Screen Printing At Ottostop…

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And Fethiye’s New Concept Store…..

 

It’s been a very, very creative couple of days!

Resourceful, productive, ethical, festive and fun! When you live in a country which doesn’t have a Christmas celebration it’s sometimes difficult to remember the hype and intensity with which Christmas and the preceding festive season is accompanied back in England. So, it’s great to be able to tap into the festive spirit a little and – even if it’s only for a day or two – get into the spirit of things!

These days of frivolity and creativity began by returning to Yaniklar and the Ottostop screen printing Studio. By venturing deep into the eclectic jungle which grows beneath the shelter of a giant avocado tree is in fact the garden of one Leyla Temiz, Ottostop’s chief designer and creator, her studio nestles into the eclectic garden and jazz soothes out into the damp autumn air.

My sister and I are here for another of Ottostop’s exciting workshops and as it is (almost) the season to be jolly, we are here this time to hand print this year’s Christmas cards and gift tags. What a great idea, resourceful, ethically responsible and supportive of local companies too.

 

Leyla’s enthusiasm for her work and in her teaching is contagious and soon there are veritable masterpieces coming out of the press! The fact that I decided to print red stars over my multi coloured snowflakes, which unfortunately makes the whole thing resemble a bloody clue from a crime in The Midsummer Murders, is incidental……. They are still made in the spirit of giving and hand made with love (and bloody stars!)

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My sister is far more artistically inspired than I am and cleverly produced a variety of great cards, bookmarks, notebooks and a calendar, even hand stitching the pages in the books! Leyla is a remarkable teacher and the atmosphere in her studio is always so alive and full of fun, plus she supplies tea and local Turkish nibbles, so a morning spent attending one of her workshops is a must as we approach Christmas time, and there is still time to organise your own hand made cards if you get a move on.

Leyla can be contacted by telephone to arrange a workshop, or by her Facebook page.
Why not check out her online store, here, https://www.ottostopdesign.com and follow Ottostop on Instagram to see pictures of her latest creations! https://instagram.com/ottostop?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=17y67wjz01rnh

Leyla had mentioned that the day after we had been printing with her she was running a public workshop in one of Fethiyes newest shops, downtown. So, we decided to pop along for a look, and also to be able to introduce you to this wonderfully – new to Fethiye – type of store.

Ottostop was running an introduction to screen printing in the Commercial space above the new EMNASTUDIO. Le Concept Store.

Founded and run by Emna Rached who is the chief architect and designer from the store when you venture in, you will find it incredibly difficult to wander back out, empty handed or empty bellied!

That’s the beauty of a ” Concept Store “, it seems…. but I did, actually have to ask Emna, what actually a concept store is?

 

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Emna explained to me that even though she is the designer and creator of the incredible furniture and homewares you can find in the shop, it isn’t actually a furniture store….. and even though there are incredible pestemels and natural linen products and cushions in her shop, it’s not actually a soft furnishing store either…….and not to forget, that while the squeals of excitement from the screen printing workshop in the commercial space could be heard coming from up the stairs, we could sit and merrily partake of the tastiest herbal tea around, accompanied by village honey and Emnas trademark sticky, chewy macaroons…..it’s not actually a tea shop either!

And, so- from my be – fuddled understanding, that is exactly what a ” Concept Store ” is, it’s the realisation of an idea, or an ideal- have it as you will.

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Regardless of semantics the store is an eclectic mix of superbly crafted furniture, household tranquilments, the very finest, inspired linens and the newest ideas on the market. It’s a cutting edge, remarkable store for Fethiye and is sorely needed, you really must pop along next time you are in town and I dare you to try and leave empty handed!

 

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Needless to say mother absolutely adores EmnaStudio and is slowly purchasing the entire stock… it’s at times like these that I’m eternally grateful that we live on a yacht otherwise there would be tables, trays and candlesticks everywhere!

EmnaStudio can be found at Cumhuriyet Mahallessi Carsi, Cd. No: 118. It’s down the one way system on the same side as Pasha kebab but further down heading towards the fish market. The commercial space will be used again by Ottostop, and Emna has a whole season of exciting workshops and seminars planned, contact details below to find out what is coming up. The commercial space upstairs has desks and wifi and the space can be rented if people need a transient work space for a day or two or week!
https://www.emnastudio.com/

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The Sehit Fethi Bey Park…

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…A Superb Addition To Fethiye…

As you may know if you’ve seen my Twitter or Instagram, we are now back in Fethiye.

