Saturday, January 01, 2000


May 14 - May 24

We came in by train from Greece and spent a few days in Sophia enjoying the attention of our local guides Margarite (sp?) and Roman. From there we headed east to Plovdiv and Valiko Tarnovo by train. We left the country in the early morning hours of the 24th on a Bucharest-bound service.

Day by day:
  • Sun May 14 - arrive in sofia around 23:30, are met by margarite and roman who drive us to a hotel at the university where margarite works, mike turns in directly, jason goes out for a slice of pizza before bed
  • Mon May 15 - up around 08:00, meet margarite at 09:00, have a cup of tea and some pastry that she brought, tour the university a bit, get instructions and a map from margarite and head to the city center, view some churches and such, have a nice al fresco lunch in the bulgarian applebee's, over to shopping mall to look for new shoes for mike, try to go to fine art museum but it is closed, head back to university, stop for a tea and some water and to people watch, back to hotel around 16:00 to have a rest and update blog and such, chinese restaurant for a very big dinner, back to hotel to watch TV and eventually fall asleep
  • Tue May 16 - up at 09:00, shower and shave, small breakfast at cafe below hotel, meet margarite, drive out to national history museum built into an old soviet government residence, view the very interesting collection including the oldest known worked gold, drive over to "the bells" - a monument celebrating the creativity of children, drive up to a village for a swiss-style lunch, have a short walk in the hills, discover that margarite is late for class so return to university, part company around 14:40, head up to hotel to relax, mike has a nap while jason exercises, later in the afternoon mike enjoys some free wireless at a cafe on the campus, meet roman at 21:00 at the hotel, head into town in his car with his friend georgki, stop first for some yummy pizza, then on to a bar where we drink beer and chat and meet another friend called daniella, retire around 01:00 and make a stop at student city for a snack before bed
  • Wed May 17 - up around 10:00, pop down to hotel cafe for a tea, spend some time relaxing and writing, meet margarite and drive into mountains, walk around a bit in the hills near a ski lift, drive back down to town and shop for shoes for mike, score a nice pair and celebrate with some ice cream in "jimmy's" cafe in a shady square, margarite drops us off back at the university, mike pops out for a bit of wireless, go out together to get some eats - stay close as it is raining, have some chicken and chips, on the way home hear a bit of noise and stop into a cafe to watch the champions league final over beers, retire to sleep
  • Thu May 18 - up around 09:00, have breakfast in hotel cafe, wait around a bit for daniella, she arrives with andre in tow, we all head out by car for rila monastary, stop on the way to climb a hill and view the strange landform called "pyramids", carry on to the monastary, have a very nice bulgarian lunch, view the monastary itself, return by car by way of the hills near sofia, rest in the hotel, meet roman at ten and drive to local ice rink for hip hop show, roman splits around 3, the OC stays on until about 5, walk back and miraculously find hotel, sleep
  • Fri May 19 - up around 09:00, check out of hotel, meet margarite at 10:30, accept some cool gifts and drive on to train station, get tickets and say goodbye, board train and leave around 13:40, arrive around 17:00 after a stinky journey, check into hotel leipzig, have a nap, out for dinner outside of an old bunker, back to hotel to sleep
  • Sat May 20 - one year without a job, crazy, catch hotel breakfast just in time (09:45), head out to city centre, watch a little bit of a youth basketball meeting, drop into internet cafe for 1.5 hours, get lunch and some big beers al fresco, walk through the old city across the river, meet an old guy who gets accosted by the police, back across river and up pedestrian mall, stop at another bar/cafe to upload a few things using their wifi, return to hotel to chill, out for a simple dinner and a bit of a bar hop, no great shakes and return pretty early
  • Sun May 21 - up around 11:00, pack and check out, walk down to bus station but find that service we wants leaves from elsewhere, walk over to train station and get tickets for the rail instead, have some toasted sandwiches in cafe and wait on platform for the train, five or more hour ride in slightly sweaty cabin to veliko taranovo, arrive and immediately get accosted by touts, accept a ride from one of them to a cheap (but nice) hotel, check in, dinner at restaurant just in front of hotel, back to room to retire early
  • Mon May 22 - up at 08:30, take in laundry, buy tickets to bucharest, hearty breakfast al fresco at cafe, walk up hill to get a view of town, back down to city for a frape and some water, drop by hotel for a few minutes, walk down to house museum and view some folk articles and photos from the last 150 years or so, walk past a large church, then back up, meet some locals hanging at a cafe and have a few beers and conversation with them, try to find stickers and overalls in a few shops to no avail, pick up laundry and return to hotel to chill, nap a bit, head out to supper at the same joint as last night, then across the road to pepy's bar, have a few quiet ones there before moving to club scream, have a dance but vacate when the disco starts, run to bally's and continue to groove, stay until the joint starts to empty out, have a late dinner / early breakfast at mustang food (where we had breakfast yesterday) before turning in around 5
  • Tue May 23 - up at 10:30 and check out of hotel but leave bags, have lunch with a view, walk over to ruined citadel and hike around it in the surprisingly intense heat, stop for an ice cream and a juice in the cafe, spend some time in internet cafe, try to catch a film but are too late, hang out in cafe near city square a bit, walk up to different cafe and hang there, out for a pizza on small remaining funds, back to hotel to collect bags and take a taxi to train station, wait there for about two hours before boarding the train to bucharest a bit after midnight

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