This is a typical story of boy meets girl, they steal glances at each other, drawn towards each other’s unknown charms and then they build up the courage to approach, only to find out that it’s just not going to work out. We booked a trip to Sofia months in advance to ensure we get a good deal, given that it was a bank holiday weekend, not realising that it’s also Christian Orthodox Easter in Bulgaria.
Thanks to an 8.00am BA flight, we arrived in Sofia around lunchtime and took the 1 Lev (42p) per person metro train to Сердика (Serdika), the centre of town and just outside our hotel. First impressions of Sofia were dauntingly good. The transport from the airport to the hotel was a breeze and our hotel was one of the fanciest we have ever stayed at, apparently it used to be a Sheraton. To top it all off, this is one of the few times where we got a bedroom with a view!
So in our love-story, Sofia showed up, donning her best LBD, dressed to impress to a point of intimidation. Then as some love-stories that are not meant to be, she just wouldn’t open up. Due to the Orthodox Easter, there was hardly anyone there, with only a few shops, restaurants and bars open.
Even though there was a serious lack of chemistry, I still think Sofia is beautiful with lots to offer for the right guy. If you are planning on seeing Sofia anytime soon, here are a few things I’d like her to know I appreciated:
- Let’s get the obvious out of the way, it’s cheap! The taxis, the food, the drinks, it’s all cheap.
- People are really friendly and English is not an issue anywhere.
- The monuments are beautiful! The architecture reminded us a lot of Istanbul due to the obvious Ottoman influence, but the highlight for us were the golden domes of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, glistening in the light like illuminating from the inside.
Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia
- I know it’s a bit childish, but walking on the Yellow Brick Road made me really happy, even though it did not lead me to Oz.
- In Serdika, there is an area called “ The Square of tolerance” with a Catholic Church, an Orthodox Church, a Mosque and a Synagogue within walking distance. It is a fine example of where there is a will, there is a way.
- In Bulgaria, there is a beautiful tradition of exchanging red and white bracelets called Martenitsa to wish good health, good luck, and happiness to family and friends. It is also a way of welcoming spring. The tradition dictates that once you’ve seen a blossoming tree, you remove your Martenitsa and tie it to the branch of the tree – such an endearing sentiment.
- One of the other impressive buildings in the centre of Sofia is of the Sofia Central Mineral Baths. Now only a museum, it’s a beautiful building with fountains of mineral water (with healing powers) outside to fill up your bottles.
- On to the left of the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, across the street are a number of taps where locals bring bottles/buckets/pots to fill up the mineral water to take home, something our walking tour girl didn’t show us even when I asked.
- To drown out the city noise, take a taxi to Boyana Church (closed when we got there) and hike up the Vitosha Mountain. The view is spectacular but what’s more delightful is the serenity within the city fringe.
- For food and drinks and overall a good night out, Shishman Street is where all the locals hang out. While majority of the places we wanted to check out were closed, here are a few we did manage to check out:
- A beer garden called Halbite near Shishman. It has a long list of beers and good food at an awesome price. Two mains, 2 half pint beers each for 22 Lev (£9.00).
- For smooth tunes and delicious cocktails, visit One More Bar. There is also a restaurant called Lavanda upstairs in a flat that was recommended by a local but was closed while we were there.
- Caffe Momento on “the main drag” has really nice coffee and in the evening is a great spot for cocktails/shots and people watching.
- For breakfast, we went to Patisserie de Provence. It has a great selection of baked goods and the coffee was on point.
As my parting words, I would like to say to Sofia, it’s not you, it’s me.
P.S. I hope you find someone who really appreciates you for you.