Thursday, 7 June 2018

Sofia, Bulgaria (Sveti Naum Street)

The hot and humid weather is cutting into my exploring Sofia. Walking in this weather is difficult for me and feel drained when I return to the flat. Only after I take a shower and settle into the air conditioned comfort do I feel normal again. But I’ve always been sensitive to the heat and remember in my youth mowing lawns (both our lawn and our Grandad Marsh’s lawn) during the summer and I would be dripping in sweat when I finished. (Both lawns took around 90 minutes each to mow and trim.) And this was with a self-propelled lawn mower too. So I guess my getting over-heated isn’t an age thing.

Today I’m walking over to see the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. From what I’ve read, it is a must-see when visiting Sofia. I’m following the route that will take me through neighborhoods rather than walk down the main boulevards. It is a 30 minute walk, but I’ll take my time.

Walking through neighborhoods is a good way to start to know the people who live there. The apartment buildings, little shops, schools, churches, and local people (and one or two foreigners) walking along the roads provide insight. You hear music from people’s flats, children playing, men playing backgammon, neighbors talking with each other, and the occasional bus navigating the streets.

Along the way, I took a break at a Starbucks to cool off. It was a mostly sunny day and I could feel the increase in temperature. Plus, having an iced coffee with a fruit yogurt seemed like a good idea. After a 15 minute rest, I continued my walk. I took a few random pictures as I walked and passed a few university buildings on my way to the Cathedral.

Also, on my walk, I was looking for a store that might have carrots for sale since I didn’t find any yesterday. I found a couple of small markets that had carrots and made a note of where they were so I could buy carrots on my return trip.

The Cathedral was amazing when you come upon it. The gold roof is the first thing you notice along with the size of the building. After I went inside, I took advantage of the cool interior and sat down to rest my feet, admire the decorations and take a few pictures.

I didn’t stay too long. As I was walking up to the Cathedral, I noticed clouds starting to roll in over the city. By the looks of them, we should expect a thunder storm in the next couple of hours.

I retraced my route so I could buy carrots to make soup later. Sofia, rather than having crosswalks interrupt the flow of traffic on the main streets, have underground passages to divert the pedestrians. I saw these underground passages in Warsaw and recently in Bucharest. As I went through one passage I saw a Billa store, and hoping they would have carrots, walked inside. Yes, they had carrots! I bought a small package and a small loaf of bread. While waiting in checkout line I could feel the perspiration on my head building up – and all I was doing was standing there.

I continued my walk back to the flat. The return route was mainly uphill. With the increase in temperature and humidity, I was just about done in. But I had about 10 more minutes of walking remaining.

By the time I walked in the door, I was sweat from head to toe. Or least it felt that way. I immediately went to the bathroom and washed my head with cold water. On the way to the bathroom I turned on the air conditioner. I immediately felt much better.

After about 15 minutes I was cooled off and took a nap on one of the sofas. It turned out to be a long nap and it was late afternoon when I woke. I can’t believe I ate a small snack, went to the bathroom, then slept some more. By now the rain had started and I could hear the rumbling of thunder overhead.

I eventually started to make the soup and by the time I ate my first bowl it was 10:00. I make the chicken broth first then the soup, so it take a few hours.  While the broth was cooking I wrote a travel blog update. Also continued to watch the Expanse on Netflix. I’m really starting to get into this new sci-fi adventure series.

I knew I had to get some sleep because I had said I would call a friend in the U.S. after he got off work. That would make it 5:00 p.m. in Oregon and 3:00 a.m. in Sofia. I figured I’d probably be awake at that time anyway, so why not?

My alarm went off at 3:00 a.m. and I called him and we talked for nearly 45 minutes. I had no trouble getting back to sleep. Always good to hear voices from the U.S. from time to time.

Tomorrow I’m not planning to do much. I had thought about taking the train to the Black Sea, but the trip would take about 6 hours each way. I noticed on the map that Istanbul was almost on the Black Sea, so think I wait until I travel there later in the month to dip my toe into the sea.

My travel plans so far are listed below. (T = Tentative and dates may change) All locations from now through my visit to Copenhagen, Denmark are confirmed.

Sofia, Bulgaria (6/5 – 6/10)
Larnaca, Cypress (6/10 – 6/19)
Luxor, Egypt (6/19 – 6/21)
Hurgahda, Egypt (6/21 – 6/27)
Istanbul, Turkey (6/27 – 7/3)
Malta (7/3 – 7/10)
London, England (7/10 – 7/17)
Copenhagen, Denmark (7/17 – 7/24)
Gothenburg, Sweden (7/24 – 7/31) – T
Stockholm, Sweden (7/31 – 8/4) – T
Norway (8/4 – 8/11) – T
Finland (8/11 – 8/19) – T
Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (8/19 – 9/8) – T
Scotland and/or Egypt (9/8 – 10/1) – T
London, England (10/1 – 10/9) – T
Edinburgh, Scotland (10/10 – 12/7) – T
London, England (12/7 – 12/31) – T

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

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