Sofia, BULGARIA 2002
From May 9 till June 6, 2002
I had a cheap charter flight from Brussels to Varna with Jetair for 271.17 Euro only, incl. airport tax of 25.67 Euro. The luggage is limited to 15 kg + hand luggage. As for a charter flight a hotel should be mentioned on your hotel voucher I saw that I should stay at Hotel Jantra in Veliko Turnovo. I know this place and it is closed down for more than one year ago. The website for Jetair is www.jetair.be
For members of EU, no visa is required if you stay less than 30 days. But you get a stamp in your passport when checking in and out. As I made this trip partially private and business, I was accommodated with a friend and I had a flat in Sofia.
Important : If you stay in a hotel, you will be registered with immigration (police). Insist they give you the declarations. On my last trip to Bulgaria, I had no problem showing this declarations of accommodations. But this time leaving the country I got big trouble with the customs to prove where I had accommodation in the country. I had to register within 48 hours to the police station as I had a private flat. I said that I didn’t know and after a long discussion in which they asked me to show my money (to bribe) they let me go. But they got nothing!
Public transport :
As I went to the airport of Brussels on rail, I bought a rail pass in Belgium (58 Euro for 10 trips) as this is 50% cheaper than the normal price. Once you are in Bulgaria, long distance buses are very cheap. Take u bus for .80 leva from the airport of Varna to the Avtogara. From Varna, rest in Veliko Turnovo, to Sofia it takes six hours with the bus and the fare is 17 BGL (one leva is about 0.50 Euro). The bus leaves Varna at 9 am, 13 and 16.30 pm and at 0.30 midnight. All information is on www.rolli.bg/biomet or on www.rolli-new.com/nes/biomet/english.htm The ticket from Veliko Turnovo to Varna costs 9 BGL. In Sofia, you can go to “Group Bus Station” (parking Metropolitan Customs Administration – tel. 02/32.21.50 or 931-16-31). There are several companies who start from there to all directions in Bulgaria and further. In Varna, go to the busstation (tel. 052/44.04.04). From there it moves to all directions. When I came back from Sofia to Veliko Turnovo and some days on to Varna, I took a bus with Etap and to my satisfaction. They have comfortable buses and offices all over the country (Varna 052/604.674and Sofia 931.04.94) and they go also to Istambul. In Sofia, buy a ticket at one of the many stalls for 0.40 leva and take a ride one a line (tram, trollet or bus). You should use another ticket when changing a line and perforate this ticket as you get on the bus. Controls are frequent by un-uniformed people who show you their ID-card. From the southern Sofia bus station, Obtse Kupel, I took bus 107 to Boyana, at the foot of the famous Vitosha mountain and walked up through the Waterfall (vodopada) to the Momina Skala hut where you can eat and drink. You walk steeply through a lush wood on well maintained paths. Dora Marinova will be glad to guide you, even through other parts of Bulgaria. Contact her on email@example.com For the Vitosha mountain national park look at www.park-vitosha.org
At 10.20 am there is a bus to Rila Monatery, laeving the Ovtche Kupel bus station. It is possible to overnight in the monastery, prices : 10-15 $ pp/night. There was a bus back at 17.10 pm, but only till Doubnitsa. From there I had to share a taxi with other cleaned out people. There is a good restaurant opposite the monastery and they have excellent tap beers. For 7 bgl I took a bus return to Kiustendil, worth a daytrip while in Sofia. It has a pleasant alley with shady trees under which many terraces are installed. The is a bus from and to this place each half hour. Another trip was taking bus 107 to Boyana (stop at Boyana Hanche), then 64 to Dragalevtsi and hiking steeply up 1035 metres in 2 ½ hours to the Aleko-hut and coming back admiring breathtaking panorama’s above Bistritsa from an alpine prairy. At the right corner at the village’s place, there is a famous pizza restaurant. A taxi in Sofia may not cost more than 3 BGL. The bus from Sofia to Veliko Turnovo cost 9 BGL and from V.T. to Varna also 9 BGL.
International : ATT (tel. 02/312102 – www.skgt-bg.com ) leaves Sofia at 10, 13, 18 and 20 hours each day to Istanbul for 45 BGL. It takes twelve hours! VOW goes with a bus from Vienna to Sofia for 110 BGL, from Budapest to Sofia for 100 BGL and from Brussels to Sofia for 180 BLG (tel. 02/9311924 and in Holland 00-31-650884384).
Evrotours wants 200BGL for the trip Brussels – Veliko Turnovo. You can visit them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is possible to find accommodation at www.sofia.com
On this site you will find eg Hotel Dimitrova. They want for two persons 9-18$, incl. breakfast. If you want a private flat, it is possible to contact email@example.com but it is a bit expensive. While I was in Sofia, I got a room with attached bathroom and terrace for 10 Euro/day for a term of one month. I could enjoy the spacious livingroom, terrace overlooking the Vitoschi mountain and TV of Alexander Gerov, Bul. Obtcha Kupel 47 in 1618 Sofia – tel. 02/5659071 or 561124 or mobile 088/749754. He is a kind man and wants also take you out with his car. I can recommend very much the Boyankso Hanche in Boyana, an excellent restaurant with authentic Bulgarian folk program and live music and fire-dancing. Opposite is “Smile” restaurant, not bad neither. From 2 till 16 June there was a beer festival for the fans. Half a litre cost 0.50 euro only and a meal can be very cheap.
Documentation – maps – books :
Geocart has a good map about Bulgaria. But the best maps, both of Sofia and the country are made by Datamap (tel. 359-2-9515450 or on http://maxinfo.dir.bg In their office on Shandar Petyofi Str. 22, they also sell hiking maps from all over the country. These maps are also sold elsewhere. I bought also a map of Bulgarian monasteries with descriptions. In Sofia, I got the free Sofia city guide, who is also online www.sofiacityguide.com
Maldegem, 17 June 2002-06-17
Copyright Erik Trenson