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Published: June 12th 2013
Sofia Bulgaria 9 to 10 June 2013
We crossed the Serbia-Bulgaria border with no problems. Our passports were stamped out of Serbia and then paid our 5 euro road tax for Bulgaria and we were on our way. The roads were good between towns but through towns were atrocious.
We were given the GPS coordinates for a new Van Park near Sofia, by the last Park Manager. When we arrived, we found lots of Motor homes parked, some owned by tourists and some by the business which we drove in. We learned that there were no showers or toilets and was 12 kms from the city centre. We decided this was not for us so went into the city and stayed at the Sheridan.
Bulgaria is yet another eastern European country with a rocky history so infrastructure was not good. The city had a tram, metro and bus system but there were so many derelict buildings and un-kept parks. You could see the money was not available for the ‘unnecessary’. The graffiti was extensive in the city. None the less, some restoration/maintenance was being done to some of the key historic buildings. The major walking mal was also
in the middle of a major face lift.
Once settled into our hotel, we went for a 2 hour walk around the city. We saw monuments, churches (Russian, Jewish, Catholic), a cathedral, and wide expansive paved areas which we could imagine Soviet parades, demonstrations and celebrations being held. There were several large markets, including and antique market, as well as racquet sport. It was Sunday when we arrived into Sofia.
We went back to the hotel to have a shower then found a busy place for a nice dinner.
On talking with the hotel reception, the key things he loved about Bulgaria were the mountains for snow-boarding and the beaches along the Black sea. We will have to come back to see these. We could see the country was oriented to cold winters.
The next morning, we did some internet and phoning. Tom couldn’t find a hair-dresser to cut his hair. There are strict licensing regulations dividing female from male hairdressers apparently!! We looked at a few more of the sights, sat down at one of the numerous coffee cafes for a coffee and set our GPS for Macadonia.
A little about Bulgaria’s history for
those who are interested:
It was under Soviet for some time after the Ottoman Rule which meant socialist policies were pursued until hyperinflation and economic meltdown drove the old guard out of power in 1997. Bulgaria was hit badly by the GFC and we could see results of this.
The history before the 1900s saw a series of bloody and brutal Balkan wars. Bulgaria had the further misfortune to be occupied by the losing side in both World Wars, and fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination was brought to a swift, but for many people illusory end in 1989
In summary, Bulgaria is one of the few exotic nations of Europe, due to the fact that it boasts sublime beaches, lovely churches, winter sport opportunities, to name a few. Although it is not regularly visited compared to other European nations, it is a beautiful place, with a wide range of activities for a traveler to do.
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