Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Sofia, Bulgaria (Sveti Naum Street)

I have a fairly comfortable bed in the flat here in Sofia, but had a difficult time staying asleep. Think I got spoiled staying in a Hilton with their comfortable beds and pillows. Few Airbnb places have high-end mattresses or quality pillows. But some do. The bed here has an okay mattress but the pillows are wimpy at best. It will take a few nights until I won’t notice.

Before I left the flat today I had everything put away and organized for my stay. I still have a few items to buy at the grocery store and need to get a haircut. I knew there was a large mall at the bottom of the hill from here, so I thought that might be a good direction to walk toward.

Always easier to walk downhill than up. I’ll need to keep that in mind as I shop. It was a 10 walk to the mall. I found a hair salon and a grocery store on the mall’s lower level. Again I was lucky to find someone in the salon who could interpret for me so the person cutting my hair would use the correct size guide for her trimmer. She did a great job!

There was a Billa grocery store next door to the salon and found almost everything I need to make chicken noodle soup. Except for carrots. First time I couldn’t find carrots in a store. I asked a Billa store employee about carrots and he said there was no delivery. He called another Billa store and they didn’t have carrots either. No indication when carrots will be delivered. I guess I’ll try to find carrots tomorrow and make the soup then. Can’t have the soup without the carrots.

Yes, my grocery bag was heavy as I carried it up the hill, but it was a short walk so wasn’t a big deal. Because I couldn’t sleep last night I was able to take a good, solid nap in the afternoon. There was an afternoon thunderstorm, with rain, and I think that helped me sleep.

I’m expecting to meet up with my friends later in the evening, but hadn’t heard from them, so I sent a text. I soon heard back from David that they just arrived in Sofia and could I meet them at 9:00 p.m. I was hoping for 7:00, so I drank some coffee and ate a meal of mashed potatoes and a helping of broccoli. I wasn’t too hungry but needed to eat something. Also needed the coffee to help me stay awake. I knew we would be out late.

At 8:30 I went downstairs and asked a person in the restaurant to call a taxi to take me to a place in the center of town called “Social Cafe Bar” on Vitosha street. The taxi seemed to take a roundabout way of getting there, but when I thought about it, it was too late to open my phone can verify on my map application. The fare wasn’t too expensive so I paid it and tried to find the meeting spot. I eventually found the place by asking several people who worked along the street. There are no numbers on the buildings so difficult to know where to walk. Just as I found the place I heard from David saying they were running 15 minutes late.

They arrived a bit later and met David, his brother Robert (who I also worked with at OHSU), David’s girlfriend, cousin and two of their friends who were in Sofia. We found a table in the bar and ordered our drinks. I talked mainly to Robert who was on my end of the table then caught up with David when his two friends had to leave. I had met up with David a couple of months ago when I was in Portland.

We had one more drink before walking to a piano bar that David remembered from a previous trip. David, Robert and their cousin were originally from, or spent many years of their youth, in neighboring Serbia. I usually don’t ask too many personal questions so I’m not 100% sure, but they can speak with people from Bulgaria since these countries share much of the same language.

We walked to the piano bar and along the way saw some of the things I wanted to see while in Sofia. But when we got to the piano bar it was closed and is only open from Thursday to Saturday. We walked back to Vitosha street and found a new place that was open 24 hours every day, Raffy Bar & Gelato. It was a nice place and everyone had one of their ice cream drinks and I drank a beer. After a while they decided they should get back to their place since they had a 7:00 a.m. flight.

It was good to catch up with David and Robert. They have traveled extensively in Europe and we had a lot to talk about. We may meet up again next year. Who knows?

My taxi ride back to the flat was much quicker than the ride from the flat earlier, except the fare was somehow much more than what I had paid before. I guess I should have asked when I got in the taxi how much the fare would be. Another lesson learned for me. The driver said the increase in the fare was because he was with another taxi company. Not sure if that sounded right but what could I do. Still the fare was much cheaper than most cities so I just paid him what was shown on the meter.

Since it was 1:30 a.m. and the restaurant was closed, I had to open the restaurant’s door and let myself in. I made sure to lock the door then took the elevator to the third floor where my flat was located. I stayed up watching Netflix and didn’t go to bed until 3:30 a.m.

Tomorrow I’m planning to walk to Cathedral Saint Alexander Nevski, a local landmark in Sofia.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

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