Written by daylightharbor on 29 May, 2006
Sofia's night scene has developed a lot in the last several years. It offers something for every taste and budget, and lasts till 6am, or whenever people quit dancing. First off, a disclaimer: I'm not able to provide a comprehensive review of every place in…Read More
Sofia's night scene has developed a lot in the last several years. It offers something for every taste and budget, and lasts till 6am, or whenever people quit dancing.
First off, a disclaimer: I'm not able to provide a comprehensive review of every place in Sofia...owners, names, and locations change so frequently it's hard to establish a "must see" list...what follows is a list of my perennial favourites.
For a start, I would recommend the "Insiders' Guide" to Sofia, in English and French, available free at every hotel, or have a go at deciphering "programmata" or "7 days in Sofia", available everywhere, but only in BG (sorry!). For better directions, try www.bgmaps.com. Have fun!
I have divided the list into appropriate categories below, for your convenience:1. Best place for pub grub: Sofia's rash of Irish pubs are a good place to start. J.P. Murphy's: Pozitano 16. A real Irish bar with real Irish beer and a cool atmosphere...last time I was there some British guy was playing Beatles songs. Not recommended if you don't like hanging out with expats. Also try Dublin Pub, the Irish Harp, and Flannagan's in the Radisson hotel, which on Wednesdays has a Mexican buffet plus all you can drink margaritas.2. Best Beer Garden: My vote goes to Halbite (mugs): 6th Septemvri at Neofit Rilski St., which has Czech and BG beer on tap for cheap, great bar snacks, and cool staff and clientele. Located off a backstreet in the starving artist district. Other recommendations are Pri Kmeta (with the mayor), Birarija Schwelk, and Bitburger.3. Moving on…laid-back bars are Sofia's strong point, and there are great places everywhere. For chill drinking I like Tri Ushi (three ears), tucked into a basement at Rakovski 6. Hambara (the barn) is filled with candles and By the Way has super-hip décor and great cocktails. 4. Best nightclub: aka best place to get laid in a public restroom: Newly opened Sin City on bul. Hristo Botev features four nightclubs with different music/themes in the same huge building. For better or worse, it's Sofia's most talked-about new venue. Hordes of pretty young things also frequent Briliantin, Chervilo (lipstick) and Lodkite (the boats), an outdoor disco in the Borisova Gradina.5. Live music! Unless you speak Bulgarian, it's tough to get the word on what's going on, so try to ask around. My all-time favourite is the Swingin' hall on blvd. Dragan Cankov (across the canal from Graf Ignatiev St./tram no. 14), open late with two stages and an unpretentious and friendly clientele. Also try Backstage, with live music every night, club Maskata in Student's town.7. Pop-folk. Dismissed by many Bulgarians as "trucker music", the "Chalga" generation is such a cultural force here that it must be mentioned. In short, big-breasted singers sing oriental-sounding techno-ish music about living and loving. Bulgarian girls cheer and dance provocatively. Try club Planeta on northern Blvd. Vitosha, or club BIAD for the ultimate chalga experience.Embarrasing photos to come soon!
Written by yc on 09 Sep, 2002
You should begin your walk at Saint Nedelja Church (Sveta Nedelja). Walk on in and take a look at the many frescos in the church. There is a tradition to light a candle in memory of someone close to you who passed away. (You…Read More
You should begin your walk at Saint Nedelja Church (Sveta Nedelja). Walk on in and take a look at the many frescos in the church. There is a tradition to light a candle in memory of someone close to you who passed away. (You don't have to be a religious person to do this - it is tradition!) Candles can be found at the entrance (Edna sveshta molja).
Behind the church, you will find an underground passageway (in front of the Sheraton Hotel) towards the Tzum complex. (A quick note: in the underground, you will find many artists and vendors - if you are into souvenirs, mark the spot - a wide array of reasonably priced gifts can be found here.)
In the underground you will find another church - Saint Petka Samarzhiiska with many frescos dating earlier than the ones at Sveta Nedelja.
