Settling In

Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
Trip End Aug 15, 2008

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Four days in and I'm beginning to settle back into the travelling lifestyle. By which I mean, I went out and got drunk with a bunch of almost strangers last night.

Quite apart from that, I have actually been out and done some sightseeing in the past couple of days. Sofia itself is nothing special, seems a bit of an odd collection of buildings haphazardly thrown together. Not the best place to wander aimlessly around. The beer is cheap, though :) Most of the best bits of the city are actually a short (or not so short) journey away, or so I'm told.
My first venture away from the city didn't quite go as planned. I wanted to do a short trek on Mt Vitosha (Sofia's pet mountain); I was reliably informed it was easy to get to where the walks all start, just one tram ride and one bus journey. Tram was fine, then I waited an hour and a half for the bus, which eventually turned up and drove straight past me. Wasn't happy.
Second excursion was even less successful. I was attempting to get to the Rila monastery, some way south of the city. There is one direct bus there each day, and one direct bus back. I managed to miss my first bus by two minutes - it was literally pulling of the bus station as I walked in. Feeling brave, I thought I would try to negotiate the local buses and get there anyway. This is a very bad idea because: 1 - I can't read cyrillic (russian alphabet) 2 - people over here often can't speak english, and I certainly can't speak Bulgarian 3 - I had to change in the pit that is Dupnitsa, which is the back of beyond and has no information of any sort about buses anywhere. After an hour of not finding the right bus, I gave up and came back.
Given the wonder of this experience, I went on the organised hostel tour to the monastery today, which was fantastic. The place itself is in quite a remote and spectacular setting, in a mountainous valley with a river running beneath, and the fact that it snowed last night (yes, it's getting quite cold!) just made it seem that much more special. I'll try and get some pictures up when I'm feeling less lazy!

I'm about done with Sofia now, as the city itself doesn't hold much attraction for me (although the night life might need to be explored a bit more tonight). Tomorrow I'll be heading on to Plovdiv, supposedly one of the more pleasant cities in Bulgaria, with a couple of others from the hostel.
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