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25 Apr

Snezhana Ilieva

E-mail: silieva@essex.ac.uk

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Snezhana Ilieva

 

 

“In the Mood for Love” Travelling Guide

20 Apr

My grandfather had always been a great romantic. Every time he had the chance and time, he was surprising my grandmother with romantic adventures. Long before most people had visited exotic destinations, he took her on a camel in the heart of Sahara, skiing in the Alps, surfing in Hawai, etc. And before you say: “Well, it’s the money that made these adventures so romantic”, allow me to continue by saying  that money is not the most important factor when it comes to surprising someone with a genuinely romantic gesture; what you need is imagination.

Walking hand in hand with the person you love somewhere new is far more romantic than having a dinner in the restaurant you first met.

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Forget the chocolates and flowers, and focus on sharing something. Fly to Geneva, take the ferry to Venice, and have the island for yourself. Book easyjet to Milan and eat pizza or gelato (ice-cream), rent a car and drive to nearby Morzine, one of the most beautiful villages in the Alps, and snowboard like a banshee during the day, and enjoy the view of Mas de la Coutettaz during the night. Fly to Singapore, drive to Tarida, immerse yourself in the sexy style of Abu Dhabi, and take the ferry to Tangiers for some exotic shopping.

Even the cliches can be charming if you know how to embrace them. Milan, for example, though renowned as a city of fashion and finance, once away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, can be a truly romantic city. 

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Paris, like Milan and Venice, is a city for losing yourself; in unexpected little streets in the Marais, in a cosy corner of a dimly lit cafe or at small scale masterpieces such as the Musee Picasso.  Just like the Paris you have seen in those Renault Clio ads, she can be that sexy brunette who says ‘Fhonnce’ instead of France, and you can be the crazy charming Brit who flirts with her.So go on dear readers, surprise your partner, even if it’s just for two days.

Sofia Nightlife..

18 Apr

Feeling the atmosphere and people’s lifestyle is the only way that you can truly understand Bulgarian’s capital lifestyle. During the summer Sofia turns into an enormous party in the open, where people have gathered celebrating their holiday. It’s not just the altitude that will take your breath away here – and if it does, just drink Bulgarian herbal tea – Sofia’s nightlife is sensational: effortlessly cool, with a young, educated and stylish population that lives for the night and welcomes outsiders. There are plenty of clubs that are worth visiting and contribute to the fascinating atmosphere. It only depends on the music you like. Here are some of the nicest and most famous clubs in Sofia.

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1. Buddha Bar (A Taste of the Orient)
Buddha Bar is located at the back of Rila hotel at Lege Street. It’s a place where you can go dance, have a drink or watch the others having fun while chilling in the oriental atmosphere. So, Dear Readers, If you are looking for a memorable experience, where you could chat and laugh without being hindered by the huge crowds, then Buddha Bar is the right place for you.

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2. Chervilo club (The Club of Lipsticks) ..
If you are trendy, funky and groovy person, then Chervilo Club is the best one for you. Large rooms with different music (electro-lounge vs techno-house music) and hip local clients. Even at 8 am you can see people reentering the bar. So, Dear Readers, put on your best clothes, take your best friends and head over there.

Dress Code: One tip : wear your sunglasses if u wanna blend in !
Address: 9 Tzar Osvoboditel Boulevard
Website: http://www.chervilo.com

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3. Escape Club: Time to show off

This is the club which will never remain unnoticed in Sofia’s night life. Everybody, even on a first visit to the capital, burns with desire to enter it. This is the club which dictates the fashion in night life with its one of a kind interior, sound and light show, and it is more or less about being noticed. The club’s music can satisfy even the most capricious and following all the fashionable trends in the world.

Dress Code: Well, if you want to bother with that, you might dress up more than you would usually do 🙂
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 1, Angel Kanchev Str.