After visiting Saint Petka Samarzhiiska walk towards the Banja Bashi Mosque. Please take your shoes off before you go in.
Across the street from the mosque is the Central Market(Halite) an indoor mall. From there walk to Ekzarch Iosef and visit the synagogue - the largest Sephardic Synagogue in Europe - it is a must see!
Walk back towards Saint Nedelja Church and there is another entrance to the "underground" (on the left in front of the Tzum complex), walk down the stairs. There you will find several buildings dating back to when Sofia was known as "Serdika."
Follow walkway to the right so that you will end up at the back end of the Sheraton (The Presidential Offices), make a right until you find an entrance to an open courtyard (left side). In the middle of this courtyard you will find Sofia's oldest church The "Saint George Rotunda." Larger than Saint Petka Samarzhiiska church, this church has been completely restored to its original beauty.
Walk back towards the Yellow brick road, make a right and follow this street towards the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. You will pass the National Theatre Park on the right. On the left you'll see the King's Palace. Further down, on the left - you'll see the Russian Orthodox church. As you continue the walk towards the Cathedral, you'll pass by a few embassies, The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the National Assembly.
Make a left between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the National Assembly. You will then find on the right side, the Cathedral - you will find Sveta Sofia Church on your left - also worth a visit!
Find your way to Vasil Levski Blvd - take a right and walk until the tram racks (Graf Ignatiev Blvd). Make a right and follow it to the garden (on right) where you will find another church "St. Cyril and Methodius and their five disciples" with its recently restored frescos.
From there walk towards Rakovski Blvd., cross the street and take a look around the book vendors. There you can find books, maps, cds and more.
Written by dangaroo on 11 Aug, 2008
Yailata is an archeological reserve along the northern part of the Bulgarian Coast. A field's walk or drive away from the village Kamen Bryag, this place is starting to become visited more often. Archeologists found a Thracian necropolis and cave dwellings and it would seem…Read More
Yailata is an archeological reserve along the northern part of the Bulgarian Coast. A field's walk or drive away from the village Kamen Bryag, this place is starting to become visited more often. Archeologists found a Thracian necropolis and cave dwellings and it would seem that Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Bulgars have all lived here and used it as a sacred place to worship their gods. Here you can find a great array of bird-life (owls, cormorants, golden eagles), reptiles and plants. Just 1.5km away is the "eternal flame", this is where the Bulgarian government went in search of gas reserves, they found them but decided that there weren't enough and it has since been piped to the top where an open flame always burns. This is a magical place, where people camp close by for free whilst others set up temporarily or even live permanently for the summer in the candle-lit caves. Be careful, when you leave the fireplace (where people sit around, cooking and playing guitar in the evenings), it becomes incredibly dark and some people have become disorientated and fallen off the cliffs. You will notice, the well-prepared Bulgarians come with little mining/camping torches around their heads..this is pretty wise! A rocky walk down the crags will take you to a small beach which is used by a mixture of local families, naked hippies and anyone who happens to be there at the time. The beach is strictly pebbles but the water is amazingly clear and many people come here in the summer to get mussles which are then cooked on the eternal flame and eaten with bread. Dolphins are regularly sighted here. Getting there & away is not particularly easy. If you have your own car, simply follow the road from Kavarna or Sabla but if you are without your own transport, there is only one bus a day which rarely seems to turn up. We hitchhhiked there fairly easily but getting away was always difficult (we had to go to Sabla to use the ATM and then finally leave) and it's best to organise rides with the people who came with cars and are camping as not a lot of traffic passes through this part of Bulgaria! There is one shop and one cafe/bar in Kamen Bryag. The shop is fairly low on choice but the cafe/bar/restaurant is an ideal place to drink coffee in the morning, drink beer or enjoy great meals. The woman who ran the place was amazing, working so hard, running around (15 hours per day) and still being very nice to all her customers! The bar also has showers and possibly rooms to rent as well, there are a few old ladies who rent out houses or parts of their houses too. The only foreigners we met during our time there was an Austrian who was brought by a Bulgarian friend and a guy who was writing the Rough Guide to Bulgaria. Close
Written by sfsingle27 on 11 Aug, 2005
On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up with indoor heat on the inside and light snowflakes on the pavement outside. This is a great feeling, because in some of the villages, I have had to wear my winter clothing, with hats and gloves, to bed…Read More
On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up with indoor heat on the inside and light snowflakes on the pavement outside. This is a great feeling, because in some of the villages, I have had to wear my winter clothing, with hats and gloves, to bed to keep warm!
