So, we began the day in our one air conditioned room with a nice, quiet breakfast, planning the day ahead. The plan was to show Mark’s mom the city sights in Sofia. (She will heretofore be known as “Linda”. Ok,ok who am I fooling? That’s her real name. She said I could use it as long as I didn’t say evil things about her. And I know you people out there reading this who know her are laughing right about now, because it is impossible to think of evil things to say about her. “She washes our dishes”. “She hangs our laundry”. “She never whines or complains” Evil, wicked woman!)

Anyways, I planned a good path that would take us in a giant loop and we set out on it a little after noon. Also known as high noon in American Westerns. High noon was no joke. It was about 100 degrees with like 1,000 percent humidity. No really, 1,000. I’m totally not exaggerating. But we persevered. Personally, I just pretended I was in the Arctic and imagined freezing snow all around me, and that the wetness all over my shirt was really the ice melting. Yeah, I know. The visualization didn’t really work for me either.

We first went to Jentski Bazaar where there is an open air market and swap meet like atmosphere. It is also the scene of my pickpocketing, so I thought it momentous enough to treat as a national landmark. We cruised the aisles and then made our way towards the Jewish Synagogue. Linda tried every way possible to get in to see it. At one point I envisioned her climbing over the gates. But she restrained herself. Clearly the place was closed. We read in the bible that you can only get in there if you have a special invitation or you are Jewish and going to a service.

So we moved on….to the mosque and Turkish baths.


(This is the minaret on the mosque.)


(This building houses the baths.)
The baths are under reconstruction, and probably will continue to be for the next decade, since every time I pass by there is never anyone working on it. The building is very pretty and I hope they finish it someday in my lifetime. I would like to see the inside….

We passed by all the government buildings. I admonished Linda to NOT TAKE PHOTOS here. The police get very antsy when people are photographing the government buildings. Just ask Mark who was nearly hauled off after taking a picture of the American Embassy on the very day (5 years ago) when Colin Powell was set to arrive. Some smooth talking by his partners and relinquishing the disposable camera to the police resolved the problem. And so Linda refrained.

Next we went to a very old church that I am never sure of the name and actually went inside.


It had old frescoes that were done in different centuries, so it was cool to see how the art has changed. I also enjoyed the fact that this church is cared for, but not overly preserved. the frescoes were half off the walls and the place looked old. Which it should. It IS old. Sometimes it is nice to see things just as they were, even though they are crumbling.

After said church we headed to the center of town, marked by the yellow brick road. I do not know why they made the whole center out of yellow bricks, maybe a sick joke about the Wixard of Oz, but that is just how it is. Here we saw some fountains and my favorite church–the Russian Orthodox Church.


And holy of all holies, it was open for visitors. So we ventured in. Now the outside of the church is amazing…all shiny and bold. The inside is small and muted, almost all dark colors. but still it was cool to go inside.

And onwards we went to the mecca of Sofia–Nevski Church.


You will remember I wrote about the place when we first arrived? It is pretty astounding. But I will not rehash that place here. Oh no. Instead I will regale you about with a tale about how there were black Mercedes with the windows all dark and one blue siren light in top of them parked outside. Was someone being arrested? Oh no. Just some dignitary (a woman with some pretty skinny bodyguards) cruising around the place…not as exciting as I had hoped. Oh well.

After this we went through the park and saw the memorial to the Russian soldiers who freed the Bulgarians from Turkish rule in the late 1800s, walked past the university, and headed to the open air market near our flat. We needed some fruit and now seemed a good time to get it. You know, since we were sizzling and exhausted…why not shop a bit more???


(See? I LOOK as if I were cool. Well, I am cool. But I mean, I look chilly, don’t I?)
We came back to the flat and sat under the A/C unit until our body temps had lowered a bit. Not enough, but a bit. And then I dragged poor Linda up to Mark’s office. He wanted to show her around and have dinner with her. I know we could have taken a taxi, but I really hate taking the taxis and I enjoy the walk. But it was hot. And we had already walked….A LOT. But we made it.

We had a good dinner at a place near to Mark’s office and headed home. Once again, we took badly needed showers. Then we chilled (get it? get it? chilled??? hahahaha) and went to bed. A hot bed. In a hot room. Ouch.

Tomorrow….Rila Monastery: An Adventure in Travel…

p.s. I do have many more photos, but I am going to wait until after my European Extravaganza to upload all the albums into the gallery…check back around the third week in July. There should be LOTS and LOTS of photos. For now, just amuse yourselves with the old ones, or my cheery humor, or American T.V. Ooooohhhh how I miss American T.V. and the Tivo that goes with it….but that’s a story for another day!