Beautifully Ugly

Trip Start Jul 20, 2011
Trip End Aug 07, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel Mostel Sofia
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oxymoronic, but I cannot think of a more apt description for Sofia.  It's a city in transition, rough around the edges, an exciting but curious melange of former Eastern Bloc relics and modern Western European sensibilities.  Beautiful?  Hardly.  There's no precious little old town that is so common in other European capitals, only austere Soviet-style concrete buildings, which can only be described as grotesque abominations.   

There are no quaint and perfectly-maintained cobblestone streets, but many crumbling roads and sidewalks.  Buses and trams have seen better days, though they still meet the needs of Sofia's citizens.  It's a far cry from picture-perfect, but like many cities of its type, it offers beauty in unexpected places, and in unusual forms.  Definitely an acquired taste, Sofia still manages to offer up many of the same pleasantries as Europe's great, and more famous capitals.  Parks full of life and revelry, cafes perfect for whiling away the hours over a cup of excellent coffee and a good book, sunny terraces filled with laughter and boisterous conversation ...    

This isn't Paris or Rome, it's not uniformly beautiful - expectations like that obviously would only lead to disappointment and really, why would you come to Bulgaria if that's what you were looking for?  Sofia is severely lacking in tourist sights; some would even argue that it only has one worth seeing, the Aleksander Nevski Church.  While I largely agree with this assessment, Sofia still has something to offer those that are looking for something different.  And you know what?  Sometimes different is good.        
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