Departure to Sofia at midnight, we took the bus from Skopje and expected a long night …
5:15, we arrived to Sofia with a bit of fatigue, you can never sleep very well in a bus … Finally, we went into the city to began to walk, it’s nice to see the city at dawn and hear no noise and enjoy the completely deserted Alexender Nevski Cathedral.
After putting the luggage to our hotel, we went to the Cathedral of Saint Nedelya by Vitosha Boulevard, a shopping street with International and Bulgarian brands.
First we visited Saint Nedelya and then the Russian Orthodox Church Saint Nikolay and Alexander Nevski Cathedral.
On the way to the last cathedral, we went through a sort of flea market that takes place every day and there are old men and old women who sell all sorts of things to make sure past time and win a few pennies. There was one old lady who was selling lace, one gentleman who sells idols he painted by hand on the wooden board, others were selling coins, … everything you can find in the flea market.
From there we went to visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the largest cathedral of the Balkan Peninsula, one of the largest Orthodox cathedrals in the world and one of the symbols of Sofia. With five naves and three altars can contain about 10 000 believers. It is in neo-Byzantine style and has a gilded central dome with fine gold, amounting to 45 meters high.
Finally, we went for a walk around the hotel where was the large park “HDK” with the Centre of Bulgarian Culture.
We headed towards the “National Art Gallery”, there was “Why Graphics” exhibition on the evolution of design and printing.
We walked through the nice park on the way to the theater “Ivan Vazov”, and from there we went towards the covered market of Sofia. We went through the “Rotunda St George,” and before the “Statue St. Sofia” to get to the covered market. It was open in 1911 and it is still an important place of commerce for the city. Indeed one can find fruit and vegetable merchants, meat, fish, bakeries, as well as leather goods, clothes of sellers and a large cosmetic store. It is a kind of mall. From there, we joined the mineral baths, passing by the museum of the city of Sofia where visibly weapons are prohibited…
The mineral baths are a surprising place by their function. All the locals come to take water for drinking, cooking, … It is a place with several points of water, the water that comes out is hot.
Then we went to the “Art shop hand craft”, a gift shop which is actually Bulgarian! Then we visited the “Saint Sofia Church” which is the oldest religious building in Sofia.
In the morning we went to the large shopping center “Paradise”, after some shopping, we were at the park (if you can call it a park) “Gradski”. Which is the way a vast scam, it’s great it’s true, we were happy to sauntered over there that’s true too. But there is nothing good or pleasant to do than to walk around for 3 (real) hours.
Fortunately, we realized the deception quickly and we cut our ride. It is neither more nor less than a huge wood and above all we must be careful not to get lost. As in any timber, all the trees and all roads are alike. The afternoon draws to a close, we headed towards the bus station to catch our bus to Skopje.
Goodbye Sofia …
Cyrielle & Guilhem