized I do have plenty of shots from my last year’s visit that match very well the cyberpunk theme. So I decided to show them separately in a dedicated post, hopefully making happy the Blade Runner fans out there. Enjoy! And do check out on google for some way more impressive cyberpunk shots of Japan from more professional photographers that took their time and waited specifically for the perfect conditions like rain and fog and interesting passers by.
Happy New Year everyone! I wish a very happy and healthy 2020 to all people reading me here. Today I’ll describe and show you my last two days of 2019, which I spent on a trip to Jordan (more posts from this beautiful country to follow soon). As it happens, these two days we visited the two most famous and touristy parts of Jordan: Petra and the Wadi Rum desert. So I can hardly surprise anyone on the internet with the revelation that both places are really beautiful. But I still hope you enjoy the photo-tour below, and otherwise you’re as always welcome to complain in your comments!
The photo on top is the first thing we saw in the morning of 1 January, a herd of camels waiting for the tourists to wake up and hop on. It’s not always easy to start the New Year in such a unique way, but I hope everyone here found their own perfect start of the decade!
The time to share more photos from my two-week trip to Sri Lanka and India has come. I figured the best way to introduce you to the mood is to start with some photos from the road in South India, taken mostly from inside the car and mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu where the Indian part of our trip was centered. Much of everyday life in India is in fact centered around the main road, so you can see an amazing and colorful variety of people, animals and goods passing around you (or just standing still when stuck in traffic). While traveling through India we were often listening to that one Bulgarian song I tagged (thanks to our driver Mubarak who found it online and blasted it through the sound system). So now you can really imagine the full experience and mood, which was truly beautiful and unforgettable for me.
Today is Sri Lanka’s day of mourning for the loss of more than 300 lives in a series of terror attacks in Catholic churches and hotels in the capital Colombo and around the country. I’m not good in writing emotional words and have no power to change things or comfort the suffering, but I would like to send a message of love and offer my condolences and support to the people of Sri Lanka with a series of photos. I had the fortune of visiting this beautiful country several months ago and in the very short period of my travels met so many friendly and welcoming people, some of whom I managed to capture with my camera. The first photo you see above was taken in St. Anthony’s shrine in Colombo at the Sunday morning mass, and I’m sure the church was even more crowded with innocent people two days ago when a bomb went off. I did not personally know any of the victims, but it is clear that they were very ordinary people like you and me and like all the smiley, expressive and honest faces you’ll see below. So we can all take a minute to mourn their loss and contemplate on the responsibility we all have in such a globalized world where everyone and everything is interconnected.
The last stop on our Puglia trip was fittingly also it’s main city, Bari. Bari combines some of the main features of all the other places you saw, such as the relaxed atmosphere bringing you back in time, the historic baroque style and important religious sites, the blue Adriatic sea, and as always in Italy the amazing typical food. But on top of all that, Bari is actually a fairly big port and a major student city with very lively streets, bars and restaurants. So I hope you enjoy, and with this the Puglia photo-series is now officially over! So I’ll be soon off to showing you brand new places and people. But just out of curiosity first I’d be very interested if you leave comments with your opinion on the place you liked most in Puglia, in case you did like something of course.
Our next stop after Alberobello was Matera, one of the main cities in the region of Basilicata where we decided to spend two nights. As already stated, Matera is not really in Puglia but is fairly nearby so that it makes sense to combine the trip. And it truly is worth the small detour as it is probably the most memorable and out-of-this-world place that I’ve visited in Italy. The history of Matera is really unique: it used to be an extremely poor place where people actually lived in cave-like houses called “sassi” up until the 50es of 20th century. The medieval conditions were considered inhumane even by the government of Italy so by a state law the people were actually moved out to completely new neighborhoods. So the old town with the sassi was deserted for a few decades before people starting realizing how unique the atmosphere is. Now it’s slowly being populated back and tourism is on the rise; in 2019 Matera became the European capital of culture together with Plovdiv (which you might have seen in https://kirilson.com/2018/06/03/southeast-bulgarian-road-trip-i-plovdiv/). Enough said – here are some photos showing you what Matera is really like.
The next stop on our Puglia trip was the small but rather famous and touristy town of Alberobello. It is known for its unique architecture, the “trullo” houses or just “trulli”. As you can already see on the top photo the trulli are windowless, have a circular form with a pointy conical stone roof and look like fairy tale, dwarf or smurf buildings rather than places where usual people lived for centuries. I believe the history of how these houses came to be is that the people in the region were not eager to pay taxes for house-ownership and the trulli were enjoying a tax exemption since they had a temporary status, the original trulli could be disassembled within hours. So, Alberobello became the main gathering centre for all the tax-evaders and a few centuries later also became one of the main tourist destinations in Puglia because of its surreal look. Unfortunately the weather was quite bad during our stay so I apologize if the photos are not perfect, I tried to emphasize the trulli-effect by making them retro style. But no matter whether you like the shots or not, I guarantee you that staying in a trullo even for just one evening is well-worth the travel!