It’s great to be back home, and for the next week I will be settling back into the Turkish-(and the home school!)-way of life.
One of the places I was looking forward to exploring upon arriving back in Fethiye was the new park, which has been built on the flat wasteland area between Fethiye and Calis.
The new park is called the Sehit Fethi Bey Park, and this is in honor of the first pilot of the Ottoman Air Force and the towns namesake ‘Fethi Bey’.
His story goes that he was flying from Istanbul to Cairo, but unfortunately, on the 27th of February, he crashed his plane into the desert between Damascus and Jerusalem.

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For his gallant effort, he received the title of the airforce’s first aviation martyr (‘şehit’ means ‘martyr’ in Turkish).

As the pilot was from the area, the people of Makri thought it apt to name the town after the martyr, so in 1934, Makri became Fethiye.

-(As a side note, on the 27th of February this year, as part of a service commemorating Fethi Bey, we admired two Turkish Air Force F-16s fly over the statue in attendance of pilots and other senior Air Force officials)- a fitting tribute to this aviation hero and noisy beyond belief!

The Sehit Fethi Bey park opened in July 2018, so, I’m trailing behind my fellow Fethiye bloggers and newspaper journalists that have already written about the park, but, never mind- great things are always worth the wait!

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It was good to see in illustrations of the park before its build that it would cater for both the young and the old, with a series of outdoor gyms, play parks, a skatepark and basketball ball court for the youth, whilst older people would enjoy the wonderfully well kept gardens and it’s two library areas.

It’s more than great to see the realisation!

Sure enough there is plenty to see, do and enjoy for young and old alike…. The playground facilities are far and away more adventurous and ambitious than the projections made for the area…in fact we ( my friends and I ) had so much fun there we immersed ourselves in the best game of hide and seek – ever – which went on for some hours!

My fellow hiders and seekers ( who, incidentally, were aged between 20 and 26 years old [clears throat] ) came away from the game with flushed cheeks and grinning like children…..and I would just like to clarify a point, we weren’t actually the only ” grown up ” children enjoying the parks grounds and equipment! We saw adults trampolining and sliding down the massive tower slide…….we even saw a dog on a swing??

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Another brilliant thing about the park is now Fethiye and Calis are joined with a better cycle and running path. Previously, you would have had to either cycle along the road or braved the marsh/wasteland with some seriously muddy off roading and a couple of fences to scale avec la bicycle……… but now, I – and you – can enjoy a flat and comfortable ride all the way.

When you wander about the architecturally modern and pristine park you admire a fine selection of sculptures, including that of a metal man standing on a metal fish, perhaps recognising the many fishermen around this part of the bay.

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There are also several installations of horses at different points of a gallop which are imposingly large and impressive.

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Despite not being traditionally Turkish, there are also some Dutch style windmills that are dotted about the place and the new canal-style river system has fine watermills, and Ducks patrolling the river ways.
In many respects, it reminds me of the sculpture park in Kemer-in the Antalya Province which sits close by to the marina, but The Sehit Fethi Bey park is much more structured and impressive.

There are also a splattering of giant snails, Teletubby hills and some freaky wonky houses thrown in for good measure…..interesting and eyebrow raising concepts.

Despite being built on quite a large area, there are signs steering you to the various different vicinities dotted about the recreational ground, and there are plenty of illustrative maps giving you a comprehensive perspective of where you are and where everything is.

Personally, my favourite part of the park is the small amphitheater that sits beside a water feature and pond, and is situated on the opposite side of the river from the three storey climbing frame.

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The water in front of the amphitheatre has a rather small island archipelago, where tortoise, small turtles/terrapins, ducks and other water birds paddle and enhance the peaceful surroundings. I’d find this area the most soothing place to sit down with a book and glass of çay In hand and get lost in the pages of an interesting travel story whilst relaxing in the serene ambience.

It also has a personal autonomy with me as there are beautiful metal sculptures of flamingos that stand in the water, silhouetted against the backdrop of Fethiye bay. This brings a smile to my face as I recall my recent road trip and final sailing adventures as, in Porto Lagos, which was the starting point of both of these recent journeys the nature park and wetland reserve there had flocks and flocks of real flamingoes, bright pink and camera shy unfortunately!

