10 things to do in Sofia. Few expectations and a lot of surprises

Do You have few expectations about Sofia? Then it’s time to think about it again. Relaxing, quiet and full of interesting aspects, Sofia is a European capital of a pure Balkan flavour, amazing especially for the way in which different cultures and religions use to live together peacefully within the same city.

Clicca qui per la versione italiana.

The Bulgarian capital is in fact one of the cities where one can find an Orthodox church, a Christian church and a Mosque on the same road, placed in front of each other. Sofia can be visited easily. If you like to wake up early you can also do within a day. So, plan even a weekend to live quietly this city and above all discover its most hidden and interesting sides. Walking through the main streets starting from the Orthodox Church of Sveta Nedelya, head to the south of Vitosha to stroll on the shopping street up to the palace of culture and to the east on Bulevard Tsar Osvoboditel to find the most important historic buildings up to the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Do not limit yourself to a classic touristic tour, because Sofia is a city that should be experienced in its most hidden alleys which preserve the energy of the third oldest city in Europe. We took advantage of a free food tour, organized by non-profit association of enterprising guys of Sofia, to discover a part of the city apart of the main streets, as well as to taste the local dishes and learn about many curiosities about Sofia and Bulgarian culture. It would be perfect if those tours would be organized in every city in the world to give the opportunity to every kind of tourist to know the city with the eyes of its citizens. In fact, thanks to this tour we get to know a really fascinating part of Sofia, on the East of Vitosha street where one can feel the true essence of the city outside the tourist chaos, strolling on the market of second hand books and the streets rich of typical restaurants and shops of local artists. It is worth spending a couple of hours here and try the local street food in the road that heads to the Orthodox church of Veti Sedmochislenitsi. History, legends, culture, street performers and food make Sofia one of the most beautiful cities one can visit. Set aside a weekend for your visit, as after every trip you will come back enriched.

Interesting facts

  • Yogurt: Bulgarians are proud to have invented (by accident) yogurt. It is said that the proto-Bulgarians, a nomadic population who moved from Asia to Bulgaria had the habit of transporting milk within lamb skin pouches tied on the backs of their donkeys or horses. Because of the animal’s body temperature, the micro-flora of the bags and the movement of the animals during long journeys, the milk became acid but still tasty and nutritious. This containing the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus to whom the Bulgarians attribute their longevity (Bulgaria does have the highest percentage of people older than 100). Now I feel like I would like some yogurt !!
  • The Lactobacillus Bulgaricus makes the Bulgarian yoghurt very healthy, lowers cholesterol, fights cancer and helps the bowel to work better.
  • The Bulgarians say they are physically very strong (Spartacus was born in Thrace, today’s Bulgaria) this because they eat lots of garlic, and we can confirm it…
  • Sofia is the third oldest city in Europe after Rome and Athens

10 Things to do in Sofia

  1. Food Tour of Sofia
  2. Hidden poetries of Sofia: around the city there are 28 poems written by authors from different European countries and drawn on the facades of several buildings. They create a good opportunity to visit the hidden corners of the city.
  3. Free Sofia Tour. These guys offer free tours of Sofia, including a tour full of stories and facts about the city, an evening pub crawl and comunist tour.
  4. Walking on Vitosha, the shopping street, and stop to have a coffee in one of the bars on the street. Then move on to the districts East of Vitosha and get lost on the streets, it’s really worth.
  5. Church of San Giorgio.
  6. Serdika Archaeological Site
  7. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Entrance is free, but you have to pay a fee to take pictures inside the church.
  8. Historical Museum of Sofia, very interesting because it is located in an ancient SPA, of which there are still hot spring water fountains. We have seen people drinking from these fountains and we also tested the water…we were not hurt 🙂
  9. Church of Sveti Sedmochislenisti: look around the church to find an electrical cabinet covered by a graffiti which shows on the front two Orthodox priests hugging and on the back the same priests palpating their asses. There are many of these electrical cabinets throughout the city, they are called Transformers and were originally designed to give a new and more colorful aspect to the city.
  10. Antique market: in the vicinity of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral you can find everything from holy pictures to accessories of the Nazi period which may shock your sensibility.

