Updated: Feb 10
SOFIA: THE CITY AT THE FOOT OF A MOUNTAIN
Sofia is a city which is situated at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of Bulgaria, it is also on the western part of the Iskar river.
The population of Sofia:
1.236 Million ( 2017 )
The currency of Bulgaria: Bulgarian Lev
2.23 Lev to 1 GBP as of 06/02/2021
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Facts of Sofia:
• Sofia is built on Roman ruins
• The 1st subway station took 30 years to build
• They use the Cyrillic alphabets
• Bulgarian women are one of the most attractive in the world
Next destination, Sofia in Bulgaria, why we chose this place we cant tell you, maybe it was just a point at the map, but once it was mentioned it stuck with us.
So booked for the 15th April 2016 for 1 week. Found an apartment on booking.com called Apartment casa de Vidro, a converted garage about half a mile from the city centre, cost us a bargain price of £187.
It was a large spacious room with excellent wi-fi and t.v. I recommend closing your curtains when you are changing as it is on the ground floor and people walk past.
We booked a flight with Wizzair, who we had never heard of at the time.
It was from Luton airport and cost us a total of £103, so we thought another bargain. The only trouble was travelling from Cornwall to Luton was a longer journey than the flight, which with Cornwall seems to be the norm.
We decided to drive up to Luton the day before our evening flight, which would mean we would have a day exploring Luton.
Booked into an Easy hotel like the budget airlines was ....basic, no windows and a bright orange plasticky room.
This room worried me that if there was a fire, we had only our door as an exit on the top floor and no windows!!! But as we were on a budget, it was cheap and only for 1 night.
As our travels went on over the years, we stayed in worse trying to keep on a budget, as we will explain in later blogs.
The afternoon in Luton was ok, but we were looking forward to getting on the plane.
Our flight was at 6.25 pm and was a 3-hour 10-minute flight. With Bulgaria being 2 hours ahead we were arriving around 11.35 pm.
We were feeling a little cautious on arrival in a country we had no idea about.
As we arrived in a rough-looking airport, we headed towards the taxi rank.
Now we did find out that there is a lot of rip off taxis. ( if you need to know any more details give us a message). If you want to be safe book the taxi in the airport before you leave.
When the taxi driver finally found our street, it was late.
We were in a cobbled back road with no lighting and no noise, quite worrying, but we eventually found our hosts to let us in and crash.
First morning and we needed to find our bearings, dressed and washed we were intrigued to see what this city had to offer.
We left our converted garage, and onto the cobbled street it was 9 am, and the sun was shining and warm, bliss, compared to miserable weather we left back home.
With Google maps opened, we headed for the city centre.
Just down the road from our apartment was a row of shops, bar, pharmacy and a school, so we were in a little local neighbourhood, kind of cool.
After just under half a mile walk we arrived in the city centre. Vitosha Boulevard was a typical European main street.
Still, very beautiful and clean we sat had a coffee and a bit of breakfast and amazed at our view.
We had a view of snow-capped Vitosha mountain, cold enough for snow up there, but 25 degrees Celsius where we were sitting.
We left to grab ourselves a weekly ticket on the underground.
We thought that is the quickest way to get to places a little further but we usually love just walking.
The Metro is straightforward to use, and it's even more fun if you get lost.
We find some weird and wonderful things if you go off track, don't ever worry too much as people are accommodating and friendly in Sofia.
The worst that has happened is they look at you like you're an idiot tourist abroad😂.
All-day, we wandered, taking in the incredible sights of the city.
Loved the parks where people sit and relax with ice cream or a beer under the shade of the trees as it had hit 30 c, so we thought we would join them and relax ready for the evening pub crawl we had booked.
Showered and changed we were prepared for our 1st ever pub crawl.
We booked with a company called The New Sofia Pub Crawl.
The place where everyone had to meet was at Crystal Gardens by the head statue of Stefan Stambolov for 9 pm.
We decided to arrive a little earlier to check out what we were going to let ourselves in for.
When we arrived at the gardens, it was quite a buzz with little bars and crowds of people enjoying themselves.
In the UK any drinking in parks would result in drunkenness and debauchery.
We sat by the statue and watched as groups of people turned up and almost decided against it, but thank goodness we chose to go ahead.
The tour hosts Ralitsa and Moni were so friendly; they explained this was more of a cultured pub crawl than a booze-up. You could do that in the end, at the nightclub.
We won't give any of the tours away.
Still, we indeed 100% recommend it as you learn a few things from the days of communism.
You get to meet so many interesting people, including our lovely American friends Donna and Neil, who we met up with and did the tour again another night, well worth the £25 for 2 of us we paid at that time.
Strangely, we had posted on Facebook that we were in Sofia and got a message from an Australian I had met in Barcelona 2 years previous.
Met him there travelling with his brother. His brother had gone back home, and 2 years later, he was still travelling.
Incredible the power of Facebook. We always like to meet new people on our travels and had already got Facebook friends from the pub crawl the previous night. So we had an evening of a few beers, a good catch up at a fantastic bar called Blaze.
It had great music and great atmosphere, which ended up as our go-to bar from morning coffee to evening drinks.
The second morning, a little hungover but ready to see another day.
Today plans to walk to the Zoo which was only a 4km walk.
Still, we get to see more of the city (outskirts). The walk took us further away from the city but was so peaceful at points, got a little lost and ended up down a dirt track stumbling upon a farm looking place with many caged dogs, so quickly retreated.
We will only put a brief description of our visit to the Zoo.
At the cost of less than £2, it was not a place we would visit again, a lot of concrete and the animals didn't look well kept.
By all means, if you want to see and have a look, your little bit of money will only help the animals.....we guess, we know people have different views so ill end it there.
Found a Sofia free food tour, which thought was a great way to check out the origins of Bulgaria's different foods.
They have all kinds of different influences from neighbouring countries like Turkey, Greece and others. The food tour is called Balkan Bites Food Tours.
With the free tours you get around the world, we would always suggest you give a good tip at the end. These guys are usually students and have given up their time to show you their great cities that they are proud of.
Once again can't give too much away from the tour.
Still, a few things we will mention are the yoghurt which is not to everyone's taste and a great healthy fast food where everything is sourced from within a small distance of the shop.
We have to say we think Bulgarian Tomatoes are simply the best!!.
Once again we met some lovely people on the tour, shout out to Steffi with her perfect Scottish accent who is actually German and Hannah from the U.S.
And also say a massive thank you to the pub crawl leaders Rali and Moni for making us feel so welcome in their city.
Now Sofia surprised us on how beautiful it is and still is 1 of our favourite cities, other things we recommend to do are:
• Climb Vitosha mountain.
• Hop on the tour bus if that's your thing.
• Visit the gardens.
• And take in the kind, beautiful people and a clean chilled environment.