4. Schweik Club

Schweik is situated in the very centre of Sofia. It offers the widest variety of draught and bottled beer in the city – over 50 kinds along with 100 different snacks from European and international cuisine, plus red and white house wine. From Thursday to Saturday live bands and DJs keep everyone entertained, whilst on Sunday is The Dirty Song Night with the bands Izumrud and Cherno Feredje. There are separate halls representing the typical style of different countries. In the heart of Schweik, the dance club Response awaits fans of trendy music with its hip decor and atmosphere. It offers all kinds of cocktails, served on burning counters by attractive bartenders. The sound is just perfect and the lighting effects are unique.

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5. Yalta Club

Yalta is the first Bulgarian club and it is one of the finest ones in Sofia. The first thing that can be noticed about Yalta is that everything around you is part of one concept: the furniture, the lights, the sound system and even the incomparable view outside. The wild rhythm of Sofia outside the windows completes the tranquility and minimalist comfort of the club, the result – a place in Sofia like no other. The idea is to feel as if you have been invited to a private party in a big, beautifully furnished apartment. The space is used in such manner, that it provokes everyone to take part in the party!

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6. Culture Beat Club
Culture beat is not just a nightclub or boutique- café, not just a bar or a place, where you can eat something tasty. It’s all taken together and before that- it is the new home and cultural center for artists and people who feel such as them. It is located in the city center, on the back of National Palace Of Culture and has view of Bridge.
Culture beat is a crazy strong mix of styles. Sofia’s industrial, street vintage and socialism in contrast of elegant and aristocratic elements which have been combined in one great culture chic. Moreover, the entry in Culture beat, the first thing that you can feel is the flowing sense of comfort and cosine.  So, Dear Readers, if you want to feel somewhat relieved by vanity, luxury and perceptions of comfort that malicious days require and taste something different, so as to feel least 1% more artist than before, then Culture beat is the right place for you.

Destination Romance: Venice

16 Apr

“I would do it”, I told myself as I boarded the aircraft at Southend , in the high old style.” I will not argue,   I would spend happy interludes of architectural contemplation over coffees in the San Marco Piazza, and I would never count the cost. I would take a gondola for a whole day to loiter around the canals and watch  Venice’s magical silhouette sink into the sunset, even after a thousand years”.

VENICE SUNSET

Few hours later and I was right there, waiting for my ‘vaporetto’. The teetering silence, the sea, the people- everything was so close to perfect that I harldy dared to breathe. The bell in the church tower rang, and suddenly I was in love. Heart-rushingly, knee-tremblingly and eye-wettingly in love with her, with Venice.

The sexy little noises that rise from under her skirts as you walk down a canalside, the visceral scent of her fishiest places-like the Rialto market, the   happy interludes of architectural contemplation over coffees in the Piazza, the  souvenir stores – they all made me run to Venice. And then here she is, Venice, wrapping herself around me and making me happy.

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Then I met him, and I was in love again. I told him about Venice, and eventually he took me there.

As twosomes go, it was one of the most successful I have had. On a ‘love bridge’, he took me in his arms and I got lost.   

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It seemed that Venice herself wrapped her arms around us and an entire city became just that very tiny spot, on the bridge, over the canal. We always called that way of standing “the bridge position”.

“We do not remember days,” said Cesare Pavese, “we remember moments.” Smart man.

It all ended badly, of course. He shattered what passes for my heart and I haven’t let it out to play since. But we all make mistakes. And I’ll always have Venice.

Rafting in Bulgaria

15 Apr

The best way to see the Bulgarian Kresna Gorge is by looking up at it, not down, from a raft on an epic journey down the Struma river.

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“Just two rules!” our guide Ivan shouted as we glided towards Kresna Gorge, where towering waves collapsed upon themselves into a maelstrom of churning froth. “Rule Number One – stay in the boat! Rule Number Two – stay in the boat!”

“What if we fall out?”,  I asked.

“Don’t,” said Ivan bluntly.