What to eat

It ‘obvious to find garlic in the Bulgarian cuisine, except in desserts… Yogurt is present everywhere, both as a beverage and as contouring or sauce to be associated with meat and vegetables. The influence of Ottoman cuisine is still present in many spicy dishes. Cheese and meat of goat and pork are present on all menus.

To drink: try the Bulgarian red wine, the one which Roman Empire legionaries used to drink . Close your meal with a glass of iced rakie.

  1. Tarator: is a traditional summer soup, served cold and made by yogurt, salt, cucumber, dill and nuts.
  2. Shopska Salata: a salad of tomato, cucumber and grated cheese that resembles the colors of the Bulgarian flag, white, green and red. This is the national dish par excellence.
  3. Banitsa: Typical pastry looking salty cake, filled with cheese (the most typical), or apple, pumpkin, spinach, onion. Bulgarians use to eat it during breakfast. It will surely give you an energy boost throughout the day. It also represents the traditional New Year dish and during its preparation a coin is places inside the dough before putting it in the oven. Who will take the piece of banitsa with the coin will have a lucky year.
  4. Meshana Skara: mixed meat grill
  5. Kavarma: stew of pork and vegetables
  6. Buhtichki: or Bulgarian donut, served with powdered sugar, caramel or chocolate, they are easily found in markets.

Where to eat

  • Hadjidraganov’s cellars: the best traditional restaurant we tried in Sofia, with furniture built by craftsmen from Bulgarian villages. It has some good red wines and a wide variety of meat dishes and vegetables. Also try the sugared typical wine. We were surprised to see a wooden cart at the entrance much like a Sicilian cart (does it means that Sicily and Bulgaria have something in common?) (Address: Ul. “Hristo Belchev” 18, 1000 Sofia)
  • Supa Star: small restaurant with a wide selection of soups in Sofia (Address: ul. “Tsar Shishman”, 1000 Sofia)
  • Sun and Moon: small vegetarian restaurant housed in an old bakery, only furnished with second-hand furniture. The bread is homemade and is seasoned with exquisite spicy sauces. Get used to the strong garlic taste. (Address: Ul. “William Gladstone” 18-Б, 1000 Sofia)
  • Farmer’s: Bulgarian fast food chain, a good alternative to the various American chains, they serve organic products from regional farms. (Address: Ul. “General Yosif V. Gourko” 38-Б, 1000 Sofia)

If you liked this article, please give us your comments and follow us also on

Youtube: www.youtube.com/footontheway                                                                       Facebook: www.facebook.com/footontheway                                                                  Instagram: @foot_ontheway Twitter: @footontheway

Hamburg – Miniatur Wunderland

Visiting in Hamburg and the same time visiting the world. Yes, all of this is possible at the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, the largest model railway in the world. Founded in 2006 by a couple of railway model amateurs, the extension of the railway has reached in 2016 15,400km. But it is not only about the length, it is about the detail of the environments and landscape through which the railway runs. Hamburg, Las Vegas, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the last arrived Italy and the amazing airport model which is a real airport only of a smaller size, with the same timetable of Hamburg airport. We had fun searching the through the details of the represented cities and landscapes, people kissing, nude models, scuba cows and so on. Undoubtedly one of the things you can’t miss if you visit Hamburg, and one one the things that should be on everyone’s to do list.  

Hamburg – Street Food Festival

Black Wasabi Burger

We start our discovery tour of Hamburg from his “Tor zur Welt”, the gate to the world, his harbour.We are at the Cruise Center of Altona at the Street food festival took place, close to an amazing building shaped in the form of a big cruise boat. Among the famous wurst of Germany, the scandinavian smoked salmon, nachos from latin america, spicy food from brasil, asia and california skewers look but an Explosion of taste at the first bite. The winner for us in this nice small street food festival in the Hansestadt. 

