A Lazy Morning in Sofia

I was a bit annoyed that I woke up around seven this morning, but then realised I actually felt rested. Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity! I still managed to doze till about 8:30 and then lazed in bed with the iPad till about 9:30. 🙂

When I finally got up, it was to finish off a small job due tonight so that I wouldn’t have to work when I got home (I might, though…). I dressed, packed, and checked out around 10:30.

By this point, I was famished, but marveling that I really don’t get that “coffee, NOW” feeling that so many people do. I could have quickly gone down the block for a Starbucks before work, but I was perfectly fine waiting.

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There are lots of these basement shops in Sofia, where you have to bend down to speak to the shop attendant. There are also lots of tiny kiosks with a price list out front where you have to ask for what you want.

I made my way down Vitosha Boulevard to Makis for a sandwich and a cappuccino, doing the entire transaction in Bulgarian. It was amazing to hear a bunch of bla bla bla and have meaningful words emerge from part of it, “za tuk,” and be able to reply without hesitation, “Za tuk!” She was asking me eat in or takeaway and I replied the former. My sandwich was really yummy, loaded with ham, cheese, and their “Makis sauce” that I could eat by the gallon (I think it’s a tomato chutney).

By the time I was done with breakfast, it was 11:18. I thought of going to the history of Sofia museum, then realised I simply didn’t have time. I was still a good 15 minutes from the bus station on foot and I wanted to pop into Billa for some peanut butter and bacon before catching the 12:30 bus to Ribaritsa that would drop me just outside the village.

Billa had Gala apples! This time, I knew that I had to weigh my produce before going to the till. I made a note of the word for apple (which, as it turns out is very similar sounding to Yablanitsa — yabŭlka — I sense a correlation), then went to the weighing machine. Like at Kaufland, it’s only in Cyrillic, but unlike at Kaufland, it did not have pictures. The first screen had two words, one of which I recognised as being “vegetables.” So I assumed the other one would be fruit. Clicked on that and got a menu of words, enough of which I recognised to know I was indeed in the fruit section. I spotted yabŭlka and clicked on it. A label spit out, which I examined and was surprised to see said Gala. I guess they only stock one variety? My four apples were the price of one in Canada, but, to be fair, they were a bit smaller…

I found peanut butter, bacon, and, finally, baking soda. I cannot believe how hard that has been to find! People have seemed to know what I was asking for (I tried “bread soda,” per a couple of dictionaries, and “bicarbonate soda”), but no one seemed to stock it. I tried the spice shelf at Billa (yes, shelf, singular) and was rewarded with this:

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At last!

The cashier was not happy with me as I paid with a 50BGN note. I got my car deposit back in 50s and it was only this morning as I dozed that I realised that is going to be a major problem, like trying to pass 500-peso notes in Mexico. I got rid of two at the Plovdiv bus station and the hotel, but I knew the rest aren’t going to be easy. What I understood with my transaction with the cashier is if I have even change, then I’ll have better luck. That is, my total today was 10.57BGN and by giving her 50.57BGN, she only had to give me two 20BGN notes. I feel stupid for not having paid my 30BGN dinner tab last night with a 50. The clerk at the hotel this morning said that I should be able to get the bills changed at a bank, but banks aren’t open on Saturdays. Should have done it in Plovdiv yesterday, dang!

Since I had so few things, I thought I’d be able to fit them all in my bag, but to no avail. So my peanut butter was carried in plain sight, identifying me as a North American! 😀

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I got to the bus station around 12:15 (the lineup at Billa was looooong) and by the time I managed to convert a 2BGN note into coins so I could get into the bathroom, it was 12:20. I couldn’t believe I was about to miss my bus! Thankfully, since I knew where to go, I made it at the last second. This bus attendant understood when I said I was going to Malak Izvor, so I didn’t have to do the point to the map and say “on foot to Malak Izvor.” Linguistic tip: learn the shortest, not necessarily best or perfect, way to convey your thoughts! 🙂

It was a long and jerky ride, so I was very glad to arrive at the turnoff around 2:30. It was then a hot, but fairly quick walk into the village. I’m not sure exactly what time I got in, but it was about 2:50, which sounds right considering I’d walked 2KM.

It’s been a great week and a half of touring Bulgaria, but it’s time to get back to my normal routine and crack down on making some real money before I leave in just a few short weeks!

3 thoughts on “A Lazy Morning in Sofia

  1. It sure is nice to have a good handle on languages. Being fluent in both of Canadas languages helps to understand a lot of the nuances in germanic and latin languages. But to understand cyrillic languages goes beyond that. You have a gift.

    Peanut butter and bacon… Yes!

    • You would be surprised by how much Bulgarian sounds like French and/or English!

      Bira=beer
      Hotel=hotel
      Takski=taxi
      Etag=étage (floor, as in a building)
      Nivo=niveau (level)
      Kafe=café (coffee)
      Giletka=gilet (vest)
      Myalko=milk
      Supa=soup
      Burger=burger
      Pitsa=pizza
      Restorant=restaurant
      Magazin=magasin (store)
      Supermarket=supermarket

      Etc. etc. Once you get passed the Cyrillic alphabet, which is not hard to learn at all, Bulgarian becomes a lot more accessible because there are so many words you can recognise. In the above pick, it says, “Soda bikarbonat.” Not hard to extrapolate sodium bicarbonate from that!

      I have eaten more peanut butter since I got here than in the last four years combined, I think. LOL

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