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Sofia II

St Alexander Nevski Cathedral . Can’t really fault the religious architecture in this part of the world. Especially at sunset on a stunningly beautiful autumns day.

I was lucky enough this morning to discover a coffee bar that produced the best coffee outside of Australia. Having grown up in Papua New Guinea which itself produces some of the best coffee beans in the world I feel qualified to pass judgement on such matters.

If you ever find yourself in this part of the world you could do a whole lot worse than pop into Fabrika Daga on ul Veslets (no.10). The coffee was so good I had two!

A coffee, OJ and Banitsa for £4.20. A Banitsa being a piece of pastry deliciousness which is basically a Bulgarian version of omelette filled with feta-like white cheese. TO DIE FOR. If you have a sweet tooth try it with walnuts or apple.

A Martenista hangs from a Sofia tree. Tradition has it that on March 1 you tie one of these cotton or woollen pieces of yarn around the wrist of those family and friends you see on the day, wishing them goodwill for the year ahead. The recipient then wears the adornment until they see the first stork, swallow or blossoming tree of the spring. They then take the yarn from their wrist and tie it to the branch of the tree in bloom. There you go - now you know. Things you learn on yet another free walking tour.

If you think things are tough try selling home made posies of flowers to a hurried and unappreciative audience of commuters. Bless.

Passing an optometrists office I saw this through the grill of their window. I find it hard enough in English from 6 ft. Want to try it in Cyrillic?

Sofia is famous for its one legged soldiers who guard the Presidential Palace.

Ceiling art work in Sofia’s only Mosque.

Once the public bathing house of Sofia the building now houses the National History Museum.

Saint Sophia. Devoted to Christianity she holds a wreath , owl and is adorned with a crown. All Pagan symbols as an illustration of her fight to remain a Christian. Another snippet of information from the free

walking tour. Now you really know.

Bulevard Vitosha ...almost a kilometre long this pedestrian way with the Bulgarian Alps as a backdrop is home to a huge amount of restaurants, bars and is basically the epicentre of social life in Sofia. Just not at 8.27 am on a chilly Autumn’s Friday morning.

Most interesting fact learnt on the day -

There were 50,000 Jewish residents in Bulgaria at the outset of WWII. Bulgaria is rightfully proud that through its ingenuity there were still 50,000 of them at the conclusion of the war. Today there’s approximately 5,000 residing in the country. Where have they all gone? Israel.

In a nation that prides itself on religious tolerance there is within an area of approximately 400 sq meters a mosque , synagogue , Orthodox Church and Christian Cathedral. The irony doesn’t pass you by. Especially as the mosque and synagogue basically face each other across 2 blocks of the city separated only by a food market.

OK another interesting fact - there’s plenty who still hanker for a return to Communism believing their quality of life was and would be better than that they currently endure under the banner of democracy.

Last interesting fact - there was an assassination attempt in 1925 on the reigning Tsar of the times. It was hoped he’d be at the funeral of a famous General who had been assisianted the week beforehand. The funeral being held in the most famous church in Sofia - St Nedelya. Small problem was that the Tsar was attending another funeral earlier in the day elsewhere and was running late for this one. His tardy time keeping saved his life as the explosives packed into the roof of the church detonated before he arrived.

Legend goes this explains why all Bulgarians today take being late to anything as a good thing.

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