Bulgaria! We had very little idea what to expect in Bulgaria. We have very nice Bulgarian neighbours in Paphos but apart from that, nada!
On arrival at the hotel a very nice man parked our car in the secure hotel garage and the very helpful and friendly reception staff showed us to our room then handed us a map and said, “free walking tour starts at 1800 you should go.” So we did!!
The walking tour provided by Free Sofia Tour was amazing. Our guide, Kathy, was effervescent and knowledgeable. Her English was excellent and her love and enthusiasm for her city was infectious. From its very beginnings, 6,000 years ago,through Thracians, Romans,Ottomans, Bulgarian independence and the Communist era, her talk was interesting and self-deprecating. Her explanation of Sofia as a layered cake was spot on and we saw the Roman remains, the Medieval layer and the modern layer. She brought humour to the history and we learnt a lot about Sofia, Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people. Thank you Kathy!
On our second day we have gone back to visit some of the places we saw with Kathy. The museum of the history of Sofia in the old Bath House was extremely interesting, with many fine artefacts from the various civilisations that have lived in Sofia through the centuries. We also went into Hagia Sofia, which means divine wisdom and represents the trinity rather than the actual Saint Sofia and the rather splendid Alexander Nevsky Catherdral
We spent a pleasant hour eating lunch in the Largo area, site of the old communist party headquarters, where the Bulgarian president now works and the Bulgarian Assembly sits. Looking forward to discovering more Bulgarian wines and beers at dinner!
What we have observed most of all is how Bulgaria aligns its national flag alongside the EU flag. They are pleased and proud to be part of Europe. How we wish the UK felt the same!