Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


Free Sofia Tour in Photos

When my friend K. was visiting us in January, we hoofed it up the hill at my apartment complex and hopped the Metro into the city. It was my first adventure outside the apartment without Vince and it felt really liberating. After hearing about it for a few years, I figured joining the tour was a good idea and a great way to give K. an overview of Sofia’s most well known buildings and attractions. The weather was also unseasonably warm and beautiful for January, so that was a huge bonus as well!

The Free Sofia Tour is a no-cost English-language walking tour of Sofia’s center led by volunteers. Our tour started near the lion statues at the Palace of Justice and wound through the center, past many notable and important sites, before ending at the Parliament building. Our guide (I forget his name) was really nice and knowledgeable; I learned a lot more about the city’s long, interesting, and (at times) tumultuous history.

(hover over photos for titles)
Meeting the Free Sofia Tour in front of Palace of JusticeMeeting the Free Sofia Tour in front of Palace of JusticePalace of JusticeSveta Nedelya Church

Continue reading


Visiting the Vatican Necropolis (Tomb of St. Peter)

Waiting on our tour

Ticket for Vatican Scavi tour

I didn’t know what to expect from this rare behind-the-scenes (or should I say under the scenes) tour of the Vatican Necropolis (known as Scavi), which escorts visitors to the excavations of an ancient Roman cemetery, which was originally constructed next to the circus of Emperor Caligula. Discovered directly below St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1940s, the site was not announced to the public until the early 1960s.

The tour itself is hard to get onto. Most people email the Vatican Scavi office at least 3 months in advance to try to secure a spot on one of the few small group tours that enter the Necropolis each day–total visitors is capped at about 150 per day. I figured I’d email the Vatican and see if anything was available. Sure enough, they emailed me back fairly quickly with the date and time, should we accept (November 19, 11:45 am). That was it. If we wanted to go on the tour, that was our option.

I immediately paid the seemingly steep fee of 13€ for each ticket and patiently waited on my confirmation email, which came just as quickly as the first response (the Scavi office has their crap together).

Continue reading