In conclusion, the Sehit Fethi Bey Park has become an outstanding addition to Fethiye. With its plethora of sculptures, the beautiful and well kept gardens, and the modern and indeed adventurous playgrounds, the place truly is somewhere that caters for everybody’s needs. It’s a place were people can meet up and have fun, locals and visitors alike.

As an important note, picnics are not allowed-(though food and drink can be bought either just outside and also from kiosks on site)- Dogs are not allowed either but there is parking on site. Also, don’t worry about having to pay an entrance fee, as the park is completely free and open and available for all to enjoy……

Apparently – I hear – the lights in the recreation ground are quite an awesome spectacle at night….. I’d better take my tripod and go and see, watch this space……. ” hide and seek” anyone?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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Cesme’s Impressive Fortress…

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Standing impressively on a slight hill, with a strategic view looking out through the entrance of Cesme bay and towards the Greek island of Chios stands Cesme Fortress. The fort was built in 1508 under the order of Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid the Second.
Despite being relatively new compared to other Castles in proximity to Cesme, it has been the centre of many conflicts involving the Ottomans. It was most recently damaged extensively by the Russians during the 1770 Russo-Turkish War-(Not to be confused with the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War that I wrote about in my Battle Of Shipka Pass blog).

After some renovations and alterations by the Ottomans until their demise in 1920, the castle continued to play a key role in Cesmes five year hundred year history.

Before I continue with the history of Cesme Fortress, I will tell you about visiting the castle and what to see at the place.

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From the outside, Cesme Fortress doesn’t seem very big. However, your perception immediately changes as you enter through the small arched doorway. When you proceed through the castle, the first thing you’re expected to look at is the three room archeological museum.

This museum exhibits artefacts found in the surrounding areas archeological sites and the artefacts include; very small glass jars, ceramic amphorae, Roman, Hellenistic and Ottoman coins, and a small selection of stone statues.

As you walk up the slight incline, you come across the first courtyard area. When we went, there were workmen planting and repaving the small garden area, which also exhibits a selection of Ottoman gravestones and should be most impressive upon its completion. From here, you can head up and along the castle walls, where from the top there are amazing views of the town, the Greek island of Chios, and surprisingly, you can see the Northern coast of the Karaburn peninsula.

The castle also has two more exhibition areas. One is in the bottom left tower, called the … tower, which contains Roman and Ottoman gravestones, and Greek statues.

The other exhibit room is at the bottom of the castle. This one was particularly interesting to me, as it detailed the Battle of Cesme of 1770, during that Russo-Turkish war.

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It’s interesting to hear this battle is sometimes considered by the Russians as their Battle Of Trafalgar.

In the exhibit there are paintings, portraits, uniforms worn by both sides, coins from both countries during the time and information about the leaders of both countries and captains that took part in the battle…the most famous of which is Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha.

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Born in Algeria, he was a fleet commander during the Battle of Cesme, and despite the Turks losing most of the Ottoman fleet and the destruction of the castle, Pasha became a Grand Vizier, and later Admiral. If you’re interested in him, he’s a bit like the equivalent of Admiral Nelson!
Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha began his sailing livelihood as a Barbary pirate and ended it during the last battle high he fought in which was during the Russo-Turkish war of 1787-1792, where – at the age of 85 – he orchestrated his fleet on three different occasions-(may I add, however, that he lost all of those engagements!).

Outside the castle, there’s a statue of him beside his pet lion, which he actually domesticated, and it went everywhere with him.

What’s most notable about the exhibit, is how it explains Russia’s rise as a world power and the desires of the Tsars and monarchy for Russia to become a global colonial power. It’s examples of this were the several wars Russia had against Turkey/the Ottoman Empire, and its wars with Poland.

Cesme castle then, is an incredibly interesting place to visit, and a place you simply must visit whilst in Cesme.

I may release some blogs about Didim and Kusadasi in the coming days, and keep an eye out on the Fethiye Times, where my ” Whistle Stop Tour” articles are regularly released. Go check it out, I talk about traveling to beautiful hotspots and locations in Turkey such as the Gocek Bay, Bozburun Peninsula and Datca’s Peninsula!