It was early September, and we (me, my father and three other men) were in the middle of a 15-km trip down the Struma river through the Kresna Gorge with Bulgarian Raft Adventures.  Rafting the rapid waters of the river Struma, and upper course of the river Arda in the Rhodope Mountains, are the best places in wild Bulgaria suitable for our outdoor adventure.  The adrenalin arises, and the rock monsters become scenery for the water action, where you are the main actor.

On the first day, all of  us stood at the starting point: a long line of 6m rafts, masses of gear, an army of river guides scurrying about. This would be our world for the next two weeks.

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There was no time for shyness. You can’t be shy on a Struma river trip. Not when you are spending two weeks with strangers, floating down on the biggest rivers in South Western Bulgaria.  It’s the ultimate 24/7 experience:  you’re on the water for five to eight hours every day, and when you’re off the water, you’re eating, sleeping, and bathing together.  Don’t get me wrong, there are ample opportunities for meditative moments, but it’s a communal trip, in one of the most spectacular environments on earth.

rafting

Our party filled five inflatable rafts, each rowed by a guide and four or six passengers. All the gear we could possibly need was strapped into these boats: giant coolers of food, folding tables, cans of propane, pots and pans and medical supplies, a tidy toilet system, plus enough beer and soft drinks to keep everyone happy. It’s the tightest packing system I’ve ever seen, so tight that passengers ride perched on the side tubes – prime seats, after all, with padding and great views.

Few people pitched tents; most just laid a mat on the beach and slept under a sheet. At dawn, the mournful call of a conch shell signalled that coffee was ready. It would have been nice to linger over the hearty breakfasts (eggs, French toast, pancakes and lots of fresh fruit) but the guides always wanted to put in some river miles, and soon we were pushing off, back out into the current of bubbles, dwarfed by the massive rock walls.

Indeed, dear readers riding the rapids of Bulgarian Struma river   is a Disneyland-ish experience – one second you’re plunging straight down into the trough of a wave, the next you’re getting drenched with cold spray as the boat shoots up and over the crest. It’s a  roller-coaster ride that can make even an  anxious father  like mine to  forget to fret about his daughter during the adrenaline-fuelled ride. Only at the bottom of each rapid did I turn around to make sure I was safe.

Was I scared? A little.

Exhilarated? More than I’ve ever been, and my main wish was to go back and do it again.

By the time we rowed the last stretch, our clothes and hair held about a pound of silt each, but nobody cared. Some people were ready to return to civilization; others, like me and my father, wanted to drive back to the start and do it all over again. I welcomed the chance for a shower, but the trip left me with a desire to run away and become a river guide.

“There are just two rules,” I imagined saying to my passengers. “Rule number one …”

Mmmmm maybe some day.

Why We Travel?

14 Apr

It has long been said that travel “broadens the mind”. Now new evidence proves that jumping on a plane will not only make you smarter, but more open-minded and creative.

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   It’s 4.15 in the morning and my alarm clock has just stolen away a lovely dream. My eyes are open but my pupils are still closed, so all I see is gauzy darkness. For a brief moment, I manage to convince myself that my wakefulness is a mistake, and that I can safely go back to sleep. But then I roll over and see my zippered suitcase. I let out a sleepy groan: I’m going to the airport.

The taxi is outside, and then here I am hurtling into the harsh incandescence of South Terminal of Gatwick Airport, running with my suitcase so I can wait in a long security line. And then, after 4 hours stuck in the terminal with a cup of caffeine and Veggie sandwich, the plane took off to Milan, Italy. And then, 2 hours later, I was there.

So why do we travel, dear readers, when we have already passed that pre-modern age of the mind awed by the physics that gets a fat metal bird into the upper troposphere. Well, sometimes we travel because we have to. In this digital age, there’s still something important about face-to-face communication or analogue handshake, or eating your Grandma’s cake on Christmas.

In most cases, however, we travel because we want to. We travel in order to get away from the stressful pressure of work, from the home boredom, etc. We travel because flights are on sale, because Venice is Venice.

But here is my question: Is this desire to travel – to put some distance between ourselves and everythign we know -caused  only by the desire to experience new types of pleasure, to have fun ?

