Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bulgaria: Sofia

Sunday 9 August: Compact city-centre and leafy tree-lined boulevards of Sofia with a great symbolic statue, cathedral and sunken churches. Colourful former mineral baths next to piping-hot spa where locals and visitors alike fill-up their drinking bottles with free mineral water. One remaining mosque and two central gold-domed Russian churches, one small and pretty and one large with holy icon collection in crypt. Russian statues too, now neglected and struggling against the elements. Museums and art galleries well worth it: Goshka Datsov's Dream of Mary Magdalene shockingly, almost pornographic. Also, changing of the guard ceremony, every hour, on the hour, a real crowd pleaser.
Day trip by marshroutki (17th mode of transport), city minibus 21 to Boyana. Tiny Boyana Church with two layers of murals inside. The earlier 1259 layer showing static figures and the top one depicting animated figures. Nearby the National Museum of History has hordes of Thracian gold treasure including drinking goblets in the shape of animal heads.
Sofia very laid-back in August, like a Sunday every day. Great little microbrewery pub Pri Kmeta just north-west the large Russian Aleksander Nevski Church for a bite to eat with dippy English girl, Julia, and a jug or two of delicious dark 'unfiltered' real ale at about 1.5 euro a pint - Nazdrave! (Julie who spent two days washing and caring for a tiny, abandoned flea-bitten, worm-ridden kitten on death row - hope she survived).
See my photos of Sofia and away-day to see Bulgarian National Revival-period house architecture in Koprivshtitsa heritage village where the disastrous but ultimately successful 1878 April Uprising, against the Turkish 'yoke' began.

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