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Sofia III

Sofia street art. 28 is my answer. This time around I wouldn’t take life so seriously, run a faster marathon and treat my body with more respect.

Surely there can’t exist a better named church? “St Nicholas the Miracle Maker Church”. Russian Orthodox in downtown Sofia. It had some pretty impressive frescoes too, but then show me an Orthodox Church in this part of the world that doesn’t.

If you wanted testament to the ugliness of communist architecture you’d do worse than take time to look around the National Cultural Palace.

In stark contrast, and some 8km out of town lies Boyana Church. Bulgarian Orthodox it’s a tiny building that in 1979 was added to the UNESCO world heritage list. Built and then decorated with astonishing frescoes in the late 10th century it has  a total of 89 religious scenes and 240 human images. Like most other religious destinations on this trip, photography was strictly prohibited. So google images will have to suffice. Take a look it’s definitely worth it. Set in a peaceful garden at the foot of the Vitosha mountains that overlook Sofia it’s a lovely escape from the city. The taxi there took 20 mins and cost 8 BGN (£4.00). The bus and then tram ride back was free if you forget to buy a ticket.

I had learnt yesterday on the free walking tour that Sofia had a Bee Museum. Yup you read right. A bee museum. Intrigued I took the subway 4 stops from the centre and got to meet Peter the bee keeper who has set up a small (emphasis on small) educational centre focusing on bees complete with a colony of over 5,000 bees inside all doing what bees do best. His passion pride and enthusiasm for his job was delightful and quite uplifting. 

Some bee facts -

: Foraging bees gather pollen to feed the larvae and nectar which when transformed into honey feeds the bees.

: Bees were the first animal domesticated by man over 15,000 years ago.

: Because of its incredible sensitivity to toxins the bee is a veritable natural indicator of the environments health

:Scientists estimate the bees annual contribution to world agriculture to be approx 210 billion dollars

: Bees transport pollen by trapping it in their fur covered body and on the silky coat of their abdomen. 

Now you know!

Next time the kids are complaining that their bedroom is too small or the garden isn’t big enough to play in let them have a weekend sleep over at your Bulgarian relatives  place in their communist era apartment block.

One way to prevent hordes of schoolchildren or anyone else for that matter, from uplifting your store goods is to prevent them from entering. There’s plenty of these in Sofia. Ostensibly shop fronts with a serving counter. You gaze in through the window, let the shop owner know what it is you want to buy (and they seemingly stock and serve EVERYTHING) and  they bring it to a small window where once you part with your hard earned cash they hand over the goods. There’s seemingly one of these on every block. Open all hours too. 

Recall those two Danish lads I met on the free walking tour in Skopje? Bumped into them again on the similar walk here in Sofia. Post walk we had lunch and then I bought them a few beers. Amongst many interesting things they had to say about their trip was their daily budget. EUR 5.00 a day. When I asked them how they’d done so far they admonished themselves for being closer to 7 EUR a day but were hopeful Iran and India would bring the average down. Quite extraordinary and well rounded young (21) men. 

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