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Published: September 19th 2006
that day will be tomorrow.
Up late of course, but still have time to be a professional tourist and see all the Plovdiv sights. Start with the obligatory church, this one the church of Sveta Bogoroditsa. Painted a camp pink colour it sits atop 176 steep steps. Inside an elderly crone locks her gaze upon me, her eyes piercing the back of my neck as I look unreverently upon the various photographs of Jesus her saviour. There's a possibilty that she is actually glued to the chair at the back of the church, a chair she once outgrew and then shrunk back to fit once more.
From the church I walk up past the academy of music (an experimental workshop in place as I pass, Yoko Ono I believe is this week's guest tutor) to the old Roman Ampitheatre. Rather than pay to enter I choose to spend my alloted fifteen tourist minutes drinking a Frappe overlooking the ruins. Both are very impressive.
As I am sat a tribe of senile citizens emerge, confusedly taking photographs and bumping into each other. The music playing is some risque hip-hop by doctor dre or someone equally street, lots of nescessary swearing and the
refrain "I'll take you to the candy shop". Somehow it fits perfectly and I wee myself.
From the ampitheatre it's worth taking the time to get lost amongst the streets of the old town. Everything closes for lunch so you may as well do the same.
Next stop on the tourist stroll is the House of Hindlian (a relative of the Manc child botherer). Here the wealthy merchant Stephan Hindlian built an opulent home in 1835 for his wife and their many children. This is a fantastic place with an amazing character, I urge you to visit, and bring your student card for a paltry one lev entry fee.
Around the corner, Balabanov has turned his house into an art gallery. Here contemporary artists from all over Plovdiv show off their unique artistic vision (see example). Plovdiv has become the centre for artists across Bulgaria and is home to more art galleries than New York.
The Ethnographical Museum has cameras watching your every move. Be careful. And it's not as mindblowing as you may have been informed by the locals, I would even go as far as to use the word "boring" in a description of it. The one redeeming
feature is that one is saved from the tedium of placard reading as they are all in some foreign language. Avoid paying the entry fee by adopting a vacant/ confused expression when asked to do so. Repeating the word "England" may also help.
Down from the Ethnographical Endurance is the State Gallery of Fine Arts, boasting a genuinely impressive selection of Bulgarian art from the last few centuries. It will take while to look around the three floors, so I would recommend stocking up on refreshments. Confuse the light switch lady by reentering an already viewed room to further ponder a work of your choice. I think that she will appreciate this break from her routine.
Overall Plovdiv is a must visit destination for all tourists and artists alike.
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