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3. Bulgaria (9.4. – 11.4.11)



Bulgaria is I guess my favorite country on the Balkan. From the ones I visited it preserves the strongest communistic atmosphere – although joining the EU a few years ago. The train from Belgrade takes about 12 hours and costs 20 €. I paid the tall Serbian conductor 10 € and a can of beer on top of the original ticket and he organized me a clean bed in a compartment just for myself. Passport checks on both sides are easy going and happen inside the train. They will even wake you up, by knocking gently on your door. Arriving at the train station in Sofia is already something. With all these poor equipped  socialist styled buffet places, the stray dogs and the notorious smell of urine – Sofia’s station seems not having changed much since the good old days! Be a bit careful when  you change money at one of the countless currency exchange offices. Many of them will give you 20 % less than the official exchange rate (1 € – 1,95 Leva) since they advertise only the selling rate! It’s a bit of a scam, so you have to check a few. Bulgaria is cheap as hell. I had some interesting dish with loads of tomato, onion, cabbage and bread in one of these nice buffets at the railway station for less than 0,40 €! Sofia itself appears a bit  run down or lets‘ say in state of repair – which I enjoy. Seems like the economy is not doing so well at the moment. Prices for apartment rents are far to high compare to the low salaries –  complained my host while having breakfast the other morning. But Sofia contains also some fine architecture which reminded me of Paris – even I have never been there. There are a few Turkish styled mosques and even more Russian influenced cathedrals scattered around town which gives the place this distinctive Turkish-Russian-Europe Mix!

Alexander Nevski

One of the major Landmarks of Sofia: Alexander Newski Cathedral build in 1882 in memory of Bulgaria's liberation from the Ottoman Empire by the Russians. Btw. designed by same architect who build the GUM shopping complex in Moscow!


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