Happy Sofia Day! | Sofia, Bulgaria

Today is the day of my beloved city of Sofia!

Here’s a longer and more detailed post about it. I’ve written about Sofia’s yellow cobblestones before – here and here, or you can check out this more recent and thoroughly-researched story about them (in Bulgarian).

Walking along the yellow line | Sofia, Bulgaria

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/39941224 w=500&h=400]

Today, I walked along Sofia’s Vitosha Boulevard – theoretically, the city’s chicest street, although you wouldn’t know that from looking at condition of the pavement. Especially on weekends and when the weather is nice, this pedestrian main drag is where people go to walk up and down, gawk at shop windows and at each other or sit at the outside tables of the sidewalk cafés.

Wishful thinking: Colored streets and pavements | Prague, Czech Republic

I just came across the work of Prague-based graffiti artist Jan Kalab (also known as Point or Cakes) and I particularly like two of his projects, through which he transforms ordinary streets and pavements in the Žižkov district of Prague, which he says is “is a sort of ghetto”.

In the first one – Cobbles, he painted loose cobblestones lying on the street in bright colors, to the delight of local children, making them “spontaneously happy.”

It’s such a simple, yet bright idea that takes a mundane, grey aspect of the city and makes it into an unusual sight.

The second project – Colored Pavements, is similar: in it, Kalab painted enormous patches of tarmac that stretched along Prague’s steepest street, named (perhaps aptly?) the Garden of Eden. The “cut up tarmac,” he writes, “has transformed into abstract paintings throughout the years of subterranean repairs. It’s so ugly that it’s almost nice. I just helped a bit.” He did indeed, by painting the patches bright turquoise and pink (for the full story, read here.)

The two projects are unfortunately from a few years ago – Cobbles was made in 2007 and Colored Pavements in 2005, so I imagine little, if anything at all, is left of them now. Like the dressed-up potholes in Paris, which I wrote about here, both of these projects would be ideal (and simple and easy to do) for Sofia’s grey, broken and patched-up streets and pavements. I’m just saying.

In the meantime, though, some of Jan Kalab’s paintings are exhibited at the Czech Cultural Center in Sofia. Go see it! (The exhibition opens today and will be up until March 3. More info about it [in Bulgarian]: here and here.)

All photographs: © Jan Kalab | www.onepoint.cz

Leftist tendencies, part 2 | London, England

Recently, I wrote about the negative connotations of the word ‘left’ and how the French word gauche (‘left’) is adopted into English to mean clumsy, awkward, maladroit, ungainly, gawky and unhandy.

Today, I received a series of pictures from my insanely funny friends Slavka and Austin in London, in which they not only stand over one of the city’s ubiquitous crossing signs, but also manage to perfectly illustrate this latter meaning of the word.