Cruise Center Hamburg

Camino de Santiago – Day 16 from Santiago to Muxía and Fisterra

Il viaggio continua, oltre Santiago, le mete sono Muxía e Finisterre. La prima per la sua meravigliosa chiesa de la Virgen de Barca costruita direttamente sulla scogliera di fronte al mare, probabilmente posta sul luogo originario del culto ancestrale delle pietre. È uno spettacolo godersi l’infrangersi delle onde sugli scogli a pochi metri dalla facciata della chiesa, tra i massi di pietra conosciuti come rocking delle pietre il cui equilibrio è cosi preciso che basta toccarle per farle oscillare. È il posto perfetto per chi è appassionato di surf e kitesurf e per chi ama trovate scorci indimenticabili da fotografare. A metà giornata ci fermiamo a pranzo al ristorante o de Lolo, la cui mariscata, un piatto misto di pesce e frutti di mare, è letteralmente un miracolo per le papille gustative, cozze in salmoriglio, capesante, datteri di mare, vongole e aragosta. La pausa perfetta per continuare il nostro viaggio da Muxia a Fisterra, il luogo che nel medioevo si pensasse essere la fine del mondo occidentale (Fisterra: Fin da terra). Fisterra è una penisola che si allunga verso occidente alla fine della quale si trova il famoso faro e una bella terrazza naturale da cui godersi il tramonto del sole insieme a tanti pellegrini e turisti che armati di birre e snack attendono lo sparire del sole all’orizzonte. Uno spettacolo della natura in questa giornata calda e limpida di fine Settembre. Prima di arrivare al faro decidiamo di posteggiare e percorrere gli utlimi 5km a piedi, oltrepassando la pietra miliare che indica il mitico km 0,00 del cammino. Il raggiungimento di un traguardo dopo 16 giorni di avventura ed esperienze indimenticabili insieme ad altre persone diventate nostre amiche. 16 giorni di semplicitá, natura e… Vita


—— 

The journey continues over Santiago, to Muxía and Finisterre. The first for its wonderful church of La Virgen de Barca built on the cliff in front of the sea, probably located on a ancient site of the ancestral worship of stones. It’s a sight to enjoy the waves crashing on the rocks a few meters from the facade of the church, among the enchanted boulders known as rocking stones, are large stones that are so finely balanced that the application of just a small force causes them to rock. It’s the perfect place for those who love surfing and kite surfing and for those who love to photograph unforgettable views. At midday we stopped for lunch at the restaurant O de Lolo, whose mariscata is literally a miracle for the taste buds, in vineagre mussels, scallops, date mussels, clams and lobster; the perfect break to continue our journey from Muxia to Fisterra, place that in the Middle Ages was thought to be the end of Western world (Fisterra: fin da terra) Fisterra is a peninsula that stretches out to the west at the end of which lies the famous lighthouse and a beautiful natural terrace from which to enjoy the sunset along with many pilgrims and tourists armed with beers and snacks awaiting the vanishing of the sun on the horizon. A show of the nature in this hot and clear day of end of September. Before arriving at the lighthouse we decided to park and walk the last few 5km walk, encountering the milestone of 0.00 km of the camino de Santiago. The achievement of a target after 16 days of adventure and unforgettable experiences with other people and friends. 16 days of simplicity, nature and …Life

