The International Writers Magazine: Travel
My Big Fat Bulgarian Orgy
If you liked that movie, you’ll hate this article, because this is for guys and the only wedding here is the marriage of food, wine, music, and a voracious hottie. However, if the way to your heart is thru your stomach, plus a nearby appendage, keep reading.
I arrived in the capital Sofia with twenty-four hours to relax. Took a taxi to the Bulgarska Zavera Restaurant on Tsar Samuil Street. The old masonry and walnut wood interior was covered with rifles and military paintings from the 1853 Crimean War. My table sat beneath a tea-urn once used by the Russian General Gurko, who liberated the country from the Ottoman Empire. (Wait a minute. Didn´t Luke Skywalker free everyone from the Ottoman Empire when he dropped the bomb into that thingy? Maybe I´m confused.)
A waitress bent over me, pouring red wine and revealing creamy cleavage. I blurted out “Thanks” a bit too enthusiastically. The meal began with a shopska salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, olives, parsley, and white cheese. Next came a cold Tarator soup with yogurt, cucumbers, nuts, and dill—way better than it sounds. Finally, a steaming platter arrived. Rack of pork was roasted on a traditional iron pan with onion, pepper, eggplant, carrots, olives, mushrooms, potatoes, and bacon. The second-most-delicious-looking rack I’d seen that night fully satisfied. After a good bit more wine, I staggered down to Pirotska Street and crashed at the Hotel Sveta Sofia.
At sunrise, I stepped onto the balcony to find myself surrounded by rustic-tiled roofs and snowcapped mountains. The air was cool and fresh. I felt that common traveler’s sentiment: I could probably live here. Hopped into the shower. As I was soaping up and rinsing off, the cleaning staff decided to go the extra mile, which was about ten feet too far. Turning off the water and pulling aside the curtain, I discovered that someone had come in while I was naked and placed a towel within arms reach. They had also made the bed.
If I said I was generally opposed to nude encounters with strangers, I’d be lyin´ big time. Nor did I feel violated like most women would. I just felt she should have made her presence known, so I would have had the option to ask her to wait outside or to ask her to do something completely inappropriate. Instead, she carried out her duties routinely—almost as if this wet, writhing hulk of masculine flesh exerted no gravitational pull on her whatsoever. Needless to say, I was deeply offended.
||Since it was Sunday morning, I opted to check out the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. The ambiance was not unexpected: vast space between checkerboard marble floors and stained-glass-illuminated domes.
The glowing chandeliers and rich incense were also familiar. However, the hour-long musical conversation between the lofty ringing choir and the ZZ Top-bearded chanting priests can only be described as skin-tingling, soul-stirring Gothic opera.
Almost as stunning as the moment the music began was the moment when it stopped. The people crowded forward together to receive sacred bread—not translucent wafer but marketplace bread, not one holy relic that must be guarded but an overflowing two hands full of pieces that begged to be shared. Perhaps, an equally worthy view of grace. I gave the shadowy cavernous room a last perusal. Rows of iconic portraits, framed by peacock and grapevine laden arches on columns, were astonishing. Yet, the eye candy was nothing compared to the inescapable feeling elicited that there is one artist and architect above all others. Let’s just say I gave the show a two thumbs up and leave it at that.
Walking away from the cathedral, I immediately passed a strip club called Taboo, where I assumed less ancient heavenly forms were inspiring awe. Maybe, in a spirit of ecumenicism, I should have joined those worshipers too. Maybe not.
Instead, I stopped at a coffee house with the incredibly accurate and helpful name “Coffee House.” I once asked a wise old lady “Which is better: coffee or women?” She retorted, “Both are delicious, but the coffee won’t cause you so much trouble.” What could the oracle at Delphi have possibly offered to top that? Fortunately, I didn’t have to choose.
|As I sipped my java, five-plus feet of curves and hair, wearing sexy librarian glasses, plopped down at the closest table. Apparently, Eastern Orthodox prayers are the most effective. Since my camera wasn’t working, I took it out and melodramatized the problem until she offered to help. Soon, we were exchanging email addresses and making rendezvous plans.
Time for lunch. Drifting thru the neighborhood, I stumbled into Cookies Bar and Café. The velvet curtains, chrome pillars, paper lanterns, and hardwood furnishings had both a chic and yesteryear quality that was instantly relaxing. The impossibly-tight blue jeans worn by my statuesque server were instantly not relaxing. I foreplayed with a tabbouleh salad of Bulgar wheat, parsley, tomato, lemon peel, and olive oil, then climaxed on duck julienne with pretentious-but-delicious aromatic herbs including salvia, chamomile, and linden. Basking in the afterglow, I pretended to stare out the bay windows but checked out the fashionistas dining windowside. So, that’s what they were hiding behind the iron curtain: really hot babes!
Spent the rest of the afternoon strolling thru the big central market called Hali. It’s like a mall full of Bulgarian hams, sausages, cheeses, breads, wines, beers, and salads like Fava beans in tomato dill sauce. Bought just about everything that might survive a suitcase.
Walking back on the darkening streets, I encountered the unmistakable sound and smell of blues and barbeque. Followed them down a crumbling alley. What I found was a party composed of hippie, gypsy, and mafioso types. The brown sandals, gray ponytails, and black leather jackets encircled me for a few wary questions before handing me a bottle of Zagorka Beer. I gratefully sat down.
The birthday bash was for Bulgaria’s original and most famous blues player “Vasko the Patch.” Grabbing his guitar and harmonica, he launched into a mournful groove he had recently written called “The Dark Side of the Wall.” For a couple hours and a few brews, I was mesmerized by his tunes of woe and tales of freedom from communist oppression. The happenings ended with Vasko and me bellowing out Muddy Waters´ classic “Hootchie Kootchie Man” together. Then he engaged in the greatest act of hospitality one man can show another: he introduced me to his loveliest and horniest friend.
You may hear that Bulgaria is a poor country devoid of amenities. I must admit I found little there except succulent food, tasty wine, soulful music, and attractive women. Still, I somehow muddled through.
© Professor Lyn Fuchs June 2010
lynfuchs at gmail.com
The University of Papaloapan
Lyn is a professional writer whose work appears regularly in publications including Outdoor Canada, Monday Magazine, Canadian Ethnic Studies and The Dalhousie Review. The author of the book Sacred Ground and Holy Water: travel tales of enlightenment.