Sunday, July 30, 2017

From Sofia with Love ...




While it may not have the charm of Paris or the energy of Rome - Sofia (Bulgaria's capital city) does have a few attractions worth experiencing.

For a start it has a welcoming statue, the statue of Sveta Sofia (holy wisdom), a monumental copper and brass work overlooking the city. I liked it a lot.


city center - Sofia statue in the background

The capital has a mountain "attached" to it - Vitosha mountain - lovely place for picnics and hiking in summer, ski in winter. The mountain can be seen from various locations in the city, and it's a beautiful sight. It can be reached by car, bus, cable car, chairlift.. I went there by metro+bus+ on foot 250 m to the station called Aleco Hut , which is under the mountain's highest peak ,Cherni Vrah.


on Vitosha mountain; panoramic views of Sofia in the distance

Vitosha is also the name of the main shopping boulevard and pedestrian zone,  the name of a metro line, and that of a district.

The bulgarians seem to respect their past royalty. Several streets in the capital are named after czars (tsar)  and kings (knyaz) : Tsar Simeon, Tsar Asen1, Knyaz Boris1, Knyaz Alexander, Knyagyna Maria Luiza.

They also seem to have respect for public property. Although everyone uses an i-phone, the phone half-booths are still in their place. I even checked a few of these pay phones and they  were in order; apparently no vandalism. However, I haven't seen anyone there making a phone call.

phone half booth

Speaking of booths, one of the three tourist information offices in town is in a.. ..glass booth located in the City Garden. Cute. It was closed when I approached it, but I didn;t mind as I had all the info I needed from the main office at the Serdika Metro station.
tourist info office in glass booth

Food is quite cheap, at least compared to where I come from. There's this  chain of discount supermarkets scattered everywhere in the city, called BILLA ,where one can get good food at a fraction of the price. People buy there some wonderful croissantes for their morning and evening coffee; they even buy lunch as there is a grill facility in the store which offers hot grilled meat patties and other such products.

Billa  store (yellow letters) at the central bus station

The main general market, the big open air one,  named the Ladies' Market ( Jensky Pazar) also sells food , besides selling fruit, veggies,clothes and kitchenware.


Ladies'  Marrket

To all the lovers of roses, Bulgaria is well-known for the quality of its rose perfume, rose oil, rose water, and rose - based cosmetics. Bulgaria is one of the top producers and exporters of the above products.

Sofia has a lot of  souvenir shops, 'rose' items being the major souvenir on demand. Prior to departure, I bought a few souvenirs at the Central Market Hall (Halite). This is a covered, compact market in an historical building on Maria Luiza boulevard, across the big Mosque, and not far from the little streets making up the Ladies' Market.


Halite

More on the bulgarian capital in my next posts (if my computer will let me, and won't give me any trouble).





26 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tour of Bulgaria, DUTA. It looks like you spent some quality time there, in the city, and in the beautiful countryside. I love it when you share your travels, as I know I will never get to these places. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. You're welcome. There's a lot to be said about Sofia; it was quite a surprise to me in that there was nothing boring about it.

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  2. Lovely photos, Duta! And it is nice to hear that the food is cheap, as in many places it can be very expensive. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Food is good and cheap (at least to the western tourist) - and this is of utmost importance. Of course, I'm not including here posh restaurants and hotels.

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  3. oh it sounds like a wonderful place A mountain by the city is already a great asset and cheap croissants yam. I love roses and rose perfum sounds divine. Thanks for taken us around.

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    1. Probably the only capital city in Europe with a mountain on its outskirts; probably, because I was told Zagreb (Croatia) also has a nearby mountain.

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  4. Sorry to hear your computer is acting up. Not fun. It's strange to me that the souvenir building is enclosed but the food market is open! Hope the veggies stay fresh in the sun. I like the statue Sveta Sofia too.

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    1. Both my desk computer and my laptop have Windows XP ; Microsoft has ceased to support this OS and send updates; so if I have a problem I'm on my own.

