I feel like, in my honest account of Sofia, I’ve been a bit hard on the town. This was not my intention. But whenever a tourist walks through a city, the town is laid bare: all of the good and bad it has to offer can be seen. The locals simply shrug off the negative (We Seattlites don’t even carry umbrellas anymore, so impervious are we of the rain.), but the tourists? The tourists are harsh critics.
And so, before I cause any more hurt feelings or misunderstandings, I will admit to two things before I get to the heart of this post.
- I ate a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast. This is irrelevant to my day in Sofia, but I feel guilty about it, so I’m owing up to it. It was awesome.
- I had a nice time in downtown Sofia on my own, despite having been seriously freaked out about it..
It helped that I was able to meet up with Rand and some locals for lunch – including one fellow in particular who was incredibly helpful. He needed to catch a bus downtown, so he walked me through the important parts of Sofia, putting things in context for me and telling me where to go. He also let me know that while there were a few places that he wouldn’t advise me to visit alone at night, during the day, within the downtown core, I’d pretty much be fine (the same can be said of most towns I visit.)
He was my savior that day, and gave direction to my wanderings. And, jerk that I am, I can’t remember his name.
So let’s just call him the Batman.
Since Batman was from Bulgaria, and had lived in Sofia a while, he knew the city well. Also, I’m pretty sure the phrase “Batman was from Bulgaria” has never been used before (I checked. It hasn’t been).
My first stop was The Church of St. George, to which the Batman kindly walked me. It’s believed to be the oldest building in Sofia, dating back to the 4th century CE. It’s smack-dab in the middle of a courtyard, surrounded by other buildings (including the Sheraton, which I was told was not as nice as the hotel in which we stayed, but very tourist-friendly). Seeing the ancient building amidst all the newer ones is a bit confusing. It’s the architectural equivalent of seeing Phyllis Diller at a Justin Bieber concert – thoroughly entertaining, and you’ll be glad you saw it, but still … weirdly out-of-place.