Please go and give the Fethiye Times a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Myrina-The Gem Of The Aegean…

So, we’ve left Porto Lagos and we are making our way southwards down to Fethiye. It’s been a fun year travelling and we’ve had the chance to explore the hidden treasures of Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, but we are now looking forward to getting back to Fethiye and having a home….
The only way to get southwards, however, is to island hop….
Island hopping in Greece isn’t as much fun as you’d expect, especially in the winter, and especially this far north as its cold, stormy and to top it all of, the weather forecasts are usually unreliable.

So, a week into the trip and we we’ve so far been Harbour bound twice, on two islands. Samothraki, where everything seemed to be closed – a normal problem on the Greek islands in the winter- and Limnos.

It was our first time to the island of Limnos, and we were in the harbour on the islands capital, Myrina.
Approaching from the sea, you’ll immediately notice that there’s an impressive castle that sits on a rocky headland that splits the surprisingly large town in two. On the two sides of the headland, there are sandy beaches which spread out before the town and the pretty waterside promenade.

After parking side-to on the harbour wall, the picturesque town is overshadowed by the marvellous Byzantine castle, which throughout history has been modified and modernised by the Genoese, Ottomans and Germans.

Walking up to the castle, it’s easy to identify that it has been under recent renovation, making it one of the best preserved in Greece. The stroll up to castle from the harbour takes you through the burgonvillia covered cobbled streets, extraordinarily pretty, which lead you too a winding path, which consequently leads to the grand entrance of Myrina castle.

After a short while, you arrive in an open green area that is surrounded by the walls of the castle.DSC_9592

Within the castle are several ruins, such as the derelict foundations of the former Ottoman barracks and Mosque. Looking upwards, you’ll notice the Citadel. Walking up the the steep steps, from the top there are astounding views of the sea and surrounding town. Also at the top, there’s many ruins that are begging to be explored.

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At the far side of the castle, there’s a former Ottoman gunpowder store.
Now, imagine you’re defending the castle when suddenly, your enemy starts an artillery bombardment. As the bombardment continues, you begin to worry and head towards the bunker, which just so happens to sit beside the gunpowder store…that’s right, the bunker is right next to the gunpowder store… Only in Greece…..

You can easily spend several hours walking around the castle grounds, and if you are into nature you can admire the wide variety of wild flowers and plants, as well as the wild goats and deers which roam freely.

Another noteworthy thing to do whilst in Myrina are the several cultural/historical walks which are easily signposted and tell you the history of the town and its people.

There are four trails you can do, “The Historic Centre Trail”(trail A), “The Prehistoric City Trail”(trail B), “The City Through The Ages Trail” (trail C) and the “Tsas and Prosfygika Trail”(trail D).

When we were in Myrina, we incorporated trail A and B into one long half day walk, and despite being rather tired afterwards, we saw many sights of interest, such as the former Greek and Turkish quarters, the ruins of Prehistoric Myrina, the Memorial to Cypriot Fighters-(which is dedicated to the Cypriots who rose up against the British who controlled Cyprus between 1952-1955)-and the Memorial to the Executed of WW2, which is built in the pit where the Greek resistance fighters were shot in during the German occupation…

Following the walk can be quite difficult at times, as the signposts can be rather difficult to identify, whether it be because they’ve faded or there in hard to identify places-e.g.halfway up a telegraph pole(!). So a place I’d recommend to start is at the Archeological museum – which probably isn’t open on a Monday – , whose staff were very helpful and friendly.

They actually gave us a map with the walks on, and they also gave us a leaflet about the museum, which houses artefacts that come from surrounding archeological sites, which date as far back as 4,700 BC.

In conclusion, Myrina town is a wonderful place to explore, and in one day you can learn about its several thousand year history. With its fine cobbled streets that have a wide variety of shops and cafes, it’s beautiful harbour, and brilliant castle, it’s a lovely place to visit. It was shame however, that we couldn’t head elsewhere on the island, as its renown for its organic wine and for also having some of the oldest archeological sites in Europe.

What’s nice to see is that despite being quite a large island, Limnos has retained its traditional fishing harbour feel, and hasn’t fallen into the trap of being your generic tourist central.

In other news, please go and read this: https://thechill.at/2018/11/04/casey-russell/

It’s about me, and it’s written by my good friend Claudia Hilmbauer, so, please share it with your friends-(also, go and check out her blog!)-. The article, however, is in German, so if you don’t speak it you can have a laugh at Google translates attempt at translating it!