      Sofia has actually two main markets, both in the center. The Ladies' Market is the classic, traditional market with stalls and shops; the Halite is a different kind of market, mostly a food market with bakeries, eateries, and some shops, among them souvenir shops.

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  5. Thanks for the informative tour of Bulgaria, Duta! That's quite a statue of Sveta Sofia, and she must be a welcoming sight to see.
    The views from the mountain top have to be gorgeous. And I can't remember the last time I saw a phone booth, definitely a thing of the past.
    But what I really like is everything about the roses. I can imagine the fragrance of them all. Shopping and food sounds good too!
    Thanks for sharing and have a fantastic week!

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    1. Well, New York has the statue of Liberty and Sofia has the statue of Sveta Sofia which is no less impressive.

      Rose oil is an ingredient very sought after by the great perfume companies in Europe. Rose perfume in itself, is kind of boring. Anyway, while in Sofia one has the chance to buy both at a decent price.

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  6. What a lovely place! Love the name and the statue. I can see why you liked it. It looks like a great place to live. I actually live 8 miles away from the Rose Capital of California, the little city of Wasco. They have a rose festival in September and you can take tours of the roses growing in the field. All shapes and colors and sizes, it's beautiful!

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    1. Didn't know about Wasco,the rose capital of California. Flower festivals (roses, tulips...)are always a feast to the eyes.

      Anyway, as I understand the quality of the rose extracted oil and water largely depend on the quality of the soil, the way of harvesting (manual) and the time (early in the morning).

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    2. I believe the roses from Wasco are purely for use in gardening and not for their oils but I could be wrong. I'll have to post a picture this year.

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    3. You may be right. Roses are grown in many places, but not neccessarily for the cosmetic industry. Rather for flower arrangements and bouquets.

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  7. What a great tour! I would love to experience it. You are lucky to travel to so many interesting places.

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    1. Wherever I can go to change a bit the daily decor, is great for me.I'm not looking for adventures, just for a nice, interesting scenery.

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  8. Sophia sounds like a charming place. I like the fact that they have many souvenir shops with rose items. The "ladies" market sounds like just my kind of place. I didn't realize Bulgaria was well known for its rose perfume, rose water, and rose oil. I love that yellow house in the first picture. The grounds are so green and groomed.

    ~Sheri

    by the way.....it wasn't stealing when I picked the fruit from the ground. As I mentioned, it was my uncle's house, and although he didn't like all the kids to surround his home, he always let me pick the fruit and play on the tire swing in the front yard. He's my favorite uncle on my father's side. He's not well now, but still living at ninety.

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    1. Yes, Bulgaria and roses go hand in hand. You could google the topic and learn more about it, as I know you are a great lover of roses.

      As for your remark on stealing ,if I'm not mistaken, I wrote the word in quotation marks.

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  9. Thanks for sharing beautiful images from the Bulgarian capital ! A very informative post !

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    1. Welcome. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

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  10. A lot of people seem to be going to markets right now. I should get up and head to ours. I'm thinking....another hour of sleep. Thanks for sharing. I won't be traveling out of the country for awhile so this is probably as close as I'll get to Bulgaria!

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    1. What caught my eye is that there was a branch of "Billa" discount supermarket within the general "Ladies' Market - the supermarket store competing with the market on its own ground! Interesting!

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  11. I didnt know all this about Bulgaria, even the capital name is Sofia. I find Bulgaria interesting...and they use iphones like much of the world seems to??

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    1. Well, I'm not much surprised. Bulgaria is not a major european country, and americans don't seem too interested in countries outside their continent.

      Yes, Sofia is a modern capital, and people use all the available technology (wi-fi, i-phones etc...).

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  12. I do wish I liked to travel! Great tour. I wonder if roses do especially well due to the climate?

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    1. I suppose the answer to your question is: soil quality+climate+ good timing+ manual harvesting.

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