Bulgaria, 1997

When Sarah and I arrived in Sophia we decided that we would only spend the day here, so we left our luggage at the Novotel across the road and headed to what looked like the main street. It was hard to tell as the Cyrillic alphabet is used here so street signs and maps are hard to read.

There was a KFC, a Dunkin Donuts and lion statues peering at us through the mist on Garibaldi square. Tram lines criss crossed around cheap local food stalls and police look out boxes on street corners.

Getting lost in the back streets, we found lots of puppies, bleak run down houses and buildings undergoing restoration. The Banya Bashi mosque only had one minaret and the locals were filling their water bottles in the square out the front.

The tiny Church of St Petka of the Saddlers below street level had a crypt which was like a cave inside. While the huge St Nedelya church had pictures of the people who were killed when church was blown up by the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1925 in attempt to assassinate members of the police hierarchy.

After getting freaked out by the communist statues in Yuzhen Park, we went to meet Dan at one of the two Cindy’s Cinnamon Rolls. It was really good to see a friendly face in an unfriendly environment and we were glad that we found him.

It was hard to find a bar, so when we did we stayed until closing time and used up all our money as it is useless outside of the country. We left Dan to get on the night train to Bucharest.

Eastern Europe is very different from everything we have seen thus far. There are no postcards for sale here, but there is a McDonalds.

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