Bulgaria
Sofia

Here you’ll find travel reports about Sofia. Discover travel destinations in Bulgaria of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

9 travelers at this place:

  • Day14

    Istanbul - Sofia

    June 17 in Bulgaria

    After a good breakfast, I headed by tram to Istanbul’s Sirkeci Station where I reserved my berth for tonight’s overnight sleeper to Sofia, Bulgaria, the Istanbul - Sofia Express. It is a great pity that the train no longer leaves from Sirkeci Station, the original terminus of the Orient Express, as it has been closed indefinitely since 2013 for line work, and passengers have to take a bus (complimentary) to Halkali, an hours’s drive away. What would the Orient Express passengers think?

    I then took a ferry from the nearby terminal Eminönü across to Kadiköy on the Asian side. I was in Asia 20 minutes later. Another hot sunny day and everywhere was packed with visitors. Although most of the big attractions are on the European side, it was nice to visit here on one of the big, bustling ferries. I took advantage of a trip up the Bosphorus which was fantastic, passing beautiful homes, impressive bridges and fortresses. At only 15 Euros for a 2 hour trip it was great value.

    I returned by ferry back to Europe and took the Metro to Taksim Square, a popular tourist spot with trundling vintage trams, and packed with restaurants. At 20.30 I caught the free coach to Halkali through horrendous Istanbul traffic, arriving only 5 minutes before the train was due to depart at 21.40. I was sharing a very spacious and comfortable compartment with a former English teacher who was now living in Istanbul. I almost immediately fell asleep, only to be woken at 01.30 at the Turkish border station Kapicule. We all had to get off the train and stand in line waiting to have our passports checked. After an hour we set off, only to have the train stopped a few minutes later to have our details checked by Bulgarian Border Control folk - 3 times! Breakfast was served in the compartment by a surly, monosyllabic and unkempt attendant - a carton of warm juice of indeterminable origin and a packet of saltine crackers - no full English here.

    On arrival at Sofia, your first thought is that you wish you were somewhere else. Run down, graffiti covered and quiet, deserted streets - not what you would expect of a European capital city, and such a complete contrast to lively Istanbul. I made the 20 minute walk to my hotel - the Bon Bon - and the approach to it appeared anything but Bon. However inside it was small but clean and comfortable. I asked the receptionist if I could check in early, and although the place looked empty, she told me efficiently that check-in was 14.00. ‘It’s the rules’ she said without smiling, betraying a little of her communist era past.

    I was however permitted to leave my luggage and set off. I joined an excellent 2 hour walking tour of Sofia which was led by a professional but humorous young guide. He gave us a great insight into the history of the city including his memories as a child both before and after the fall of communism in 1989. He also taught us that nodding and shaking your head meant the opposite in Bulgaria. (This almost caused me problems later when a heavily made up woman near the Central Railway Station asked if I was looking for company).

    Although a land-locked country, Bulgaria has numerous hot springs, and our guide let us drink some water from one of these in the city centre. ‘Laydeez, drinking theez waters may increase your bosoms’ warned our guide. Well, they didn’t seem to have harmed my man boobs either.

    The tour finished at the magnificent St Alexander Nevski Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world. The sky darkened and developed into a mighty thunderstorm, bringing the first rain I had seen on my trip to date. I took the modern Metro to the small but interesting Museum of Totalitarian Art, with its fascinating collection of posters and statues from the communist era. At night I attended the Opera House to see a production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella). With shaky sets, falling props and dodgy wigs, it wasn’t exactly La Scala, but the singing was good and the 35 piece orchestra fairly belted it out. And I couldn’t complain at £15 for one of the best seats in the house.
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  • Day63

    I'm on a horse

    July 7 in Bulgaria

    I hope you all remember the epic commercial from 'Old spice'? :D That's exactly how I felt today!
    Hint for those who can't: https://youtu.be/VX5au0LOJp8

    After climbing further 10km up the hill on that sunny morning, I met 'Butch', real name Ognyan, whos owning around 20 horses on his little farm. Some more of his horses are living wildly in the mountains. He has a unique attitude towards nature and knows the mountains like no other. He invited me for coffee, self made herbal tea with self made honey from special pine trees. It felt, as if theres was another time zone, a slower one. The horses are well trained and strong and the film 'Vikings' and many others have been produced with his horses.

    I decided to try a tour on a horseback. Was a bit unsure if it might be counterproductive for my back but it turned out to be supportive.

    So, we rode a tour trough the forest and steep ski slopes. Fantastic experience and sceneries and I can only agree with with the other peoples feedback to it. If you're ever here try: http://www.horse-riding-bg.com

    Also, we were really lucky with the weather as it startet to rain as we returned. I just made it to my apartment when weather turned into apocalyptic thunderstorm and electricity went down for a while.

    During afternoon, I prepared for hiking to the top tomorrow and hoping for good enough weather!
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  • Day64

    Hunters rock

    July 8 in Bulgaria

    Made a small (2hours) hiking test tour to Hunters rock in a moment without rain...in the end, I needed to hike down in strong rain. Good, I did not try to reach the peak today. But tomorrow looks more promising!

