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Saturday, May 3, 2014

PEACE AURA

PLOVDIV, BULGARIA

The old town is a world UNESCO Heritage site.  That means that some committee thought "Hey - this is alright.  We should probably give it some fame so the locals don't destroy it."

The old town, however, is tiny.  Very tiny.  It is so tiny that a fat man who isn't in any real hurry can plod over all of it in a day, two at most.

Since it is such a special place, the prices within are jacked up two or three times.  Locals and tourists usually only have a beer or tea there because nobody wants to pay those sorts of food prices.

Of the stuff I saw only the amphitheater struck me as 'pretty nifty'.  The rest is alright but even for the nifty Roman stuff (and I do like me some Roman ruins) you're still done after a day.  So it was either time to move on or get an apartment.

Found a 'tourist information agency'.  These are run by the government and make no money.  As a result, they are usually closed or staffed by people who only speak a rare dialect of the local language spoken by a handful of people carefully kept in hiding by the government.  To my great surprise, this was neither.  Both English and German were spoken - not with fluency but certainly enough to have a basic conversation and find some things out.  They also had useful maps.  Contrast this to the usual 'we are out of maps' or the maps people are given which are corporate sponsored and of use only to find the business which sponsored the maps.

Feeling saucy, I inquired within if they knew of a place I could rent an apartment for a month.  The very nice lady had the junior member of the staff take me to the rental agency.  From there, the renter and I viewed the property and it was perfect for my simple needs.  I confess I took the first place I viewed - but it was perfect.  You can actually view the property on the video link below.

It should be noted that there was pretty much no paperwork other than a 'could you write down the name you'd like to be called' sort.  Cash was handed over and apartment keys given.  For someone wanting to lay low who somehow found themselves in Bulgaria, this would be preferable to a hostel as they want to see your passport.

Or what's in your bags.
This is not what is in my bags.



ADVENTURES IN BULGARIA

Logan Vs the Cafeteria of Doom!

Logan wanders into one of those cafeteria style restaurants where they charge per hundred grams of food.

Staff lady:  "Can I help you?"
Logan:  "Ah, I'm just looking to see what all you have.  I ate a couple hours ago and am looking for somewhere to eat tonight."
Staff lady:  "OK, we close at eight."

This is suspicious to me as there is a sign on my downstairs door in Bulgarian that says "After 8:30PM lock the door."  I'm guessing that's what it says as nobody will give me Google Glasses with the translating function.  This makes me think that the CHUD's come out around eight or nine in the evening.

After about five minutes after Logan left the cafeteria, he bursts back in startling the Staff Lady.

Logan:  "I just remembered!  I have a microwave!"  Note, the oven is not something Logan wants any part of.

Logan:  "I want two of those!"

The staff lady wraps it up and begins to ring it up.

Logan:  "What are you doing?"

Staff Lady (surprised):  "You...wanted something else?"

Logan:  (pointing at huge gut):  "You see this?  It is called 'Ongoing bad judgement!"

The staff lady dissolved into laughter.



STREET TALK

After just a couple days here, I got stopped by a group of old men hanging around drinking coffee outside of a bar.  One spoke to me at length (German, thank you old USSR!) about who I was, what I was up to and so on.  He may be a friend of my landlord - same age range.

I'm also getting to know the names of various shop keepers and such I deal with.

The Bulgarians seem to span the entire range between those that are very friendly and those that laugh at my wrap pants.



LANDLORD

The landlord has quite a clever set up going.  He and his wife are the grandparents.  Not sure if all of their kids or just some of them live in the same building.  It could either be reduced rent or everyone chips in to pay for things.  Either way, as a grandparent, you have easy daily access to the grand kids - something American grandparents would shiv people for.  On the ground floor of the building they have a small store.  The store doesn't seem to sell much but stocks beer and coffee - giving their friends a rally point.

For those wanting to settle down, this seems pretty darned idyllic.



PEACE AURA - a story from Logan's distant past.

I'd started training in martial arts when I was in my early teens.  It was something my parents had gotten me into, probably to teach me some discipline.  The discipline part didn't hold but it did have the bonus of making me slightly less clumsy.  When I got into the military, I trained under a guy named Bob Spears in Hapkido.  Only after I'd left Germany and the military did I find out this guy was a famous practitioner of that art.

We didn't have the internet in those days.

But at the time I was about twenty and pretty violent - and decently skilled at violence.  Quite a change from now where I am moderately mellow, fat, cripply and old.  The problem at that time was I didn't get into fights.

Not for lack of wanting to get into fights.

I'm not a superstitious man.  If someone tells me they've seen a ghost, my immediate thought is they suffered a delusion or are telling me a 'tall tale'.  But some of my friends were.  They came up with the idea that I was surrounded by a 'peace aura'.

If tensions were starting to ratchet up in the bar and some horrible comment about someone's mother's sexual preferences had just been dropped, me walking in would suddenly have people apologizing to each other.  Not from anything I did.  Hell, I might be completely unaware of it.  Not from any 'charisma' or 'presence'.  I've never walked into a room and had everyone suddenly stop what they were doing and look at me other than to say things like "What is he wearing" and "Why can't he hit his mouth with his food?"

No.  Just some weird "Logan's in the area, we'll kill each other later."

Naturally, this frustrated the hell out of my twenty year old "let's kick some ass" self.

There was a bar called "Richies" in Munich, Germany.  Owned by an English couple, three different groups frequented the place.  US soldiers from the nearby base, American college students and Germans.  At that time, all three groups absolutely hated each other.  With the exception of me.  I was a soldier, hung out and did table top gaming with many of the students and spoke German.  Yes, I've always been a social person.

Anyway, tension started to ratchet up and up in Richies.

I started going nightly, hoping that there would be a big brawl and at last, I'd get to participate.

Up and up the tension went.

My special forces soldier friends began to plot.  Eventually, I think they drew lots.  The loser was instructed to take me and some other friends out to some different German clubs and keep me out of Richies for one night.

When the soldier initially proposed this, I was against it.  A brawl might happen any night in Richies!  He offered to pay for my drinks.  Reluctant acceptance.

The next day before they opened, I stopped by to visit with the owner, Richie.

The bar was trashed.  Broken furniture.  Blood on the walls.  Shards of glass embedded in the walls.  My face fell.

"I've never seen anything like it before." said the pale faced Richie.  "Everyone just snapped."

To the soldiers, this 'proved' the theory of the peace aura.  Personally, I still think it's bunk.  And, naturally as soon as I left, things started to heat up in Odessa...

WTF.



VIDEOS

Where am I?



NOTE TO SELF

My address for the next month is

Street Polk. Sava Mutkurov # 20, 2nd floor Chunchurovi family Plovdiv, Bulgaria 4003

What?  You crazy?  You can't just put your address up on the internet!

Who the fuck is going to come here, break into a secured building just to fucking steal my alcohol?  Hell, if any of my friends or fans visit, I'll buy extra and drink it with them!

2 comments:

  1. I think you've mentioned most of these: http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/travel-troubles/10010388/Worlds-top-travel-scams

    ReplyDelete
  2. You do a great job of keeping track of that sort of stuff.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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