Camino de Santiago – Day 15, one day in Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela, una città dalla bellezza inaspettata. La cattedrale di Santiago coincide con la fine del cammino dei pellegrini nella piazza dell’Obradoiro di fronte alla facciata barocca della cattedrale. Al nostro arrivo la facciata era semicoperta da impalcature a causa dei lavori di restauro in corso, ma ció non ha tolto nulla alla belezza della chiesa e all’emozione che ci ha travolti una volta arrivati. La facciata è cosi ricca di dettagli e simboli da poter perdersi per ore ad osservarla, come fanno i pellegrini piu stanchi distesi a terra sulla piazza. Una curiosità degna di nota è che questa facciata costruita nel 1700 protegge la facciata medievale danneggiata dalle intemperie nel corso degli anni. Sul lato sinistro della piazza, guardando alla cattedrale, è l’Hotel del los reis catholicos un antico parador medievale con una stupenda facciata. La città è molto ricca di edifici che risalgono all’inizio dell’anno mille. Ogni giorno alle 12:00 e alle 19:30 si svolge la messa e la benedizione del pellegrino, quando si è fortunati si puó anche assistere alla benedizione col botafumeiro l’incensiera piu grande al mondo che viene fatta oscillare come un pendolo sulle teste dei fedeli. Anticamente questo serviva a purificare l’aria della cattedrale con l’ incenso a causa della grande quantitá di pellegrini che da giorni camminavano senza aver possibilità di lavarsi. Oggi è diventata una della attrazioni turistiche di Santiago, che si può ammirare nella messa di tutti i venerdi alle 19:30 oppure a richiesta facendo una donazione di 300euro alla cattedrale. Anche questo è diventato un commercio turistico. Tappa obbligata er i pellegrini è quella all’ufficio di accoglienza ai pellegrini per ottenere la compostela, il documento che attesta che il pellegrino ha effettuato il cammino, per ottenerla bisogna percorrere a piedi almeno gli ultimi 100km ( da Sarria) o 200km in bici. Noi abbiamo fatto due ore e mezza di coda per ottenere l’attestato. Oltre alla cattedrale, le vie del centro storico di Santiago sono tutte da scoprire, tra negozietti, chiese antiche, botteghe di artigiani e ristoranti tipici.​ Prendete un giorno intero per visitare la città, ne vale la pena.

——

Santiago de Compostela, a city of unexpected beauty. The Cathedral of Santiago is the end of the journey of the pilgrims at the plaza de Obradoiro in front of the baroque facade of the cathedral. Upon our arrival the facade was partly covered in scaffolding because of restoration work in progress, but this has not removed any of the emotion that has overwhelmed us as we arrived. The facade is a wealth of details and symbols that one can get lost for hours to observe it, as do the more tired pilgrims lying on the ground on the square. A curiosity worth of note is that this facade built in 1700 protects the medieval facade damaged by the weather over the years. On the left side of the square, looking at the cathedral, is the Hotel del los reis Catholicos a medieval parador with a stunning facade. The city is very rich in buildings that date back to the year one thousand.

Every day at 12:00 and at 19:30 there is the Mass and blessing of the pilgrims, when you are lucky you can also witness the Benediction of the botafumeiro the largest incense pot in the world that is swung like a pendulum over the heads of the pilgrims. In ancient times this was used to purify the air of the cathedral with strong incense because of the large amount of pilgrims who walked for days without washing facilities. Today it has become a tourist attractions of Santiago, which can be seen in the Mass every Friday at 19:30 or at request by making a donation of 300euro to the cathedral. Even this has become a touristy business. A obliged stop for the pilgrims is at the welcome office of the pilgrims to get the compostela, the document that certifies that the pilgrim has walked the way, to get it you need to walk at least the last 100km (from Sarria) or to cycle at least 200km. We did two and a half hour queue to get the certificate. In addition to the cathedral, the streets of the historic center of Santiago are to be discovered, including shops, ancient churches, artisan shops and restaurants. Take a whole day to do it, it is really worth the time.

Camino de Santiago – Day 14, ultimate day from O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

