Burgas

Prolog

This last week in Bulgaria, I made it my mission to do as little as possible as slowly as I could.

The motivation for this was my increased need to process many of the inspirational moments I’ve collected so far; or at least attempt to give myself time to deal with the experiences Burgas had to offer me.

Due to these ambitions I’ve skillfully done less this entire week, than I did for one or two days when, for example, in Rome.

Mostly I’ve just been walking on the beach and sat in restaurants and cafés sketching; which has permitted me to work on a bunch of drawings. That is to say, I’ve had the time to draw several versions and interpretations after the same motifs.

 

But First: The Song-sketch Made in Aarhus

Before I continue with the story of Burgas, I would like to share with you all, dear readers, the first version of the disko song K, L and I made when I visited Aarhus.

It’s not a finished product and we don’t even have a title for it yet, but its a fun start to a song about a girl meeting a boy on the dance floor.

 

The lyrics are in Danish, but roughly translated, they go like this:

why do you smile at me when I look at you

the floor is calling my name, sucking me into your arms

my high heals are hurting and even though it’s unhealthy

it’s worth it if you’ll dance with me

let us dance in the middle of the dance floor

almost alone in a flock of strangers

spin me round, flip me to the side, let go and then catch me again

and take me home with you

why do you laugh at me, when I look at you

the morning awakes defiantly, forcing us up

my body is sore and even though it hurts

then I know it’s healthy, that you’ll dance with me

let us dance in the middle of the dance floor

almost alone in a flock of strangers

spin me round, flip me to the side, let go and then catch me again

and take me home with you

The Black Sea!

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Almost every day I walked along the beach, while it’s temperamental waves reached out for my new pink sneakers. Burgas’ old town has water on both sides and on the east coast the black sea constantly blows a cold hard wind through the city.

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Although I missed the warm gentle sun in Spain more and more, I came to enjoy the liveliness of the waves and the insistent push from the wind urging me forward. For minutes I would sit on a stone and stare at the beautiful turquoise water and watch the sea foam climb on to the beach and rest in the sand before disappearing.

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Restaurant Neptun

On the coast I found a restaurant called Neptun, where I returned to regularly later. Here I could enjoy delicious seafood while observing the beach from a distance and sketch.

 

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Sketch made at Neptun

Further along the beach a pier cut into the waves. It looked unmistakably Soviet, with its grey square concrete structure. Like the UFO-looking disk on top of the big bridge in Bratislava, the indelicate brutal futuristic shapes of the USSR architectural style was striking in its own impressive way.

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Burgas pier
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On the Burgas pier

The Teenage Poetess

Even if it looked far from romantic and pleasant, walking onto the pier was wonderful. Couples and families would stroll along and kids would bike or skateboard over it fast as the wind. At one point of the pier I found a note about a teenage poetess from Burgas called Petya Dubarova. Her story moved me even though it was descripted only in a few sentences.

Petya had been a child poet beginning her writings at 11. At only 17 she took her own life with an overdose of sleeping pills. I was very interesting in reading the girls poems and found a local bookshop in the city that fortunately had a small collection of her poetry translated into English.

The poems were wonderful; laced with simple and precise comparative metaphors in descriptions of, most often, the sea and the seasons changing as well as her thoughts. To think that she was so young is impressive and very inspiring. Her poems are so pure and honest, in that they are clearly that of a young school girl’s.

She often refers to her own youth and herself as this girlish burst of energy, light, life, colors and declares herself to be like the sea. At the same time she describes how the school and her mother’s expectations limit the fire in her, hindering her young need to explode into the world. Dubarova lived during the Soviet regime that made living full of restrictions and had government control in even the smallest details of life.

Even though my context was of cause very different, I see a lot of my young self in her words. At around 14 to 16 I started writing poems seriously, almost every day, due to a website called digte.dk. Here I could post my poetic creations instantly and different users could comment.

It gave me great joy expressing my troubled teenage feelings of being misunderstood; such as not belonging since I was very different than my classmates. I generally had many reflections about questions of identity and purpose. Possibly more to the point, as I remember that period, I tried to write about meaning, as I was searching desperately for it and found it almost only in singing and then in the beauty of poetry and the joy of writing.

When reading Petya’s poems I sensed how she used writing in a similar way, a way to explode; not as she wished wildly into the actual world, but at least explode with beauty on the pages  and to live in that world of words some of the dreams she couldn’t fulfill in real life.

