Sofia, the bulgarian capital city, is one of the oldest cities in Europe with ruins spread across the city center. It has a unique combination of ancient remains, European and Communist-style architecture, together with many beautiful orthodox churches. The city claims to be one of the few European capitals with a very close and developed ski-resort (Vitosha mountain).
Below are listed my budget tips:
Where to sleep? Hostel Mostel is my favorite option, friendly staff, international environment, nice and tidy rooms, breakfast and dinner included in the price, good location.
The big common area is ideal to meet other backpackers and travellers. Every night a pub crawl is organized, free of charged, you pay what you drink, no rip-off and fake tour.
Enjoy the free walking tour of the city, is free, only small tips are welcome at the end of the tour.
Starting point is at the corner of the Palace of Justice, everyday at 11.
You will be driven through 6000 years of history by passionate young guides.
Funny thing when I was there a turkish tv chanel was filming the tour.
Bulgarian food is available in many restaurants at very convenient prices. Try tarator, a cold soup made of yogurt and cucumber and salads (Shopska is one of the most famous salad in the balkans, made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion/scallions, raw or roasted peppers, white brine cheese and parsley). Avoid tourist traps in the centre. Usually when the menu is in english is not a good sign…You can get tasty and very cheap bulgarian fast food in bakeries, offering banitsa and other kinds of pastry. This food is often consumed with ayran or boza, drinks that contain yogurt. Another possibility is to get a katma, which is a big pancake filled with cheese, ham, jelly or chocolate.
In the city alone there are 7 independent mineral water springs.
One of the springs is in the central area of the city and is accessible for everybody, nearby the intersection of Iskar and Ekzarh Yosif streets, where the biggest mosquee is
Join the Balkan Bites Food Tours, a free food taste tour ( 100% vegetarian!) in some of the more interesting and trendy family owned restaurants that Sofia has to offer and enjoy some traditional Bulgarian cuisine, while hearing about the some of the history and customs that helped make them become staple foods in Bulgaria, by our trained guides. The tour itself is a walking tour that starts at 2pm everyday (excluding national holidays) at Park Crystal in front of the big head statue of Stefan Stambolov. The duration is about 2 hours and the food that is presented to the participants is free of charge.
What to visit? Ivan Vazov National Theatre; St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; Orthodox churches; down town. You can visit the city and do things like a local would do, thanks to this project.
Guess my next destination… 🙂
I do not want, with this post, to create a competition between these two alternative ways of travelling, each of which is great.
Blablacar is a website for car-pooling, basically a platform that put in touch a person who has a car and has to travel from place A to place B, with other people whom need to travel from A to B, upon payment of a sum of money agreed. A kind of organized hitchhiking.
In Europe, both methods are well-known and used, in Spain, for instance, blablacar became a source of extra income for those who have a car and must travel, in period of crisis is not a bad idea, while doing hitchhiking are mostly youngsters and backpackers, for lack of money and/or spirit of adventure.
I traveled often by hitchhiking, in Albania, Bulgaria (picture at the end of this post), Romania (picture on the left and at the end of this post), Macedonia (picture below, crossing the border with Albania, towards Ohrid lake) … but since one year I have learnt to appreciate and rather prefer blablacar, in the few points below I will try to explain why:
If you have ever hitchhiked you know the ‘rules’: a girl has much more chance than a boy; a boy with a girl have many chances to get a ride, two friends have almost zero chances.
Blablacar is fair! Doesn’t matter whether you are a man or woman, that you have a long beard and tattoo all over your body or you are an angel-face person, whether you are two male friends or two sexy female friends … you’ll have the same chance to find a trip. Respect!
Simple and clear, fulfilling a car by travelling in 4 or 5, getting from point A to point B, is absolutely more eco-friendly than to find a car ride, by hitchhiking. Where you will be most likely who drives and you
–Save time vs. saving money
Here we are in front of two choices, covering the distance in a short time or saving money to reach the destination for free? I would be for the second option, but often a journey in different stops, by hitchhiking, can be even more expensive, if you have to stay somewhere overnight. With blablacar you agree on a day and a scheduled time, spending less compared to a classic journey by train or bus.
