First, here are some time exposures (all 25 seconds) from New Year’s Eve. The first one—made at 22:00—is a calm view toward Mt. Vitosha (which was only barely visible by the naked eye.) After midnight, fireworks broke out all over the city; people were shooting them rooftops, balconies, and the street—it was like the fourth of July! ;-) In the third picture, you can see the burst of light coming from the official New Years/EU Accession party downtown—which we just watched on TV.
For the New Year’s holiday (of January 1st and 2nd) we went to spa resort town of Velingrad. We originally made reservations at an old restored hotel (check out the iron work over the door in the picture below!) but we decided on a nicer, newer, and cheaper hotel after tearing all over the city looking for the best value. As in many places in Bulgaria, these spas are fed by naturally hot, slightly minerally water.
The pool was a balmy 31C (88F.) We also hit the Roman (steam) bath, sauna, and had massages. Mirena asked where people go relax in the US; I honestly couldn’t think of an equivalent. I am sure we do have spa resorts somewhere, but I think most people “just go the beach.”
On the way back to Sofia, we came through Belovo, home of Belana Paper Mill—Bulgaria's largest producer of TP and paper towels. Along the road opposite the factory, the street was dotted with vendors selling all the various brands produced there. We stopped and Mirena bought a restaurant-sized roll of paper towels for 3 leva, but she said their prices were actually not that competitive; I suppose they lure Sofians into thinking they can get a good deal on their way home.
Below is one last time exposure I took at twilight as we were heading back to the expressway (notice the streaks of light from cars on the extreme right.)
Oh, and BTW, it is snowing right now! ;-)