Saturday, May 07, 2011

София (Sofia) Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria.. I've never been to the capital of this ancient country but I found it to be very surprising as far as capitals are concerned. Usually in my travels I avoid capital cities however Sofia is a very friendly and energetic city with a great nightlife and a nice music scene. I pulled in for a three night stay before I head west towards Serbia.

I find Sofia to be a great crossroads for travelers heading west into the thick of the Balkans or East towards Turkey. We trade information here and learn about countries we have passed through. I traded an hour crash-course in basic Turkish language in exchange for a phrasebook in Eastern European languages; should come in handy for the Slovakian regions.

I've become fascinated with the prospect of traveling towards Kosovo in the next week. I'll do some tourist traveling in Niš for a few days before heading into what is perhaps the most controversial region of the Balkans. Sofia has become a good place to prepare for this. I've met many people who traveled through Kosovo and from what i've ascertained there are certain loopholes one must abide by in order to enter this disputed land and leave without encountering border crossing problems. In that part of the world there are people who are sworn to the hatred of one another and tensions have only cooled in the past three years. A frenchman I met who is on a bicycle journey carries a flag of each country he's passed through and upon entering Kosovo with a Serbian flag he was immediately accosted and threatened with the burning of his flag if he didn't remove it.

So the question is why someone would want to travel here. Well.. i believe its our duty as travelers to learn the truth behind the news we piece together from the media and see these things for ourselves firsthand. Americans are greatly welcomed and there are even statues of American presidents lining the streets whereas the United States supported the separation of Kosovo during the struggle.

Not a great picture, but this guy is really cool. He is a Frenchman from Brittania who is on a seemingly endless bicycle journey across Europe and into central asia, onwards towards Kazakhstan. The guy on the left is also a Frenchman but he currently resides in Bulgaria and has locked himself away for six months to write a travel novel in both Spanish and French.

So lets learn a bit about Bulgaria.. :)

I say this with a great great respect but Bulgaria is kind of a wacky place. Sex is used to sell everything from Vodka to children's clothing. Its not uncommon to see a hundred or more people wearing the same style of black faux-leather jacket and tight jeans. People shake their head for 'yes' and bob up and down for 'no'. The country is so packed full of hidden treasures that one cannot experience it all without really diving into the streets via hitchhike or home stay with a family.

Met some interesting blokes in my Sofia visit...

Always exercise extreme caution whilest partying with the English...

These pictures are from 'Ladies Market' (whatever that means) in central Sofia.

I love open markets, but make sure to keep your wallet in your front pocket and maintain a conscious mindfulness of your surroundings.

Party time!

We are well and happy to sit at the same table, regardless of where we hail from.

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