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.
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.
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.
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.