Our final full day of this trip started with us enjoying our last Bulgarian breakfast, many choosing to enjoy French toast with Bulgarian white cheese and jam eaten with a seaside view. We sadly took our last scenic pictures of the Black Sea, packed up our bags into the vans and started the 4-hour drive to Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city. As we missed our chance to explore the city at the start of our trip, we were interested to see how the bustling cityscape compared to the rural countryside we had been experiencing most of our trip.
We started our day in Sofia with a traditional Bulgarian meal of meats, cheeses, bread and our favorite shopska salads. The serving presentation was an experience in itself as everything was served on a hanging platter from the ceiling in the center of the table. After filling our stomachs with delicious food, we toured the city visiting the Bulgarian president’s house, Serdica (architectural ruins preserved in and around the metro system), the statue of Saint Sofia and many churches, one of which was being set to host a wedding which our tour guide mentioned is normal for outsiders to attend! We also walked along the yellow brick roads that mark the center of the city and lead to the government buildings and eventually became the original inspiration for the one used in the Wizard of Oz. In search for last minute souvenir shopping and Bulgarian gelato, we spent some time at Vitosha Boulevard which we all agreed is similar to 3rd St. Promenade with its shops and eateries lining the street.
Winding down the evening, we checked into our hotel and saw the Bulgarian national soccer team at dinner. They seemed very intent at watching a live soccer match on TV so we let them be as one of our tour guides told us who they were. Being our last meal together, we presented Paul, Jackie and our two tour guides who eventually became more like friends, Emiliano and David, with cards to show our appreciation for them in providing us with such an incredible trip. Soon after, some wanted to get to bed early so they could get up in time for our early 5:15 a.m. meet time the next morning, while others didn’t want to fall asleep and savor the last bits of the trip before waking up to the reality of leaving Bulgaria.