Urban Planning, or Lack Thereof..!

Old Market Square

There have been a number of meetings, lectures, discussions and blog posts recently about the city’s ongoing urban planning. Or lack of urban planning. During one of my forays into reading online bulletins about the subject, I happened across this article about the Old Market Square in Nottingham, and thought I’d share it because a) it’s my hometown, and b) it’s a good example of architecture for the community, a wonderful public space which could serve as an example to the powers that be here.

The original article is here

More information (in Bulgarian only, sorry…) about the ongoing urban development of Sofia and it’s problems can be found here

Advertisements

As Winter Sets In

Winter Tyres

A bit late this year, even by Bulgarian standards, I finally got round to changing my tyres to winter ones, a sure sign that winter is finally upon us.  The city is dotted with small tyre service shops, and around the beginning of November the changes start, sure as dogs moult for the winter, and everyone starts changing their tyres.  Here it’s an absolute necessity, as when winter really sets in, with the ice and snow, they are absolute life savers…

Nikulden

Nikulden

Nikulden, or St. Nicholas’ day, 6th December, is usually celebrated with fish for dinner.  The tradition is Carp, roasted with walnut and raisin stuffing, but this year, trout was on the menu, with spinach salad, cabbage salad, and of course plenty of home made Rakia…

Street Food

Pizza Bar

With the continuing emergence of a new middle class, and the inevitable influx of western food chains, like the squat shops, these street food vendors are becoming fewer and fewer.  The once ubiquitous “pizza by the slice” bars (this one is still thriving on Blvd Patriarh Evtimi), doner take aways and sandwich bars are losing favour, as shopping and streetlife becomes “mall” life, and McDonalds, Subway, KFC become the fast food of choice…

“Squat” Shops

Squat Shop

There used to be hundreds of these “squat” shops when I first came to Sofia, on almost every side street, even on the main boulevards, but now they are few and far between.  So called because they are situated in a basement, and you have to squat down to place your order, having chosen from the items on display in the windows.  The wares usually comprise cigarettes, drinks, crisps, crackers…

They originated, so I’m told, shortly after the fall of communism, when retail space was at a premium, and small entrepreneurs started their own businesses from the only affordable space…

Look Up

Quiet Side Street
Walking around the streets, our attention is usually focused on where we are going; cars, buses, shop windows… some of us rarely look above the level of our feet. But something that has been in the back of my mind for a while is what’s above our normal level of view – the parts of the buildings we don’t normally look at.

Sofia isn’t renowned as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, but there are some surprisingly beautiful buildings above the hubbub of street level.  So about a year ago I decided to start with my walk to and from the office and snap some of the architectural “treasures” along the way…  Watch this space for more!

This street is just off the main Vitosha Boulevard, and although it’s right in the centre of the city, it’s quiet and secluded, almost as if in a small provincial town.

The Long Winter Evenings

image

As the night’s draw in and it gets colder, even after this year’s “gypsy summer”, the winter starts to take over even in the house, the traditional dishes, seasonal as ever become an integral part of the menu for the coming months…

This, Turshia, is pickled winter vegetables, carrots, cauliflowers, peppers, and of course, the obligatory glass of rakia… Or two…