We are now here in.... Sofia! What a rhyme.
It took no less than 3 trains and 28 hours to get us from split to sofia. The first of which started well, we had no intention of sleeping only reading and creating a production line of making sandwiches with some fantastic bread we had bought, it went very well indeed. We then had a wait of 3 hours which involved a small walk around Zagreb and then more reading and a tiny bit of sleep. When the time arose for our train we didn't realise until 5 minutes before departure (stupid croatian labelling) that our train was waiting on the platform and when we got on all seats were taken, or tactically curtained off in the dark (a trick we used before on other trains) as it was 11pm I decided to try and wedge myself in with bags and sleep (which I did for at least an hour, and it is an hour that I am very proud of, It was tricky to find comfort on the floor of a dirty rattley train) Fretty could find no comfort and sat reading which paid off when a station came and 4 people deserted a carriage, we snook in and managed to get some sleep.
The last train at 8 in the morning from belgrade, started well as we had a carraige to ourselves but soon it filled up and we were cramped up. From there we had a 12 hour journey arriving in Sofia at 8pm. The train ride contained, serbians offering us brandy.. (At 9am) which we declined, in hind sight it wouldve helped stomach the rest of the journey. Two smokers, who insisted the windows to be shut and smoke to fill the carriage! (Inhalers were at the ready) a lovely woman who offered us mints at regular intervals, an hour search inverstigation where passports were checked holes in the roof were poked seats were turned over and bags were searched, for everyone else it seemed routine but for us we were both quietly terrified! and finally an old bulgarian couple who seemed mesmerised with everything we owned, from our phones to our cameras, and even when we started up a game of squares (which fretty won I'm sure he would want me to add) the lovely pair couldn't take their eyes off our beautiful pen-man ship as we drew our straight lines.
Needless to say we were happy to be off the train in Sofia at 8pm, although it wasn't as pretty as anticipated and with our tired faces we decided to risk a taxi, surprisingly he got us there without fuss although we did nearly run into a crying girl being chased by a man which was a nice welcoming to the city.
We arrived and it seemed like we dictated to the driver how much, he accepted 5 lv (£2.50) but I'm sure we could've gone lower.
We were staying at hostel mostel, it was through a small door which didn't spell well but when we were through the place was very welcoming (review as always at the end)
We checked in and grabbed our free spaghetti bolognaise and sat at a computer planning our final trip down to athens as there was no direct train because of the riots! We weren't so full so we left in search of something dirty! Which we found moderatley easily and cheaply! We paid 10lv (5 pounds) for two huge burgers two chips and a drink each! Cheapest city by far.
The travelling caught up with us and we went to a much deserved bed!
Breakfast was a combination of toasts and spreads and cheese and salami which was a good start to our sofia day. We then decided to go to the 11oclock free walking tour
- this starts outside the courthouse everyday at 11 and 6!
Misha was our guide and she was very equipped to show us her city, the history was thorough and we saw the beauty of the inner sofia city, (lots of churches) at one point fret was more amused with a dog jumping into a fountain and getting stuck but apart from that it was great. Even when an old american delved into the current politics of Bulgaria and the corruption Misha was extremely knowledgeable of the inner workings of the system and answered everything he had to throw at her! We tipped highly and walked back to the hostel with another resident, charlie from the U.S who we spent the rest of the day chatting to.
A Couple of pool games (6-2 to fret in the end) more planning and a good walk to find an ice cream found us at 6pm and spag bol time again! It was welcomed and very tasty. We started on beer and watched womens world cup, soon it was 10 and we had to leave. We had planned to go to an irish pub to watch the boxing, so we changed and headed out with charlie as company once again.
The fight as most of you will know was dismal! But the conversation was good and the beer was cheap, especially when I managed to barter three pints down to 8lv/4pound
- definetly try and contest everything it seems to be the routine thing in bulgaria, they take the phrase 'the customer is always right' to a whole new level!
2am and without luck on the search for a kebab place we headed to bed.
The morning greeted us with huge rain pour and stupidly we decided to save our 5lv and walk to the station. Feet soaking we found our coach and we were away!
Frets regret, he did not enjoy bumping his head constantly and the uneven pavement slabs, he had no sense of his own hieght and managed to hit his head a huge number of times, in the dark he also managed to scrape/bang his nose somewhere and now has a cut down the right side of it. The pavement is uneven but everyone else seems to walk easily on it whereas fret's walking style doesn't come far enough away and it became a routine as we walked for him to trip over almost everything!
- Hostel Mostel was a very cosy and welcoming hostel, the staff are sociable although at time didn't know things about trains etc. The dinner was always spag bol so if you don't like pasta, possible try somewhere else.
Fret an I stayed in the biggest dorm room yet with 16 beds it was situated in what looked like a loft! Pigeons woke us up in the morning and it was pitch black at night! It was 7 euros a night with computers, internet and free pool you can't go wrong!
- sofia was sort of like a bridge onto athens, therefore we only spent one full day there, to be truly honest it seemed enough we did the tour and apart from possibly a monastery day trip which couldve been good, we left faily happy that we had seen sofia!!