Sofia, Bulgaria

After our Bosnian destinations, we had quite a day ahead of us. We took a bus to Sarajevo, a bus to Belgrade and then a night train to Sofia. We woke up early, 5:45 AM, and got ready for a long 24 hours of transport. We bought our ticket in Mostar and waited for the bus to be ready. We were very comfortable waiting for the bus outside at 6 AM as it was ‘cool’ for once! The bus was pretty good too, recent and comfortable with AC. The road was again pretty scenic, going through mountain passes and beside rivers. 

We arrived in Sarajevo, asked for the next bus to Belgrade, only to be told that there was only one per day, at 6 AM next morning. Good thing we arrived at the other station when we first visited so we could ask the lady, and than the guy at the other counter for the schedule from that station, which had a few other options. We walked to the city bus station and an older man tried real hard to help us and tell us how much is was going to cost. When we arrived at the West Sarajevo station, the lady selling the bus tickets was on 30 mins break, so we had to wait for her to come back. We tough we were getting short on time, but the schedule we were told initially, less than an hour prior to getting there, turned out to be wrong. The 11 AM bus did not exist, but there was the 12:30 PM one, not on the first schedule…

Really confusing information from different sources seems to be the norm since we arrived in Romania a month ago. Same goes for Moldova and the Balkans. We had coffee in the little ‘waiting area’ of the bus station, walked a bit and got on our second bus of the day. It was a pretty long bus ride again, about 7.5 hours to get to Belgrade. We arrived almost on time in Belgrade, rushed to the train ticket office, where we were told that the sleeper cabins were all full for the 2 following nights. We walked to the bus station ticket office, to see if there was some availability, but nope, there was only one seat available for the 00:30 bus. So back to the train station we went to buy a ticket, no sleeper, just a seat.

 We had a little bit over an hour left so we decided to have supper, a pizza and beers in the train station. A few minutes before the departure, we got in the train and met our roommates for the night. We were lucky enough to get one of those 6 seats compartments instead of the hard seats usually used for commuter train. Our roommates were 2 Swiss and one Bulgarian guy, around our age. The compartment is really cozy when there are 5 people seating, but when comes time to sleep, it becomes extra-cozy! The facing seats can also slide in, almost to make a bed. A 1 person bed that is. So we made a big bed by sliding down all the seats, and laid down alternating faces and feet. It was really cozy and we could’t not touch the person next to us. We managed to get some sleep anyway, in between the numerous ticket controls, customs etc. It was quite the experience! 

We arrived in Sofia and walked to the hostel. The Hello Sofia Guesthouse is all renovated inside and consist of just a few rooms. We put our bags down and went for a free guided walking tour by FreeSofiaTour. Our guide was really good and we learnt a lot. The city has an interesting story, especially the Square of Tolerance, where there is an Orthodox Church, a Mosque, a Synagogue and a Catholic Church. We saw many other churches during the tour. We also stopped at the hot mineral water source where we tasted the water. It was pretty hot water! And it is also funny to see all the locals coming with their empty bottles to fill them up. The tour also went by Alexander Nevski orthodox church. After the tour we came back to the hostel to do some research for our next, secret destination. It’s going to be really different than Europe.

Cosy train journey
Lion, symbol of Bulgaria, in front of Palace of Justice, Sofia
Sveta Nedelya Church
Central Public Bathhouse
Mineral Water Springs 
Presidency Guards
St. George Rotunda
Ivan Vazov National Theatre
Russian Church
St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral
St. Sofia Statue
National Assembly
Banya Bashi Mosque
Roman ruins in subway station
Never ending pedestrian and shopping street 
Walk by shopping through a basement window
Couple of old men on a bench 
St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral
Sofia University

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