On my third day in Sofia, Bulgaria, after my third beer of the day, it suddenly felt like I found myself in the beating pulse of this city. I had probably walked more than 25 miles on Sofia’s city streets and through parks during my brief time in the city.
Then, on Monday afternoon I stepped out of Divaka, a Czech inspired pub on 6-ti Septemvri street and back into the streets of Sofia city center.
Boutique shops, cafes and pubs, bookstores and street vendors caught my eye at 5pm on a busy Monday afternoon. The city seemed pretty cool to me at that moment in a way I had not felt up to that time. I’d found the kind of neighborhood I was looking to hang around somewhere between Lozenets and the Ivan Vazov National Theater.
My day seemed to revolve around rock music.
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” – Jimi Hendrix.
Sofia has some busy roads crisscrossing the city and several places require walking through a tunnel to cross to the other side of the road. I passed through one of these road bypass tunnels with loads of music imagery.
“The Duty of Youth is to Challenge Corruption” – Kurt Cobain.
Seems like no matter where I visit around the world, rock music is our common cultural ground.
All through the day I had been hearing familiar songs in stores and restaurants and pubs. On a long walk through the woods of Sofia I sang songs to myself.
The sound of cars zooming by on the major arteries around Sofia entering the city center assaulted my senses with noise and the smell of exhaust. After a few hours walking the city streets with the general destination of Lozenets neighborhood in my plan, I found myself in the woods. And they were extensive.
I walked for a couple miles in the woods in a large green space near the city center.
Park Borisova Gradina, Sofia
Eventually the sound of cars faded and the sound of joggers, some with dogs, were the main distractions.
Listening to birds and squirrels in the trees was a pleasant alternative to the noise of street traffic so prevalent in central Sofia.
Then the road traffic noise picked up again and I found myself at a road with a pedestrian bridge about 300 meters away. I made the mad dash across the highway when there was a break in traffic.
Eventually I exited the woods into the Lozenets district of Sofia. At the start of the day I looked up “best neighborhood in Sofia” on the web and came across a thread with suggestions for where a couple of American university students should live in Sofia for a year.
I spent about ten minutes talking with a Bulgarian university student in Lozenets. He told me the area is where rich people of Sofia live.
It did not seem like where I was staying at the Ramada Sofia, near the central train station was a part of Sofia where rich people would choose to live.
Funny to think about perceptions of rich, since looking around at the apartments did not correspond to my take on rich coming from Monterey, California. Quite a few multi-million dollar estates in my neck of the California woods. But the Lozenets ‘hood felt like a good environment to me for Sofia. I felt comfortable and relaxed walking around there. Lots of school kids playing on the streets and in the school yards.
Back in the city center I could hear a live reggae beat pulsating the street and hurriedly followed the sound to find myself at the Ivan Vazov National Theater. A rock band was blasting out tunes to a crowd in the city garden park. I had seen locals performing Bulgarian folk dances on Sunday night when I passed through the same space. The dance the night before seemed more like an anyone welcome to join in event. On a Monday afternoon with many people having left their offices and jobs for the day, the crowd for the concert was dancing too to the sounds of the amplified band.
I had a cool day rocking out in Sofia.