Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sofia (София)

As I told you in some of the previous posts about football, last weekend I went to Bulgaria with Felipe. I did not really know what I should expect of that country and what we could find there. When I thought about Bulgaria, I just thought about Hristo Stoichkov ;-)

Sofia turned up to be an interesting city. The historical center is really small and you can see everything in about one day. The interesting thing is that Sofia, or Bulgaria in general, is a place where many cultures got mixed: Turkish, Russian, Greek, Western European. Therefore, you are walking in some streets and you can see a bizantine church, a mosque and a synagogue in the same square... Interesting.

Bulgaria is still not used to tourism, at least the Eastern and Central parts of the country, and just a few people can actually speak some English. Besides, everything is written in cyrillic (e.g. Russian letters) so it can be a bit confusing for some people. However, the weather was great and prices were ridiculously low for westeners! You could drink half a liter of beer for less than one euro!! And for 5 euros you could have a proper meal!! Tomorrow, I will tell you about our trip to Rila Monastery, but I wanted to tell you that a shared taxi among 4 people hired for a 5 hours drive and a 2 hours wait cost exactly 15 euros per person!! Try that in the Netherlands...

So, let's proceed with some photos, as usual!

The first thing you notice is that you will have problems reading the names of the streets if you cannot read any cyrillic:

This nice building is the National Theatre. Soviet associated countries have always been famous for their support of culture.

This is Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, a very beautiful church in Russian style, which has become one of the symbols of the city.

And this is the view from the entrance:

This is the Russian church, which looked similar to the ones I visited in the Kremlin, when I visited Moscow in 2006.

This nice bizantine church is called Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church and it was a bit off the center.

This church is called St. Nedelya and was just in the real real center of Sofia, just next to the Prime Minister's residence and the former Party House.

And this mosque is not far away! Behind it, the Baths of Sofia... However, my camera got broken and was the only camera we had at that moment... so I have not got any pictures of that beautiful building.

Finally, the women's market, a traditional street market when local people bought vegetables and other stuff. Quite authentic!

Off the city center, the city looked really poor and untamed, which made it also attractive! Just different from all Western Europe: so homogeneus!!

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