    So, time to write a book today :)

    Btw: Vote here for summer or winter time!!

    https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/2018-summertime-arrangements

  • Day65

    Musala Peak 1/2

    July 9 in Bulgaria

    Today, I wanted to make it to the top of Musala (2925m), the highest peak between Alps and Caucasus in Europe. Unfortunately, the the gondola did not work which would bring me to 2300m.So, I decided to give it a try from Borovets (1300m)

    I started hiking. I sweated excessively. The only things you hear is your own breath, the river and a few birds. My heart was pounding heavily as the air got thinner. After climbing up for 3,5hours of a demanding hike trough forest, a pathway that partly turned into a river, I reached the top of the Gondola Yastrebez on 2300meter.
    There, it was extremely foggy and an icy wind blowing into my soaked clothes. From there I'd still needed around 2,5hours to the top and I had to come down as well. So, I decided to turn back and enjoy the tour instead of making a survival trip out of it.

    I only met 4 persons and two dogs along the way. One dog tried to eat me while he only wanted to play...as he was pretty tall, I did not like the idea too much :D

    The landscape is just amazing. You can watch how it turns from a dense wood into an open landscape after passing the tree line. Sun finds its way trough the foggy clouds and the water vaporizes into the air between the plants. The Bistritza river is floating heavily downwards and partly floods the path.

    Thanks for this lovely 6hours hiking trip Mountain Musala in the Rila mountain region. I'll find a way to continue exactly where I stopped to reach the peak someday ;)
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  • Day62

    Uphill

    July 6 in Bulgaria

    Today, it was going up the hill. The first 2,5 hours nothing but gaining elevation. Sun, sweat and making height.

    Luckily, I had a lunch break in the sun and after continuing riding, I saw it had rained cats and dogs only 500m further up the hill.

    I reached Somokov, very close to Borovets, the starting point for hiking to the Musala peak and a ski resort in the winter. Weather forecast does not look promising for hiking to the top tomorrow as thunderstorm is forecasted and there are only 6° degrees... but we'll see ;)

    So, definitely time to watch soccer! (wi)
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  • Day73

    7 Rila lakes

    July 17 in Bulgaria

    "Mountains are calling - so I go" :)

    The last trip to the mountains so far, I did with others from the Hostel. It got quite foggy in the top again but was still a beautiful scenery and a small 3hours hike.

    Unnecessary knowledge:
    7 Rila lakes
    Altitude: 2.282m
    Source: German river, tributary of Struma river (wi)

    Nach einem entspannten Flug ging es direkt zum Couchsurfer Stammtisch in Sofia. Dort wurde unter anderem hebräisch gelernt, zumindest ein Wort: Lechaim (Prost) (Jo)Read more

  • Day76

    Kopfschütteln

    July 20 in Bulgaria

    Endlich wieder Fahrrad fahren! ;)
    Es dauerte 11km bis zum Rand von Sofia und bis am Horizont die Berge ins Auge stachen. Heute geht es gleich bergauf Richtung Vratsa Balkan.
    Gleichzeitig machte Jos Rad hin und wieder komische Geräusche. Eine lose Speiche wurde lokalisiert. Das Hinterrad wurde vor Ort mit dem Leatherman neu abgestimmt und weiter ging's.
    Der nächste Stop war ein sehr schönes Restaurant mit angrenzendem Wasserfall und einer Höhle.
    Hier gab es mit der Bedienung Missverständnisse.
    In Bulgarien ist das Kopfschütteln genau entgegengesetzt. Bei Ja wird hier mit dem Kopf rechts-links, bei Nein oben-unten, geschüttelt, was immer wieder für Verwirrung sorgt.
    Gegenüber das Restaurants gab es die Möglichkeit im Fluss Wildwasser zu fahren. Zum Ärger von Jo werden für das Kajak-Fahren Wildwasser Skills erwartet, (was vielleicht ja auch ganz sinnvoll ist) die er aber immer noch nicht hat. Der nächste Kurs, um diese aufzubauen, startet leider erst Montag, sodass erstmal weiter gefahren werden muss.
    Nun geht es Serpentinen entlang und die Aussicht übertrifft sich an jeder Kurve selbst.
    Morgen geht's weiter in die Höhle Ledenika, die durch Eisfiguren bezaubern soll.
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  • Day2

    So...we've forgotten everything!

    February 12, 2017 in Bulgaria

    Our guide Alex is very...eastern European...clearly, British manners were not in order this morning and we were all very "wrong" at almost everything, and told about it in no uncertain terms. Cultural linguistic differences aside, we reached the top of the lift to glorious sunshine, before descending with very little grace having forgotten almost everything...indeed, snow plough seems to be the group preferred method. However, the view from the top is beautiful and there was beer for lunch which is always heartening. Hopeful for a less stressful, and perhaps less culturally direct, afternoon!Read more

  • Day2

    First morning!

    February 12, 2017 in Bulgaria

    Up super early for breakfast, before walking to get kitted out before the rush. Thank goodness we did as it gave us an opportunity to try and get out snow legs back before the ski test! -5 degrees at the bottom of the runs and a misty start made for a freezing start!

You might also know this place by the following names:

Sofia, Oblast Sofia, مقاطعة صوفيا, Софийска област, Província de Sofia, Sofijská oblast, Provinco Sofio, Provincia de Sofía, Sofia piirkond, استان صوفیه, Sofian alue, סופיה, Sofijska oblast, Սոֆիայի մարզ, Distretto di Sofia, ソフィア州, სოფიის ოლქი, 소피아 주, Sofijos sritis, Софиска област, Софи аймаг, Sofia Chiu, Sòfia, Софияйы облæст, Obwód sofijski, صوبہ صوفیہ, Sófia, Regiunea Sofia, Софийская область, Sofia Province, Софијска област, Вилояти София, Sofya, Софійська область, صوفیہ صوبہ, 索菲亞州

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