Strolling in Sofia

Monday, October 10, 2016
Sofia, Bulgaria
I meant to wake up at 8:30 a.m. to get my breakfast and the day started. Well, 9:30 is what I ended up sleeping until, and it was probably needed. I immediately goggled to see Packers news and was happy to see they won. Yay!! I also read a little bit about the Prez Debate and was frankly kind of glad to not be in the country so I didn't have to watch it. 
I went downstairs to breakfast and was also pleased to see that my credit card worked, because it did not last night . I have had this happen from time to time in other countries, so it's nothing new, but I had this feeling of not having enough cash on my pre-paid card if my credit cards didn't work. I don't pay CC fees when abroad and still earn points, so I rely on it for larger purchases, like hotels. I had a traditional euro breakfast of weird meat, cheeses, tomatoes, bread, yogurt and the fixings. I actually like these breakfasts. Pancakes and fatty syrup be damned ! The attendant insisted I try the homemade apple pie, made in house. I must say, it did rival my mom's!
I walked to the bus station so I could locate where my bus departs tomorrow to Croatia. I like to do that so when I'm doing it for real, with all my stuff, I know what I am doing and not panicking if I'm in the wrong spot. I went back to the room, showered and decided to head out even though the weather was drizzly and cool. I walked to the metro stop, Lavov Most, and took it one stop to Serdika, from where I could walk around. It's around $.50 for a single ride on the metro.
Vitrosha is a pedestrian street full of shopping hell (think H&M, Swatch, Benetton) and overpriced restaurants. I walked through that quickly and headed toward the side streets where there are local shops and stands. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is magnificent. Opened in 1924, it's one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches in the world. It was quiet inside. Pictures were not allowed, but I was content to just sit and look at everything . I took some photos of some of the major sites and then stopped for a bowl of potato soup at Supa Star. Very good! 
After this, I walked to a different metro station to head back to the hotel. I thought this would be easy, and it is. But I'm not used to this metro and how both the red line and blue line use the same platform at Serdika station. Or that the blue line goes all the way around in that direction instead of one stop over as earlier. (See link). So, I had a bit of metro hell, but it all ended up ok. I felt a little dumb, but then I thought, 'how many women go to Bulgaria alone, much less ride the Metro?' Then I felt a little better. I have to remember as a traveler that it's normal and common to make mistakes. 
I rested a bit and then went to Hadjidraganov's Houses Restaurant, which looks like a traditional Bulgarian house and serves up similar food. It was a nice walk and very close to my hotel. I had lamb hlebnitca, lamb stew with leeks in a toasted bread bowl, a Bulgarian beer, and Djolan po mehandjiski, pork knuckle with wine sauce . The sauce was so good that I soaked it up with leftover bread from my stew. Of course, I had to save room for the domashna biskvitena torta, sponge cake with cream. Their was live music for a bit, and it was noisy, but a great place to sit and relax. The soup, pork knuckle, sponge cake and beer came to $16, including the tip, which is probably considered expensive for Bulgarian food. Wow!

Bulgarians are interesting. Many of them speak some English, but there is a little gruffness to them. I am also in a city of more than a million people, so that is to be expected. The ticket ladies at the metro were friendly for the most part, except for the one who gave me an annoying look with crossed arms and said, "I don't speak English." I gave her an equally annoying look back, as if to say, "well, you just did, and I'm going to stand her until you point me in the right direction." She did come around, grudgingly.  

Tomorrow, I have a long bus ride to Zagreb, Croatia. I'm hoping to take a long walk in the morning to burn off the meat and bread I have consumed in the last 24 hours. 

Thanks for reading! 
Leka Nosht (Good night),