Before we get too far, let me give you a heads-up: the capital of Bulgaria is the city of Sofia (SO-f’ya). There is a girl’s name that sounds similar, but she’s Sofia (So-FEE-ya). Both are mentioned in A Breeze in Bulgaria, and the pronunciation difference as well, but I thought a short refresher might be good. Both the city Sofia and a woman named Sofia are also in my friend Ellis Shuman’s book, Valley of Thracians.
Speaking of Ellis, and speaking of Sofia, here we have a connection. Everything, you will recall, depends on connections. Ellis recently wrote an article about the capital city, “Exploring Sofia, Bulgaria for Less than $25.” It’s an excellent guide to a fascinating city. His experiences living in Sofia for two years gave him not only the background for his exciting novel but also the makings of a concise travel guide for the Sofia-bound traveler. He covers insider taxi information, the tourist attractions of most interest to visitors, restaurants featuring local specialties as well as meals offering comfort to western tastes, nightlife, and places to stay — all on the cheap.
Ellis’ article is well-researched and up-to-date, which tells me prices have gone up a lot since Stormy and I were in Bulgaria for our U.S. Peace Corps assignment. Still, compared with most of the rest of Europe, and compared with living and traveling in the USA, Bulgaria is a travel bargain. Its people are welcoming, curious, involved, friendly, and real. Reading books and articles about the place is interesting enough (and why yes, I do have a recommendation or two), but it’s quite another thing to get up and go. You have to be there to really know what a wonderful place it is.