Finding Communism & Art in Sofia, Bulgaria

posted in: Shows, Tour | 0
Our show poster (photo from Budapest)
Our show poster (photos from Budapest)


Sofia (at least the part we experienced) was not a beautiful city in the way you might think, but it was one that left a dusty gray imprint from its weedy heart to ours.

Bulgaria, through our bus window. One of the longest border crossings of the trip.
Bulgaria, through our bus window. One of the longest border crossings of the trip.


It took *forever* (and one day) to make it through the border crossing.  We drove through Romania and saw many remote shack-like structures attached to the beautiful green rolling hills.

And, at the hours-long border crossing (or rather border waiting), we took heed:




By the time we reached the city of Sofia, it was dark and we had to find our Airbnb.  We hopped in a taxi and the driver took us to a nondescript block of flats and guessed it was the right address (he was not entirely sure).  With no other choice, we paid the man, disembarked, and began to look for signs of the address we’d been given.

After some confusion, we found the right place and person to let us in, and walked up several flights of stairs to our tiny studio room in the attic.  We really felt our heavy instrument load that night.

The next day, Rob and I, while waiting for our friend Doug to arrive from the States, headed out to find the vegan restaurant, Dream House.


Figuring out where to go, where we were, meaning of life, etc.

Then, we walked around town looking at the dilapidated parks and buildings. Beautiful in their own decaying ways.

Wonderful and creepy wooden art in the park
Wonderful and creepy wooden art in the park
Sofia's version of the Liberty Warehouse in Durham.
Sofia’s version of the Liberty Warehouse in Durham.

Though Sofia has some beautiful architecture (like the above), much is reminiscent of communist-era grey blocks like the following:


Approaching the statues and sculptures in these public spaces seemed as one would find artifacts in an attic, once full of promise and hope, and now tucked away as discarded storage, taking up space and saved only because they have been forgotten (are no longer seen not because they aren’t there, but because they ARE there). [Whoa!]

I love this
I love this


The famous
The famous Saint Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral. and Rob.


I am going to use this for each and every birthday on Facebook that I remember.
I am going to use this for each and every birthday on Facebook that I remember.


The absolute highlight of our Sofia trip was choosing to walk to and wander around the Museum of Socialist Art.  It was very much off the beaten path, both geographically and politically, but well worth a trip should you find yourself here.  Per a travel site, “It collects, preserves and displays examples of art from Bulgaria’s 1944 to 1989 communist era.”


Including this guy.


“The Volunteer.”


So glad our friend from Durham, NC, Doug, joined us for this leg of our trip.


“Women from the cooperative farm.”
“Earth from the War” statue, 1945, Micho Minev. LOVE THIS
Huge Lenin
“Rachenitsa” (Bulgarian Folk Dance) by Velichko Menikov
Fits right in with the aesthetic. Contemporary monument to work.
“Women Diggers.”
A cemetery for communism.
Outside the museum. Either they didn’t make the cut, or they haven’t been placed yet (the museum opened in 2011, so maybe the latter).
Rob and Doug
The soldier (I think)


Found nearby in a park that had a flea market, including Nazi memorabilia items from WWII


The night before, we had our show which was part of a festival.  I liked the club, and it was great that one of the bands, Calf, were from my Dad’s hometown Karditsa! They were also friends with the band we played with in Athens, Greece in June. Nice, nice fellas.

I thought this show would be “off the hook” as hundreds had signed up to attend.  However, it wasn’t. The other bands did see our set, but other than that there were not too many people. However, throughout the night, there were several, which is why we were surprised when the organizer Vladamir disappeared and we were never paid.  We asked him through Facebook later, and he said he’d look into it but we heard nothing.  I later realized that the reason our Facebook invite had so many people “attending” was because Vladimir just reused the invite from a past event. At least that’s what Detective Vlachos thinks.

But we did meet a super nice writer who DJ’d our show, Svetoslav — he wrote up a short piece here in Indioteque.  He also kindly helped us set up the show by giving club recommendations to try.

We played rousing games of Fousball with the other bands, from whom I learned that my “spinning” the handles/men was cheating.  Without the spinning, my Game is NOTHING.  I NEED it.

Rob arriving to Neu!Berlin club in downtown Sofia, greeted by members of the local band Fault (nice guys!)
Calf, touring from Karditsa, Greece!
Calf, touring from Karditsa, Greece!
Cheers? наздраве!

And this was Sofia, Bulgaria.  It would have been nice to have more time.

The train station was under construction, and when leaving, it was very unclear where to go and which train to take. We were told to get out at a particular town, but then the conductor later forbid this.

When we crossed the Greek border, the train stopped in a middle-of-nowhere station for seemingly hours. I got out to talk to the station attendants and they kindly explained that we were waiting for the other part of another train that would connect with us (which means running into us and connecting, not unlike mating for some creatures).  He let me borrow his phone and call the Airbnb in Thessaloniki to explain we’d be late.

It was SO GOOD to be back home — that’s what it felt like.

More in the next post on my sweet Greece.