Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria

Dilyana said that the “spirit of Bulgaria” can be found in the small town of Koprivshtitsa located in the Sredna Mountains. The town was the center of the April Uprising in 1876 in which the Bulgarians carried out an insurrection against the Ottoman Empire. This time period is known as the Bulgarian National Revival, and Koprivshtitsa was the center of it all.

The town now represents traditional Bulgarian architecture, way of life, and is the home to many monumental works of art and culture.

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The boy with us is Dilyana’s friend, Gueorg, who is now a member of the European Commission. I had the privilege of helping him edit his English cover letter that he then used to be hired! He is very passionate about the Bulgarian political situation and he was an excellent person to travel to Koprivshtitsa with. Gueorg often compared the current day issues with those at the time of the Bulgarian National Revival and he would share interesting insight into where Bulgaria was heading politically in the context of the history from the Bulgarian National Revival.

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We had intended to only make Koprivshtitsa a day trip, but we got too caught up at our dinner and did not watch the time. We were lucky to find a family who rents out a room in their home to us for the night. The family even set us up with a fire in their kitchen and welcomed us to sit around their table to talk long into the night.

The reason we lost time during dinner was that conversation was so GOOD. All of us shared the political situations in our own countries, with Bulgaria, Italy and America sitting around the table. We discussed history, and the best types of political systems. We talked about world issues, domestic issues in our respectful countries. Yet, even with this intense level of conversation, we LAUGHED and enjoyed each other. It was a special flow of table talk to have five minutes of very intense, almost angry discussion, then the next five minutes spent laughing after a toast of rakia.

We over ordered…fantastically.

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This dinner, that lasted hours on end, that endured the sun setting and the chilly night air joining as a dinner companion, was easily one of my favorite meals with my favorite company of all time.

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The generous space and fire that our hosts gave us to continue our conversation long into the night!

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Koprivshtitsa is the birthplace of the  famous Bulgarian poet, Dimcho Debelyanov who died during WWI. Here is one of his translated works:

The Hero’s Dream

The enemy fell back, the roar died away.

The evening breeze dispersed the smoke

Tired eyes were netted by sweetest sleep

And the battlefield was quiet again.

And he nodded off at once and dreamt,

leaning his head on his rifle butt

and it seemed he heard his mother’s voice

whispering honeyed words in his ear:

My son, don’t fear the enemies

Although you be the first to fall

Heed your homeland’s vengeance call

for five centuries soaked in guiltless blood.

If you die, you die in honour,

if you return, know all the nation

heaps praise eternal on her faithful soldier,

who’s staked his life for her salvation.

Now she fell silent.  He stretched out his arm

to hold her close, but with open eye

sudden he beheld the growing dawn

spread its red beams across the sky.

Once more the bugles sounded alarm

and he stood up bold in the fearsome fight.

He fell like any brave hero might,

fell with a smile, untroubled, calm.

Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part II, Uncategorized

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