I had the great experience to e-meet Sara Renar, a Croatian signer who spent two months in Bulgaria this autumn recording an album and exploring the country. We talked about her lovely experience in Bulgaria, how beautiful the Black Sea is, and what are the similarities and differences between Bulgaria and Croatia.
As a Croatian in Bulgaria, it was awesome to sit down and hear the opinion of a Croatian in Bulgaria who is the same age as me. Have a nice read!
Hey Sara, what brought you to Bulgaria earlier this year and was it your first time in the country?
It was my first time to visit Bulgaria! I applied to the artist residency competition at the Elias Canetti Institute in Ruse. My project proposal was to make a performance and record a mini album with contemporary Bulgarian poets. The jury liked the idea, so I spent most of September and October in Ruse. As the performance turned out to be quite a success, I was then invited to play my own concerts in Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv and Sofia.
How many cities did you visit and which ones did you like the most? Were you able to explore all the places you wanted?
I visited five cities, the ones I toured in and I also managed to make a trip to Varna. The immense Black Sea reminds me of the ocean, it is truly an impressive sight. Of all the places I visited I must say I fell in love with the people at Veliko Tarnovo and with the rich history of Plovdiv. Of course, one never has the time to explore everything. I would love to visit Razgrad, I hear it is a fascinating town. I would also love to explore the seaside more.
Do you think Zagreb and Sofia are similar in some ways? What about the way of living in Ruse, which is not as large as the capitals?
All capitals are, of course, similar in some ways but I think Sofia is more comparable with Belgrade or Vienna, as it is twice the size of Zagreb. It is vibrant and full of life, but also very busy and crowded. Ruse is a small and quiet town at the lovely Danube – I found it ideal to focus on artistic work without much distraction.
What do you think about the seaside in Bulgaria? It is very different compared to the Croatian coast in my opinion 🙂
The Croatian coastline has literally thousands of islands and the Adriatic is very gentle – it is safe and clean with no big waves in the summertime. The typical coastal view would be a dozen islands, and your typical beach is either rocky or pebbles. The seaside in Bulgaria in comparison resembles the ocean – vast sandy beaches, huge waves more suitable for surfing than swimming with a continuous straight line dividing the sly and the sea. Admittedly, I have only visited Varna so I did not manage to get a broader view.
Well, the coastline is pretty much similar going south. You must check out Sozopol and the surroundings! What about the music? How did you find the Bulgarian music stage and the fans? It is my impression that Bulgarians love concerts and really enjoy them.
I absolutely loved it! The audience energy is very similar to the one here – after all we are all Slavic Balkan people – temperamented, welcoming and determined to have a good time.
What do you think about the people in general? Are Bulgarians very different from Croatians?
My experience with Bulgarian people was a beautiful one. They showed me tremendous hospitality and respect. Anna-Marie Nikolaeva, a Bulgarian poet and actress whom I collaborated with on the project, agreed to travel to Ruse from Sofia for rehearsals without even meeting me in person first – we immediately became great friends. I really hope to return as soon as travelling becomes less complicated.
What about the language – were you able to understand Bulgarian? We, Bulgarians, understand Croatian quite well but Croatians don’t understand us 🙂
I think I managed to understand about 40% of what was being said, depending of course what the conversation topic was. So, mostly I communicated in Serbo-Croatian and English with a lot of sign language and gesticulation 🙂
What are you doing for Christmas and New Year’s?
My partner and I decided to self-isolate ourselves a week before Christmas so we can safely celebrate with the elderly members of our family. As for New Years, I think we’ll be staying at home this time and watch the fireworks from our rooftop!
Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New (greatly anticipated) 2021 Year!
Check out Sara Renar’s music on YouTube.