Let say the truth, get in a car with a stranger is a nice adrenaline rush. You can like the idea, as I do, but many others could consider it risky (…). Especially for girls. Blablacar is safer, who offers the trip has a profile on the website, a phone number that you call to agree on the trip and you know the destinations, where you start and where you end your journey
Share a journey with other 3/4 people is funnier than doing it with a single, statistically. I (almost) always enjoyed doing blablacar, if there wasn’t one interesting person I had a chance to try with another passenger. Or if you are tired and you do not want to talk, you can leave the conversation to the other passengers, without being unpolite. I had fun experiences, by hitchhiking, with people who did not speak English and I did not speak their language, it was great the way we handled the situation, however, what an effort! 🙂
Blablacar e’ un sito di car pooling, non sai cosa e’ il car pooling? 🙂 Praticamente un sito che permette ad una persona che ha un auto e deve viaggiare dal posto A al posto B, di condividere il viaggio con altre persone, dietro il pagamento di una somma di denaro concordata. Una specie di autostop organizzato. Hitchhiking e’, invece, fare autostop, non organizzato.
In italia fare hitchhiking/autostop e’, quasi, una missione impossibile, vietato in autostrada, poco utilizzato altrove. Eppure da ragazzino, una ventina e piu’ di anni fa, era abbastanza comune, spesso rientravo da scuola in questo modo o uscivo la sera per andare in un bar fuori dal paesino, alzando il pollice (e poi il gomito, ma questa e’ un’altra storia).
Nel resto d’Europa, entrambi i metodi sono molto conosciuti ed utilizzati, in Spagna blablacar e’ diventata una fonte di guadagno extra per chi ha una macchina e deve viaggiare, in periodi di crisi, ci si ingegna, mentre a fare hitchhiking sono moltissimi giovani, un po’ per carenza di denaro, un po’ per spirito di avventura.
Ho viaggiato spesso anche io facendo hitchhiking, in Albania e kosovo, in Bulgaria, in Romania, in Macedonia … ma con il tempo ho imparato ad apprezzare e preferire blablacar. Non voglio fare una competizione tra questi due modi alternativi di viaggiare, ognuno dei quali e’ ottimo, cerco solo di dare le mie spiegazioni sul perche’ ho iniziato a preferire blablacar:
Chi fa hitchhike lo sa, una ragazza rispetto ad un ragazzo ha molte piu’ possibilita’ di successo, un ragazzo ed una ragazza ne hanno moltissime, due amici quasi zero. Blablacar e’ imparziale, uomo o donna che tu sia, barba lunga ed incolta o meno, due amici o due amiche, poco importa, avrai le stesse possibilita’ di trovare un viaggio. Respect!
Semplice e chiaro, viaggiare in 4 o 5 in un auto, partendo dal punto A arrivando al punto B, e’ assolutamente piu’ ecologico che trovare un passaggio in auto, facendo hitchhiking. Dove molto probabilmente saremo in due a fare il viaggio, chi conduce ed io.
-Risparmio di tempo vs risparmio denaro
Qui ci troviamo difronte a due scelte, percorrere la distanza in breve tempo o spendere il meno possibile, chiaramente sarei per la seconda opzione, ma spesso un viaggio a tappe, facendo hitchhike, puo’ risultare perfino piu’ costoso, se bisogna fermarsi per tratte brevi e pernottare. Con blablacar ci si accorda sul giorno e sull’orario, spendendo poco rispetto ad un classico viaggio in treno o bus.
Diciamoci la verita’, salire su un auto con uno sconosciuto e’ una bella botta di adrenalina. Puo’ piacere, ad esempio a me, ma molti lo ritengono rischioso (…). Soprattutto per le ragazze. Blablacar e’ sicuro, chi offre il viaggio ha un profilo sul sito, un numero di telefono che si contatta per mettersi d’accordo sul viaggio. Poi si sa da dove si parte e dove si arriva
Condividere un viaggio con altre 3/4 persone e’ piu’ divertente che farlo con una sola, statisticamente. Mi sono (quasi) sempre divertito facendo blablacar, se non si trova una persona interessante si hanno chance di provare con un altro dei passeggeri.
Oppure se si e’ stanchi e non si ha voglia di parlare, si puo’ lasciare la conversazione agli altri passeggeri, senza fare la figura del poco educato.
Ho avuto esperienze divertenti, facendo hitchhiking, con persone che non parlavano inglese ed io non parlavo la loro lingua, pero’, che fatica! 🙂
Recently I had an interview for an online italian magazine. It was a nice experience, to tell my story, because I would like that more people could understand that downshifting is a positive path of our life.
In these 2 and half years travelling what I enjoyed the most, were not the wonderful sights, cities, monuments, landscapes … I loved the unique time spent with every single person I met, coming from a different lifestyle, with a different past, history, mentality.
