Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Free Sofia Tour

After an executive breakfast we headed to the Palace of Justice to meet up with the Free Sofia Tour.

Our guide told us a bit about the building to start with and gave us a little riddle "there's a mistake with one of these two lion statues. What is it?" I couldn't figure it out but Lydia did. The one on the left had both right legs forward, but lions move with alternating legs forward. Lions are a big deal in Bulgaria, and even the currency is the lev which is an old word for lion.


Next was the Holy Sunday Church which communists blew up in an attempt to kill Tsar Boris III. They first assassinated a general knowing that this particular church is where the funeral would be. The communists even sent fake invitations out in order to get more people to come to the ceremony. The king was late to the services and they missed him. Then came the part where they conspirators were all executed. The end.

Tsar Boris III was a stand up guy though, he refused to deport the country's Jews during World War II and the Nazis poisoned him for it. Our guide also told us that Bulgaria was an Axis Power but didn't really fight and tried to stay out of things. Under pressure from Germany they declared pretend war on the US and UK, who didn't get the pretend memo and proceeded to bomb Sofia.

Our hotel was even on the tour, but just to describe Bulgaria's coat of arms.

We kept laughing when we saw these wheelchair ramps in the subway. They look really dangerous.

We were examining some Roman ruins found while digging the metro when the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova showed up to say hello. That's our second tourism minister this trip!

Some of the old lion motifs were clearly done by someone who had never seen a lion.

That little balcony on the upper right there is a suicide balcony, a symbolic addition to bank CEOs offices showing that they'll kill themselves if they mishandle your money. I'm not making this stuff up.

Cool presidential guard guys.

We had a Kinder Egg break back at the hotel.

We swung by the train station again. The lady this time was helpful and nice except when it was time to pay and I whipped out the ol' credit card she frowned and said the machine was broken. I bet. When she said the ATM was "under" the information office we ventured back into the dark, sketchy basement. No dice. I think she must have meant "behind" the office because that's where we finally found the old ATM sporting a confidence inducing Windows XP error message window in the corner. Those darn tickets got bought though, I can tell you that.

We spent considerable effort trudging through the rain finding a restaurant called Manastirska Magernitsa that was supposed to serve authentic Bulgarian food. Well we finally found the place and the menu was really long and unhelpful, staff unfriendly, and the building was really hot. We walked out. First time the whole trip. We had some authentic Bulgarian McDonald's instead.

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