Sofia and Plovdiv

I have to apologize again, quite some time has passed since last article on my blog. I think, in Winter I won’t manage a higher interval, we will see. I haven’t told you yet, but I’m going back to Vienna and Graz for Christmas, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s not, that I’m not enjoying the time here, but often I’m feeling a bit lonely here. Sure, I’m living in a nice flat with nice people and I found some new friends, but still I’m a little bit of an outsider here. Furthermore you often meet nice people and spend some time with them, but then they go away again, back to their countries, where they are coming from. When I moved into my flat we were five people, in middle of January we will be only two if we don’t find new flat-mates (which we should, because we can’t afford the flat for only two).

You wonder, why I haven’t told anything about Sofia yet? Hmm … I was asked from many friends before I came here: „Why Sofia?“. I think, I understand now. Sofia could be a nice city, if the municipality would want to. It sad to say, but it’s the least appealing city in Bulgaria I have seen. What I miss most in Sofia is a central pedestrian zone. I think the Vitosha Boulevard, which you can see on one of the pictures, should be a place like this. The road looks like the municipality decided ten years ago to block most of the car traffic and painted some cycling road. But that’s all they changed. There are shops and cafes, but none of them looked interesting to me when I was searching one there (which was during my first weeks in Sofia).

Sofia is strongly in the hand of car traffic. Every other means of transportation (tramway, trolley-buses, buses, cycling, walking) are unworthy (but this is actually not a surprise for me, it was an assumption that I had before I came to Sofia). On the second picture you can see a good example. It’s a cycling and walking way next to a small river south to the centre of Sofia, which has been renovated in the last weeks. Apparently the municipality didn’t know how to continue, because there’s a large crossing there, and the walking traffic has to use the underpass. The bad thing: You have to run over the road from there to come to the underpass, or you go back 100m and pass a bridge to the other side of the river.

The third really annoying thing is the fact, that the pavements are used for parking. That’s something that already annoyed me in Burgas. For me it’s not a problem, I’m healthy and can take care of myself even if I walk on the road (which often is the only option). But for older and disabled people and for parents with children this must be a big problem.

So, enough rant about Sofia, time to write some positive things. I think, these ‚Blocks‘ for social housing are better as their reputation. What I’ve seen the layout of the flats are quite good, they usually have two balconies, a living-room, kitchen, separate bath-room and toilet – and bedrooms for sure. And around the Blocks is a lot of green area with small shopping centres in between. They just don’t look very appealing from the outside. And the parks in Sofia are pretty good, and many of them have been renovated in the last years. I hope, I can show you some pictures later, maybe in Spring when it will be greener as now.

As I said, there are many better places in Bulgaria, for example Veliko Tarnovo, what I told you about some time ago. On the last weekends I have seen two more towns, Plovdiv and Blagoevgrad. And some days ago, I was on the Vitosha mountain again.


Plovdiv is one of the oldest towns in Europe, it has been settled continuously since 6000 B.C. And you can feel the culture in the city, there’s a beautiful old town and next to it the modern city centre with a huge pedestrian zone. There are several hills that give a nice overview over the city (this is something, that I appreciate very much. I love this in cities like Graz and Budapest and miss it a lot in Vienna). Plovdiv was capital of Bulgaria for a short time after independence of the Ottoman Empira, but thanks to the Great Powers of that time (Austria-Hungary and Great Britain) Bulgaria was separated in two countries and the capital had to be moved to another city: Sofia. Read more on Wikipedia, it’s worth.

As this article is already getting really long, I will save my views of Blagoevgrad for the next time. At least I still have a lot of work to do until Christmas (say, next week, because I’m leaving on the 18th) for my studies. In January and February I have a lot of free time, I have to be at my university only for three exams which will hopefully be during one week. I’m not sure yet what I will do with the rest of the time, but I want to travel a lot – You have to use these opportunities, there are not so many of them. So, if somebody wants to visit me, I have a lot of time. One friend, Gerhard, already planned a visit for middle of February.

Oh … one thing I really look forward is going to a Christmas market in Vienna, we don’t have them here in Sofia. So, who wants to join me, when I’m there?

So, have a good time, I hope the next update will be sooner :)

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