I always thought about writing down what we were talking about. It could have come out an interesting book, collecting thoughts from people, travellers, explorers, free minds.
One of the most interesting person I have met is Ibrahim, we met in Bulgaria, in a hostel. Below you can read his story. I hope you will enjoy it!
Budget Euro Trip: Hi Ibrahim, tell us something about you
I’m originally from Alexandria, Egypt. I have lived in USA, since July/20 /1978.
Since 1977, I’m on the go. I visited all over Europe, except, Andorra, Belarus, Belgium, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland.
In the Caucasus, I visited Georgia. All 50 states in USA, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St.John in the Virgin Island. All ten provinces in Canada, and Yukon Territory.
In the Caribbean, I visited Dominican Republic. In Africa I visited Morocco, and Tunisia. Also, I visited all over Mexico, Central America, except Belize. All over South America, except Falkland Island, The Guiana, Suriname and Paraguay.
In the Middle East, I visited Istanbul in Turkey. In South East Asia, I visited Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. In Indian Subcontinent, I visited Nepal, and India. In North East Asia, I visited China, Macau, Hong Kong. In South Pacific, I visited Australia, and New Zealand.
I’m free spirited, I could go wherever, whenever I feel like it. I have absolute freedom, therefore, nothing to tie me down or rush me along. I am looking for the complete experience, such as: Music, foods, cultures, traditions, arts, friends etc. I’m an adventure seeker.
Also, I hitched-hiked throughout USA, and Canada it has been a very unique, and exciting experience for me. I have met very generous Americans, and Canadians, some invited me to their homes for diner, and stayed over night, some offered me money, and they were very insisting. Also, on so many different occasions, I gave money, and put Gas in their cars to some motorist, which of whom, they gave me RIDE!
I never been married, and never will. Also, I don’t have any kids, because kids are big responsibilities.
Regarding religion.I don’t have any. All religions evolve out of Mythology, all Hocus, Pocus, Jumpo Pumpo, Witch Doctor Kamongo! Also, I believe, everybody entitle to his or her believe.
I don’t believe in Nationality or Religion, I considered those are the most two stupid ideas the man ever invented, If you aren’t one of us, you are a DEVIL, that make no sense, that hetrate, that bigotry.
What kind of justice that, either heaven, or hell fire, that’s too extreme.
I believe in peoples, humans, I’m Humanistic. Regardless of any different, every person is my sister or my brother, if some peoples don’t like me, that’s their problems, I keep going, never look behind.
My ultimate goal is to go all over the GLOBE, and be able to say, I have friends all over the GLOBE.
Also, I’m the author of the books: ” Wesson, and Smith Still in Control “, ” Rome Was a Corporation ” , ” What happened to Judea Christo Ethos? “, ” USA Stand for United Sheeps of America “, ” Epic Of Gilgamesh, and Book of the Dead Vs The Old Testament, and Koran “, ” Nation States VS Corporate States “, ” The Americans Are The Most Friendliest, and Generous Peoples On Earth “, ” Across Good Old USA, no Money Down “, ” Politicians, TV, Calculator, Computer and The Educational System Made Ass Out Of Americans “, ” NATO stand for North America Terrorist Organization “, ” 911 Was a Wake Up Call Vs. 911 Remote Control, Fundamentalists Jews, Christians, and Muslims, they are going to destroy the whole world! “, ” The Intellectual Elites in America Are Top of the Line, but average Americans Are Damn Idiots “, ” People are People, No Matter Where you are “, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly “, ” Americans Got Shit & and Stick! “. ” The Have Not, and Those Mother Whom They Have It !, ” AmericanTreat Each Other Like Shit “, ” Life Is a Game “, ” US Goverment is a terrorist organization “… No, no just kidding!!!!!
Budget Euro Trip: How and when did you decide to travel and quit the ‘usual life’?
Ibrahim: I want to travel since I was a kid, but I started in 1977 to Rome, Italy, I have only $5.00.
Budget Euro Trip: Is it possible to travel without money or with a tight budget?
Ibrahim: Yes, its possible to travel without money or on tight budget. Being a Street Vender, Playing Music, Work for few Months, BEGGING for MONEY,…
Budget Euro Trip: What did you enjoy the most from this experience?
Ibrahim: FREEDOM, FREEDOM the most I have enjoying from this EXPERIENCE!
Thanks a lot!