A Travellerspoint blog

Bulgaria

'Much detail' in Bulgaria...

sunny

We are currently in Sofia, not actually as pretty as Budapest, which was more run down but I (Jane) thought it had more character.

We had a tour in the 'historical centre of town' this morning, that actually was quite interesting. Today in Bulgaria they commemorated the death of John the Baptist. We went to a church of St Stephen (???) which they believe was originally a Roman Temple, then a church, then a mosque, and now a church again! Poor confused building. It's been dated between the 3rd and 4th century AD (or given it's mixed history perhaps we should also include CE just to be sure).

We also saw the first building actually built as a church (I think on Justician's orders (spelling???)), which is in very much the same style as St Stephens, this church was of St Sophia (from where Sofia gets its current name they, obviously, changed the spelling).

Finally, we saw the St Alexander Nevsky basilica (I think it was a basilica). This building was the only one we could go into, (we could go into St Stephens if we wanted to but they were holding a service and Daniel and I thought it was a bit rich to trapse in to do a tourist gawp. The building was not much bigger than our lounge room so it would have been hard to be inconspicuous). Anyway, the Alexander basilica was lovely, it was actually built in the early 20th centry but the wall paintings look much older.

The info in our hotel room said that while Sofia was ruled by the turks the local people were able to build churches, but that they could not be above ground level. They still have one of these churches, which was below groud, but we weren't able to see it.

Our guide here has been a woman called Rania. Very knowledgable, unfortunately she told us so much that few of us actually remember anything. She had great English but tended to shout some of her words over the coaches' sound system. Daniel and I resorted to our IPODS, we could still hear! She promised us 'more detail' of many things, and she certainly delivered.

Between us we can remember that the Thracians came from Bulgaria, they are famous for a particular rose which was brought here from Damascus (this is used as the base for many perfumes), and the culture in their yoghurt, aaah, breeds like rabbits.

The country doesn't seem as poor as Romania, nor really as caught up in commercialism. We're sure they actually are, but fewer of their buildings are smothered with adds for western products.

We've had absolutely no security problems, just a cross-eyed cross toothed gypsy at lunch yesterday. We're off to Kalambaka in Greece tomorrow, I think (I should know!!) that we stop at, or view (cannot interpret this Trafalgar speak) the site of the battle of Thermopalyae (I really should know that spelling) and then in the afternoon we are off to see the rock monasteries at Meteora.

The day after is Delphi, the temperature in Athens was apparently 35 today so we are expecting a wee bit of sunburn.

Overall we haven't really had any difficulties with Eastern Europe, and it's been very interesting to see how proud all our local guides have been of their countries.

The Romanian, Radu, was particularly interesting. He studied at a University in Bucharest which was demolished to make way for the monstrosity of a palace Caecescou built (just read that phonetically, Daniel is the modern history fellow and he can't spell it either). He was very upset speaking of it.

Anyway, as we're hopping on a boat on our second day in Athens we're not sure when we can update this, we'll see how we go.

Posted by janeanddan 05:50 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (4)

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