Today I take the bus to Zagreb, Croatia
After breakfast, I took a walk down Maria Luisa St, which leads into the touristy-store-dumb one that I saw yesterday. I bypassed this area yesterday by taking the metro. It's lively, with cute side streets that aren't as touristy. The Lions Bridge is neat, and there are ancient Roman ruins in this area that were discovered in 2012! I mainly wanted a long walk as I knew I would be sitting a lot today, but I'm also glad I saw this part of Sofia. I was bummed that a Catholic church, St Joseph Cathedral, was really cute. Bummed because I had written down that they have weekly mass in Bulgarian at 7 pm and every morning at 8 am. I did set my alarm for 7 am this morning, but getting up didn't happen
Sofia was ok. It's a big city, and someone told me it's more newly developed. I'm guessing there are cuter areas in Bulgaria, and those I wouldn't mind exploring. Plovdiv is supposed to be a great city. It definitely has the feel of a former Communist area, with its housing and other remnants. The people overall were a bit edgy, but I don't mind that. I don't mind knowing where I stand. If they are like, "who is this blond American asking me this dumb question in her purple "I love Brussels" sweatshirt?', I can live with that. And, I have a bit of a fondness for Eastern Europe.
Now, I am waiting in the lobby of Hotel Favorit and will soon walk to the bus station. I would rather sit in a nice, quiet lobby with free wi-fi on a comfy chair than in a small bus station area, where who knows what is on the ground
1:55 pm: At the bus station. Asked the Florencia bus office if there was wi-fi on the bus. She said NO. I just might lose my S H I T at some point out of boredom on this ride. Bought a slice of pizza and a cappuccino, served in a plastic cup.
It's raining pretty hard. I was caught in it on my walk here, but nothing inside my bags got wet. Another reason to pack relatively light when in Europe!
3:29 pm:On the bus, and just crossed the border into Serbia. We had to get off the bus and get our passport stamped to leave Bulgaria and then another guard took them to stamp us into Serbia. The restaurant at our stop had free wi-if, so I was able to send a quick Facebook message to my mom. The bus is clean and not too crowded
There is a nice young lady sitting across from me named Martina. She is from Bulgaria and heading to Zagreb, like me. She has been on this bus before and speaks great English as she studied to be anInterpreter at the university. She told me that she doesn't like Sofia and people there are overall not friendly. See, so it isn't just me! She said the Cold War era still makes people leery. Her parents were not allowed to speak English at all, listen to western music or wear blue jeans. I'm glad she is sitting across from me!
5:02 pm:We are just over 100 miles from Beograd. We do a drop off/pick up here and I'm not sure if we will have a dinner stop or not. At the moment I am playing the game 'how long can Jamie last until having to use the bus bathroom?' I have a feeling I might lose. The drive around an hour ago was through the mountains and really pretty.
Funny story: there are three Florencia bus employees, all smokers. Shortly after the border crossing, one of them gave Martina a box of cigarettes. I thought it was odd. Did she purchase them? I asked her about this and she said people can only take so many cigarettes out of Serbia, as they are really cheap. So if border control getting into Croatia does any searches, the drivers wouldn't get in trouble. After we cross the border, she will give them back to the driver. She said this is common practice, and I guess I found it pretty amusing. Hey Chewey, Louie and Stewy....I really don't care what you do as long as you get me to Zagreb in one piece.
I will write more tomorrow once I'm in Zagreb. Thanks again for reading!
So long, Sofia! Hello Serbia!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016