|I arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria today after getting up at the crack to catch an early flight to Milan. In the matter of a few hours, I went from summer to autumn; and from one world to another. Driving into the city from the airport, it looks much like other eastern european cities I've been in; rows of run-down communist era apartment buildings, abandoned factories, piles of junk and garbage in vacant lots, and rather sullen-looking people. I get the feeling they don't see many American tourists here, just from the stares I got walking down the street, but people are pretty friendly.
In contrast to the city I've seen so far, my hotel is a big, ultra-modern place, with actual Roman ruins on the bottom floor. Anywhere else they would have most likely stopped construction on the hotel when they found the ruins, but here, they incorporated the ruins into the hotel. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it. My room is fantastic, esp. after some of the tiny places I've stayed in Portugal. It has a huge king-sized bed, marble bathroom with big shower and a gigantic tub, the only bathtub I have ever been able to completely fit inside. I had to take a bath just to try it out.
I met Lyuba, the guide for the tour tonight and had dinner with her and two co-workers of hers. They took me a very traditional Bulgarian restaurant that served platters of food - tomato, cucumber and goats cheese salad, roasted red peppers, several types of pureed pepper and eggplant dips, fresh bread and skewers of chicken, beef and ground meat. I was completely stuffed and still they brought out plates of food.