Back in Sofia

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Flag of Bulgaria  , Sofia-Capital,
Thursday, April 26, 2012

I was kind of hoping that I would be able to get onto my blog tonight since this place has wifi and a computer for internet - neither of which worked for me.  I am so tired that it is just as well except that I could have written this online rather than in Wordpad.

I am in Sofia - accent on the first syllable contrary to what I have always used.  The flights were not very memorable.  I didn't have much time for my connection in Dulles.  The United agent was very sweet and gave me a window seat to Frankfort.  The plane was almost empty - well, there were maybe 2 out of 3 seats filled so I had extra room and it felt as if I had extra leg room too.  It was 7 am when we landed in Frankfort and I had a bit of trouble getting to my gate since it was moved twice and not on the departure board when I looked.  The flight was short but we got a sandwich for mid-morning snack or early lunch.  I was very tired then and slept a fair amount of that flight.  It was a shame that I was so sleepy since when I awoke the first time, I was amazed to see snow-covered mountains outside the window.  Then there was farmland with some small settlements and a very loopy brown river.  I wish I had one of those maps that gave your location so I could have known what river it was.  I couldn't stay awake and fell asleep again and woke just as they were handing out the food.

There was no trauma on my arrival in Bulgaria and I left the airport by taxi - recommended by Tourist Info as the best way into the city - in warm, sunshiny weather.  My minor trauma came as I checked into Scotty's Boutique Hotel.  When I reserved my extra days, I had put april 25th as my arrival and since I didn't arrive on the 25th, they cancelled my reservation and only had one of the two days available.  The desk clerk kept telling me I should have called when I changed my plans. I hadn't really changed my plans - I just hadn't realized that I was arriving a day after I left the US when I made the reservation.  I was duly chastised but she somehow figured out a way for me to have a room until I join the group and she is hoping that I can have the single on the first day of the group stay.  We'll see.  Scotty's is pretty basic, but light and it has a refrigerator stocked with all sorts of stuff - so much that it is hard to fit in my extra food.

After sorting out the room and booking a trip to Rila Monastery for Saturday, I set out for a little sightseeing.  First I went right to the market at the end of the street that the desk clerk mentioned:  Zhenski Pazr, or Women's Market.  Frommer's says "it's a great place to wander and pickup a bag of sweet cherries or a freshly baked banitsa (traditional Bulgarian pastry), but do watch your valuables."  It was nice but I felt self-conscious taking photos and didn't see anything I wanted to buy except maybe for some strawberries but I passed on those for now.  I was really thirsty and didn't see anything to drink until after I had left the market.

I then wandered over to the city center with all its monumental buildings for government and the arts, churches and mosques.  A synagogue is almost across the street from the hotel but I had just missed it since it closed at 4.  How did it get to be 4 pm already?  I took a few photos of some places that I had been to last year and then headed out to the Monastery Kitchen restaurant that some of us went to last year and enjoyed so much.   I ordered a salad and shashlik but the shashlik was accompanied by most everything that was in my salad except for the wonderful stuffed peppers.  I took a photo of them of course.  My waiter spoke English and tried to be helpful.  I asked him how to say thank you in Bulgarian but I had a lot of trouble with the pronunciation - he even spelled it in our alphabet for me:  blagodhia.  I paid by credit card and tipped in cash but was sorry that I didn't have more small stuff to give him.

On my way back from dinner, I ran into the Russian Orthodox Church and took a few photos of the sun shining on the cupolas but nothing spectacular.  I decided I might as well try to see the Alexander Nevsky Church while I was at it.  I almost gave up .... and there it was.  I was beginning to get a bit disoriented.  After this, I wasn't exactly sure which way to go to get back to my hotel and had to ask several times including the last turn.  I thought I came out on a particular street before and assumed my street led into that one....wrong!  But I made it.  I set my time for breakfast to be delivered to the room.  I don't think they have a dining room...or maybe not even a kitchen.  I got the computer password and I am really getting ready to go to bed since sleep deprivation is hitting me again.

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