|A horse and cart as on main street in Blageovgrad.|
We arrived in Sofia and decided to splurge and take a taxi to the hotel since it was late at night and we were exhausted. The taxi cost more than the train ride! Oh well, at $7 I was not complaining. It was better than wandering the streets for a half hour. I always try to arrive in a new city in the daylight. If I arrive in the dark, I would rather be safe and take a taxi. He took us to our hotel and while I was getting us checked in, I heard mom say "Halelluiah! An elevator!" She was excited! Especially when we were told we were on the 4th floor! I think I am killing her with the walking and stairs but she is a trooper.
In the morning I went to explore while mom stayed in the hotel nursing a cold. I walked to the Sofia statue that was erected after the fall of communism in 1990.
A Lenin statue originally stood in this location and was removed and replaced with Sofia. I found several of the Communist sights had been demolished or removed from Sofia.
As I walked along, I came upon the Svetea Nedelya Church. This was in the guidebook as a must see sight. I walked in and noticed a baptism was taking place.
I watched the children playing with their candles and listened to the liturgy. It was beautiful. As I was sitting and watching, I heard a chicken clucking. It was in the church. Huh? I looked around and saw a man handing a box with holes to an older woman.
My next stop was the park near the mineral springs and bath house. The bath house is closed and there is disagreement over the future of the building. It was a beautiful building and I hope they restore it and open it someday.
The Bulgarians were enjoying the sunny fall day. Men were playing chess and children were playing in the park. Around the corner were the mineral springs of Sofia. The city has 42 springs with different water temperatures. Water flows freely in the square.
I walked on towards the old communist party headquarters, the theater and another park.
As I walked, I passed several stands selling books and healthy snacks. One of my favorites was the nut and dried fruit stands. I stopped and bought a cup of mixed fruit and walnuts for $1. Yummy! Why don't we have these at home?
I continued exploring Sofia and walked through a flea market with furry hats, Nazi and Soviet memorabilia. I had no idea what was real and which were fakes but it was interesting.
Down the street, I saw a gold dome shining and surrounded by 6 tour buses. I knew from the description this was Alexander Nevsky Church. The church was a beautiful memorial to the 200,000 Russian soldiers that died fighting for Bulgaria's independence in the Russo-Turkish War. I sat quietly in a corner watching Bulgarians praying and lighting candles. I find myself wondering what type of comfort or for whom they are lighting a candle.
The next morning mom felt better and was ready to travel. We walked to the bus station and boarded the bus to Skopje. Time to explore another country.