Bulgaria is just a part of a 4 month long journey through Europe for me and one of the few countries I have not been to. We arrived on the loooong 12 hour train ride from Belgrade and I had booked a hotel that was supposed to be very close to the Train Station. It was but sort of hidden away.
Sofia turned out to be a really interesting place with great buildings and lots to see. We will be back there for a few days again when we have friends coming to visit from England. To my mind Sofia deserves several days. One of the sights I really want to check out is the Museum of Totalitarian Art...sounds like an oxymoron to me but sometimes those offbeat museums turn out better than expected.
We drove from Sofia in our rental car to the middle of Bulgaria to the tiny town of Apriltsi where we have rented a house for a month. The scenery is very beautiful with forest covered mountains rising in every direction cut through by river valleys with fast flowing white water rivers. The towns are small and rural for sure but offer most of what you need.
After 7 AirBnb’s on this trip so far all of which have been better than expected and with really fine hosts this is the first real disappointment. It is a charming rustic house in a very rural area of the foothills of the Stars Planina. But there are some serious deficiencies in this particular property. The hosts unfortunately try to manage it from England. The “White House near Apriltsi” is not up to normal AirBnb standards for sure. And the hosts should find another line of work as they are not cut out for the hospitality industry at all.
But we are not letting this stop us from enjoying Bulgaria. The food is a wonderful mixture of Turkish, Balkan and Greek, the people friendly and helpful and many many of them speak English on some level even in very small places. You will find your waiter from the small town of Troyan in the Bulgarian heartland will have worked in North Carolina and speaks excellent English. We have found this scenario time and again.
While at the Sofia Mall to get a Bulgarian Sim Card for my phone we stopped at a Starbucks-Like coffee place. The young lady who waited on us spoke flawless unaccented American English. We complimented her on it and asked where she learned it. She told us that she had never learned it in school but had picked it up from YouTube, the Net and Movies! We have found this YouTube effect is commmon. And just amazing.
Bulgarian roads are very good, even the smaller rural ones, the signs are mostly in dual script of Cyrillic and Latin but all the major highways are in both. It is easy to get around. But it helps if you look at the Cyrillic name of the town you are going to, they are easy to get a mental picture of and this helps when the odd single alphabet sign appears. Drivers are pretty sedate actually compared to major American cities or Italy.
I will post more as I go along...it’s sad more folks don’t come here. This is one of the MOST economical parts of Europe, very scenic and exceptionally historic.