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Friday, First Day in Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria
Friday, October 18, 2019
The bus was supposed to arrive at 06:00 but it arrived at 05:00 before sunrise. Luckily the train station was next door to the bus station and it was open. There were a few people in there sleeping on the benches. I went in and waited until dawn at 07:45.

The train station bathroom opened at about 06:00 so I went in. There was an early 20s, non-Bulgarian girl pleading with the bathroom lady in English to let her in. She was almost in tears because she really had to go to the bathroom. Neither of us had Bulgarian Lek but I gave the lady five euros and she let us both use the bathrooms. She gave me a little change in Lek but not much. The desperate girl left before I came out and never even thanked me for the expensive bathroom trip.

Once it was light outside, I walked to the guesthouse which was an apartment with private rooms so there was no reception. Luckily, there was an open McDonald's next door so I went there for coffee and called the guesthouse guy at about 09:00. He said the lady would be there at 10:00 to let me in. They charged me 2 euros for early check-in but that was no big deal. The lady also did my laundry which was the first real wash that it had in almost six weeks. I had been wearing some of my clothes in the shower to keep them clean whenever there was enough time for them to dry the next the day. That shower works pretty well to wash clothes but it's labor intensive with all of the wringing out and hanging and blow drying the clothes if they don't get dry.

After dropping my stuff off I headed out to explore the city. I went to the souvenir shops along the Vitosha Boulevard pedestrian street. Then I walked over to the little Church of St. Nicholas, a Russian Orthodox church in central Sofia, also known as the Russian Church since it was built by Russia in the 1800s.

Right down the street from St. Nicholas is the famous icon of Sofia, the massive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with a capacity of 5000 people. It has many murals on the inside but it is dark and photos are not allowed.

After that, I went by the iconic Statue of Sveta Sofia and then to the Central Market Hall to look for more souvenirs. It wasn't very interesting but there were a few small souvenirs stalls.

In the evening, I went back out again to take photos of the night lights. The cathedral looked pretty good all lit up. There were a couple of tour groups that were doing night tours of the area.


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