I get up at dawn to photograph the site. It’s very windy and I expect to be alone but I instead bump into a small film crew. They are students making a documentary about how this building reflects Bulgaria, how it symbolises the plight of their country. The young man behind the camera is Bulgarian, a student of Architecture in Paris. He applied to get access to the inside but was refused by the authorities.
He fires off a flare high into the Bulgarian sky. It echoes around the valley and lights up the pale blue sky. Simple pleasures, redolent of youth and the promise of a life yet lived.
The secret Russian submarine base, according to the guide, is ‘on the coast – down a little track that says there is CCTV.’ How enticing. I don’t know about you but I love a little secret, the thrill of gaining privileged information, the responsibility of keeping it.
The dilapidated villas of Kruunuvuori creek and groan with age; their end is nigh. And yet as the last rays of the day pierce the canopy, the mansion before me reveals its former splendour. The debris on the ground melts away, the trees retreat from view, and the house stands, erect and proud again, to command its position overlooking the gulf of Finland.