I took the train into Sofia from Thessaloniki, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s Bulgaria, so I knew I’d try to find Viktor Krum (no luck…), but other than that… I had no idea what was in store. I am definitely making up this part of the itinerary as I go!
I booked two nights in a hostel in Sofia, and checked in after getting off the train. I decided to walk in from the train station – about a mile – and it was a good way to start seeing the city.
I spent the afternoon walking around town. First, I went to Cathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski and it was so massive! The architecture is quite different from any of the churches I’m used to seeing, so it was really impressive – the gold dome on top made it even more so!
From there, I went wandering the streets. Sofia is becoming known as the “new Berlin” and they’ve got the street art (aka graffiti) to show for it.
One graffiti I was not expecting – Texas! I don’t know what it was or why it was in multiple places, but I saw “Texas!” written in the graffiti more than a few times. It was fun to feel closer to a place I consider one of my homes.
Sofia has a TON of parks, green spaces, and statues (that are very fun to imitate!), which makes it a joy to walk through. It really is what you’d expect from a European city and is quite gorgeous. The architecture is lovely, and the city is really walk-able.
I went on to the main shopping district and stopped at H&M. They were having a great end of summer clearance (and I’m SO tired of my current clothes!), so I picked up a new swimsuit for the Black Sea, Croatia, and Italy. I also stopped by Benetton just to pick up a new shirt. Boring essentials of life are an interesting part of this trip.
Normally, when I’m far from home, it’s not for long, so it’s easy to live without it or bring things along. But this trip, there are things I’ve had to find, replenish, and replace. Things like contact solution – it’s funny how hard simple things can be! Where does one buy contact solution in Bulgaria? (answer: the optometrist)
Shopping was fun because it made me feel more “normal” for a portion of the day. I then continued walking through the city. Sofia has a ton of ruins of churches and other sites, and they’re all well-preserved. I wandered through them, and then back to the hostel – I knew I was waking up early the next day to go hiking, so I wanted to get some rest.
I’m a bit sad though – I should have stayed out longer exploring the day I got there. When I got back from hiking, it was raining buckets! So I did not go brave the rain to explore more of Sofia. I realized it was the first truly rainy day of my trip (holy crap!), and it was so nice to hear the sound of thunder and the patter of raindrops. It also got fairly cold!
So I stayed in the hostel that morning, drinking hot chocolate and reading my book. I might not have seen all of Sofia, but I still enjoyed my time!