Whitlocks Round the World - Travel Diary for Bulgaria

Click here to read the latest newsThe diary of our trip round the world. You can view other diary entries by clicking the highlighted months at the bottom of the page or by clicking on one of the countries visited so far. Click our logo (on the left) to see the most recent news entries. We are adding new entries from Internet Cafés as we travel, so updates may be irregular. Please check back often to see how we are getting along.

Countries visited so far: UK Latvia Lithuania Poland Slovak Republic Hungary Romania Bulgaria Greece Egypt Tanzania Malawi Mozambique South Africa Swaziland South Africa (again) Argentina Bolivia Peru Ecuador Vietnam China Mongolia Russia England


9th October Bulgaria
Sofia
Esther in the luggage rack on the Sofia train - Click to enlargeWe travelled from Brasov to Sofia via Bucharest. That was a place to which we will not be returning in a hurry! Ceaucescu and his communist government destroyed most of the city's pretty, historic neighbourhoods in the 1960s and 70s, and any that were left were destroyed by an earthquake. The city, that once was affectionately known as "little Paris", was rebuilt of concrete blocks, which rise, grey and depressing, at every angle. Now these buildings are poorly maintained and in disrepair, as are the roads and footpaths, where huge puddles abound in countless potholes. Well they did when we were there, anyway as, to add to the atmosphere of gloom, it poured with rain all day. Also there was so much traffic, and very few road markings, and, in short, it was just nasty!

It was with a sigh of relief that we boarded the overnight train to Sofia. We pushed the boat out a little this time and booked a cabin on the train. That meant two bunks, a sink and a luggage shelf to ourselves! We spent a very relaxed night on that train. Esther slept well on the luggage shelf on a row of pillows, Nick and Tom had the bunks in our compartment and I slept on a row of seats next door.

At Sofia we met Sashko, a helpful man who ran a nice guest house in the suburbs of the city. (Hotel Horizont: Sofia 857 42 17). That night he cooked for us. The meal was a Bulgarian salad (suspiciously like a Greek salad), bean soup, a hot-pot of curd cheese, sausage, egg and okra, followed by a slice of baklava (Bulgarian, NOT Turkish!) It was delicious!

We stayed in Sofia for only two nights and then pressed on to Greece. We had some regrets about not exploring the country further, but there's always time, and our motivation to head south so soon came from the weather, which decided to turn decidedly autumnal while we were there. Before we left though, we did have the opportunity to visit the Bulgarian National History Museum. It was very interesting and we learned a lot about all the fascinating ancient sites and ruins that we did not have time to visit! There were items of pottery and stone tools which dated back as far as the 6th millenium BC, as well as information about Bulgaria's more recent history as a nation, including its involvement in the Balkan war 1912-13, following Bulgaria's release from the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the late 1890s-1908. In the Second World War, Bulgaria was allied with Germany, but miraculously managed to protect much of its Jewish population.

Two days after arriving we made our way by tram back to the station, and boarded an overnight to Thessaloniki.



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