A Tour of Sofia’s Weihnachtsmarkt (German Christmas Market)

Wednesday, December 18 – Sunday, December 22
Vagabonding Days 79-83
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

After travelling by train for two days from Belgrade to Sofia, Daniel and I arrived to our apartment feeling worn down and exhausted. We both had sore throats and I was starting to develop a cough. At first, we thought this was simply due to the polluted air in Niš the previous evening. But when the symptoms persisted, we had to face the fact that we were both getting sick.

As a result, Daniel and I spent a lot of time during our visit to Sofia in the apartment and we didn’t get to see much of the city.

The Weihnachtsmarkt (German Christmas Market)

On the only day that I felt well enough to venture out, I turned off my Netflix holiday movie marathon and we went to the Christmas Market. Known in Sofia as Weihnachtsmarkt, which means Christmas Market in German, the festival has a decidedly German flavor. This market was relatively small in size and very compact, with little wooden huts selling goodies arranged in a circle around a main stage. Daniel and I enjoyed a number of heartfelt musical performances by a succession of various children’s groups while we nibbled on festival food and sipped steaming mulled wine.

Daniel welcomes you to the Weihnachtsmarkt!
The Christmas market bustles with holiday shoppers. Photo by Daniel.
The Christmas tree at the center of it all.
This little girl brought the house with her rendition of a popular Christmas song.
Christmas handicrafts for sale at the market.
Christmas decorations!
Schweitzer Hütte, serving Swiss delicacies. Photo by Daniel.
Such as this ooey gooey raclette! Photo by Daniel.
Waffle sticks dipped in caramel and chocolate and dusted with coconut. Yum!
Smoke shop serving tasty grilled treats.
This food looks divine! I ordered the ribs. Daniel went with the pig ears. Photo by Daniel.
Sipping on some holiday cheer. Photo by Daniel.
The sun sets on the Christmas Market.
The Christmas Market is even more packed at night.
This shop sells Christmas cards with children’s artwork to raise money for charity. Pretty cute stuff 🙂
See ya later Weihnachtsmarkt. It’s been real!

Walking around Sofia

After visiting the Christmas Market, Daniel and I wandered a few blocks away to the Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski, the third largest Orthodox Church in Southeast Europe. Completed in 1912, the cathedral was created to honor the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. We also toured the Saint Sofia Church across the street. With a history dating back to the 4th century, it is the second oldest church in Sofia and has been rebuilt many times. The church was built on the site of an ancient necropolis and an underground museum provides access to view the tombs in the basement.

Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski.
Detail of one of the outside windows on the cathedral. Photos were not allowed inside the building.
Saint Sofia Church.
The eternal flame outside the Saint Sofia Church.
The basement museum under the Saint Sofia Church. Photo by Daniel.
More of the Saint Sofia Church underground museum. Photo by Daniel.
This fresco decorates a tomb under the Saint Sofia Church.
Mosaic floor in the necropolis under the Saint Sofia chapel.
Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski as seen from a distance.
Russian Church “Sveti Nikolay Mirlikiiski”.
Sculpture outside of the National Art Gallery.
Downtown Sofia at sunset.
The streets are paved with yellow bricks. I felt like I had stepped into Oz!
This cat grudgingly allowed me to photograph him.

Our Apartment in Sofia

Thankfully, our apartment in Sofia was amazing so I didn’t really mind being stuck there. In fact, I loved it. We’ve tried to remain budget conscious and have stayed in a variety of accommodations so far that have ranged from adequate to comfortable to slightly yucky.

But no place really felt like home, until Sofia. Maybe it was the piano in the living room, or the Ikea pillows just like the ones in our last house, or the Christmas decorations (did I mention that the apartment had a Christmas tree?). Well, whatever it was, I felt a sense of ease and comfort in the apartment that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It’s hard being away from my family over the holidays but staying in such a homey place made it more bearable.

There’s a Christmas tree in our apartment!
Can you guess which Netflix holiday movie I’m watching?
This is how I spent most of our visit to Sofia – hunkered down in a nest of pillows. Photo by Daniel.
The Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church as seen from the stairwell in our building. Photo by Daniel.

Star Wars Marathon

On the train to Sofia, Daniel and I realized that the latest Star Wars movie was scheduled to premier the following day. We’re huge fans of the Star Wars franchise and make a point to watch each new film at the cinema. So we pulled out our phones and minutes later we had booked tickets for opening night. But these weren’t just any tickets. These tickets were for a 9-hour movie marathon which screened all 3 of the latest films back-to-back. Not a bad way to spend the day, especially considering that we were both sick and barely functional.

The last movie ended at 1:00 am after the mall was completely closed down.

Where are we now?

We are in Sofia, Bulgaria.

2 thoughts

  1. I love your stories. Interesting to see that the tradition of the Christmas market made it from Germany to Bulgaria. We once attended one in Tokyo, which was a very interesting culture clash experience.

    1. Thanks Björn! It’s been fun to tour the various Christmas markets in each we’ve visited this winter. I’d love to see one in Tokyo, that sounds AMAZING ☺️

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