The city of Sofia looks the same. The apartment building is in need of repair and the shops are looking for a paying customer. My friend/translator and I are heading to a few villages on the bus. The mountains are beautiful, and you can see small villages dotting the landscape. Three and half hours later, we arrive in Razlog.
The next morning, we go shopping to buy food and clothing for some families in need. Churches from the USA have donated money for this project. We start out buying rice, sugar, lentils, beans, and flour for about 15 to 20 families.
I want to explain the visit to one apartment we visited. The apartment consists of one room. The mother is paralyzed and laid propped up in the bed. There is a chair, sink, and small wood-burning stove next to her. On the other side of the small room is a bed with her son who had lost his legs. They don't have any food or firewood as the snow collects on the ground outside. When the preacher explains that we have brought food and firewood, the woman begins to cry. She states that this preacher is the only one who tries to help them and that it is very difficult for them. She thanks God for the blessing that He is providing them. The son turns to me and has the largest smile you have ever seen. He holds out his hand and thanks God for sending us to them. Despite his poverty and health situation, his face shows love and caring. Tears come to my eyes, as what we were giving them would only last a month and what they needed was so much more.
The next village we visit to help a widow. She lives in the smallest house I have ever seen. I have to bend over to fit in the door. She has never had electricity. We keep the door open to shed some light and sit on her bed so that we can all fit in the room. Her walls are covered with pieces of cardboard to try to get warmth, and her ceiling is stuffed with brightly colored clothes that she found walking in a nearby town. She has a stove, but nothing to cook on it. Her pile of firewood is a few small twigs that she could gather in the village. I can't explain what I felt looking at her life. I just know that God has blessed me by being a helper in bringing some small help to her. We pray and thank God for guiding us to her and then leave. As we left, other families surround us, begging for food and wood. We cannot help everyone. We only have enough money for a few families.
There are so many beautiful cities full of energy, jobs, tourist attractions, and more. I wanted to give you a glimpse of some of the beautiful people in villages that so badly need help. The flood over the past few months has devastated so many lives. I pray that people will visit Bulgaria and help those who are hurting!
Written by Amanda on 21 Aug, 2000
As the village is located in the Sredna Gora mountains, it would make a great hiking and walking base. Unfortunately, there is nothing to help you set out. There are no walking trails; the tourist office sells no maps, and it's very easy to…Read More
As the village is located in the Sredna Gora mountains, it would make a great hiking and walking base. Unfortunately, there is nothing to help you set out. There are no walking trails; the tourist office sells no maps, and it's very easy to get lost in this neck of the woods.
We were very keen to leave civilization for a day and have a good walk, so we mentioned the idea to a student we'd met in a cafe in the village. He spoke good Russian (no English) and agreed to take us for a 6 hour walk the next day for a very small amount of cash. The walk was great - fairly demanding, but really enjoyable. If you can set up such an informal arrangement, go for it; you won't regret it. The same lack of facilities that makes it hard to hike in the first place, makes it great if you can get out there.
Written by jwagner on 23 Aug, 2000
Melnik is a mostly forgotten town in the southwest corner of Bulgaria. With a stay in Sandanski, it makes for a good weekend journey or--from Sofia--a longish day trip. The town was built amongst rock crags and is well-known for its wine. Order from a…Read More
Melnik is a mostly forgotten town in the southwest corner of Bulgaria. With a stay in Sandanski, it makes for a good weekend journey or--from Sofia--a longish day trip. The town was built amongst rock crags and is well-known for its wine. Order from a local restaurant and the owner will dip a pitcher into a big wooden barrel. Be sure to have a translator with you since English is almost impossible here The city offers interesting architecture and Byzantine ruins that are practically void of tourists. A part of your day must include a trip to the desolate Rozhen Monastery, one of scores of monasteries around the country.