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Because if travel is just about having fun, then the new security measures at the airports have killed it.

THE GOOD NEWS  is that pleasure is not only the reason for travelling. New science papers report that getting away – and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going – is an essential habit of effective thinking. It’s not about a holiday, or relaxation: it’s about the act of travelling itself, putting some miles between home and wherever you happen to spend the night.

        In its literal apsect, travelling is a verb of movement. Thanks to modern technology, now we are able to move from place to place at an inhuman speed. For the first time in human history, we can outrun the sun and change climates only in few hours.
The reason such travels are menally useful is that while being away from our ‘natural habitat’, our thoughts are less constricted; they allow us to release our imagination from the limited set of associations which bounds it while being at home. Consider a field of roses for example. When you are standing in the middle of the field, surrounded by roses with spiraling centers and vivid, rich colors, the air smelling faintly, your mind is auctomatically drawn to thoughts that revolve around the primary meaning of rose, which is that it’s a plant, a flower, a symbol of romance and passion.

But now imagine the same field of roses from a different perspective. Instead of standing on a field, you are now in the midst of a crowded city street, dense with taxis and pedestrians, and yet for some reason you are still thinking about roses. The rose will no longer be a rose itself; instead, your vast neutral network will pump out all sorts of associations. You’ll think about rose marmalade, jam or tea.

What does this have to do with travel?Being far away from the place we spend most of our time, makes our mind aware of all those awkard ideas we had suppressed. . As a neural tangle of near-infinite possibility, the brain spends a lot of time and energy choosing what not to notice. As a result, creativity is traded away for efficiency; we think in literal prose, not symbolist poetry. A bit of distance, however, helps loosen the chains of cognition, making it easier to see something new in the old; the mundane is grasped from a slightly more abstract perspective.

As TS Eliot wrote in the Four Quartets:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

“Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy” by Caroline Kennedy

12 Apr

Written by Caroline Kennedy, the novel “Jacqueline Kennedy:Historic Conversations on Life with John. F. Kennedy” reveals a sife of Jacqueline Kennedy’s life only friends and family knew. The book is a part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of President’s Kennedy first year in office.  In her mid-30s, recently widowed, Jaqueline was determined to set down her thoughts for history.

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And so this is how it began..Kennedy met with the former White House aide M. Schelsinger Jr. in her house in the spring and early summer of 1964. At home and at ease, as if welcoming a quest for afternoon  tea, she chatted about her husband and their life at the White House. “Jack so obviously demanded from a woman — a relationship between a man and a woman where a man would be the leader and a woman be his wife and look up to him as a man.With Adlai you could have another relationship where — you know, he’d sort of be sweet and you could talk. … I always thought women who were scared of sex loved Adlai”, Jaqueline says while speaking with the historian.
The conversations were recorded 4 months after the outrage in Dallas. On the accompanying audio disks, you can  hear Jaqueline Kennedy talking not only about politics,  but about her private life. She never wrote a memoire, and this is why the book became so famous;  in part because of telling us what we did not know about her.
“Jaqueline Kennedy accepted that wives were defined by their husbands’ careers and worried about emotional women entering politics. She enjoyed having her husband “proud of her”, and saw no reason to have a policy opinion that was not the same as his, and laughed at the thought of violently liberal women who disliked John Kennedy”, notes the historian Michael Beschloss.
Like any powerful family, the Kennedys had complicated relationships with those who shared their lives at the top. They valued history  describing it as not just a bunch of stories abou t the past, but stories about ones of the most interesting and charming people in the world .Charl de Gol,Nikita Khrushchev, Djavaharlal Neru, are only part of the people mentioned  in Jaqueline Kennedy’s interviews. In addition,  we learn a lot of about the family, the friends, and the people Kennedy’s family worked with. “Jaqueline Kennedy:Historic Conversations on Life with John. F. Kennedy” is not just  a book about the visible to the eye things, but about the “life’s kitchen, itself”