When my friend Jen invited me to join her and Shazar for a girls weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria, I of course said yes. I am not sure how they selected it, but I do know Jen was looking to visit some new countries before she moves back to Canada. I took the 15:45 flight on Friday, June 16th arriving into Sofia at 18:55. I grabbed a taxi to the hotel and sat outside enjoying a glass of Bulgarian wine from the Thracian Valley while waiting for the girls to return from their walking tour. It was a beautiful evening so we just spent the night catching up, drinking wine and trying some local specialties including the shopska salad and meatballs with lyutenitsa, a thick relish of tomatoes and peppers.
The next morning, we were up bright and early to join our organized guided tour of the Rila mountains and seven Rila lakes. The weather had taken a turn for the worse overnight and was raining pretty hard. We arrived at the mountain at 10:00 am and it was pouring down hard by this point. I got my umbrella out and bought the first rain jacket I saw (as did Jen and many others). We set out on foot, up the gondola, to the top of the mountain. A few minutes in, 2 people turned back, and then a bit further, a few people more. The visibility was pretty low, wind was fierce, and the rain was blowing at us sideways. We made it to the first lake and decided we would turn back as well. The long rain jackets had kept us fairly dry but our feet were soaked and we didn’t think we really wanted to endure the next 4 hours in this kind of weather. So, a bit disappointed, we turned back and the others continued on. As we were coming around the ridge the rain stopped, the wind slowed, and the sun even started to peak out. We hurriedly grabbed some pictures and then made our way back to have some lunch at the mountainside café. Just as we were finishing up our lunch and finally drying off, the rain came back again. This time was even worse and we got soaked going back down the gondola to the bottom. We ran to the bus and the driver cranked the heat for us. After we finally warmed up, we cracked a Bulgarian beer while waiting for the others to return. They all arrived back safely, and, just as we were about to drive away, another storm blew in, this time with hail included.
Once we got freshened up we set out into the city for dinner. We did a bit of shopping and then made our way to Manastirska Magernitsa. It was pretty busy, but they managed to squeeze us in. We started off with, in my view, one of the most delicious homemade breads I have ever had. They serve it with butter and a salt mixture for dipping and we each had our own baked dish. The night was still young so we decided to try and find a recommended cocktail bar nearby. We weren’t able to find it, but just as we were about to continue on we heard some music and decided to see where it was coming from. We followed the music trail and found a lovely outside bar where we stopped for a delicious cocktail. We stayed for one, but decided to continue on to Culture Beat Club and finished off with some R&B at Switch.
The next morning we decided to enjoy the sauna and steam facilities at the hotel before heading to the airport to make our respective flights back to London and Berlin. Another great time meeting up with Jen and Shazar for the weekend!