When I visited, one Eastern Orthodox priest lives in the sprawling building and we had plenty of time to look in the chapel, the Monk's cells, and around the grounds. Equally inspiring is the view from the hill top. You'll notice farmers tending their sheep or hauling crops into town. In late summer, watch for farm wives and old men preserving gorgeous red peppers by grilling them on outdoor fires. Bring your camera.
Written by kelto on 05 Aug, 2006
1 day jeep tour around golden sand city, Bulgarien.In June 2006 i was in Bulgarian, golden sand.I went on a 1 day jeep tour in and around golden sand city.Which is quiet fun and a good way to spend the day away from the beach.It…Read More
1 day jeep tour around golden sand city, Bulgarien.In June 2006 i was in Bulgarian, golden sand.I went on a 1 day jeep tour in and around golden sand city.Which is quiet fun and a good way to spend the day away from the beach.It is very easy to find and join such a tour, all over the city and the beach their are shops and people selling jeep tours, boat trips and all kind of tours.I picked the jeep tour because the photos of the trip looked nice, i thought it would be a fun trip.After paying for the trip ( at the pick up place, the same day )We started the drive, at first it was a slow drive on the roads around the city.But soon we started to go off road, the jeeps we was driving in was old Russian jeeps.Really old and not in the best shape, the jeep i was in broke down 2 times, but the driver fixed it in no time.So that was just adding the fun.We drove in the hills, over small water streams, true large water holes. And had a blast.The lunch was inc. the price ( the hole trip cost 40 US.) and was served in a pretty field whit huge trees around us.A realy great spot.To top of the day, we had a group of Russian people in a jeep that follow the same route as we did, and they had theary share of vodka. LOLthe hole trip is about 7-8 hours, and you are quite tired when you arrive back to the city.All in all, a GREAT way to spend a day. Close
Written by okiebob on 14 Jun, 2006
If you're walking around Sofia, you'll probably notice a number of Sofians stooping on sidewalks, reaching to their ankles with one hand, holding their backs in pain with the other. It's not a cultural oddity, but merely the legacy of Sofia's first stab at entering…Read More
If you're walking around Sofia, you'll probably notice a number of Sofians stooping on sidewalks, reaching to their ankles with one hand, holding their backs in pain with the other. It's not a cultural oddity, but merely the legacy of Sofia's first stab at entering the free-market world. Shortly after communism fell, the first store fronts to open were done in a quick, cheap manner--converting empty basements into small stands selling candy bars, banitsa pastries, beer, wine, gum, and newspapers. Called "klek" locally, or "squat shop," these are still all over Sofia--and likely a place you'll need to stop by for a water. Some day they're likely to be replaced on this less masochistic storefronts, which have increasingly been converted from old gray housing blocks into all-glass boutiques and pizza parlors. Long live the klek! Close
Written by AAA-Simon on 23 May, 2004
Out of our diary:
Whilst the boys went to fill the car up with petrol to hand it back, we girls chatted in the hot sun. The lads returned after an hour (they had difficulty in finding somewhere that was working). We handed back the car…Read More
Out of our diary:
Whilst the boys went to fill the car up with petrol to hand it back, we girls chatted in the hot sun. The lads returned after an hour (they had difficulty in finding somewhere that was working). We handed back the car and took the bus to Varna with Brian and Eva. We tried on jeans in a very poky jeans shop and bought some. On our way to showing them the cathedral, we saw old ladies on the street with scales. 10 Bulgarian cents to weigh yourself. These poor people. Simon paid 20 cents and we girls jumped on the scales. Not sure those scales were right, but nevermind. We went back to the cathedral to show Brian and Eva and then whilst they went to the market, Simon and I went for a snack. It was so hot, and we were all worn out so we waited for the bus. We saw a police car - a very old car with the blue lights on. Cute, but not sure whether they can catch criminals in that car. Simon and I took a very quick dip in the hotel pool. The water was icy cold. But it was nice to lie in the hot sun. We had dinner at the hotel with Brian and Eva and then we met Peter, the tour guide, for a farewell drink along the beach. Just the 5 of us. Nobdoy else wanted to come. We had a few drinks and more great laughs. The lovely pool lit up at night was not our hotel pool, but it was a lovely atmosphere.