13 giorni di cammino senza sosta, 24km al giorno completati oggi di fronte alla maestosa facciata della cattedrale di Santiago, un’ emozione indiescrivibile arrivati nella piazza della cattedrale, senza parole, soltanto tante emozioni che possono essere esternate in lacrime di gioia, di felicitá e fierezza di aver raggiunto un traguardo che inizialmente sembrava impossibile. 310km di cammino da Leon a Santiago, tra pianure sotto il sole cocente, salite interminabili tra i boschi delle montagne di Leon per raggiungere O Cebreiro, paesaggi incontaminati abbracciati dalla nebbia mattutina e boschi incantati. Le mucche, le galline, i cavalli, la puzza di sterco che dopo un po di giorni non è piu puzza ma profumo di natura vera. La brina del mattino, il vento che ti sbatte in faccia, la pioggia che ti rende difficile il cammino, lo zaino che diventa sempre piu pesante kilometro dopo kimolmetro, le meravigliose persone che ci hanno accolto, consigliato, che ci hanno accompagnato che hanno condiviso con noi questo viaggio-esperienza unico al mondo. La natura, l’ anima che abbiamo riscoperto, la bellezza di ció che ci circonda, il cibo tipico e il vino di casa, l’architettura medievale, le case rurali, le chiesette di campagna e le stalle. I sentieri, i ruscelli, i fiumi, le montagne , valli e precipizi, la menta selvatica il rosmarino e i fiori di mille colori. I sentieri di terra battuta, di pietra, i percorsi lungo l’asfalto, tra i campi e le pitaggioni di mais. 310km di poesia, 310km che purtroppo sono finiti anche se non ci dispiace sapere di non dovere camminare ancora per ore e di non doversi svegliare prima dell’ alba domani mattina. 310km di vita, di riflessioni, di leggerezza, di risate felici, di sole e di luce di vita che speriamo porti novità positive una volta tornati a casa, nella realtà di tutti i giorni. Il cammino di Santiago è l’Esperienza della vita con la E maiuscola. Preparate lo zaino e partite ovunque voi siate…Y ahora fiesta 🙂


——

A 13-day walk without stops, 24km a day completed today in front of the majestic facade of the cathedral of Santiago the Compostela, an unbelievable emotion once arrived in the cathedral square; no words to describe it, just a lot of emotions that can be expressed in tears of joy, of happiness and pride in having reached a goal that seemed impossible initially. 310km walk from Leon to Santiago, between plains under the scorching sun, endless climbs through forests on the mountains of Leon to reach O Cebreiro, dream landscapes embraced by the morning fog and enchanted forests along the way. Cows, hens, horses, donkeys and  dung stench whose smell after some days is no longer an issue, though the scent of nature. The frost in the morning, the wind that slaps you in the face, the rain that makes walking even more difficult, the backpack that becomes heavier kilometer after kilometer, the wonderful people who welcomed us, recommended us, who accompanied us who shared with us this unique experience. The nature, the soul that we rediscovered, the beauty that surrounds us, the typical food and the house wine, the medieval architecture, the rural homes, country churches and stables. The trails, streams, rivers, mountains, valleys and precipices, wild mint and rosemary, the flowers in many colors. The dirt paths, stone paths along the asphalt, between the fields and the green and yellow corn fields. 310km of poetry, which, unfortunately, we regret are over although we are pleased to know not to have to walk for hours and not having to wake up before dawn tomorrow morning. 310km of life, of reflections, of lightness, of happy laughter, sunshine and light of life that we hope will bring positive changes once back home, in every day life. The Camino de Santiago is the experience of life. Prepare your backpack wherever you are and go … Y ahora fiesta 🙂

Camino de Santiago – Day 13 from Arzúa to O Pedrouzo

Penultima tappa da 20km quasi volando, non sentiamo neanche la strada sotto i piedi passando per boschi di eucalipto e campi di girasole. Non si sentino piú dolori e fatica, e la mente sembra perdersi tra i pensieri e l’esperienza degli ultimi giorni. Santiago si avvicina ed è solo a 20 km di distanza da noi. Vorremmo che il viaggi contnuasse ancr per diverse tappe, ma nello stesso tempo non stiamo nella pelle per provare l’effetto che ci farà arrivare a Santiago. Abbiamo passato un’altra bella serata con gli amici del cammino, questi bei momenti saranno tra quelli che ci rimarranno nel cuore.


——

Penultimate stage of 20km as we are flying, not even feeling the road beneath our feet through eucalyptus forests and sunflower fields. The pain is not there anymore and the mind is like lost through the thoughts and the experiences of the last days. Santiago approaches and is only 20 km away from us. We would like the travel further for several stages, but at the same time we are not in the skin to feel the effect as we will get to Santiago. We spent another wonderful evening with friends of the camino, these good times will remain in our heart.