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Trip Start Feb 04, 2007
107Trip End Mar 09, 2008
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Iain became obsessed with a meal that I would deem the single unhealthiest dish I have ever had the misfortune of eating: a greasy chip and meat kebab with no vegetables which left almost a cup full of oil in the bottom of the bag I ate it from. Yes, I had one. Only one. Iain declared it the national dish of Bulgaria and decided to eat at least one for every meal. It was gut-wrenching. İt wasn't enough that they included none of the food groups that earthlings know off, but they also dipped the flatbread in a pool of oil and set fire to it before they began to start adding the lardy ingredients. Gross.
Sofia was always going to be only a brief stop to break up our long train journey. Very excited about our next stop: Turkey is a place I can't wait to return to.
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We find ourselves in Sofia as a means of breaking the long journey between Belgrade and Istanbul. It was an overnight journey to get this far, and we still face 12 more hours to take us all the way through to Turkey.
Sofia, in the most concise of summaries, is bloody cold.
Our room is cold. The streets are cold. İ can't recall the last time I wasn't frozen through. There is no respite at night either.
In moments when İ have been able to succcessfully defrost İ have actually found Sofia quite an enjoyable city. By their own acknowledgement, there is not a great deal to see and do here - the main attractions of Bulgaria lie on her Black Sea coast - but the little that there is to do in the capital is accessible and is done well.
Before coming here, all I knew of Bulgaria was its reputation for weightlifters. So in terms of preconceptions, never have we visited somewhere where we knew less.
I will remember Sofia lovingly for its fine kebab shops: the one thing that Claude spent her time avoiding as a central priority. We each keep a diary of this trip, and in completing hers she asked me if i mentioned our first doner meal in my pages - of course İ had. Where she noted nothing but dietary concerns, I had scratched in oily little love hearts. Lemon juice, yoghurt and - oddly - cold fried chips go into this questionable delicacy. 48 hours in this city: kebab tally - 4.
On departure, we were actually astoundingly lucky to catch our evening train for İstanbul. As the minutes til our departure ticked by - and still no platform decision got shared with us lowly passengers - we made an executive decision to just go platform to platform and ask each carriage attendant who we found. With some good fortune we found the Balkan Express about 10 minutes before departure. Many, many didn't... and we had much of the carriage to ourselves. At least they'll have a very stylish Soviet era station in which to hibernate, small consolation as that is.
This is out of order as Travelpod has misplaced our Belgrade entry. It is coming....