So I’m back like Donkey Kong, lol. Here to tell you about my quick trip to Sofia the capital of Bulgaria and Skopje the capital of Macedonia.
I was scheduled to leave for Nigeria finally on the 16th of October 2015. I decided to quickly go to Sofia and Skopje, since they are close by and really cheap to get to. You know how it is sometimes, you take for granted the places that are around you and always wanna discover places far and wide? That’s basically what I did while I was in Serbia, thus my going to Macedonia and Bulgaria at the very end of my stay.
NB: If you have a valid multiple Schengen visa, you can visit the above mentioned countries for at least 15 days without getting their own visas. Cool huh?
I set off on the night of the 12th of October 2015 by bus to Sofia first. The bus ticket (one way) cost me about 25 euros. The trip I think was about 8-9 hours with a few rest stops on the way. I arrived Sofia some minutes to 7 am (really early) on the 13th.
I had found a host on couchsurfing.com, at the last minute. His name is Ivyalo (still not sure how to pronounce it). Unfortunately, Ivyalo had to work the morning I arrived, so he came over to the bus station I arrived at, real quick to give me his house keys, he then explained to me via ‘viber’, how to get to his place. He arrived on a bike which I thought was pretty cool, but I didn’t get a chance to have a ride on it. (love power bikes).
After I got the keys from him, I went to find out the times and buy my ticket to Skopje. That cost me about 15 euros (one way). Of course I had to change money first to the local currency which is “Levya”. There are two parts of the central bus station, so just ask questions, and someone will direct you to the right place (that’s what I did).
Since I’m generally good with directions, it wasn’t hard finding my way to my his place and it was convenient because he stayed in the center, just behind the mall of Sofia. So once I got out of the nearest train station to his house, I just asked someone where the mall was, and he directed me, he even walked with me for a while.
Ivyalo’s lives in one of those high-rise block of flats, surrounded by other high-rise block of flats. It had a great view. I met a Serbian on the way up who was fascinated with the fact that I was living in Serbia and knew how to speak the language. Bulgarian is actually quite similar to Serbian, so I was able to understand/ figure out some stuff.
I went for a free tour at 11 am, had to walk there. Ivyalo explained how to get there (via viber) and you know your girl found it easily without having to ask any questions (honestly I owe it to his great explanation/description). The tour lasted for about an hour 30 minutes and was very informative. Obviously there were a lot of foreigners on the tour, so was good getting to meet a few people, especially the tour guide.
Some history/information for ya!
Bulgaria is 6000 years old. They have a local sweet called “Onion” but it tastes like mint and is 100% sugar. 76% of Bulgaria is Orthodox (much like Serbia). There’s a gold lady (monument) somewhere in the center, she is Saint Sofia.
Bulgarians are like Africans in that they are always late and they also like to postpone things a lot. Not like Africans, but they usually eat yoghurt and white cheese.
A big part of the ancient city is underground (Roman Empire). There was a warehouse that’s now a church called Saint George.
Ivan Vazov is the father of Bulgarian literature and the national theater is named after him (for you book and theater lovers).
On the 1st of March they have a tradition where you give everyone you know the “Martanica” and by doing this you are wishing them well. In April, you tie it to a tree so that all the wishes come true.
We visited this place with free flowing mineral water that is said to have healing powers and its very warm like 37deg.
After the tour I took a walk around and then home, did a little window shopping, bought some street food, went home and spent the rest of my time there. Ivyalo came home, we talked for a bit, about different things, what we like to do, how life is in our countries (the fact that your country may be shit, but it’s your shit and you love the country all the same). Then he taught me some stuff on photoshop (he’s a graphic designer), silly me hasn’t used any of what he taught me yet though.
So, you see my trip was short and sweet, but it was a good experience and was nice meeting my host. We still keep in touch from time to time on Viber. He sends me random pictures he finds interesting in and around Bulgaria, and sometimes I send to him too.
I left his house the next morning at 6am and made my way to the bus station to catch my bus to Skopje, Macedonia.
Ps: I didn’t really stay long, or do the whole hotel/restaurant thing, so I don’t have all that information for you, but I can tell you that their people seemed friendly from what I noticed. They didn’t stare a lot, even though I saw only one other black person my whole time there. Their food isn’t really spicy from what I gathered and what I was told (I ate a lot of street food), but it is of course vegetarian friendly (very much so even). I think they looked pretty fit generally, not a lot of overweight people.
If you have any specific questions that I didn’t cover in this post or have been and can add more information please comment or tweet at me. Would be good to hear from you guys.