Inspired by her poems I tried to write more myself, but failed.  Every time I would sit down and attempt to write poetic notes, before long the text would end up as a journal entry. The sentences would grow into prose and describe memories of trips I’ve had so far, were I was, missing K, what I planned to do next and soon I would write worries about the approaching end of my journey.

These thought have been weighing on my mind the last couple of weeks and any time my pen hit the paper, they would hijack any attempt I had at writing poetry. After trying a few times to push away prose and force myself to write poetically, I realized that it was useless and that I should probably listen to my own writing-voice and let me discuss these future worries and past contemplations with my diary.

One specific worry of mine is that of finance and independent adult life: having expenses and needing an income, all things I’ll have to build up again once home. Another source of worries are thoughts about how my need for creativity and painting, drawing and writing, will find an output when I’m home in the reality of responsible work life.

Will I be able to use all these amazing inspirational experiences the last months to create more once home?  It is definitely my ambition to have the time to do so. My ideal dream is to find enough part time work to cover the bills and then keep focusing on this dream of creating, sketching and telling stories somehow.

Not doing much in Burgas left a lot of time to think about the worries described above. The fact that I pretty much isolated myself, except for one nice evening with a young Polish woman called A, also amplified my inner dialogues.

Although it can also be emotionally difficult and testing, I feel it is healthy for me to work on giving those thoughts space and deal with them. I’ve come to the conclusion that while finding peace with my worries, dreams and ambitions for my future when home, I also want to focus on being fully creative these last weeks of my travels!

 

Photographs & My Interpretations

So I focused on sketching rather than writing poetry and worked after a stack of photographs I bought in an antique store. I enjoyed having time to do many different versions after the same photos. I focused on the parts that sparked something in me and kept doing sketches of the same images trying to get closer to what it was that I liked and saw there.

I generally started with pencil sketches, then moved on to colorful brush pens and then to watercolor. Instead of a chronological listing of the sketches according to when I drew them, I will share the artworks with you grouped by art done after the same photographs.

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Pencil sketch on blue paper
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Pencil sketch of the same woman but in another photograph
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Pencil sketch on blue paper of woman in greenhouse
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Brush pen sketch also on blue paper
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Pencil sketch on blue paper
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Orange brush pen on blue paper
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Pencil sketch
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Pencil sketch
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Brush pen sketch
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Brush pen sketch
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Brush pen sketch
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Brush pen sketch
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Watercolor

A Few Cultural Events

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In the Burgas Opera house

Other than walking on the beach, reading, writing and sketching, I also did a few cultural things.

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Man with kamera at the opera

I went to a classical concert at Burgas’ Opera house. I got a good seat in the middle of the balcony, just behind an old man filming the whole thing. They played a mix of famous pieces by Mozart and Chopin and I was moved to tears twice. Sadly two nicely dressed old ladies wearing too much expensive perfume kept whispering to each other through the whole concert, which I found very distracting.

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Two other days I passed the time watching two superhero movies, ‘Shazam!’ and the new ‘Avengers’. I went all out with 3D, popcorn and soda. If I see the big blockbusters that have used millions on visual effects, I want to get the full experience with cinema and snacks. It was enjoyable easy film watching, although especially the Avengers one felt a bit too long to me.

 

Epilog

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Generally I felt very at home and at ease in Burgas and enjoyed giving myself the time to relax. Like I mentioned in the last post, the city reminded me of Lithuania and specifically Kaunas were I studied, with its big square Soviet housings. At the same time the city had a charm with colorful romantically decorated houses; some in better shape than others.

Tomorrow I will go to Krakow and stay some days. Much like Budapest, Krakow is a city I have visited a few times already and it has a special place in my heart. The nice Polish woman called A, that I met here in Burgas, actually lives in Krakow and maybe we will meet up while I’m there. It would be nice, to get a chance to get to know her a bit more, as she seemed very cool even if we only talked one evening. I’m also excited to revisit many of the places I like there and relax a bit before my next stop at the end of next week.

When I will continue to Kiev – where I’m very excited to meet K! He is coming to visit me over the weekend and I’m counting the days until I see him the same way I used to count down to Christmas when I was a kid.

So next week I will write you about Krakow and the beginning of my time with K in Kiev!

 

Yours

Cille

 

Ps. I also saw this unique tree-grafitti:

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