Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Couple of Reasons to Visit SOFIA

"Bulgaria has many secrets, many layers."  Annie Ward, The Making of June

I had the opportunity to visit Sofia, Bulgaria last week.  I really didn't know what to expect and had absolutely no time to read about my destination before the trip.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!  A couple of full days will give you a taste of what Sofia has to offer.

Here are my recommendations:

Start by joining the Free Sofia English Tour.  The  tour starts everyday at 11 am and 6pm in front of the lions of the Palace of Justice in the corner of Vitosha Blvd. and Alabin Street.  Just show up at the meeting point and you'll be greeted by the tour guides.  They will take you around for two and a half hours showing you the most important landmarks of Sofia and telling you all about their history and traditions.  With this tour you will not enter the buildings that are part of the circuit but once you learn about them you can later visit the inside of the wonderful churches and museums the city has to offer.  The tour is free! but a donation is greatly appreciated.

Walk the pedestrian Vitosha Blvd. and have a drink or two in one of its many restaurants.  Another great stop is a visit to the Arena di Serdica hotel which houses the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater, part of what was the city of Serdica.  Their spa shares space with the ruins and scheduling a massage on such a setting is a wonderful treat.

The city center is not big and you'll walk from one attraction to the next in no time.  The streets are clean and I was able to communicate in english with people working in the city center.  Bulgaria is known for its rose-growing industry and they sell countless products made out of roses.  I've learned that rose jam is good for the stomach.

I had a great time in Sofia.  I enjoyed visiting the Orthodox churches and walking the city's yellow pavers which give Sofia a unique look. Their Tolerance Square, which houses a Mosque, a Synagogue and a Catholic Cathedral within a few minute's walk from each other made me finish my visit with a great appreciation for this city.


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