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A Few Days Around Transylvania…

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Transylvania, an area of ancient mystical mysticism shrouded in old ancient mystery…its the place renown for Vampires, Wolves, Bears and many mysteries of ancient mysticness and as its Halloween we are all for some mysticalness! …Transylvania is a place which has – unlike the rest of Romania – become the frontier for the countries tourism.

So here is a guide, lets say, of Transylvania, one of my new favourite places!

What made Transylvania famous amongst foreigners and locals alike is down to two things-

1:Irishman Bram Stokers thriller, Dracula, was an instant hit in Europe and the English speaking world, but 2: what really boosted the recognition of Transylvania was the rather perculier mind of Megalomaniac, Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Ceausescu made Vlad the Impaler an important figure head for the national morale, and the legend of him was used as a brilliant piece of propaganda and advertising for tourism.

When you visit Transylvania you’ll either fly into Brasov or Sibiu, the two main cities here. Brasov old town is a brilliant place to explore on your first day, since it’s been renovated to resemble how the town would have looked a few hundred years ago.

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Brasov is also a superb place for those who want to shop, since the whole pedestrianised area has a wide array of designer, outlet, second hand, antique, big brand and many other shops..(Side note for gentlemen, make sure to hide your wallets!)

Sighisoara

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An hour north is Sighisoara. The beautiful Citadel dates back from the 14-15 th centuries, and is simply a brilliant example of a Transylvanian fortress and a Transylvanian Saxon town. I’ve done a more in depth blog of Sighisoara here, where I detail a walk around the Citadel.

Rasnov Citadel

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A fine example of one of the periods citadels is in the town of Rasnov, south of Brasov. This citadel overlooks a dense forest on one side, and a plain which acts as an agricultural and industrial heartland for the area on the other side. You also have spectacular views of the nearby Carpathian Mountains.

To get to the Citadel, there are two ways. You can either drive to the car park provided by the council, and board a road train that takes you via the dinopark-(yes, a dinopark)-, or you can park in the town and ride the vernacular up a steep incline, which means you can admire the pretty surroundings.

Rupea Citadel

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Another example of ruined citadels is on a hill over looking the town of Rupea, between Brasov and Sighisoara. Rupea citadel is also on a high hill, with great views overlooking the small town below and rolling hills around. Most of the towers have been renovated, so it feels like the place has been hardly damaged throughout its history.

Viscri Saxon Village

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Nearby to Rupea through a traditional gypsy settlement there is a small village , which not only has two houses owned by HRH Prince Charles, but is also the town which proudly exhibits a Saxon fortified village. The enclosed village has stables, rooms, and an Anglo Saxon style church. This Saxon village is probably the best example around and is called Viscri. The origins of the fortified church date from 1100, and people lived within these walls right up to the 18th century.

As I mentioned, Prince Charles bought two houses and had them renovated. So now, people who want to experience the incredible Transylvanian way of life can holiday there.

Bran Castle

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If you want to stay on the more touristy path though, you could do the very busy and well known castle of Bran, situated nearby to the town of Bran between a pretty, wooded valley. As you’d expect, tourists from all over the world clog the paths and streets, as well as swarming like ants all over the inside of it. It can get quite claustrophobic at times with the hordes of multi nationals descending on the well preserved rooms. This place is supposedly the castle in which Bran Stocker got his inspiration for Draculas castle.

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We’ll end in Sibiu, with another well maintained and restored old town, which, like Alba Lulia, is situated behind rows of defensive walls. In many respects, Sibiu is somewhat of a smaller, messier version of Brasov. As my mum put it so eloquently, “if the Maramures is the Lakes, and Bucovinas the Highlands, Sibiu is Romanias Salford”

Whilst in Sibiu, we got lost in the old town, which is actually very pretty. With many squares, it’s a pleasant place to stop and dine whilst observing passerby’s.

What is quite haunting when you wander the boulevards and streets in the old town however, are the window holes on the roof of the buildings which this town is famed for, which look like eyes and seem to follow you…
Whilst in Sibiu, we paid a visit to Sibiu zoo. It had Bears and Wolves and Tigers and Lions, all of which seemed unhappy, and probably the most lively animal was the massive great pig…

Transfagarasan

 

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One last thing I’d suggest is to drive on the greatest driving road in the world, the Transfagarasan highway which connects the historic provinces of Transylvania and Wallacia over the Fagaras mountain range. On this road, you can witness some brilliant views and enjoy corners like those from racing tracks.

