As I walk into the bar in Sofia I hear hello Irishman. I say I am sorry I don’t remember you. Where did we meet? We never met he said. You look Irish. I think have my 4 years laying on the beaches of Gran Canaria counted for nothing.
I am not sure if it a good or bad thing but us Irish have a look. I can also tell another Irish person when I am abroad before they speak. I don’t think we would make good spies. We would never get past passport control.
The guy in the bar happened to be the owner. Bizzarly he tells me he supports the Irish football team Limerick F.C. While I admire the people who play and support the League of Ireland soccer competition it is not well supported even in Ireland. The top 2 teams may get crowds of 5,000 but if you are down in the bottom 2 where Limerick are this year the crowds are minimal. It might not be a good idea to say anything bad to the team as they might outnumber the supporters. I tell him Limerick and my own team Cork are playing in the All Hurling championship semi-final next Sunday and up to 80,000 people will attend the game. He looks confused. Its all about Limerick soccer club.
Summer is probably the best time to get to see other places in Bulgaria. If the winter is hard Bulgaria might not be as accessible or inviting. I decided to take a day trip to Bulgaria’s 2nd city and one of Europes oldest cities Plovdiv.
I heading down to Sofias Central station. I know the bus is the fastest option but I have always loved trains so I opt for Bulgarian state railways. After a bit of a challenge, I got my return ticket. Not everyone speaks English so I had to go to 3 windows before I was understood. Also Bulgarian is written in Cyrillic so figuring out where the train is going from takes a bit more asking people.
My ticket cost 14.40 Lev. That is 7.36 euro. Return. That is 7.36 euro for a 300km return journey. I think I will be travelling a lot in Bulgaria.
I had heard some bad things about Bulgarian state railways. They are dirty. They are slow. No one really uses them. To my surprise the train from Sofia was full. As it happens there was a big rock concert in Plovdiv. The rock band Iron maiden was in town and Judas Priest were there the night before. The strangely named fast train made its way slowly to Plovdiv. At least it was better than the return journey. The train took about 3 hours to do 150km. The window was stuck and with no air conditioning, we all melted in the 35c heat. I actually by mistake sat in first class. You are in the wrong class the lady conductor said. You need pay another 3 lev. I said this is not first class. This is hell as I pointed to the stuck window. This is Bulgaria she replied. I understood and handed over another 3 lev.
I really liked Plovdiv. The centre is really attractive and well worth a visit if you are travelling through Bulgaria. There are some really cool and unique looking bars restaurants and coffee shops. If you are thinking about going to Plovdiv it seems even cheaper then Sofia. I had a coffee. A beer and something to eat when I was in the town and all were extremely cheap. The city has played hosts to many of the worlds great civilisations.
The Roman stadium right on the main street is one of the largest and best-preserved buildings from ancient Rome. It was built in 2nd century AD. Today the ancient theatre is still in use. It has been adapted and is used for plays and concerts with a capacity of a few thousand.
It gets hot in Bulgaria during July and August. Yesterday I nearly got into trouble as I walked around Plovdiv. I had lived in Gran Canaria and am used to the sun but yesterday was 34c and a humid 34c. I did not realise how hot it was and had to sit down for over an hour on a street bench. Be careful.
Things I notice in Bulgaria
Bulgarians seem to drink beer as they walk on the street. I have not seen any trouble because of this so I don’t see a problem with it.
The parks are full of people mostly young people during the weekends. Having a beer. Chatting and basically chilling out.
I was in a bar and people who were smoking outside came in and smoked inside at 10 pm. I was told it was because they would be trouble if they smoked outside after 10 pm. I miss that kind of old ways Irish logic. We don’t have it much anymore.
The Wifi is very good in Sofia. There is even free Wifi in the centre.
A bit of a mouthful but another forgotten Irish person that made their mark abroad. He was also known as Pierce O’Mahony and the O’Mahony of Kerry and was an Irish Nationist protestant politician. He was elected unopposed for North Meath as a supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell After the split of the Irish Parliamentary party he lost his seat to his former party colleague Micheal Davitt. Both Parnell and Davitt are probably two of the most important people in Irish history.
I feel Davitt’s role in Irish history has never been properly acknowledged. His struggle for the right for Irish people to have proper land rights in their own country I feel has been understated.
Anyway, Charles O’Mahony would be famous alone for just knowing Parnell and Davitt. After an uncle died he inherited enough money to allow him to pay the bills and live comfortable.
When travelling through Bulgaria he witnessed the plight of orphan children. These children had lost their parents during the Turkish massacre that followed a Bulgarian uprising in 1903. In 1904 he opened Saint Patricks Orphanage in Sofia which became a lifetime cause.
When he was in Bulgaria he joined the Bulgarian Orthodox church. Later on, when a Protestant rector said he must choose between the Protestant and Orthodox churches he decided to become a Catholic. He also supported Jim Larkin and the workers during the Dublin lockout in 1913. Sounds like a man I would have liked.
In 2004 a Square in Sofia was called after Pierce O’Mahony.
I have counted. There are 104 steps to my apartment on the 7th floor. That is 208 steps for a return journey. In a way, I might be losing weight by going for a beer.
Ok a new bar on my bars of Bulgaria list.
Kanaal craft beer bar. Madrid 2 1505 Oborishte Sofia.
Nice bar about 2.5km from the city centre. Great selection of many beers from around the world. I had a nice German draft larger for 4 lev or 2 euro. There is also a nice small beer garden in the back. The area seems to be a more upmarket area as there are many expensive looking restaurants nearby.
I liked the bar but I am not sure I would walk the 45 minutes to go there again. There is a tram that goes there. If I was in the area I would pop in there again.
As I am very new to the Blogging world I am looking at other bloggers. There are some very good travel blogs out there. Another blog I have enjoyed reading is the Roaming Renegades. They are a couple that gave up their 9-5 job 10 years ago to travel the world. An interesting read.
I have received some very nice feedback on the blog and I really appreciate that. If you have any questions please let me know and I will be very happy to answer them.
I have also gone into the movie business. I am going to do short videos on my Sofia or Bust youtube channel. These will be a brief look at the areas in Sofia I find interesting. I am no movie director so bear with me. In this video, I am taking a looking at the area of Sofia where the communist party ruled during Bulgaria’s communist period. To view click here.
Join me on my journey.
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