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IWC 25th Anniversary Reunion

It’s always a bit strange, and sometimes unsettling, revisiting the past because of course it simply isn’t possible to do so: people and places not only move on, but do so at a different pace. So, when notice of the planned reunion appeared in my inbox, did I hesitate? Not for a minute: the opportunity to catch up both with Bulgarian friends as we do from time to time, and at the same time with friends now scattered all over, was not to be missed at any cost.

“So what did you do?”, people asked on our return.
“W-e-l-l: after unpacking we toddled down to surprise Eileen and share the first hugs and shrieks of the weekend; then we popped in unannounced to catch up with Maria and family over her wonderful kozunak; then Eileen joined us and later we all went out to eat.”
“And what about the rest of the visit? “
“Mmm: a lot of the same, but much more too.”

For example, on Thursday, having sorted out Bulgarian sim cards, Edno Vreme (rather an appropriate name for a reunion) was the scene of a staggered session of hugs and shrieks as many more of us from the same vintage assembled. After an hour or so of intermittent hovering the waiter manages to insert a few words: “Perhaps a large salad platter for everyone?” Two or three hours later, we made a move. But only because we were running late for the open teatime gathering organised by Paromita at what we knew (know) as the Vienna cafe. An opportunity to catch up with some more old faces, as well as to get to know some nice new faces from before our time. I believe we had an hour or so between the end of tea and the start of the dinner invasion of the Thirsty Dragon, the venue for fondly remembered Bulgarian Gossip Group lunches.

It was a good idea to arrive a couple of days before the weekend because, by the time the official events began, we felt comfortable, back home in Sofia. The visit to the home for newborn and babies and toddlers on Saturday was such an (unexpected) uplifting surprise: healthy, lively babies cared for so lovingly in an attractive environment, with a family future ahead of them. If only it were the same everywhere. The warm atmosphere provided an ideal opportunity for Maria to tell us about other IWC charity projects and to be reassured that with her and Asya these projects are in very capable hands.

The dinner –dance: this was certainly a highlight, a really enjoyable evening through and through, with the Hilton providing the same high, reliable standards as we had enjoyed on many occasions in the past. Food, drink, a warm welcoming welcome speech, wonderful company (naturally), great music and entertainment –this latter by no means exclusively from the contracted performers…! No doubt everyone was relieved the following morning not to be flying Lufthansa with their weary crew who’d only “enjoyed” the beat of the music with none of the good stuff. In any case, who would want to be on a plane on a sunny day in Sofia when they could be with Lyuba? It’s an odd irony that the biggest recent changes in Sofia turn out to be over 1500 years old, unearthed during the excavations for the Metro extension. While all the finds are worth seeing, the most interesting are to be seen in the crypt of Sveta Sofia. The beautiful music and chanting from the wedding in the church above enhanced a memorable visit. Thank you, Lyuba.

Many, many thanks too to Lynne, Maria, Paromita, Elitsa, Sibeal and all involved in organising the reunion, for luring us former Sofia-ites back to renew friendships, participate in the reunion events and for doing it so well.
Don’t forget, folks, April 2019 – the IWC’s 30th Anniversary celebrations. See you there!

Ann Stewart