There is a certain young lady my own age who is apparently living vicariously through my blog when she’s not chasing one of her 3 screaming kids around the house; she recently chided me for not writing more about my exciting life in Sofia, Bulgaria—so here goes.
Saturday morning I awoke to the sound of rain on my windowsill. That obviously scratched my plan to get out on my bike, and threatened to ruin plans to go to the pool at noon as well (one of my friends suggested this, and I had rounded up a group of about 6-7 to go to cool off, as it had been quite hot in Sofia recently.) Well, noon came and went as a thunderstorm pelted rain against my windows as I goofed off in my living room. Finally, at about 2 o’clock the clouds parted to reveal an unusually clear blue sky (sans the perpetual layer of smog hanging over Sofia.) It was refreshingly cooler, so no one was interested in swimming, but by 3 o’clock it was dry enough and perfect for cycling; so after 3 weeks of collecting dust in the corner of my apartment, I took my bike out for a 2+ hour spin in the gritty northwest quadrant beyond the ring road—it didn’t look half bad, thanks to the beautiful weather.
That evening, I met Mirena and the two new MBAEC volunteers at Julia’s place for appetizers before we headed out for dinner. Alas, the most exciting part of the evening was flipping through an old copy of Cosmopolitan after our meal—it was actually interesting get a mixed perspective from one each of a male and female newcomer and veteran American expats, as well as a Bulgarian.
Sunday afternoon I joined Mirena for a trip to Vratsa, an industrial town north of Sofia. She had to inspect some real estate for a British client, and I thought I’d tag along just to see another part of Bulgaria. The two hour bus ride up there was pleasant enough despite the fact that the bus was so old (and apparently underpowered) it slowed to 30 km/h while going up-hill in the mountains at some points. The town itself looked as gritty as I expected, but after walking through the center, I found it had an extensive network of pleasant pedestrian streets set among delightful cafes and shops. This is something Sofia really lacks; even though Vitosha Boulevard is now closed to traffic in the heart of the shopping district, trams still rumble through every 5-10 minutes as well as occasional police cars, garbage trucks, and such—meaning you can’t really stroll leisurely down the center of the street.