Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sofia, Bulgaria

Rotunda of St. George
Our friend Greg Benz and his friend Mike rented a car in Munich and decided to drive through Eastern Europe for three and a half weeks. Talk about an adventure! Our friend Benz has traveled all over the world and when he told us that his latest trip was going to be near us, we thought it would be fun to meet up with him for a weekend. We met his friend Mike and enjoyed a great weekend with the two of them in Sofia, Bulgaria on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

National Theater
Russian Church

Sofia is a walkable town, despite its large population, with some interesting history. There was a monument to the Soviet regime that currently used as a skate park, the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral built to commemorate the soldiers who died fighting the Russo-Turkish War in 1877, the old royal palace and the square where the Soviet coup d’├ętat happened in 1944, the national theater, the Rotunda of St. George near our hotel (a church build in the 4th century) and many other places. There were traffic control booths on corners of intersections and there was even a yellow bricked road. Seriously. Sofia is also known for its nightlife. There are fun clubs and great restaurants. People in Sofia really love to dance, and we got to witness it first hand when we went to dinner at a local restaurant. There was a band playing traditional Bulgarian music and the people kept getting up to dance the traditional line dances. At one of the clubs we even saw a guy playing the saxophone to the lounge music. Of course, we got video of both!! I'll try to upload those on the next entry... today they won't upload for some reason.
traffic management booth

random couch we found outside of a bar

the "Yellow Brick Road"
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Benz (left) and Mike (right)

Our first night in Sofia was a rough one... the room at the hotel we were staying at was right next to the ballroom. There was a party going on until 3AM that night. When we returned to the hotel at 1:30 after meeting Benz for a couple of drinks they said the party was going to shut down at 2, so we thought “no problem”. Well, 2:30 rolled around and our room was literally vibrating from the bass. It seemed like the music was getting louder. Josh ended up having to contact the corporate headquarters because the person he spoke with at the front desk didn't do anything to shut things down. Everything finally shut down at 3AM. Of course the next morning at 8AM we were woken up by construction in the building next door (literally on the other side of our wall). Thankfully the hotel manager was aware of our situation and kindly told them to hold off on construction until after 12PM. We were able to go back to sleep for a little more time before meeting up with Benz and Mike.
the park near the Soviet monument

Soviet monument

the side of the Soviet monument

a strange monument under construction, with a lot of graffiti
surrounding the construction barrier

The room manager of the hotel felt so awful about our experience the first night that she wanted to make it up to us. We were just hoping for a different room away from all of the action. She did better than that... she put us in the Presidential Suite for the next two nights after telling us the party was supposed to shut down at 1AM! We were completely shocked with that and we gladly accepted their apologies. The previous night Tom Jones was playing in Sofia, and he stayed in the Presidential Suite. We were in the same room that he stayed in the night before, that was interesting! Honestly, I had no idea who Tom Jones was until Josh pulled up some of his music online. After hearing some of his songs I realized I definitely know his music. We were pretty happy with the news of our new lodgings, and we enjoyed the dining room, living room, monster bedroom and two bathrooms. Ok… it was WAY more space than we needed, but it was definitely nice. And quiet!  

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