November 16, 2016
by Alessia Ursini
I didn’t decided to travel to Sofia. It’s just happened, and that’s the kind of travel that has always brought me happiness.
I found a cheap plane offer. I never had in my plans Bulgaria, but I have in my plans everything that I didn’t do yet. Plus, I’m an autumn seeker and Sofia is one of the best cities where to see autumn colors.
I am from Italy, and medias and prejudices have made me picturing an image of Bulgaria. I know that I am a traveler and as a traveler I am supposed to don’t have any kind of prejudice and fear of the world, but I am a human, and I was born and growth in a society with all his constructions and walls.
I had the image of a gray Bulgaria, a poor Bulgaria, a dangerous Bulgaria.
As soon as I landed I heard the first perfume.
It was my first trip with my partner, and it made me a bit afraid about that. I am conscious that my kind of travel is too and adventure that an holiday, and I never know what to expect from others.
Every traveler knows what I am saying and how difficult is to approach every way of feel the world.
In fact, our way of travel was really different and we went against each other a couple of time but.. I have to thank Bulgaria, or, better, the capital Sofia. It’s a city that fits every type of travel and traveler. It’s a city where you can never stop to wonder (me, a traveler obsessed about wonders), it’s cheap, badly cheap (from who owns euro at least) and it’s a city that offers a variety of traditional food in every corner (I wasn’t expected my partner to travel for food!).
Sofia is well organized and modern. Every corner has something to see, streets are huge, monuments are mostly green and the city is mostly yellow.
Places to see walking trough the center
I was located in Tsar Simeon, five minutes walk from the Vitosha blvd., the center.
To go to the center I passed to the colorful historical museum, that it worths a visit.
Than there’s the excavations, that you can visit from free, with a lot of souvenirs shops. And than the Boulevard with the most romantic cafes of the city.
This is the most expansive part of the city, but a cappuccino with a cake will be almost 7/8 BGN, the Bulgarian money, that is about 4 euros!
Walking from my hostel I saw the historical museum, the excavations, trough all the boulevard I arrived to the National palace of Culture, than back to the historical center but without programming everything, the streets had leaded me to places. It was so easy to walk with just a map and to orientate looking the roofs of the monuments and the big palaces.
From a place to another, leaves were fallen and corn-pipes were played, and it was good to taste the moment. And turning to every corner it was a surprise because I didn’t know what to expect.
Alexandar Nevski Cathedral was smaller that I expected but it made me feel the same so small. It’s so nice the shape of their structures, the Alexander is the biggest example of these churches, but, for example, also next to my hostel I had one similar. A bit strange was the out of tune sound of the bells, but it was so funny!
Watch out about the money change!
Talking about money, a good dinner in a restaurant, with a typical salad, that you must try if you go to Bulgaria, and another plate with some of good wine, better always choose the typical one, will be about 20 BGN., just about 10 euros.It’s important to remember that 1 euro is about 1,96 BGN, so it’s quite easy to convert.
With every calculate and for every currency, I was helped by the Currency Converter Plus App that works also off-line and it helped me a lot.
An advice is to change your money in Sofia airport, for the taxes, but there are also some “change shops” that are convenient, but remember to compare to the 1,96 value and choose the taxes free one.
Metro ticket is 1,60 BGN, less that 80 cent., and it brings you also ’till the Terminal 2 of the city airport.
Taxis are 0,77 per kilometers but watch out the taxi drivers! A couple of time they tried to put a fixed price that was way too expansive about how it was supposed to be.
What to eat
The restaurant offers every kind of cuisine but I will always going to choose the traditional one. It’s less travel if you don’t taste their flavors, I think.
Salads, every type of salads. Shopska is the most typical, one of the best starter for Bulgarian. It’s a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and cheese. Delicious and light.
Grill, they grill a lot! In every corner of the streets there is someone that does street food. Sometimes it doesn’t look great, I have to say, but it worth a try. Kebapche are some small sausages that it’s easy to find.
Sushi. Ok, I am way too conscious that it’s is not traditional, but believe me if I say you that almost every restaurants and market as a sushi section, and for me, from Italy, it’s quite strange and surprising! I have tasted it and it was one of the best that I tried.
Breakfast is curious. I tried Mekitsa, made of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep fried, it tasted so good and it was just 0,50 one.. about 25 cent. Amazing!
Soups are great too, it’s not uncommon to eat a salad and soup for lunch. Healthy, cheap and so good!
My best drink I tried the Rose wine, a Bulgarian wine that was really tasty, a bit dry and not sparkling, good with some fish.
A journey: Rila
I am not satisfied if I don’t do at least a journey outside the capital, and my Bulgarian trip was to Rila monastery. Local transportations were so cheap that I decided to don’t rent a car.
From the city center I took tram 5 that has brought me to the bus station. The bus to Rila was 11 BGN per person, one way, about 5 euros. It was two hours travel with a stop in Rila village and then up to the mountains until the monastery. It was so interesting to see a bit of the lif
e and the people outside the metropolis.
Rila monastery was something so unexpected, impressive and colorful. I have passed there three intensive hours walking around, seeking for wonders that came a second after second. I saw also a blessing, which I didn’t understand, of course, but was so interesting. Outside Rila monastery you can find also a restaurant, a Mekitsa shop and a souvenir shop. So it’s not necessary to bring with you anything.
…and keep some memories!
I noticed that there are a lot of Bulgarian Rose shops, they do a lot of things with their rose, don’t miss a smell at their perfume! It’s perfect for souvenirs, I bought a Bulgarian rose cream and a Bulgarian rose perfume in a small typical wooden container, perfect to bring with you, also in plane, for just 2BGN and it is such an original souvenir.
A bit defect about the city is that as soon as you go out from the center, shops, bars, fast food, markets and restaurants do not offer an english alphabet version so it’s quite hard to understand anything. My method was to bring with me a page with the alphabet transcription, but it keeps being hard to understand.
My final impression about Sofia was good. This city is not one of the best in Europe, or also east Europe, but as far as it surprised me so much, I could not say that this travel was not good.
Also if I have to admit that hardly you will read from me that a travel is not good. Everything that I didn’t see yet will be good just for the fact that it give me something new, especially if it’s a city that has completely changed, fortunately, my prejudices and was to me such a surprise.