Woke up in the 80s

Trip Start Mar 28, 2010
Trip End May 31, 2011

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Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Waking up in Bulgaria after a night bus from Istanbul, it was like we had been magically transported back in time to the ­late 80s or early 90s. Cheesy old school dance music was playing in the bus station, and the hairstyles and clothing of most people we initially saw consisted of a lot of bangs and jean jackets. We hung out in the bus station for an hour or two waiting until we felt it was sufficiently late enough in the morning to hit the streets for the walk downtown. It was early Saturday morning so there wasn't much in the way of people on the streets. For a while we saw only the occasional, very dodgy looking character and at the time were questioning what the hell we’d gotten ourselves into. However, the further away we got from the bus station and the later the time got, the scene on the streets changed drastically. More modern-styled clothing began to appear and it started to feel more and more as though we were in a cosmopolitan European city.

Perhaps it seems exaggerated because of  the fact that we’ve spent a good chunk of the past month and a half in the ultra-conservative Middle East but it seems as though many women walking around Sofia wear very revealing clothing - super short miniskirts and upper body apparel that leaves very little to the imagination. In general, we’ve noticed that women are viewed in a much different light here. The majority of billboards display pictures of women  - in very suggestive positions wearing very little or sometimes nothing at all – selling everything from dishwashers to World Cup soccer. Using attractive women to sell products/services obviously happens all over the planet but nowhere have we witnessed it at such a level.

Our first afternoon in Sofia was fairly quiet as we tried to regroup after the night bus. That evening though, after Germany vs Argentina match and dinner, we paid a visit to the Irish pub underneath our hotel to collect on the complimentary drink ticket we each received from our hotel – we got one each day. After a couple beverages, conversation with a couple locals started and next thing we knew it was quite late and we were both a little tipsy... Lyndsey more so than Shane as the old foot-on-the-floor trick to minimize the spins had to be utilized.  Despite the heavy heads we had the next morning, we are very happy to be back in land of  very cheap food and beer! A two-course meal with wine for two averages $14CDN, a 500ml beer at a corner store costs $0.70 and at a bar about $1.30CDN.

Our second day consisted of a slow paced self guided walking tour of the city. Stops included a couple churches, the 3rd largest synagogue in Europe, a mosque, changing of the guard at the Presidential Office and a few beautiful parks (some containing impressive Red Army monuments). On our way back to the hotel, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a Red Bull sponsored Citroen car demonstration event. Although the stunts themselves became a little repetitive after a while, it was a very fun and exciting event with plenty of Eastern European douchbaggery.

So far we are very much enjoying it here in Bulgaria for a number of reasons – beautiful landscapes, incredible architecture, tasty food, cheap beer/wine, classic East meets West feel -  but perhaps the best part is that there aren’t many tourists here!
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