So if you don’t know me, one of my favourite past times involves going online and finding various ways of getting cheap flights. Fortunately for me RyanAir do a good job of helping me out with this and were offering flights to the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia (absolutely top notch name eh?) for about £30 return. After convincing my friends that we were desperately in need of another holiday, everything was booked.
Arriving late at night meant we had a limited vision of what the city actually looked like. Luckily, we did have the chance to look round our (insanely cheap) 5 star hotel which was enough to get us overexcited for the first night of sleep.
A jacuzzi bath! What more do you need in life?!?!
We pretty much had a double bed to ourselves each which I was clearly thrilled about!
On our first day day we got up, stuffed ourselves on a buffet breakfast and started exploring.
Our first stop took us down the main tourist high street where you could see the snow-topped Vitosha mountain at the end.
We walked along to Lovers bridge which I was expecting to be one of those cute padlock bridges imitating the one in Paris, but it was literally just a bridge over a main road with a view of a nearby McDonalds. Although the bridge was a big disappointment it did have a series of photographs on showing interesting moments and events around the world. My favourite one was about how IKEA in China actively encourages its customers to ‘try out’ the beds. I hope by this they only mean having a doze…
Following this we continued to nosey around the city. Although it wasn’t a particularly pretty city – lots of concrete structures and run down areas – they clearly took pride in their prestigious and religious buildings
The Presidency building. Some nice brick work there.
My friends and I outside the National Theatre where we saw a bunch of random people doing a native dance outside of one night.
After a delicious lunch we found Sofia’s most popular tourist attraction, St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral. It was definitely the most beautiful building they had with golden domes, however as soon as we exited the heavens opened and we were pelted with torrential rain.
As we had already had lunch we decided, what better excuse do go and have dessert?! And so we did.
Following the monsoon, sans waterproof jacket I was convinced to go on a two-hour cycling tour of Sofia. Arriving at the meeting place we realised we were the only ones attending, with just our tour guide Petur. With nobody else turning up we pushed on the pedals and set off, viewing all the sights of Sofia.
Half way through, my friend and I revealed our environmental backgrounds which Petur took a deep interest in as he was attending forestry classes. This led Petur to show us every tree within a 10 mile radius around the Bulgarian capital (slight exaggeration but that is what it felt like).
After cycling for our allocated two hour session Petur wasn’t finished with us and proceeded to take us deep into a nearby forest (which was slightly disconcerting) and on to a cafe which had a photographic exhibition of his inside.
Turns out Petur likes squirrels. A LOT.
His photography exhibition was full of squirrels. Him holding squirrels. Other people holding squirrels. Squirrels eating nuts. Squirrels with hats on. Squirrels with scarves on.
You get the picture. He gave each of us a notepad with his beloved squirrels on too. Mine had ‘Alex’ the squirrel on.
Eventually the tour finally ended, but our time with Petur didn’t stop there. I made the mistake of asking him where he would recommend if we wanted to try traditional Bulgarian food and before we knew it, we were squirrelled off (haha) and eating our dinner with Petur.
He was sweet though and the tour was very informative!
The dish Petur ordered for us. A stew of sausage, tomato and onion topped with eggs and parsley with a side of salted bread pancakes.
After eventually making it back to the swanky hotel we nodded off ready for the next day.
For the second day we decided we were going to go on a hiking tour up the nearby Vitosha mountain. The sun was out and we were ready to start the ramble after a buffet breakfast.
On the way there it began to grey over and drizzle a little but no worries, it would surely pass.
For pretty much the whole four hour hike we were being pelted with torrential rain. The only positive to this was that Salamanders love the moisture and so we got to see plenty of them!
The peak of our hike also took us to the beautiful Boyana waterfall which was in full flow after all the rain.
My jumper obviously didn’t bring us much luck!
Once we had made our way back to our hotel, sodden and freezing our toes off, we decided to make the most of the spa facilities and went for a swim and sauna visit.
After a few hours, suitably warmed and freshened up, we went off to another traditional Bulgarian restaurant which had been recommended to us. The English translations on the menu provided very little detail of what we would actually be eating so we just pointed to our choices, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
I got very lucky and was given an absolutely huge platter of sausages, potato wedges and salad! I justified my meal choice by convincing myself that I had burnt thousands of calories climbing a big hill in the freezing cold.
That meant I didn’t just stop at the main and of course, had dessert too. I can’t exactly describe it so we’ll just call it a Bulgarian cheesecake. I can confirm it tasted good though.
Following the meal we trekked off to find some bars. The first one which had been recommended to us was called ‘The Apartment’. When we arrived it was all very eerie – literally like stepping into someones apartment – and everyone seemed very vacant.
It wasn’t until after choosing from a very poor alcoholic drinks selection (I ended up having to have Malibu with blueberry smoothie as my mixer?!) that we realised why:
Everyone else there was high as a kite.
With my friends freaking out that their drinks may be laced with weed we decided it was time to move on to somewhere else.
Down the road was another place which has a name I couldn’t pronounce, let alone remember. It was very quirky though and basically was a converted wooden barn, lit only by candlelight. Definitely not something health and safety would allow in the UK.
Excuse the bad lighting for the pictures hahahahaha.
Anyway after a few hours in this place and a few gin and tonics later (cannabis free), we headed back to the hotel to sleep.
On our last day we had very limited time and so wandered around seeing a few of the nearby sights we had so far missed.
I drank supposedly ‘healing’ water at Sofia Central Mineral Baths which literally just tasted of eggy warm water and has healed me of nothing.
We went to Lions bridge which I actually thought was a very pretty part of the city although my friends disagreed with me.
After a quick lunch, we waved goodbye to Sofia and made our way to the airport (which by the way is a dreadful airport – very limited shopping choices).
Although I had fun in Sofia and it was a very cheap getaway, it was definitely not my favourite place I have visited and probably won’t be returning anytime soon; at least not until the weather improves! I do hope to return to Bulgaria one day though, more in the hopes for some cheap skiing!
Here’s a song where the chorus kind of sums up our second day: