This is what Philippopolis should look like (below)… but it’s currently full of modern concert equipment, chairs, tents and shit – so I didn’t bother taking photos. I can’t decide if it’s depressing or fabulous that they are using this ancient monument to have concerts still. I wonder what the impact is on modern speakers and the vibrations from the amplifications.
This walking tour stuff after a full day of being in the bus (and well, lost in the bloody bus!) is exhausting. Chilling in cafes with a cider and people watching is Turing into a favourite way to kill half an hour. After this we left Plovdiv for Sofia… where this portion of the tour joins into a much larger group of people with a new guide and a new driver (thank fuck!!!).
Oh look… on the way out of Plovdiv, a city our driver allegedly has family in, our useful-as-tits-on-a-bull driver takes us off the A1 highway and straight into the boonies where we start pulling over again and this time consulting old paper maps. Hello? Do you want my phone? It has google maps…No? Let’s just harass the local police for directions… I honestly can’t roll my eyes any harder at this stage. Seriously, us girls could have taken over the driving and the navigation and we would have saved hours. Eventually we end up in Sofia and check into our hotel, which was rather swanky, before setting out on a short bus tour in Sofia. This fabulous Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral… it’s really gorgeous inside, but very dark and no photography is allowed. It’s probably a site that needs a lot of restoration. It’s build in a Neo-Byzantine style and serves as the main cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria. It is one of the 50 largest Christian church buildings in the world (by like square volumes of air or something0. It can hold about 5000 people inside and is the largest cathedral in all of the Balkans. It’s relatively ‘new’, with construction having starte din 1882 and the church being consecrated in 1924. Beautiful gold mosaics above every doorway.… and fine carving int eh stonework is really cool. This is not a photo taken inside the church you are not allowed to take photos in. >.>One thing I do love about Europe is the wonderful way they cover buildings under scaffolding so they don’t’ completely destroy the cityscape. You see buildings all over and (while this one is quite garish) you occasionally have to do a double take to realise that it’s a big cover over the facade of the building which is under restoration. The lion is a famous symbol of Bulgaria which is weird seeing they never had lions here, and the various artist’s representations of them make it pretty clear the artist has never seen one… this large bronze is a bout 3m long and he guards a tomb of an Unknown Soldier.
Saint Sofia Catholic Church – the oldest church in Sofia, it dates back to the 4th century. The building (some parts of which remains were where the Council of Serdica was held in 343AD and was attended by 316 bishops. In the 14th century the church gave its name to the city which was previously known as Serdika.
The photos don’t do the amazing stone work in the vaulted ceiling justice at all!There was a service being held when we were here – a memorial of sorts for someone whose funeral has already happened – so we were trying to stay in the wings and be unobtrusive.
After this, the youngin’s felt somewhat churched out and wanted a quick bite before we had to head back to the hotel and meet our new guide for the ongoing trip through the Balkans… I can’t believe we were in Sofia and they all wanted to go for McDonalds. But there we were!Looks just like every McDonalds ever – from about 20 years ago.Ordering was a little tricky though… I haven’t had McDonalds in years. It used to be a frequent travel stop – because we knew it would have clean (and usually free!) bathrooms, now it seems the crew wanted to hang out here for the free wifi. Which makes sense, most of them don’t have roaming data.
Then on our way back to the hotel, someone asked Georgi if he could take us to a souvenir shop so they could buy some little presents – and wouldn’t you know it, the only place he could think of was a fucking newsagent/tabac stand in a train station which was down three flights of stairs. Never mind, my feet just aren’t having it after two city tours today, so I stayed above ground with this famous statue of Saint Sofia. Then back to the hotel to meet the people who are going to be on the rest of our trip. The ill fated crew from the positively disastrous Travel Talk tour through Transylvania and Romania in July 2022… Shauna (IRE), Josh (USA), Holly (AUS), Sarah (USA), Stacey (AUS), Ginger (CHN), Robyn (AUS), Robyn (AUS), & Angus (AUS)