Monday, September 12, 2011

Hits, Misses and Notes about Sofia

So I often wonder if these places are good to go to or not based off of real people's reviews (trip Adviser is helpful) rather than the guide book. So I figured I would give you my hits and misses of my trip to Sofia!


Gulliver Hostel: The people were nice (although they over charge for airport pick-up). The main night guy was AWESOME! He let me practice my Macedonian/Bulgarian and was always helpful and friend. The location was great- right next to the Alexander Nevski Church, about a 10 minute walk into the center of Sofia. It was safe and secure- you had to be buzzed into the building and then a key to your room. They have dorm style and private rooms. They only have two bathrooms (with toilet, shower, and sink) so that can be a pain if you need to get ready, but it was fine for all but one day. The only bad thing is “breakfast”- it is a single croissant with filling. And all the coffee or tea or water you can drink (that is all day). You do have a mini-fridge in your room (at least I did) so you can pick up some other breakfast supplies at the local grocery store (about 1.5 blocks towards the center), like cheese or juice or bread. They also had TV (with English channels) and Wi-Fi. They are near a tram stop that takes you to the center for 1 leva tickets.

Cabra: Very yummy vegetarian place in the Embassy district. Low prices and good food with excellent service.

Miyabi: cheap but good Japanese restaurant across from the tram stop. Very nice people and access to Wi-Fi.

Dream House: delicious vegetarian restaurant in the center of Sofia. Upstairs and kinda hidden, but super nice people. And English menus. A little pricier, but worth it for good protein choices!

Manastirska Magernitsa: Yummy traditional cuisine with a huge menu of choices! It was super expensive, but yummy. The wait staff was nice. However, they bring you out bread, saying “this is a tradition” and then charge you for it, so be aware about that. If you need some traditional food (in a variety of choice from sea food to meat to veggies, come here. 67 Han Asparuch.

National Ethnographic Museum: A mixture- it was closed one day, but when I was open it was nice. It is an 8 room museum showing off handiwork of the local people and a bit of history. I got a free English tour from this nice man inside.

National History Museum: A bit of a trek outside of town (you can take public transportation (tram 2 or tram 9 to the end then bus 63 to the first stop after it turns), or a taxi. But it is a 3 story building hidden away in the woods. It was amazing however. They had stuff from pre-historic times to the modern signing of the EU accession agreement! It also had ethnographic clothes and the history of the revolution.  The majority of the signs were in both English and Bulgarian. I would highly recommend going out to this museum. It has a little café in the back as well as a kids play area. You can do it in about 2-3 hours, even if you walk slow.

Polytechnic Museum: Really cool especially if you like science! It had old cars, the first computer built in Bulgaria, old cell phones, mills, space stuff, and random other technological advances through the ages. A cheap price, and a bit hidden off the road. It is directly across from Bella and a gas station, set back from the road. But really cool- you could do it in about 1 hour. Almost every sign is in English and Bulgarian.

Archeological Museum: cool, but a bit overpriced if you are not a student or fan of old Greek/Roman artifacts. However, they had peace treaty columns and some exhibits of old Roman sites. It took about 2 hours to wander around the whole museum and read all the signs (in English). There was a big temporary exhibit at the time, so I don’t know  if it will still be there when you were to go. It is right across from the Presidency in the center.

National Gallery of Foreign Art: The top floor was closed, but the two they had open were super nice. They had English booklets in every room describing what you were looking at as well as the history of the art work. It varied from Indian to Japanese to French, to Early European to modern. They didn’t have in huge fancy names of any artist, but the art was still nice to look at. They too were having a special exhibit in one area that more than likely closes soon. However, I would definitely go here if you want to see some cool art. It is right behind the Alexander Church.

Free Sofia Tour: DOOOO ITTTT!!!! It is every day at 11am or 6pm. It is a free walking tour given in English by local Sofians who love their city. They take you through the whole center part of town, explaining the history and pointing out the sights. Our guide even recommended some good restaurants. It took about 2.5 hours but was super nice. It helps to orient you in the city and get your bearings a bit.

Rila Monastery: Huge hit. However, almost impossible to get out there by public transportation. You will have to arrange a private tour. The best bet is to go through your hostel or a new friend you found on your Free Sofia Tour’s hostel. You can take a public bus out there, but you won’t have time to climb to the grave (if you don’t particularly like climbing mountains and spending a bit of time climbing, then just take the bus). However, there is only one bus to and from the monastery each day. So be aware if you miss it.

Plovdiv: Go! That is the best bet. There are busses leaving every hour from Sofia and from Plovdiv back to Sofia. There are so many little house museums you could spend most of your day there. As well as the stadium and few steps of the coliseum. However, it is impossible to get around without a map as the streets curve and switch and change. Sometimes the map doesn’t help either. Be aware that this is a city of hills, and nothing but hills. Literally. Be prepared for climbing. A lot of climbing. And walking.


Happy: So not happy! Horrible service and bad food. Also tourist prices. But conveniently located downtown across from Sveti Neydela Church.

National Art Gallery and Sofia City Art Gallery:  well, they were misses in so much as they were not open not in what they had in them.


-When you go to a “café” you go in order and pay for your food and THEN go sit outside and enjoy your food or drink.

-When you go to a restaurant and are ready to order. Close your menu or the waiter will not come  back to your table.

-You only get whatever drink you order, there are no refills. And I never saw a free glass of water.

So that is my review of Sofia. I would say go if you have a chance. However, you don't need 7 days unless you happen to get sick there. You could do everything in 5 days, 6 if you want to go to Plovdiv. But it was a fun trip and a lot of nice people!

1 comment:

Mama said...

Very good reviews, Cassidy! :-)