Saturday, 7 July 2012

General Gurko in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria after 135 years

and now!
Today, the 7th July 2012, Count Iosif Vladimirovich Romeyko-Gurko, otherwise known as General Gurko proudly rode down Gurko Street once more.
135 years ago
In 1873, he was given command of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, of the cavalry of the Imperial Guard. Later in 1877 he led the spearhead of the Russian invasion and on July 7th 1877 he released Veliko Tarnovo from the Ottoman rule, exactly 135 years later this fantastic tribute to General Gurko took place down Phil's street just above the Yantra river.
The calm of Gurko Street and no cars in sight
The morning started off quietly enough, however things were clearly different since the Police had requested me and all the neighbours to remove their cars before 9am and low and behold Gurko Street was transformed into the old street once again.
Neighbours with their flag on their balcony
The red, green and white flags adorned many balconies and there was a calm on the street whilst police mingled with house occupiers drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
The 1st sign that the procession was coming was a white unmarked opel astra flying down the street like it had appeared out of "back to the future", false alarm.....it didnt reappear!
Young people in national costume
After maybe an hour we see young children dressed in traditional and colourful costumes walking down the street, completely unaware of the temperatures which were now approaching 32 degs C in the shade.
The General!
the overcoats and bear hats
are almost shouting out
 "passing out parade"!
Then we see the General himself resplendent in his best dress cavalry uniform, proudly saluting the cheering residents of Veliko Tarnovo on Gurko Street. His entourage of body guards on horseback and foot clearly were suffering from the heat but continued onwards down the street towards the Gurko Hotel were the procession gathered to celebrate this amazing victory!
The mayor, deputy president and bishop
Guida pipers
Furthermore local and national dignitaries, politicians and the bishop headed the crowds being entertained by two amazing guida pipers (Bulgarian bag-pipers), but these Bulgarian pipes sound like a children's choir in comparison to Scottish pipes which sound more like alley-cats screaming for smokies at Arbroath fish harbour.
100's of people milling
down Gurko Street
and more!
100's of people braved the blistering temperatures to follow the great General Gurko and his band of hot subordinates, some on foot and others on horseback, surrounding him from any stray Ottoman soldier that may take a shot at him. Thankfully today there were no shots, but an amazing procession the like that hasnt been seen on Gurko Street for 135 years.

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