Sofia, Bulgaria

sofia-post-topimageThe last time I was in Sofia was on a skiing trip with my secondary school. I remember it well, Bulgaria was still a communist country back then and there were lots of scary men with guns everywhere.

Fast forward to my latest visit and it’s changed quite a lot but somehow it still feels too slavic to be in the EU! It’s quite strange to think of Bulgaria as an member of the Union.

After arriving in the city at 9pm and then immediately lost an hour due to time difference. I booked the hostel for 1 night as I didn’t know how long to stay in the city. I was intending to extend my stay but the hostel was booked out for the weekend so I bought a ticket for the night bus to Bucharest instead. I had several hours still to spend in Sofia so I went exploring.

Hostel Mostel - Sofia

Hostel Mostel – Sofia

Running through the main centre of the city is a long Boulevard, which seems to go on forever. It’s lined with cafes, restaurants and shops, it’s familiar and could be in any city within the Balkans. When you finally reach the end it you are met with a large park and in the centre of this park is an ugly monument to communist times.

Communist monument - Sofia

Communist monument

The area seems to be undergoing some major renovation. There were lots of workers laying paving stones and stacks of bins waiting to be placed. Nearby a couple of modern office buildings rise up, the sun catching their shiny structures. Money is certainly being spent.

After my long walk I decided it would be prudent to get a metro ticket. Things are very cheap in Bulgaria so to make the most of my time in the city I bought a day pass for 4 lev, which is about £1.50. Crazy prices really when you think of what the London underground costs!

Sofia didn’t seem to offer a huge amount for the tourist, at least not that I could find anyway and besides, other cities just do it better.

It’s not really geared up for tourism other that skiing. The nearby ski resort of Vitosha is a very popular destination with Europeans.

I’d been trying to get my prescription refilled for the past few weeks and finally found a chemist that would do it. I had a photocopy of my UK prescription but to my surprise I was able to buy the medication over the counter! Different country, different rules.

After exploring the city for several hours, I found a restaurant where I could get something gluten free to eat. The waitresses were all dressed in tiny mini skirts, pretty impractical but I’m not complaining! The meal was 9 lev and consisted of chicken, potatoes and salad.

Sofia was a strange mix of a slavic, old fashioned way of life combined with western shopping malls that just seemed out of place to me. Then there was the metro system, which was clean and modern with no graffiti in sight. Maybe in the next 10 years things will change and Sofia will offer more to the tourist but I don’t see myself returning to Bulgaria unless it’s for a cheap skiing holiday.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - Sofia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Pedestrian boulevard  - Sofia

Pedestrian boulevard

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