Post Ailie Fly-Out
In the few days I was still in Sofia, didn’t do too much apart from training / randomly wandering the streets and bumming around in the hostel.
I checked out the National Palace of Culture which was a nice park area we saw on our first night (although we didn’t wander through then). Not really that much to see there, looked much nicer at night with the lighting and lots of people have a few beers – would recommend you’re better off seeing it at night.
Couldn’t go to training on the first night as I got half-way on the tram (not realising after buying your ticket you have to punch it) and the ticket lady tried to book me with a 40 BGN fine. She kept asking for money even though everyone was arguing on my behalf in Bulgarian that I bought a valid ticket and telling me not to pay her. I told her to ask the driver about me buying a ticket but she kept demanding and saying “not punched”. Gave one of the girls my ticket and she went to punch it for me, the ticket lady tried to grab it so I blocked her arm, reached over and took it out of the punch. She got her mobile out to call someone (police / transit security?) and everyone just told me to bail – thankfully we’d stopped at this stage so I grabbed my stuff and legged it….walked around for about 15 minutes, realised I was too far from training and caught the tram back.
Next morning got woken up by some girl repeatedly coughing for about 10 minutes … cough into your pillow d*ckhead. Decided to get out of the hostel and visit Church of St Paraskeva – was OK but nothing special, not as nice as the Wikipedia photo, inside was just a typical Orthodox church with the gold / typical painting style etc. Went to the Lidl around the corner and then walked past the Synagogue on the way home (to take the long way around). Went to training that night, thankfully different ticket ladies on the tram. Really good training session although somewhat put off by some of the kickboxer(s) there….won’t go into too much detail.
Again nice wake up at 0400 from coughing chick. After finally getting back to sleep (an hour later). Had breakfast and went to find GFTeam … located at the Stadium although couldn’t find it (see Sofia Training post). Just bummed around the hostel / cooked etc during the day then went to training. Little girl was there who seemed obsessed with me (was climbing on me while trying to eat my sandwich on Sunday morning and kept talking to me in Bulgarian). She kept trying to Hi-5 me but I kept dodging her when training was meant to start, she got bored and then kept punching me. When I left I said bye and she screamed “ciao” at the top of her lungs like three times. Elderly lady at the tram stop was asking me about my shoes in Bulgarian … surprised she actually had really good English and we got talking about how she would love to go to Australia (“beautiful / exotic”) and how bad Bulgaria is. Helped a massive group of Russians on the tram with how to punch ticket…thankfully as there was a ticket inspector at the next stop (remembered that “spaseeba” = thanks).
Woken up by alarm douche – his alarm went off every 5 minutes (for about 2 minutes) after the third time I woke him up, he appeared shocked, hit his phone and rolled over. After another 3 times I woke him up again and he actually turned it off this time. Everyone was pissed. Went to NBC Group / UBB (United Bulgarian Bank) – fee free. Day trip to the Rila Monastery. Again it was basically just paying for transport – monastery was cool, but nothing that special…worth the money? Not sure, but better than sitting in the hostel again. Can’t take photos inside the church (tried to get a sneaky video but didn’t work … probably photos on Google anyway). Need to have knee length shorts and shoulders covered or they give you a shawl. I even got told off sitting outside the church for speaking in my normal voice….We didn’t go to the caves either like it said on our tour description, pretty disappointing. Played some pool and cards after dinner, had a few beers and went on the pub crawl. The pubs were OK (both inside shopping buildings with no signs … on the same street at the court house) but pretty dead except for us, I left after the second one. Went with a few people from the tour during the day … met some people from Perth too.
Final day just bummed around hostel before flying out. Got a taxi for ~ 15 BGN … heard you can take the metro but couldn’t be bothered dealing with it (note have to pay for bags on metro too). Was recommended the “free” Balkan Bites Food Tour as well at 1400 but didn’t bother.
For those curious about all the Swastikas spray painted everyone around Sofia this may be interesting: http://rachelsusser.com/2016/05/10
Couple of things for next time in Bulgaria:
Boyana Church (Hike) – ADD MAP YOU DOWNLOADED
Plovdiv (Old Town)
Buzludzha Communist HQ (Make sure can get in – check Veliko Tarnovo tour)
& In Sofia:
National palace of culture (night)
Vitosha Mountain (bus 66), chair lift operates on weekends (go up, walk down – otherwise 6 hour + hike)