Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snowy, Sleepy Sofia

It's cold here and it's snowing most of the time since I got here yesterday.  Sofia is a decent sized city, but not huge, about 1.3 million people.   It does not have the "bustling" feel that I have found in other capital cities like Belgrade or Zagreb.  Ljubljana, which is quite a bit smaller, seems livelier.  Maybe people are just staying in because it is cold.
Chinese restaurant near the apartment.

A Wartburg (East German car).  You don't see many of these any more.

A Trabant (another East German brand of car).  You don't see many of these either.

A monument near the Palace of Culture.

The Palace of Culture.

In the train station.

The main hall in the 1970s train station.

Last night I went to a restaurant called Manastirska Magernitsa which was very good (and like everything else here, cheap).  Unlike Serbia, Croatia or Slovenia, I think Bulgaria should be very popular with vegetarians (though not vegans - they love their yogurt and cheese here).  They have wonderful bread at that restaurant - warm, a little gooey on the inside, crusty on the outside - and there is this mix of salt and herbs (including oregano, not sure about what else is in it) that they serve it with.  They have really good salads in Bulgaria that are meals in themselves and so I had a salad with red peppers, beets, lettuce, feta cheese, and some other things.  They have good wine too in Bulgaria, so I had some of that too.

Today I went and took a walk in the snow.  I went to the Sveta Nedelya Cathedral and bought a ticket so that I would be allowed to take pictures in there.  After the cathedral I had lunch at the Happy Bar and Grill.  It seems sort of like a Bulgarian version of TGI Friday's or Bennigan's but with Bulgarian food.  They have musical instruments (guitars, saxophones, trombones) mounted on the wall.  They seem to have "happy" everything there.  There was a "Happy magazine" on each table.  I could have had some "Happy" sushi, but I don't think I want to sample sushi in Bulgaria.  That might not be a happy experience.  I had another Bulgarian salad there, and I was happy.

The apartment building, and the shack next to it.

A Lincoln Town Car limo parked up the street.

Another crumbling house up the street
A church I saw while walking to the city center.

Walking to the city center.

A mosque in the city center.

In the cathedral.

In the cathedral

In the cathedral

In the cathedral

In the cathedral

Cathedral from the outside
My happy salad

I see a lot of "sex shops" in Sofia, and there was one right next to a store selling wedding dresses.  Another thing I have noticed, which I also noticed in the former Yugoslav countries, is that there are a lot of betting and gaming shops.  I wonder if this is something that appeared after the fall of communism.  I suspect that it is, and that it is a byproduct of weak and corrupt governments.

Sex shop and wedding dresses.

Tomorrow I am going to Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria.  The overnight train from Sofia to Istanbul stops in Plovdiv.  I am thinking that by spending a day in Plovdiv I not only get to see what is supposed to be a very pretty city, but I take a few hours off of that long overnight train to Istanbul.  Plovdiv is my last stop before Istanbul.

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