I devoted my anniversary 100th post to my best photos of people and art, but I thought it’s only fair to have another collective post about my travels around Bulgaria. After more than a decade of living abroad, I moved back to my home country a little more than 3 years ago and many of my blog posts document my quest of rediscovering Bulgaria. Inadvertently many of these photos are associated with some of my best experiences from my life back home, but I also tried to compile a collection showing the objective beauty and diversity of the place. Enjoy!
So after almost 3 years I finally made it to the 100th post on my blog, which I decided to be a special compilation with some of my favorite shots over the years under the common theme of people observing and interacting with art. If I ever get to showcase some of my photos in a gallery, I imagine it will be a selection similar to this one. So thanks a lot to everyone for following, liking and commenting on my photos! As you know the feedback process is really indispensable to the idea of blogging and I wouldn’t have made it without all this support. So, any further ideas for photo topics or compilations are very welcome, and I hope the next 100 posts are way better!
Our next stop on the Puglia map was the small charming town of Martina Franca, probably the least known place from our trip. It’s probably most famous for the white wine of the same name and the annual summer opera festival and could be described as a mixture between our previous two destinations, Ostuni and Lecce. We arrived there after a 3-4 hour train ride through vast beautiful areas of olive tree plantations, and decided to stop for lunch and a 2-hour walk around town. It turned out we were lucky to get back to the train station and our next destination before the rain caught up with us. So here are a few photos with ominous clouds in the sky that hopefully give you a feel for Martina Franca.
Next stop after Ostuni was baroque Lecce, “the Florence of the South” and one of the main cultural centres in Puglia, where we spent one night. It is the main city of the Salento region, the southernmost part of Puglia where the Italian language I learnt in the north is particularly useless. Unfortunately it started raining a lot in the evening, so most of the photos below are from a very short stroll on the morning. And I think Lecce’s architecture and atmosphere can be properly felt only in the evening… but oh well, hope you still enjoy the photos! And stay tuned for more places in Puglia. Anyone wants to guess what was the next stop after Lecce?
The next stop on our Puglia trip was Ostuni, where we arrived with the train from Polignano. Ostuni is another small touristy town with an charming old centre, a little bit further away from the sea. It reminded me a little bit of a Greek town for its white houses with blue or green doors, and the vast fields of olive trees around it. And of course this is hardly a coincidence given Puglia’s history as part of Ancient Greece before the Roman empire settled in, long long time ago.
I know I have already made various posts with photos from Italy, but I have to warn you there’s a lot more to come! In particular this is the first post from a long series about Puglia, the southeastern-most province of Italy, or better known as the heel of the booth. Last spring I was on a week-long trip in Puglia (with a short “jump” to the neighboring region of Basilicata to see Matera) and each day we visited a different town that you’ll be able to see in a different post. Going chronologically I start with Polignano a Mare, a little town near Bari where we spent the first day of the trip. Apart from being a popular summer sea resort, Polignano is best known as the birth place of Domenico Modugno (famous for his beautiful song “Volare”).
Happy new year, my best wishes to everyone here for 2019!
Just like last year (https://kirilson.com/2018/01/09/happy-new-year-from-bansko/), I decided to give my new year’s wishes with a post from the Bulgarian mountains, Rila instead of Pirin this time. Recently I had the luck of catching the snow-covered Rila monastery and its surroundings just a few hours before the temperatures rose and the snow melted (of course in the comings 2-3 months there will be a lot more snow to come but I might not be traveling there again this year). So, enjoy the snow and stay tuned as I promise you a lot more from me in 2019!
The last city on the way to the Venice biennale was, unsurprisingly, Venice itself. As one of the world’s top destinations there’s hardly anything left untold and unseen from Venice. The statement that every street and little piazza is an art tour in itself is true here even more than anywhere else in Italy. Unfortunately the number of tourists is slowly destroying the city itself, but the beautiful façade remains together with small pockets of normal life in the more remote areas. Here I present you a random collection of photos that are not representative of almost anything of the above said, but are hopefully enjoyable to look at.
The next stop on my way to the biennale was Padova (20-30km southwest of Venice), another medieval pretty town hosting a very big and old university (the second oldest in Italy after Bologna and overall fifth in the world according to Wikipedia). It is also less crowded and touristy than Venice, making it a good and somewhat cheaper option to stay if you want to visit the Venice biennale. Padova itself has a lot to offer, as I’ll try to convince you with the photos below.