Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sofia, Bulgaria (Sveti Naum Street)

I was awake at 1:30 a.m. and making a cup of early morning coffee so I can be out of the flat at 2:45. The taxi driver is to be here at 3:00 a.m. and wanted to ensure that I was ready and waiting.

Because I was nearly packed from yesterday, I just needed to drink my coffee, eat a small breakfast and shower. At 2:45 I was wheeling out my suitcase and locking the door behind me. The Airbnb host asked that I return the card key (that opens the flat’s front door) in a box near a desk by the elevator. I needed the attached key to unlock and then lock up the restaurant door behind me and lastly drop the key in a box by the parking office.

As I anticipated, the driver was a few minutes early. From there I knew every other step in the process to get from Sofia to Larnaca would be okay. Getting to the airport on time will greatly reduce risk in with getting on the plane. If you’re not at the airport, you can’t get on the plane.

While waiting for the check-in desks to open I walked around and found various places to sit to watch my fellow travelers. We were all a bit sleepy and it almost looked like we were zombies. It looked like a regular airport, but everyone was moving just a bit slower.

The airline was late in opening the check-in desks. They should have been open at 4:10, two hours before the flight. It was nearly 4:40 when they opened. As I stood in line to drop off my suitcase I noticed that fellow passengers were trying to stand in front of me and also nudge me from behind. My response was to stand closer to the person in front of me. The line was moving slowly, but nothing to be concerned about. Eventually I got to the check-in desk and dropped off my bag. It was now 5:05.

The security line was a little longer, but seemed to be moving along okay. Again I noticed people trying to move in front of me. I felt like I was the only person who didn’t understand how the waiting-in-line game worked in Bulgaria. In any case, I was through the security line by 5:25. The passport control only took a few minutes.

When I arrived at the gate I saw that it was open and people were starting to load the bus that would take us to the plane. I had enough time to make a trip to the restroom, which I did. By the time everyone got on the buses, it was 5:45 and we still hadn’t boarded the plane. The flight was scheduled to leave at 6:10.

So, as it turned out, the boarding of the plane was completed on time, but we didn’t take off for another 20 minutes. No worries. I was on the plane and had plenty of time after I landed at Larnaca. Time for me to relax. Myself and another passenger were the only two sitting in the first row of six seats. We both had plenty of space and legroom.

During the two-hour flight, I divided my time playing a few games of pinochle on my phone, listening to Beethoven symphonies, and reading a book on my iPad about Eleanor Roosevelt and her cousin Alice Roosevelt Longworth. I listen to Beethoven’s symphonies (all nine of them) often and have heard each of them in concert (heard the 9th three times) and the recordings probably hundreds of times. The total play time for the complete set of symphonies is a little over six and a half hours, depending on the tempo of the recording.

We landed at the scheduled arrival time. I was in no rush as I exited the plane, but noticed that people had blocked me from getting out of my seat. I got up, looked at the two who were blocking me in, and they moved away. I still needed to go through passport control. As it turned out, because I was one of the first out of the plane, I was one of the first to arrive at passport control and was out in the main concourse in a few minutes. Thought it was funny that the quickest I’ve even been through an airport’s passport control was when I had no place to go.

The official time for this Airbnb flat to be ready was 2:00 p.m. and it was now 8:30 a.m. I made prior arrangements with the Airbnb host to allow me to drop my bags off at 11:30. Not sure if I’ve ever had to wait this long before. Normally I’m either on-time or have made arrangements for a later arrival time.

I was a little hungry and a whole lot tired. I found a small cafe where I ordered a coffee and a blueberry muffin. I took care of a couple of emails and read through Facebook and Reddit. After about 45 minutes I looked for a taxi and asked to be driven to a Starbucks at Finikoudes Beach. I decided to hang out at a Starbucks near to the flat and walk over to drop off my bags when it got closer to 11:30. At about 11:15 I was starting to fall asleep, so I began to walk to the flat to wake up. It only took a few minutes to walk there so I sat down on some steps on the ground floor and waited until 11:35 before I went up. It was nearly 90 degrees outside, but the coolness of the building’s ground floor, with a gentle breeze, was refreshing.

I took the elevator up and the housekeeper let me in. She then said the words I wanted to hear. She said, “We’ll be finished in an hour.” I wasn’t looking forward to waiting around another two and a half hours. I left and decided to eat a small pizza at Pizza Hut, then on the way back, buy a few things at the store.

At 1:00 I was walking into a fully air conditioned flat. It was just like walking into my own home. I had been here three other times, so I guess it should be fairly familiar by now. But I was in need of a nap!

I actually took two naps. I woke after an hour and went to the bathroom, drank some water then fell asleep again. The next time I woke I started to put things away. I hooked up my Apple TV and, like the other three times, it worked perfectly.

I took another quick nap then woke up and ate the rest of the pizza that I had boxed up from lunch. Then wrote another travel blog and posted a few pictures.

Now, because of these naps, I was fully awake. I watched a couple of episode of “The Expanse” then went to sleep. I decided to leave the A/C running at night. It was still hot in the flat when I turned it off only for a few minutes.

Tomorrow I’ll visit a store and stock up on a few more items, do a couple of loads of wash, and walk around – depending on hot it is.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

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