Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Isle of Man
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You seriously would not want to take a 6 metre panel van into the centre. Lots of narrow streets, manic traffic, signs in Cyrillic, trams to contend with. I would want to park in a secure park as well.
Bulgarian insurers do not cover anything not bolted down and insist all cars are fitted with alarms and immobilisers and that you use them.
Lots of nice sightseeing in a small center, walkable on foot.
Nice museums and galleries
The Cathedral, the Russian Church, the old market, the mosque and synagogue and bath house. If you can catch an opera its cheap and very good and has English super titles, beautiful theatre. The national theatre is pretty but as it will all be Bulgarian you may struggle with a performance. Standards are very high for culture.
Try Vitosha and the Gondola for walks on the mountain in summer and skiing in winter
Shopping not so good, forget the old Communist department store it is half empty and pricey.
Sofia is not cheap, any more. he park at the rear of the Grand Hotel and the Modern Art gallery, with the National Theatre to one side, is nice and has good cafes and cakes.
Plenty of sleaze and sex clubs and bouncers who are packing a pistol, literally.
I have visited 6 times in last 3 years and when on business and being collected by the drivers to go to offices of oligarchs they are all the same, clean shaven, cropped hair and designer stubble, chiseled cheek bones, shades, Armani suits and white T's and the bulge! The car doors, all high end BMW's and Mercs, all have doors that shut with a very satisfying thud and glass that is 1/2 inch thick.
I love the place and some of the chauffeurs/bodyguards are very sexy, but I would not trust them, certainly not flirt and definitely not try to make provocative eye contact.
Most frightened I have ever been was whilst driving myself to Varna on motorway and a flash Italian car raced past and I pulled out to overtake in his wake and got between playboy and his heavies in the 4 x 4's behind. They were right on my tail, flashing lights, hand on horn and trying to push me off the road. I had got between them and whoever it was they were guarding.
Lots of really charming and honest ordinary people, don't get me wrong.