If you are friends with Girl Meets Bulgaria over on Facebook, you probably saw that I posted about my husband and I’s visit to Sofia this past weekend.
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I’ve held off posting about it because part of me just wants to forget the weekend even happened! Alas, I can’t help but share all the gory details.
This is a bit long… But here we go!
We got up before the sun (which never makes me happy) on Friday morning to make sure we had ample time to make it to Sofia for Saltimbanco (the Cirque du Soleil show). It was cold and snowy, but nothing we didn’t think the car or driver (my cute hubby) couldn’t handle. Vince’s cousin hitched a ride with us to Plovdiv, so we had to stop by the bus station to pick him up before leaving town.
There are two ways in and out of Smolyan. One of them passes through Pamporovo. It’s generally snowy, but the roads are more likely to be plowed so that the tourists staying at the local hotels have access to the ski resort.
Trip Hiccup #1: Right as we were about the enter the main road leading towards Plovdiv after passing through Pamporovo, we came upon a few stopped cars. Vince got out to see what was up and was told by some policemen that they were plowing the road and that we would have to wait. And wait we did! Soon there were about 3o cars behind us and everyone was out of their cars smoking and discussing the delay (such a Bulgarian thing to do!). Eventually traffic started moving and we were on our way.
You may remember me mentioning that I diagnosed myself with sudden-onset narcolepsy (sounds so official, doesn’t it!). I simply cannot stay awake on long car (or plane) rides, so I was fast asleep by Chepelare and didn’t wake up until we exited in Plovdiv to drop Vince’s cousin off.
Trip Hiccup #2: Vince took the wrong exit and we ended up driving around Plovdiv for a bit trying to get back onto the main road. Really, this wasn’t a big deal. The freak-out came after we dropped his cousin off and he ran a red light because he didn’t want to wait the 58 seconds (most Bulgarian cities have handy timers on their traffic lights, so you know exactly how long you have to wait) for the light to change. Cars started honking and driving towards us and I lost my cool. I’m a screamer sometimes, and Vince definitely found out I don’t approve of running red lights!
I don’t mean to dis on my husband in this post (I love you honey!), I am just telling the facts!
We made up over lunch at a roadside McDonalds. Now, I should insert that I very rarely eat at Micky D’s (except their breakfast, which I like). However, this is my second time eating there since I have been ereh, and I have officially formed the opinion that McDonalds in Bulgaria blows McDonalds in America out of the water. Yes, the menus are a little odd (like the Maharaja Mac I ate at McDonalds in India) and the prices are a bit high, but the hamburgers are so much more delicious than in the states! I think it’s the spices, as I saw bits and pieces of them in the meat.
Anywho, my hubby and I were back to being lovey dovey after scarfing down our burgers, fries, and cokes!
We made it to Sofia with plenty of time to find a parking spot, check into our hotel, and laze about for a bit before heading out to find something to eat for dinner.
Trip Hiccup #3: Our hotel was in a nice location (near the hostel where we stayed on our last visit to the city), but we probably have the black lung now thanks to the extreme smell of cigarette smoke in the room. I am the suffer-in-silence type (well, Vince would argue the silent part) and didn’t go asked to have a new room. What is the point of selecting the non-smoking option if hotels don’t honor it? Ugh.
We didn’t feel like putting a lot of thought into dinner so we just walked around for a bit and went into the first pizza place we came to (Pizzeria Roma). It looked like Italy threw up all over inside the restaurant, but the pizza was decent and their “garlic bread” was actually more like a flat bread which reminded me of yummy garlic naan. We finished up dinner with plenty of time to spare to get to the show. Until…. We got back to where our car should have been parked and, well… It was no longer there!
Trip Hiccup #4: Our immediate thought was that it had been stolen. 15+ year old VW Polos are in high demand these day, you know! We had purchased plenty of Blue Zone parking passes and displayed them nicely on the dash, which would have helped had it been a Blue Zone… Yeah. We called the number on the sign and sure enough, it had been towed.
We didn’t think we’d be able to go get the car from the tow yard (which was located out in BFE) and make it to the show on time so we decided to go after. We caught a cab and 20 leva later (yikes), we were at the Arena Armeec.
Saltimbanco was awesome and there were hardly any empty seats in the house. I wasn’t sure Vince would be into it, but he loved it! I definitely want to catch another Cirque show in the future, possibly one of the ones in Las Vegas. It’s hard to believe that human beings can do some of that stuff!
I was able to snap this photo before a burly Bulgarian security guard scolded me!
After the show we trudged through the snow for a few blocks to wait for the tram (tramvai?). It was nearly 11:30 pm by the time it came. Luckily, there was a stop right next to the tow yard. We paid the fees and waited for a police officer to come and explain why the car was towed and to give our documents back. It was well after midnight before we were on our way back to the hotel.
Then came the adventure of looking for a parking spot where we wouldn’t be towed. It was nearly 1am when we finally settled on a spot. It was only us and some ladies who work hard for their money (if you know what I mean) on the quiet and snowy Sofia street.
We slept like babies that night!
Saturday the weather was surprisingly sunny and much warmer than the day before. We went to the Mall of Sofia and met some new friends (hi, Janine!). I really wish we had been able to spend more time in the city, and i was desperate to catch a movie, but we wanted to get home before too late. A quick visit to Subway to grab some lunch for the road, and we were on our way back to Smolyan.
It was nothing but fog, fog, and more fog on the drive home. We were managing fine until about Asenovgrad when it became clear that something was seriously wrong with the car.
Trip Hiccup #4: Even with the brake pedal all the way to the floor, the car would not come to a complete stop. Yep, our brakes were out. We talked about staying the night in Asenovgrad, but because it was the weekend we knew it would be at least another day or two before we could get the car looked at. Spending two + more nights in a hotel when I only packed one outfit and one pair of underwear was not my idea of a relaxing getaway, so we made the decision to take it slowly and try and get home.
With the fog and then eventually the rain and snow (yeah, things just got better and better), it was fine that we were taking it so slowly. We made it all the way home on the snowy and mountainous roads by staying in 2nd gear and using the emergency break. I give major props to my husband for getting us and the car home in one piece.
I need a vacation now to recover from our weekend in Sofia!
I know I’m being a bit of a Debbie Downer and drama queen.
Really, other than these few surprises, we did enjoy getting away. Saltimbanco was worth the trip alone.
I am praying that our next trip to Sofia goes off without a hitch!