Was there anything I missed? I don’t think so, but I’m open to suggestions so make sure to leave a comment of where I should visit next time I’m here!

In conclusion, Transylvania is an incredibly interesting and beautiful place. We explored many wonderful attractions, both on the beaten track, and off.

We met many friendly and welcoming people, all of whom treated us like old friends, and we’ve created memories that’ll last a lifetime..

I would like, however, to add that Transylvania has become somewhat of a hub of tourism, and the Dracula myth and story has fueled a misleading claim about the place.
Whether this is a good or bad thing, I’m not sure. On the one hand, I feel the tourists litter and ruin the idea of the place, but on the other it helps the local economy, and keeps the tourists from Bucovina and the Maramures, which means it stays beautiful and unspoilt for the likes of me and you!

It’s been a brilliant trip, and if anyone were to visit this region, Bulgaria and Romania are must do’s! I may write a longer blog detailing the places more in the not to distant future for a friend of mine…

The one last thing I’d like to say, is thank you Romania!

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The Buzluzdha Monument…

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In 1891, a group of socialists led by Dimitar Blageov assembled secretly in the area of the Buzluzdha Peak to form an organised socialist movement that led to the founding of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party. This then became the Bulgarian Communist Party.
The communist party would go onto lead the country after the Second World War with Russian support, so to commorate the creation of the party, in 1981, the Buzluzdha monument was built.

Sitting at the top of the peak, this perculier UFO shaped building, cost about 14,186,00 Lev to build, equal to about 35 million US dollars today.

To build it, they had to blow up the top of the mountain. The height now is 1,432 meters, but before the construction, it was 1,441 meters. By blowing it up, they had to dispose some 15,000 cubic meters of discharged rock.

At the opening ceremony of the monument, Bulgarian leader Todor Zhikov proclaimed:
“I am honoured to be in the historical position to open the House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party, built in honour of the accomplishments of Dimitar Blagoev and his associates, who, 90 years ago, laid the foundations for the revolutionary Marxist Party in Bulgaria.
Let the pathways leading here – to the legendary Buzludzha Peak, here in the Stara Planina where the first Marxists came to continue the work of sacred and pure love that was started by Bulgaria’s socialist writers and philosophers – never fall into disrepair”

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“Let generation after generation of socialist and communist Bulgaria come here, to bow down before the feats and the deeds of those who came before; those who lived on this land and gave everything they had to their nation. Let them feel that spirit that ennobles us and as we empathise with the ideas and dreams of our forefathers, so let us experience that same excitement today! Glory to Blagoev and his followers; those first disciples of Bulgarian socialism, who sowed the immortal seeds of today’s Bulgarian Communist Party in the public soul!”

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Despite the history it’s associated with, it is a very impressive building. Inside is meant to be too, but unfortunately you can’t go in there anymore because of glass in the ceiling falling off and injuring People.

If you get the chance to visit this area of Bulgaria, I’d really recommend doing so.
In all honesty Bulgaria and Romania have been incredible places to visit, not only for the places we’ve been to, but also the wonderful people we’ve met on this once in a lifetime trip.

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The Battle Of Shipka Pass…

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So we are back in Bulgaria now, heading back to Porto Lagos and the boat. It’s been a brilliant few weeks, but we are really missing the boat and ocean!

We are only stopping once between Bucharest and Porto Lagos, and that place was Shipka, the site of major turning point in the 1877 Russo-Turkish War of Bulgarian Independence.

 

 

To commemorate the battle, a tall tower built in 1934 stands high on the peak of a hill, looking down onto the sight of the battle, where a combined force of 7,000 Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers held of four stages of attacks against the vastly superior 27,000 Ottoman soldiers. These four stages took place over half a year, starting in July 1877, and ending in January 1878.

Each level in the tower gives an insight into the battle, including the weaponry used, clothing worn by Russians and Bulgarians, tactics, letters sent to-and-fro, and every floor showcases a piece of artwork that give an idea of post Napoleonic warfare, and pre-WW1 warfare.

