Saturday, September 03, 2005

Wine, jazz and drunken singing

We just returned from the beautiful old city of Plovdiv (well, the old town is beautiful - the rest is standard Commie fare). While there, we ate, drank and were very merry.

Our hotel was lovely, an antique gem with nice antique furnishings, and a restaurant attached which had been voted best restaurant (no indication of where - presumably Plovdiv) (Sept. 7 correction - my traveling companion said it was voted best in Bulgaria. Damn.) by some magazine. Since my traveling buddy's stomach was still woozy, we opted after touring the city to get food there. First of all, while it was horribly expensive by Bulgarian standards, it was a magnificent meal - I had fresh wild mushrooms as an appetizer, rabbit in a fruity game sauce, Bulgarian sheep cheese, and fresh berries in an Ouzo-sugar sauce. And we had copious amounts of wine - 2 bottles between the two of us, with me probably consuming the lion's share. Our whole meal came out to under $50/person with tip included and was an absolutely delightful experience - eating outside in a little courtyard, with great jazz.

Yes, there was live music. First it was a trio - piano, bass and drums doing really good renditions of various standards. The quality of the jazz was better than what you'd find in most run-of-the-mill American jazz clubs. Go figure. Then two guitarists started playing, and the music quickly devolved into a jam session with various musicians who were all just sort of hanging out at the restaurant (we assume that the owner was somehow involved in the music scene) coming and going. By the time we were the only ones besides the musicians in the restaurant, they'd started jamming at the table at which they were sitting, and one of the non-musicians was singing all sorts of song (he also, it turned out, played the guitar rather well).

Well, the wine was flowing (not just for us but for the musicians) and before too long yours truly decided to request my all time favorite song, House of the Rising Sun - to which I lustily sang along. I can honestly say I never would have imagined myself in Bulgaria, in a Bulgarian restaurant, singing along with a bunch of middle-aged Bulgarian musicians, but it was great fun. Moreover, the one Bulgarian seemed to know the lyrics to every pop song of the 60s, spoke remarkably good English and had studied in Romania with one of the other musicians. The bass player, it turned out, was an electrical engineer.

All in all, this was rather memorable, and a good time appears to have been had by all. More importantly, I was able to get out of bed in the morning and had only the teensiest of hangovers. I still don't know what possessed me to sing. Probably the really great Bulgarian wine.


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10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wish i had been there. then i'd know if your rendition of house of the rising sun beats white rabbit ;)

12:15 AM  

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