Sofia, Bulgaria – a culture rich European capital

Although this blog is mostly about Norway and the Nordic countries, it’s also about my daily life. Last week I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, an experience I gladly share with you. The reason for my trip was to attend a meeting in The Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) as a representative of The Norwegian Computer Society. I met more than 30 other European representatives, most of them for the first time, and that in itself was a great experience. Important contacts and discussions were made to improve and promote high standards among informatics professionals in recognition of the impact that informatics has on employment, business and societies.

I also had some time to explore Sofia and its lovely mountain surroundings, too. It is my pleasure to share some of the highlights with you.


(Taken with my Nikon CoolPix S2 – the rest with my mobile phone)

I stayed at Radisson SAS Grand Hotel at 4, Narodno Sabranie sq. located in the most attractive part of the city, on the famous yellow pavement street overlooking the Parliament and the golden domes of the huge Alexander Nevski Cathedral. I asked a lot of people why the road was made of yellow cobblestone, and always got the same answer: “It’s been there for more than 100 years, why?”.

Sofia from the plane

Like always when I go by plane, I have my Mobile Camera ready. It gives you a better overview, you know, especially right before landing. Here you see the Cathedral and the Narodno Sabranie right behind.

Walking around in the streets, I found it the city clean, nice and friendly. Only the youngest spoke English – and did it well – but there are a lot of possibilities to communicate and get information if one uses body language and gestures. Only by paying them attention and even wanting to take some pictures gave me a lot of interesting and informative experiences.

On Friday evening we had a social and a chance to get acquainted. When entering the restaurant I saw this sign on the door – no guns allowed. I didn’t see that sign on any other buildings and of course out of curiosity I had to capture it. It was interesting to see that fast food had reached Sofia too. Excuse me, but I don’t go to Bulgaria with all their rich culture and food tradition to eat hamburgers :-). I might tell you about our culinary sensation on Saturday in my next post!

For me, Sofia was a pleasant combination of urbane relaxation and awe-inspiring buildings and museums. The stylish Bulgarians fill the tree lined boulevards and parks. Mobile phones were everywhere, still juxtaposed with the occasional donkey cart. Hip teenagers, indistinguishable from their Western counterparts, shred the skate park that surrounds a Communist-era monument. I will defiantly go back one day, but then as a quality time with my wife :-)

20 Comments

  1. the pictures and your description is quite lovely. Makes me wanna travel there. Btw, my cooking blog is ready as well!

  2. Welcome back renny!:)

    Bulgaria is relatively poor compare to its neigboring countries thus,you’ll find many things so cheap in there. I suspect, one can get a real great accomodation & tours in Bulgaria without really thinking about your wallet, right?I’ll surely convince my husband for us to visit this country one day;)

    As a foodie myself,I’m looking fwd to the Bulgarian culinary experience of yours soon!!

  3. If I am not mistaken they will become part of the European Union in 2007.
    I guess a lot of things changed since the Communist time!
    Nice to hear you had a nice work related travel!
    I guess Mc Do is everywhere now!

  4. Yeah for a tour Renny. Lovely pics. I’m still just so amazed that your camera phone takes such great pics. It looks about the same quality as my small cam, well a little less but still… IT’s good to enjoy the travel even when there is work involved.

  5. No guns allowed? How about goons? How about mobile phones in the plane on air? Hehehe!

    Thanks for sharing Sofia! She looks lovely!

  6. Looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing :)

  7. looks amazing. beautiful architecture. i’m surprsed you use your phoneon the plane. they always make us take them off at take-off and at landing.

  8. looks like you had an amazing time! I’m jealous!

  9. cool pic of sofia, esp the momument where there are plenty of cars park within it. its nice to see uncongested traffic. unlike here, we always have heavy traffic.

  10. welcome back :)

    thank’s for sharing those awesome pics (lovely smile)God bless you and your Family.

  11. Looks like a charming city. I love your travel-logues!

  12. Bulgaria seems to be a lovely place. I think it will not be too long when it will attract again a great number of tourists. I heard that a lot of English and Germans are looking at Bulgaria as hot property investment.

  13. To all: About my mobile phone with the camera: The phone is also my PDA, so I just turn off the telephone function when on the plane.

    @Chas: Thanks for the compliments and congratulations with you’re new blog, a must see!!: http://queerchef.blogspot.com/

    @CheH: You’re right; compare to Oslo, the most expencive town in the world, everything was almost for free. I hope to give you the cullinary experience soon.

    @Sidney: Very observant, read here: http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.296620654&par=0 and it really shows that they are eager to get into the European Union!

    @Expat: I am satisfied with my Nokia 6680 and yes, to mix business and pleasure is the best:-)

    @Acean: I guess the goons was dressed up like turists, so it was hard to spot them.

    @Tine: You’re welcome!

    @April: It was amazing. For camera on plane, so on top of this comments.

    @Ana: Come with me next time then:-)

    @Cruise: It was late afternoon, but still sunny.

    @LWS: You’re welcome – God bless you too.

    @Barbara: Glad you liked my report.

    @Sari-Sari Winkel: You’re very right and a lot of turist already. I also heard there was a lot of western European property investors too.

  14. Renny,i had a bulgarian friend, and he told me much about sofia…
    Sofia all over till DA VINCI code, name sofia…

    im loong forward to see it oneday!

  15. Dear Renny, it’s great to read about your stay in Sofia and especially the part, that you have enjoyed it! I know Sofia is different from the other European cities, but the country is a definitely a place to visit!

  16. Wow, that sign, no guns allowed on the restaurant door is so scary to me! As if they’re almost encouraged everywhere else! Ontario,being so safe, the worst sign we’d see is, “No ties or shoes, No service”!
    And you’re so right,the presence of McHappy does take o much away from the whole “Travel Psyche” where you want to feel a part of the true culture!

  17. oh, the Sofia from the plane is my fave!!

  18. @Neil.dc: Yes, you really should go one day!
    @Elena: Thank you so much for the great services at youre hotel!
    @MotherOfInvetion: I don’t felt it was scary, only funny, but you may have a point there:-) Food is an important part of the culture you know – and they where rich in Bulgaria!
    @Ana: Mine too: I did not know it was my hotel until I was landed you know:-)

  19. Hi,

    I was pointed here and found interesting comments.
    If intrested in Sofia, you might look here:
    http://www.pantonov.com/thoughts/stgeorges-day,
    http://www.pantonov.com/thoughts/night-buildings-tanks,
    http://www.pantonov.com/thoughts/cold-mist-color,
    http://www.pantonov.com/thoughts/sofmorning,
    http://www.pantonov.com/gallery/sofia
    and why not
    http://www.pantonov.com/gallery/rilski-manastir and
    http://www.pantonov.com/gallery/summer-2002.

    Those are stupid and useles signs. You may hide even a machine gun and enter McD. May be the main reason is the high criminal rate in BG which is additionally stirred up by journalists… Some psychologinst may give better explanation…

    Regards

  20. Only 15 months late, and I come across this post :) Thank you for sharing this because it’s so interesting to see a country that so far I don’t know at all. I say “so far” because I always live in hope. So many countries, so little time!

    RennyBA
    Never too late and I’m glad I can inspire a globe trotter like you to visit new places – I do recommend Bulgaria!

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