I consequently found out that there’s a poem about the battle.  I think it gives you a real insight into the battle…

THE VOLUNTEERS AT SHIPKA
(August 11, 1877)

What if we still carry shame on our forehead,
Marks of the whip, signs of bondage abhorrent;
What if remembrance of infamous days
Hangs like a cloud over all we survey;
What if in history no place we’re allotted,
What if our name be a tragic one, what if
Old Belasitsa and recent Batak
Over our past throw their deep shadows black;
What if men mockingly laugh in our faces,
Pointing to newly lost fetters, to traces
Still on our necks of the ages-long yoke;
What if this freedom was gives our folk?
What of it? We know a recent true story,
A shining new symbol, a symbol of glory,
That proudly within every bosom pulsates
And noble strong feeling within us awakes;
There on a mounting that glows in the distance,
Heaven’s blue vault on its broad shoulder lifting,
Rises a famous wild peak with blood on its moss,
A monument huge to a deed that’s immortal,
Because a deep memory lives in the Balkans,
Because there’s a name that shall live for all time,
As bright as a legend in history it shines,
A new name, its roots to antiquity tracing,
As great ad Thermopylae, all fame embracing,
A same to wipe shame away, with its plain truth
Smashing to smithereens calumny’s tooth.

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O Shipka!
For three days out youthful battalions
The pass have defended. The high mountain valleys
Re-echo the battle’s tumultuous roar.
The onslaught’s ferocious! Again the dense hordes
Along the ravine for the twelfth time are crawling
Where warm blood is flowing and bodies are sprawling.
Assault on assault! Swarm on swarm they advance!
Once more at the towering peak Suleiman
is pointing: “Rush forward! Up there are the rayahs!”
Away race the hordes in a rage wild and dire,
A thunderous “Allah” re-echoes afar.
The summit replies with a rousing “Hurrah!”,
A hail of fresh bullets and tree trunks and boulders;
Spattered with blood, our battalions boldly
Retaliate, every man in his own way
Striving to be in the front of the fray,
Each, like a hero, death bravely defying,
Determined to leave one more enemy dying.
Cannon are pounding. The Turks with a cry
Rush up the slope where they tumble and die;
Coming like tigers, like sheep they go flying,
Then come once again: the Bulgarians fighting
Like lions are running along the redoubt,
Neither heat, thirst nor toil are they worried about.
The onslaught is fierce, the rebuff no less stout.
For three days they fight but no help is arriving,
And no hope is visible on the horizon,
And no brother eagles come swiftly with aid.
No matter. They’ll die, but die true, unafraid –
As died the brave Spartans who stood against Xerxes.
Fresh waves are now rolling up; all are alerted!
A last effort’s needed: the moment is grave.
And then does Stoletov, our general brave,
Roar words of great courage: “Young volunteer fighters,
Now crown Bulgaria with laurels of triumph!
The Tsar has entrusted the pass, the whole war,
Himself even, unto these muscles, of yours!”
Thus heartened, our proud and heroic battalions
Courageously meet the next thrust of the rallying
Enemy hordes! O heroic time!
Fresh waves of assailants the cliffs now climb.
Our men have no bullets, with bravery girded,
Their bayonets broken, their breasts ever sturdy,
They’re all to a man ready gladly to die
On the ridge which the whole of the world can descry,
To die here like heroes triumphant, victorious.

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“The whole of Bulgaria watches, supports us,
The peak is a high one: if we run away,
She’ll see us – so better to die here today!”
No weapons are left! What remains is the slaughter!
Each stone is a bomb and each tree-trunk a sword is.
Each object – a blow, and each soul – flame that sears.
From the peak every tree, every stone disappears.
“Grab hold of the bodies!” they hear a voice crying,
At once through the air lifeless corpses are flying,
And over the hordes like black devils they dive
And tumble and roll as if they were alive!
The Turks quake and tremble, not having seen ever
The living and death fight a battle together,
And raise a shrill cry of demoniac rage.
In life and death combat the armies engage.
Our heroes, there standing as steady as boulders,
Meet bayonet steel with steel breasts no less boldly,
And sing as they cast themselves into the fray
When they realize Death shall now snatch them away.
But still our young heroes rebuff, sink and swallow
The hordes that is wave upon wave swiftly follow.
The peak any minute shall ours be no more.
Then suddenly Radetzky arrives with a roar.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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And today, every time there’s a storm in the mountain,
The summit recall this grim day and, recounting
The story, its echoing glory relays
From valley ti valley, from age unto age!

Plovdiv, November 6, 1883
Ivan Vazov

Nearby is another monument, commerating a very different occasion