📸 — Sofia, Bulgaria

We are a bit back and forth these days. A combination of low battery mode kicking in (11 months on the road can do that to you!) and our visa challenges taking effect forced us to make a plan out of the Schengen zone.

I’m not joking when I say we had no idea where we were going after Italy..… 4 days before our departure, we ended up booking a ticket to Bulgaria on a whim.

Sofia was our first stop and a total treat. The people here are SO nice. Our taxi driver chatted the whole way recommending things to do in Bulgaria and that he was so grateful that we came to visit his country all the way from Canada. Further, a man passing by on the street saw us looking for our Airbnb and offered a hand, then told us how much he loved Queen Elizabeth and that she was so proper and nice, and that as Canadians we are so lucky. Then when it comes to food, Bulgarians love their food — and we do too!

There is lots of history here, more than 7,000 years worth(!) and we’ve had the chance to explore so much from it’s big cities, to its mountains, to it’s awesome (famous) wine country where Sir Winston Churchill used to buy his wine each year!

Here are some memories of our last few weeks.

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This is how we Whatsapp our excitement to each other.

We learned that our Dutch friends Joris and Maartje we met in Guatemala were in Sofia the same day as us! So we planned a 24 hour hangout in Bulgaria in memory of our awesome times and friendship that blossomed in Guatemala.

Trying to coordinate a picture where we all fit in, and the sign was a challenge…
Then, a nice lady offered to take a picture — this will be Maeghan’s next rap album cover.
Joris is teaching Oli how to floss like a boss.
Walking around town, and enjoying the tidbit of knowledge we gained. Apparently, when Bulgaria decided they wanted to take the first step towards being a democratic country, they called up the USA and asked for a McDonald’s. Because when you have no idea what democracy is, you’re convinced that McDonalds is it. After 10 years, they realized that having a McDonalds is not the only criteria of democracy… they then decided to put in a proper government.
Russian Church
Someone left red sunglasses on the dancing fountain lady.

We are super grateful for meeting Joris and Maartje. They are a total blast to hang out with and we had the best first night in Sofia spending time with them!

Art stores sharing a modern perspective.

Oli picked up chess and is now at a point he is ready to take on the hustlers. There is a park in Sofia where locals gather to play and you can challenge them for 3 levas (the local currency) a game. After Joris and Oli watched one round, Oli was ready to take his skills to the chess board!

Maeghan is obviously Oli’s biggest fan. Next to the local beside her.

Oli played a solid game, he didn’t win, but learned a lot from the experience!

We stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant, with some of the best food we’ve had (I think..) in our entire trip! The Little Things is a house where all the staff own a piece of the restaurant and do everything from the design, decoration to the menu. The produce in Bulgaria is INCREDIBLE and their wine is on point. We came here 3 times for dinner as it was just too good not to (oh, and it was cheap, $35 for two people — entree, bottle of wine, main course and dessert!) and the staff were so incredibly nice!!

This is one of the best preserved buildings in all of Sofia. It served as Emperor Constantine the Great’s apartments in Sofia. When the Soviets came, they were quick to build a massive building around it so that you couldn’t see the old church.

At this particular point, you can see the city has been built and rebuilt on-top of each other in various times in history. The base and the ruins you see is from the Roman empire era, then the level we are standing connects back to a medieval church that actually unknowingly used some of the ruin’s stones to build it’s church, then above is the new grounds of Sofia that was built and maintained today.

This area is really cool, there are 5 different churches with different religions all in this area. They call this place the “square of tolerance” as for many years, these religious places have been able to bring people of faith together without any conflict.

A thermal bath house that was shut down decades ago with some of the most mineral filled spring water. Even though the parliament promised to reopen the bath house, all they have done is turn it in to a cultural museum that does not access any of the fresh running water pools inside.
Presidential square.

The Presidential square above the ground were three large structures built in the beginning of the Soviet era of Sofia. Today, they are home to the President’s office (he drove by us twice during our stay!), a large upscale shopping mall, and Sofia’s biggest casino. Under the buildings you will find the ruins of the original city walls of Sofia built in the ancient roman times.

Similar to Athens, everytime Sofia tries to build a new subway line, they discover new ruins and have stop all construction.
The original stone work from the ancient romans found in the metro underneath the city.
The Royal Guard. Maeghan made the guy on the left smile and feels very accomplished about it. Life is better when you are having fun.

Every Thursday from 6–9pm, locals gather in front of the opera house to enjoy traditional Bulgarian dancing. Lots of people come and dance like crazy! It’s kind of like the fox trot, but holding hands in a single file line and much faster.

It was quite cute to see young and old people gather to enjoy their evening dancing for a song or two.

Front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia was originally the biggest church in the badlands..until Serbia built one 2 meters higher.
mosaic details.
Inside the Cathedral.
Craft beer bottle shop. Trying out some beers from the Balkans.
Amazing food and atmosphere in Sofia restaurants. Everything is so delicious!
We stayed at this super fancy Airbnb, but our neighbours house was not in the best condition.
Time to retire the shorts. They had a solid run… but Oli was embarrassed every time Maeghan wore them.

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