June 5, 2008

Sofia, Bulgaria

The saying “don’t believe everything you read or hear” rang true with the advice being given about Sofia, the new (as in just over 100 years) capitol city of Bulgaria. It seems that travel books will play up destinations with the “what to see, what to do” itinerary that can make almost any place sound somewhat appealing to visit, but it is usually the word on the street from other traveler’s that packs the biggest punch when deciding if it’s worth your time and money. I was not expecting much from the way that fellow traveler’s had spoken about Sofia and upon arrival I still had the negative shade of personal opinions clouding my normally un-biased thoughts; “You can see everything in a day”, “There is not much of a pulse”, “Other places in Bulgaria are much better, spend more time exploring outside the city”.
Renee and I were zoned out and effortlessly tired from the bus ride through green pastures while listening to our ipods and the euphoric feelings of the displacement of travel smoothly carried over until we reached the hostel where we were abruptly greeted with the world’s most annoying man; after a tirade of bad Bulgarian “humor” we were told that the hostel was full and we would have to stay in their lodging off “campus”, which turned out to be a great shared apartment with a full kitchen. We took full advantage of the set-up and decided to make a home cooked dinner, the first one for both of us in quite some time. We walked the streets, dodging the tram, shopping for wine, vegetables, cheese and crackers and then we returned and turned up the music, cooked and watched city life go by from the balcony while the light rain turned the sky hazy shades of gray. It was a brief moment of normalcy for two people with extended itineraries and we relished in the feeling of comfort it provided us both.
We had originally planned for a longer stay in Sofia but kept shaving off days based on public opinion and our desire to stay longer in some of the other beautiful places in the country and when we started to explore in the evening and the next day I was sad we had only a short time there. The streets, which some boast a view of the Vitosha Mountains, are lined with interesting cafes, restaurants and shops which are mixed in with well preserved European and Communist architecture which are mixed in with impressive Orthodox churches, the Alexander Nevski amoung them, which are mixed in with a variety of decently maintained local parks which are mixed in with a good selection of historical museums. We spent the afternoon meeting up with a lovely couple through family friends who, on the way to a delicious traditional Bulgarian lunch, guided us through the streets while telling us the history of the churches, building and monuments we visited. For the future I will only fall prey to my own opinions and Sofia, along with the other cities I visited in the country, is definitely a place put on the travel checklist and fast; watch out Prague because Bulgaria’s engine has started and you can feel it getting ready to take off.

1 comment:

jessica said...

hi sissy..
great pics and commentary..

we are needing to greece and the long lost clan of yours..!
there is a whole website dedicated to kythera.. it's kythera-family something or other.. there are so many cassimatis's....and family tree things you can do and so on..
anyway.. hope all is well..


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