Istanbul to Sofia: Day 30 Topdeck Mega European Tour

Bulgaria / Topdeck Mega European

This morning we leave the stunning city of Istanbul and start our journey heading back west into Eastern Europe while experiencing yet another side of this continent on the Topdeck Mega European Tour. Today we cross the border into Bulgaria and head for the capital Sofia, the first stop in a series of one night stops through former communist states and over the coming days the now independent nations of the former Yugoslavia member states.


30 May, 2012 – Istanbul to Sofia

This morning we leave Istanbul and head back into the European Union, the frustrating thing however is that we won’t get to go back to using the Euro for a while still as Bulgaria still uses its own currency, and that currency is practically worthless so be careful with how much you withdraw for one night.

We cross the Turkish/Bulgarian border, before hitting the border we had one stop, an opportunity to get rid of any last Turkish Lira we were holding onto as it’s not worth the trouble exchanging. I ended up with quite a lot of Mars Bars for the next few days.

On arrival in Sofia we checked into our hotel, a tall high rise on the outskirts of the city and very basic accommodation. We had a little trouble even opening our door, of course when you go get someone to come and help, they can open it first go (dumb Australian tourists).

We then went into the main city to meet up with our local guide who would for the next hour or so take us around to see the main attractions of Sofia. Normally when talking about these sorts of things you are going to talk it up, but on this occasion I must stress this was the most BORING tour ever, our guide was talking in a mono tone the whole time and it seemed like it dragged on for hours.

None the less our first stop was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which is located in the very centre of what looks like a large round-about, however one side of the circle is used for parking, the other is the actual road. We went inside and had a good look around, by this point it was fair to say most people were over the whole looking at churches. However for the sake of interest sake, the church was built to commemorate the 200,000 Russian soldiers who died fighting for Bulgaria’s “independence” during the Russia – Turkish war in the 19th century.

Not that I have ever been to Russia but walking around Sofia feels like we had landed in Russia from the alphabet used on signs, to the architecture, to the old communist style trams running along the street, a bit of a gloomy place.

Our next stop on our tour is the Presidential Building which was also the former headquarters for the Bulgarian Communist Party. Guards are stationed outside the building and also inside the building, a changing of the guard occurs which we were lucky enough to see.

After seeing the changing of the guard we went inside the courtyard of the building where a 4th century old cathedral is situated. It is quite interesting given the more modern buildings are surrounding it and in comparison this looks like a an old church surrounded by ruins.

After leaving the Presidential Building through a side courtyard entrance we ended our tour in the centre of the city, from here we all split up and had an hour or so to grab something for dinner and be back at the bus if we wanted to be able to get back to the hotel. If we missed the bus it would have been a difficult trek back to where we were staying.

Tonight there wasn’t much going on, most people opted for a quiet night, some opted to cause a ruckus in one of the rooms in the hotel, each to there own. Tomorrow we are back on the bus and head to our first former Yugoslav country, Serbia and the city of Belgrade.

DOWNLOAD: Topdeck Sofia City Guide

NEXT: Sofia to Belgrade: Day 31 Topdeck Mega European Tour

PREVIOUS: Gallipoli to Istanbul: Day 27 – 29 Topdeck Mega European Tour

Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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