More pictures and comments at: http://www.we2.ch
Out of our diary:
At breakfast we bumped into Brian and Eva (the other couple who were with us in the jeep). We decided to rent a car together and go for a drive (not along dirt tracks like we did with the jeep). A very…Read More
At breakfast we bumped into Brian and Eva (the other couple who were with us in the jeep). We decided to rent a car together and go for a drive (not along dirt tracks like we did with the jeep). A very attractive look-out point first caught our attention and then we headed for the botanical gardens in Balcik, which we were told is very good. We drove a little bit wrong and ended up in some casino area. We drove round the round-about again and found our way. We asked about entrance fees - you had to pay for the gardens and the palace, you couldn't just visit one. For tourists it was 10 Leva, for locals just 2 (I spotted the locals prices). We decided it was a complete rip off and didn't bother visiting it. Simon purchased some dried sausages where we parked the car and made our way further. We found a sign saying "White Lagoon" which we tried to find, but we found cliffs and wilderness. There were navy ships in the sea who were practicing shooting, because we kept hearing booms. Then we drove further to Nos+ Kaliakra, a cap with ruins and breath-taking scenery from the top of the cliffs. By this time we had all tried the sausage, which we didn't like at all, so offered it to some old local ladies selling their goods at the entrance to the ruins. We were hungry and ordered a kebap from the restaurant. But we got something different to what we imagined - we got sausages. That's their kebap. Anyway, we drove further via Dobric, going round the round-about twice (to make sure we were heading right.) We passed some donkeys, horses and very poor areas. Areas where the people have never seen a tourist before. There was a road sign which was indicating that at certain times of the day horse and cart cannot go along that road. At one point we couldn't decide whether to take a right or a left. Purely by chance we took a right and ended up at a place that we wanted to visit - the natural Stonehenge of Bulgaria, Pobiti Kamani (Stone Forest). It is a geological natural phenomenon that is 50 million years old. Geologists think there was a sea there and erosion caused the stone forest. It was great fun for us. We got in at students price (we study geology, of course!) and had a great laugh. There were different shapes, some stones shaped like animals, some like faces and of course, the most favourite - the male fertility, which we girls were quick to embrace! In a special circle, we took off our shoes and did a silly dance and hugged the stones (supposed to bring positive energy). The ground was sandy. A little bit further there was the female fertility, but the boys couldn't hug that as it was quite a tall column. After a quick stop to buy souvenirs, we travelled further. We wanted to see a delta, but there was no water in the river. We ended up driving to a beach. We asked a little boy which road for the beach, and he pointed in the opposite direction, which we knew it wasn't. We tried telling him "Black Sea" and eventually he understood when we mimed swimming. The beach was lovely, the water quite cold and not crystal clear but the atmosphere was great - the sun was slowly sinking and it was warming. Then we drove round the village, taking wrong roads and bumping into pot holes. What a laugh. Heading back to Golden Sands, we saw a few prostitutes on the side of the road, one of who made business with a passing car. One village we passed through, their income fully depends on spare parts for cars. We also saw the leaning building of Bulgaria which was apparently caught in a landslide. We decided to continue our fabulous day and went for dinner together, eating a proper kebap and ended up at the cocktail bar. There we decorated Brian with the umbrellas (the whole bar joined in, in decorating him). That rounded off a fabulous day together.