CLMN | Exploring Bulgaria: cheap airfare, heavenly food and pub crawls

CLMN | Exploring Bulgaria: cheap airfare, heavenly food and pub crawls

6 december 2017

Sofia was a spontaneous, ultra-cheap one-day trip that my best friend and I planned during our exams. We saw the 15-euro deal (return included!), we booked the tickets, and forgot about it until two days prior to the retreat.

Going 2,000 kilometers away with a small backpack and zero expectations, I anticipated a conventional Eastern European, ex-communist city, but instead found a snowy multicultural, rapidly growing metropolis, with cheap delicious food and friendly English- speaking people.

Somehow Bulgaria has acquired the reputation of being poor and backward. Admittedly, it is not a wealthy country, but it does have a rich culture and it feels refreshingly modern. Trendy cafes line the picturesque streets, offering comfortable couches, luminous Christmas décor, high-quality kafe and free, lightning speed WiFi (rest of the world, please be inspired). It’s almost like the-girl-next-door of countries.

There are these Free Sofia Walking Tours that happen twice a day, every day, and they are the best way to capture the essence of Sofia. The student guides display their city to foreigners with a fresh youthful perspective, all the while practicing their language skills. Along the way, they team their years of experience with their own personal stories.

Free Food Tour

Another way to get a taste of Bulgarian cuisine is to take the Free Food Tour (sense the student way of living theme here?) where they showcase authentic restaurants that I wish I’d had more time to explore. They also give you the opportunity to try classic Bulgarian dishes (also recommended for vegetarians!).

Affordable takeaway food and cozy casual-dining restaurants adorn every street corner. Two must-try dishes are the banitsa, which is a savory pastry, and ayran, which is a cold yogurt drink. And if you’re craving something sweeter, a katma is a pancake with cheese, ham, jelly or chocolate (Anyone up for taking a 15-euro plane ride just for this?).

Pub Crawls

Pub Crawls are legendary here, and unlike in the Netherlands where drinking nights are clustered in the weekends, Sofia’s residents have pub crawls every night of the week. All the bars have their own interesting history, either they’ve been split between siblings down through the generations or they are the remnants of an art university or the remains of some illegal speakeasy, tucked away in an alley. The drinks are cheap and people smoke like chimneys. The drinking culture isn’t a “binge drink, race to get wasted first” type gig, it’s more “enjoy your drinks and last till the early morning” type thing. Whatever your flavor, you’ll never be drinking alone in Sofia.

Nazdrave, do skoro!

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