Bulgaria Workshop Return

16th November 2014
Well I'm back from a hectic 8 days Photo Workshop in Bulgaria and the memories are still with me. They were with me four times in the night yesterday - I can't recommend Bulgarian cuisine.

The trip was a lot of fun even if the weather didn't really play into our hands but we made the most of the days and put in the miles looking for subjects to photograph around the southern mountain region. Emil our Bulgarian guide and excellent bird photographer really went the extra mile for us.

In the 8 days we stayed in 5 different hotels, 2 of which opened up specially for us because of Emil's contacts. I honestly can't remember what the second hotel room looked like. It will have have had a wet room which all Bulgarian hotels seemed to provide. I assume they have a partnership with toilet paper manufactures as wet room showers seemed designed to avoid the human body and soak just about everything else inside the room. Top tip - move toilet paper to a safe distance (the dining room should be about the right place) if you intend using it after a shower. Some wet rooms were small enough have a shower whilst sitting on the toilet and cleaning your teeth. Interesting, but I didn't try it.

Its hard to describe Bulgaria without sounding like I didn't enjoy the trip but that's not the case. Bulgaria is certainly tired, shall we say, and very different to what I take to be the rest of Europe to be like. There is quite a bit of poverty around. Since the Soviets left, whole factories, buildings, train stations, gravel plants, farms, cars (you name it) are just lying abandoned and a lot of buildings are unfinished. It was hard to tell what building were occupied even if they looked totally run down. A lot of derelict buildings and even whole villages lie around the countryside. We went to one village with over 100 building where there were just 35 (mainly elderly) people left. Litter seems to be a big problem as well. I was amazed at the number of abandoned shoes lying around the countryside. No matter how remote - shoes, water bottles, paper tissues were always there.
At this time of year the major occupation seemed to be wood chopping for the winter fuel storage. We have it very cosy in the UK.

I think the best way to describe Bulgaria in my mind is 'joyless - without joy' which seems odd. There were certainly some hustle and bustle in the larger cities but on the whole people seemed only to be doing things they had to do. When I got back to Sheffield I saw people out jogging, riding bikes, expressing themselves with fashion. Things with no purpose other that we have the time, money and security to do what we want.

In some towns Emil told us a whole apartment in a towerblock could be bought for £500. My camera is worth more than that. Emil described the gypsies moving into a village and pretty much 10 years later everyone else will have moved out. Pretty sober stuff compared with grumbling that Morrison's have rearranged the shelving or there's nothing to watch on TV.

Having said all this I had a very good time, I have lots of photos to go through which will keep me busy for a while and another wish list of photography kit to save up for.

And I didn't get stopped by the Watchers. Oh, the Watchers.