I had a flying visit to Bulgaria last week, and it was really interesting and challenging and lots of fun.
We flew out really, really early on Thursday morning. That time of day should not exist.
My journey: Taxi to airport – fly to Frankfurt – fly to Sofia – taxi to city centre – bus to Plovdiv – lift to hotel
Our taxi from Sofia airport to the bus station in the city centre cost twice what it should have, and twice what it cost on the way back. I think we were brought around the city a bit, while the driver tried to convince us that we should pay him to take us all the way to Plovdiv. Nothing that we could do though, and at the end of the day it meant a €10 taxi ride rather than a €5 one, and my taxi out to Dublin airport that took the same length of time had been €30, so it’s hard to get too upset about it.
Buying bus tickets, finding our way around, everything really, was a bit tough. The alphabet is Cyrillic rather than Roman so it’s really difficult to read, and I just couldn’t get to grips with Bulgarian. Most people were friendly though, and between their smatterings of English, French and German we got by.
Plovdiv is a lovely city. It’s about 2 hours by bus from Sofia, and is the second largest city in Bulgaria. Everything felt and looked really run down, with lots of communist-era apartment blocks. However, there was no litter on the streets, and although the buildings were run down they weren’t vandalised, and there were loads of trees and lots of greenery everywhere. The city felt safe.
The Old Town was interesting to walk around, although we didn’t have a huge amount of time for exploring. (It was a working trip). The city was founded by Alexander the Great’s dad, so is very old. There are Roman ruins dotted around the place, and an amphitheatre in the Old Town.
All round the residential parts of the city were play areas – playgrounds, basketball courts and the like. Mostly a bit overgrown, but attractive in their way.
Yes, those are rocks taking the place of the net, and yes, it does get used – we saw kids playing table tennis there earlier in the day.
I had been a bit worried about food for me, being vegetarian and not liking eggs, but I ate really well – heaps of salads and delicious vegetables. The coffee was mixed, but I realised that it was partly due to the preponderance of UHT milk, so stuck to espresso and Viennese coffee and it was top notch.
Cake wise, I did well. I wasn’t there for long, and was too full of salad and fruit most of the time, but did sample a giant portion of apple pie in Sofia along with my knitting on World Wide Knit in Public Day on my way back to Dublin.
Bargain apple pie: €2.00!
The weather was fabulous – really hot, which caused the noisiest thunderstorms I’ve experienced in a long time. I had a great view from the hotel window.
Saturday morning we got up early, had a quick breakfast outside (Outside! In the sun!), took a taxi to the bus station, the bus to Sofia, had lunch in Sofia, took a taxi to the airport, flew to Frankfurt, flew to Dublin, and was collected from the airport and brought home.
All in all it was a lovely little trip. I’m looking forward to heading back there in August. Need to brush up on my cyrillic before then.