Adventures in the Motherland: Part Three – A Visit to Grandpa’s Town

Tryavna clock dt

Bulgaria is turning out to be a pretty amazing place. From my adventures with La Familia, to meeting real family for the first time, it’s been full of rich, unforgettable experiences.

Yesterday, I went to Tryavna, a tiny town hidden in the mountains of Bulgaria, with a mere 9,000 inhabitants, is an ancient town with abundant history. It is thought to date back to Thracian times, but has certain evidence that it dates back to the 12th century. It’s also where my grandpa and his brothers (mom’s side) were born and spent much of their childhood.

I paid a visit to a great aunt and uncle in Gabrovo, a larger town near Tryavna. While my aunt was at work, Uncle Dencho and I made a day trip to Tryavna. I learned that Tryavna is famous for many things. First, it’s traditional Bulgarian architecture – white houses, brown boards, and wooden accents. One distinct feature is that the second floor juts out onto the street by about three feet. Supposedly the old gossipers leaned out of their windows and told one another the latest rumors from across the street.

Also, it’s famous for woodcarving. Some of the most famous woodcarvers have come out of Tryavna, including Dimitar Oshanetsa and Ivan Bochukovetsa. Dimitar, the teacher, and Ivan, the student, had a competition to see who could create the most beautiful sun carving to decorate the ceilings of a famous house called the Daskalov House, built in 1808. They each took about six months (from St. George’s Day to St. Dimiter’s Day) to complete their carvings, without the ability to see the other’s work. Ivan, the younger master won.

After walking around a bit, we stopped to get a bite to eat. Here’s Uncle Dencho enjoying Kachamak, a cornmeal substance with feta cheese topping. We also had some other traditional-style items.

Chico Dencho

From there, we went to see my grandpa’s old house. It belonged to his great-grandfather, who was a shoemaker. They called him Dimitar the Lantern, because he placed a lantern in front of the house. Every male in the family from there on out, including my grandfather, had the same nickname – the Lantern. Weird, I know.

We wrapped the day up with a final wander through the town, and a drive to see the city from above.


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