Belgrade to Sofia, Bulgaria

11/21 – We walked back to a very quiet train station at 9:30 last night to board our overnight train to Sofia. This was my first time on a sleeper train, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The conductor handed us each a sheet and pillowcase, and motioned us down the car to our compartment, where we found the seats folded down to make bunks, a pillow and a heavy woolen blanket. We had the lower berths, but there was no one on the uppers, so we had the compartment to ourselves.

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We made up our bunks and settled in. I wasn’t expecting to sleep well, but the gentle rocking of the train had its effect, and we both got a pretty good night’s sleep. At 6:30am we stopped at the border for Bulgarian passport check, and by mid-morning we were in Sofia.

We were greeted by another cold, grey day. The sun is not expected out while we are here. The Sofia station had not a trace of western alphabet, and looked very much like a dreary communist-era building.

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We walked the two blocks to our guesthouse and were pleased to find it clean and warm, with a little fridge and dining area. The all-in-one bathroom was the first we’d seen this trip – the faucets for the sink also control the shower hose, and the water just runs down a drain in the middle of the floor. An efficient idea, except the floor stays wet and slippery, so you must be careful.

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We found a Bancomat (ATM) and a place to change our leftover Serbian marks to Bulgarian lev. We met a street performer on his way to work, and I took his picture. He immediately demanded payment, so Jim gave him all our Serbian coins.

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We took a walk to see what facilities were close by, and were happy to find a Billa (high end grocery). Like our supermarkets, Billa sells a variety of hot foods – cooked chicken, pork chops, sausage, and side dishes like scalloped potatoes with goat cheese, spanakopita, and sauerkraut. We were happy because we don’t see many cafes or restaurants. We do, however, see lots of casinos – anyone up for a Bulgarian gambling vacation?

We walked over the Lion Bridge into the city center.

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Our goal was the St. Alexander Nevsky Church, which we had no trouble finding, because a) it is very big, and b) our GPS works in Bulgaria. Thanks TMobile!

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Inside was candlelit, making it hard to photograph, but so beautiful.

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On our walk we admired some of the city statues.

We wanted to see more, but it was too COLD! Our fleece jackets just can’t stand up to 30 degree weather. We’ve been putting off buying winter gear, but it looks like it’s time to get some…

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