I woke up this morning determined to make the best of my last full day in Bulgaria. After a fantastic lunch and late afternoon yesterday with my new friends Дарин and Петьр, I had some idea of what I wanted to see, thanks to them pointing out some of the city’s attractions.
Having been somewhat of a science nerd as a kid, I used to collect rocks and minerals, attend trade shows, and had a subscription to Natural History Magazine at the age of eleven [little did I know that fourteen years later I would be working at the museum that published the magazine]. So, when I saw that there was a National Museum of Earth and Man [Национален музей Земята и хората – separate from the Natural History Museum] I was excited. After all, one can never get enough of seeing giant minerals and crystals, right?
As I approached the museum on Sunday morning around 10:30am, there seemed to be a lot of activity for a museum with that kind of subject matter. I thought, well, maybe the Bulgarians are really into natural science, who knows, right? I went in through two sets of doors and then the place opened up into what I can only describe as rejected Project Runway audition portfolios with a touch of Eastern Bloc je ne sais quoi meets the teen party night from I don’t know where.
What lay before me was a treasure-trove of bright, frilly, sparkly, spectacularly tacky dresses and gowns – apparently this was some sort of fashion trade show for proms. My disappointment over the minerals and crystals being covered up quickly morphed into sheer joy as I embarked on a treasure hunt to find the most outrageously fabricated garment. All in all, the garments were a bit less Fashion Week and a bit more RuPaul’s Drag Race if you know what I mean.
As I walked around with my camera and said hello to the designers, I think they thought I was some kind of fashion impresario – as I made the rounds several times. I imagined my friend Iceland Chris hyperventilating at the sheer spectacle of it all and wanting to stay all day. But I did feel bad for the fantastic giant crystals – having to share their natural beauty with this spectacle. I thought at one point I heard one cry for help.
After five or six tours of duty, and two [almost] marriage offers from frosty-haired Bulgarian women, I was satisfied that I had found the gems I was looking for.