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Returning to Sofia

Return to Sofia day one

View A return to Sofia on ToonSarah's travel map.

Taking off from Heathrow in the rain (spot the rainbow!)

I’d rather fallen for Sofia when I was there for the Virtual Tourist meeting in 2019 and had convinced Chris of its charms. We’d booked a trip for June of this year but had been forced to postpone when I tested positive for Covid just two days before we were due to leave. Fortunately it proved to be a mild attack, but our holiday had to be put on hold. Now, in September, we were finally off. We’d booked new flights with the voucher BA had issued, and the hosts of the apartment we’d booked had kindly allowed us to move the dates despite cancelling after the cut-off date.

We had an early flight which meant an alarm at the unearthly hour of 4.50. But in the event we were both awake before it went off! We were therefore at the station well before our Tube was due and shivering in the rain on the platform.

All went smoothly at Heathrow. The security queues were reasonable although surprisingly long for the time of day, and we were able to have breakfast before boarding. The plane took off on time and arrived early, after a flight in which I enjoyed views of the Alps and otherwise passed my time reading.


Flight over the Alps

Sculpture of Orpheus at the airport Metro station

We changed some money at the airport and then sought out the Metro station next door. It was easy to buy from the machines, but Chris's wouldn't open the barrier. A helpful young lady explained that it was showing as used and assisted him in persuading the decidedly less helpful ticket seller to let him through.

On reaching our station, St Kliment Ohridski, which is situated at a busy junction, I managed to set off in the wrong direction at first. We walked several blocks through what seemed to be a nice but too quiet neighbourhood before I realised my mistake. We turned around, headed back to the Metro station and then in the right direction from there.

The MOCCA studio

We soon found the apartment block on a small square. We let ourselves in following the detailed instructions I'd been sent and found ourselves in a rather gloomy passageway leading to a small lift. We knew the apartment was just on the first floor so we opted to climb the stairs which led us to another passageway, also quite gloomy. But I'd seen photos included in those detailed instructions so knew what to expect and wasn't too put off. And I was right not to be. We unlocked the door and entered a lovely large bright studio, very nicely decorated and on a quiet side of the block. Perfect!

The apartment is known as the 'MOCCA Studio next to Crystal Garden and Russian Church' if you want to search for it online. I certainly recommend checking it out if you are travelling to Sofia!

Our rented apartment

View from the apartment's small balcony

Settling in

After unpacking we went out for a short walk. We checked out several interesting sculptures and monuments in the Crystal Garden, where the apartment was situated. And we popped into the nearby Russian Orthodox church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, which had impressed me on my previous visit, and had a cold drink in a café. Then we went back to the apartment to settle in properly and catch up on messages.

Monument in the Crystal Garden, and dinner in the Izbata Tavern

In the evening we had dinner in the Izbata Taverna about a five minute walk away. I'd been there with VT friends in 2019 and liked the food, although found the basement room rather warm. On this cooler evening it was just right, and we enjoyed our meal for the most part. I loved my eggplant caviar and later my dessert of yoghurt and honey, but my main course, 'Granny's Chicken' (a chicken breast stuffed with cheese and spinach and baked in filo pastry) seemed too dry. But I split it with Chris who had a sort of chicken stew with peppers and tomatoes, and together the two dishes worked well!

Then it was back to the apartment for an early night as, despite the two hour time difference, we had sleep to catch up on!

Posted by ToonSarah 18:08 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains food hotel flight sculpture sofia bulgaria

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Hello,Sarah and Chris! I am sure you had a great stay in Sofia! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

by Vic_IV

We did, thanks Victor - more to come!

by ToonSarah

Your accommodation looks nice. Sometimes it's nice to have your own place rather than staying in a hotel, as noone disturbs you.

by irenevt

Yes, exactly Irene - especially if you want to be able to pop back during the day. With a hotel you always wonder if the maid might want to clean while you're there! Also, this gave us more space than a hotel room, or at least a room at this price - it was very reasonable!

by ToonSarah

The cooking opportunity is another great advantage of renting an apartment. My wife and I usually rent an apartment when traveling in Ukraine/Poland.

by Vic_IV

Oh we never cook for ourselves on holiday Victor, we prefer to take a break from that and eat out - also to sample the local cuisine. But it's good to be able to make a cup of coffee and enjoy it with some sort of pastry for breakfast :)

by ToonSarah

Yet another place it is far too long since I visited although I do have fond memories of it some years ago.

The apartment looks lovely and you were right not to be worried as the communal areas in these buildings in former Communist satellites can soften seem a bit drab but I think a lot of the post - Communist apartments are very light and bright from what I can see and read.

by planxty

I expect you're right about more modern ones Fergy. I'd seen photos of the entrance hall as part of the access instructions we were sent so I knew what to expect, and luckily the apartment was as bright and comfortable as it looked in all the photos I'd seen of it :)

by ToonSarah

Great blog and great meeting!

by DAOonVT

It was indeed DAO - and fun to go back!

by ToonSarah

Lovely apartment. We usually rent a cottage or apartment if we're staying more than a few days. It is so much more relaxing and you can eat breakfast very early if you want. We're early birds. Your 4:50 alarm sounded very reasonable to me. We don't usually get up until 6:00 but earlier is not a problem. We often have to get up around 3 for flights out of San Francisco. It does help beat the traffic though.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally - I don't mind an early start but Chris is less keen! My main worry is always the Tube - the trains are so infrequent at that time so if one is cut out I angst about being late for the plane!

by ToonSarah

Way too early to wakeup! But it is teenytiny bit better if it is for a holiday! ;)

by hennaonthetrek

I quite agree Henna 😁

by ToonSarah

I haven't been to Sofia yet and am more than eager to see the city through your pictures! :)

by Ils1976

I really recommend Sofia for a city break Ils

by ToonSarah

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