Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sofia, Bulgaria

And the prize for hostel with the funniest name goes to......Hostel Mostel. 

With its private room, complimentary breakfast, evening meal, beer & all for less than £10 pppn there is no wonder we have been looking forward to this hostel the most.

The meal at night wasn't remarkable. Spaghetti & tomato sauce. I got seconds & enjoyed it enough. The beer was cold & therefore acceptable. The breakfast was pretty good. Not as much fruit as I had hoped for but the coffee was better than ok & the eggs were edible. 

On our first morning we accidentally joined a free walking tour. I find that the interesting information handed out during these tours are usually out weighed by the pain in the arse of walking slowly for 3 hours. I enjoyed the tour & should do more of them really. Our tour guide Mitko, was a history student and a very active protester. In the 80 days that there has been anti Bulgarian government protests Mitko had only missed 5 days. Mitko explained the reason for the protests - to stop the police being in cahoots with the mafia. An Australian guy from our hostel asked how the protesters think they will stop this as what the police are doing isn't legal so why would they listen to protesters if they are ignoring the law. Mitko said a lot of words but I didn't really hear an answer. 

Protests in the centre of Sofia
He gave a fair account of the history of Sofia. Nothing was sugar coated. While they saved the lives of many of their own Jewish community during WW2 Mitko was honest enough to say that this act of "heroism" wasn't applied to neighbouring countries where Bulgaria occupied & thousands were sent to their deaths, which we had already learnt from Macedonia. The Square of Tolerance in Sofia wasn't very tolerant. Right wing activists have often protested against the Muslim community & only 2 years ago one of these protests turned violent. 

One of the first stops was St Ndelya Church. Ok looking church but nothing great but then Mitko told us that in 1925 a funeral was held there for an army general and the church was bombed killing 150 people. More important army guys were killed in that church than had been killed in the last 3 conflicts. We were told the King should have been there but he was late, however, Wikipedia says he wasn't late he was (purposefully) at a different funeral. 

Sofia has mineral water springs like Budapest or Bath but they don't really do much with them. They have these public fountains where people fill up bottles. There is a huge really nice building that used to be public baths but this has been closed since the 70's. The government keep saying it will be re-opened but they have been saying this for 30 years so no one's holding their breath.

The building where the public bath should be

The springs. Our guide Mitko is the guy on the right. The one who looks like a protester.
We were taken to the main theatre of Budapest. Mitko told us it was renovated in the 70's and the gold paint was added. As a joke one of the painters painted the little angel's willy gold. He almost got sacked for it but they saw the funny side in the end. The original Gold Member.

Thanks to the slow walking people on the walk when we got the the Presidency building we were running late so got to see the changing of the guards. Super touristy photo coming up...

Sofia has many sex shops. This one had the funniest name.

There was this short arse Australian douche bag in the hostel. I was unfortunate enough to be close enough to hear his rubbish most nights. "I haven't worked out in ages but my legs are still huge!" Dick head. There was this other guy in Hostel Mostel who had funnily enough been bunked right above me in Skopje. He never spoke a single word to anyone & always had his face glued to his laptop. One night in the hostel he was at a head of a table with his computer, obviously. He was sat there while everyone else at the table was playing drinking games & having a good time. Why did this guy come travelling??

Sofia has a huge number of rock/metal bars with 11 listed on Metal Travel Guide. We were sure to find a good night out somewhere. The first night we went out, armed with a map full of dots of ink we spent an hour looking for a bar which turned out to be closed. "Only open at the weekend" a bouncer tells me as he frisks me down, even though I wasn't going in his club. Other places were pretty dead so we called it a night. As the reviews for the place were so good we went back on Friday & it was everything MTG said it was. Good music. Good people. Fair prices.


We left the capital city for the beach. Sunny beach is the name & everyone tells me it is crap! Find out how crap sunny beach was in the next episode of Russ & Cats Excellent Adventure :D 

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