After we booked our flights to Bulgaria, a lot of people asked why we chose there. I didn’t have the answers, but after visiting the capital, the most incredible monastery and now the mountains, I have all the answers.
Sofia is a Balkan gem and I hope this gives you a taster and a reason to visit this unique part of the world.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect Sofia to be so pretty, friendly and green. It quickly felt unintimidating and homely and there was a surprise around every corner. We went with no plans or lists of things to do and just wandered around enjoying the beautiful buildings and views.
I half expected vast boulevards lined with communist monstrosities and a lack of character from Sofia – how wrong I was. I’m glad I did so little research because I was pleasantly surprised and it’s left me with a need to return and spend more time exploring the city.
While a lot of the buildings in the centre are grand, brightly coloured and classically designed; there is an abundance of far less interesting buildings that are creatively decorated with street art and paintings which brighten up the street corners. If we’d had longer we would’ve explored Sofia’s buzzing art scene with numerous galleries and museums around the city.
Another thing I didn’t expect was to be surrounded by so much lush green space. The parks in Sofia are beautiful and the best way to escape the business of the city. We didn’t even get to see them all, but we did enjoy relaxing in the afternoon sun.
Possibly the greatest thing about Sofia? The people. We met some really kind people and enjoyed the company of locals around the city. It’s refreshingly in-touristy so it’s nice to pretend to blend in for a little while. My boyfriend met a friendly Bulgarian on the plane who preceded to offer us a lift to our guesthouse where we were met (at the ungodly hour of 2am) by a lovely woman who made us feel instantly welcome. We also enjoyed watching games of chess in the parks among older men, sitting in the parks until sunset drinking beer and listening to live music and chatting to people at the flea market who didn’t badger you to buy things and instead were happy to chat. We even tried out our terrible Bulgarian on some unsuspecting locals and it wasn’t taken too badly at all. We’ll improve over the 2 weeks I’m sure.
Regrettably, we only had one full day in Sofia, despite staying for three nights. We spent the other day at Rila Monastery, which I will write about separately because it was too amazing to squeeze into this post. We then travelled to Sapareva Banya at the foot of the Rila Mountains and we will have a leisurely three night stay here. The balcony I am currently sat on may be my favourite I have ever seen.
Until next time!