August 14th, 15th 2010
From Salonica, stopped at Sofia for two nights. Stayed at one of the best hostels, from my experience, in Europe thus far, Hostel Mostel. It had everything I could want in a hostel. Despite no A/C, it wasn’t that hard to fall asleep as the windows were open. It was cheap (€10!), had really fast internet no matter where you are in the hostel, had a fun-looking and spacious lounge, kittens everywhere outside (the friendlist being one named Mark, not coincidentally, the only one with a name), TV to watch the English Premier League games, free pasta/beer for dinner, free breakfast – Excellent hostel, and I rarely dedicate a section to rave about a hostel.
(Mark acting all sexy)
Nothing exciting in Sofia. Went to check out some churches (including the world’s biggest Orthodox church, which sadly, was almost empty and under renovation inside). Ate some good Bulgarian food (which comprises of a lot of pork).
One of the highlights was when I was on the tram going to the train station. Lonely Planet mentioned buying one tram ticket for yourself and one for your backpack. I did this when I arrived in Sofia but on the way back, I decided it was absurd to buy a ticket (as cheap as it was) for a backpack that would sit on the floor.
A group of lady conductors boarded the tram and demanded to see our tickets. I presented my ticket for myself, and she was asking where my ticket was for my backpack (she spoke Bulgarian but I knew what she meant when she pointed to my pack). I immediately went up to the front, bought a ticket for my backpack, came back and she reluctantly let me go. But the German girls on the tram weren’t so lucky. They acted too slow, in fact, doing nothing but sit there and try to understand what these conductors were demanding from them (basically “Where’s your ticket? And it’s a 10 Leva fine for not having it”). I told the German girls to quickly buy the tickets but they just sat there like deer in headlights, being idiots. A group of Bulgarians jumped in to defend the German girls and a huge argument escalated between the conductors and two women (one young, one elderly). The young one ended up paying the fine for the German girls (who claimed they had not enough Levas left to pay the fine). The older Bulgarian lady got up from her seat and looked like she was going to fight one of the old lady conductors.
(Like a pack of hyenas on a helpless wildebeest)
Goes to show how nice the locals can be, sticking up for clueless tourists. I have to say though, the German girls were partially at fault too but not acting quickly when I told them to.