Railing thru Europe: Stop 18.1 Bulgaria – Sofia


After a rather ‘shell shocked’ experience in Romania, our overnight train ride takes us to Sofia, the largest and most populated city in Bulgaria. As our rail passes were due to expire soon, we decided to make Sofia a day trip as we were arriving quite early in the day and there would be some time for us to sight-see before we take the night train into Thessaloniki, Greece.

Sofia, being the capital of Bulgaria has lots to offer; from fast food outlets, shopping malls, trams, medieval churches, monuments, museums and an information centre for tourist! One interesting thing to note though, our beloved lonely planet book informed us that the Bulgarians ‘nod’ their head when they say no and ‘shake’ their head when they say yes! Haha.. anyway, off we went to take a bus to explore the city, feeling adventurous again!

We were not familiar so we had some trouble trying to validate/punch our bus tickets and passengers on-board were staring amusingly at us. We asked the nearest guy for help but he just continued to stare. Just when we were beginning to feel like idiots, a kind man who spoke excellent English came to our rescue and showed us how to do it. He gave us a little introduction of his city and directed us on where to alight to get to the city centre. There is no better guidebook than a helpful local who showed great hospitality right?

Artsy monument at the Sofia central bus station

Saint Nedelya Church - It has been damaged and reconstructed many times

Wondering why this building sticks out like a sore thumb? Well its because this building is the Church of St. George and it has been around since the 4th century! It lies in the courtyard shared by Sheraton Hotel and Bulgaria's Presidential Building.

Bulgaria's Presidential Building. It shares the same courtyard as the Sheraton Hotel.

The changing of the guards takes place here every hour.

Here comes the changing of the guards...

The Bulgarian Archaeological Museum

We came across this little church called 'Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker' on our way to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Monument to the Tsar Liberator. It is a monument dedicated to Russian Emperor Alexander II who managed to free Bulgaria of Ottoman rule

National Assembly of Bulgaria

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a symbol for Sofia and one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world

Monument to St. Sofia

Monument to John Atanasoff, the American physicist and inventor

By midday, we were feeling quite exhausted and we wished that there are hostels that charge by the hour so we could get a quick nap. Eventually we came to an agreement to watch a movie as that was our best bet for a rest and were delighted when we found out some of the shows that were screened were in English.

Our Gingy from Bulgaria!

With time to spare, we headed to the Mall of Sofia to catch a movie! 'INCEPTION'! Oddly enough, as tired as we were, we did managed to stay up to finish the show. Can you spot J among the toys?

After we got back to the train station, to our dismay only part of the train arrived with the other carriages nowhere in sight. We saw a fellow traveller who travelled with us on the same train from Romania and struck up a conversation with him. It turns out that he too was waiting for the train that would bring all of us to Greece. We took turns checking the platform and found out that they were still piecing the whole train together. Eventually we boarded the train and this time hopefully, we could get a good rest and feel revitalized for our trip to Greece. After what seems like an eternity our train was ready to move off.

Next stop, gorgeous Greece!

Jon & Yee

Related posts:

Italy - Vatican City
Railing thru Europe: Stop 10.3 Finland – Rovaniemi (Lapland)
Railing thru Europe: Stop 12.2 Germany - Frankfurt
12 Responses to “Railing thru Europe: Stop 18.1 Bulgaria – Sofia”
  1. Beautiful photos! And it’s always nice to meet a helpful stranger!

    • Thanks for the compliments :) Yeah, there are always people who are willing to lend you a helping hand when you need them. Hopefully all of us get to meet more of them in our lives! haha…

  2. The architecture here is simply stunning! I loved your wonderful photos :)

  3. Audrey says:

    Not what I expected from Bulgaria! The architecture really is impressive! 😀

  4. Looks like Sofia is a beautiful city and also beautiful buildings.

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