I flipped to the Bulgarian section of the 'Lonely Planet Guide to Eastern Europe'. Sofia was a modern and metropolitan city, blahblahblah, local bars, blahblah, and... what the... a VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT?
Dream House, according to Lonely Planet, had 18 vegan options and was moderately priced. No sooner had we parked then we had entered the coordinates into the GPS and started walking deep into downtown Sofia. "There it is!!" We raced up the stairs and went tumbling into the restaurant. We hadn't had vegetables in almost a month. Every night we were fed, sure, but every night we were fed breads, potatoes, pasta, pastries... every vegan thing on earth BUT a green vegetable. Some of us are vegans that love vegetables (like me) and were salivating all over ourselves at the prospect of having some kale. Or, lord help me, a piece of broccoli. The hippy staff stared at us incredulously. "Do you think this is the Irish Pub? 'Cause that's downstairs." No no, we assured them, we're here for your vegetables.
And we got some. And it was perfect.
Everyone got mushrooms and tofu:
But me, I got the coconut almond curry:
After eating everyone but Dave and I headed back to the venue. We explored the city, coming across some confusing english graffiti:
As well as loads of strange shops and a mile long vegetable market.
One thing we had noticed on every corner were little carts boiling corn. We went over to one. The woman, using the international language of pantomime, showed us that the kernels were scraped from the cob and put into a dixie cup. Dave and I ordered one and watched her scoop some corn into the cup, then dump salt, and... shit.. was that cheese?... and... oh fuck... butter? I pointed at the cheese and butter and mimed puking everywhere, then pointed to another cup and the salt, and said "sorry" over and over. She understood, laughed off the loss, and made up a salt and corn-only cup. It was DELICIOUS.
We waddled back to the venue full of curry and tofu and corn, and were met in the backstage with gigantic falafel sandwiches. Full as we were, we found room.
I did a video interview for a Bulgarian vegan website behind the venue, where immediately after I got locked in a conversation with a very drunk thuggish hardcore kid who had been peeing on a wall next to the video camera. Our conversation lasted all night, weaved in between bands and outside the venue. He kept asking me what it meant to be hardcore. This was very reminiscent of the drunk punk in Bistrita, Romania, difference being this guy was extremely entertaining, completely lacking in woes, and kept yelling, for no clear reason, about the Cro Mags. He told me about the Bulgarian hardcore scene and how I may think it's cool, but it really wasn't. For example, he explained, he had a friend that was super down for the core, but then he brought up some 80's hairmetal band to her (I cannot for the life of me remember which one) and she didn't even know who they were. He wanted to know if things were that bad in America.
He and I play-argued all night about hair metal's place in hardcore, about how listening to bands like Sick of It All and Bulldoze affects your every day life, about any and everything with no clear purpose for arguing, and no clear agreements (or disagreements) reached. Some kids circled around us to watch us debate veganism. At this point he could barely stand, wobbling with a beer in his hand, slurring, "Yeah..., but whyyyyyyyy???". I tried, through my laughter, to make points in simple enough english for him to understand, and I'm pretty sure I failed.
Our set was fun, per-use, it's always a pleasure to play for kids that appreciate it. After it was over my drunken friend gave his approval of our music, but complained for the rest of the night that our set was too short. (It was 25 minutes...) "You call that a SET?"
Outside I recorded a shout-out for a Bulgarian hardcore radio show, which was a little weird. I couldn't figure out where to look. At the recorder? At the guy holding it? At the street? I kept laughing in the middle of "This is Kingdom from...hahahaha" or, "You're listening to I Hate...hahahahah" and in the end I think the dude wished I had been more creative with what I said. What do you say for a radio shout out? I don't know about these things!
Outside the venue with a few kids:
After the show we went to a falafel joint where we got the greasiest fries I've ever had in my entire life. The dudes ate more falaf and we, for once, loaded in the van with full stomachs and headed for yet another overnight drive, this one to Athens, Greece.