Photo journal: Vidin and the Danube

We arrived in Vidin, Bulgaria, in time for the sunset, and we were not disappointed.

It’s a bit quiet at this time of the year. But it’s clear from the care taken in grooming a handsome park on the banks of the Danube that Vidin gets its share of vacationers in the summer months. We saw a handful of families out for a stroll, sight-hungry passengers hurrying back to their cruise ship, and pensioners lined up on the boardwalk as if waiting for their own boat to arrive.

Strolling toward the 10th-century medieval fortress, it’s easy to forget about the political and economic struggles that have befallen this region since the end of communism in 1990. Easy to forget, that is, until you reach the Monument of the Resistance, a series of communist-era sculptures dedicated to Bulgaria’s “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist resistance.” Resistance to the monument — in the form of graffiti and spatters of paint — raises its own set of questions.

Down at the fort, a caretaker brought an enormous iron key to let us into the fort. As in times past, there’s no breaching these walls without permission.

We scrambled through passageways and crawled along ramparts overlooking the river and the southern border of Romania, where defenders once fought off Byzantine invaders.

As we left the fort, we passed an artist whose warm-weather business of selling paintings to the tourists was winding down.

“There, you’ve seen it,” he said, in a weary tone that suggested he’d seen far too much. “Impressed?”

Yes, I thought to myself. Very much.

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