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summer 2012

lets you in on what you need & want to know


your free copy
ISSN 1312-5494

Year 10 issue 2 summer 2012

the insiders guide


Sofia - the insiders guide is one of the publications officially approved for free distribution in Sofia Municipalitys Cultural Information Centre in the underpass of the University.

Insiders summer Cultural venues

2 8

Inside Bulgaria
Country & climate Language & alphabet Basic vocabulary A - Z of what you need to know 10 12 13 14

Out for the sights


Sofia - an introduction City Centre walk Out of town tour 24 25 29

Out to eat
Restaurant listings & reviews Cafes, pubs & bars 30 36 40 52

Expat section The insiders directory

Published by Inside & out ltd. All rights reserved


Managing directors: Christine Milner - christine@insidesofia.com, +359 88 486 4820 Paromita Sanatani - editor@insidesofia.com, +359 88 840 8647 Sales & Marketing: Milena Stefanova - sales@insidesofia.com, +359 88 815 1256 All text and photos by Paromita Sanatani and Christine Milner unless stated otherwise. Design & Prepress: Nelly Lozanova - nelly@flografix.net www.insidesofia.com, www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria Inside & out ltd. Office: 9 Frityof Nansen St., 5th floor Print by IFO Design ltd., www.ifodesign.net, t. 02 957 8805

Cover photo by Todor Vlaytchev 'The Fountains of NDK'

We do not assume any responsibility or liability, inferred or otherwise, regarding the products or services being offered, proposed or advertised by the companies or individuals appearing in this publication. All information deemed to be correct at the time of going to print.

insiders summer

Dear Readers,
Welcome to the summer edition we hope our guide will help you make the most of your stay in Sofia / Bulgaria however short or long. Traditionally, Sofia empties during July and August, as locals head to the seaside, therefore the cultural program also winds down at the end of June and many of the bigger events actually take place at the Black Sea or in other resorts outside of Sofia. Here we have listed just some of the main events in Bulgaria during the summer months. You can always find more up to date information by following us on facebook (scan the QR code on the right with your smartphone) or surfing over to our website www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria Also have a look at our new inyourpocket mini guide destination: Plovdiv. Many locals and visitors actually really enjoy Sofia during the hot summer months, free of traffic pollution and crowds. The choice of cafes and restaurants, where you can seek shelter and refreshment is vast - we have listed the best for you to choose from. As of 1st June a total indoor smoking ban has come into effect thus making the all-round dining experience just that little bit better ;-) If you are a regular to our publication you will also notice the effects of the economic crisis on our publication. Although funded solely through advertising - we maintain a clear distinction between advertisers and editorial text so that you can make your own informed choices. We do however encourage you to support our advertisers as without them there would be no guide! Wishing you a lovely summer! Yours, Paromita

Enyovden
24th June

(Midsummers Day)

Tudo Brasil

27th June - 1st July 2012

Linked to the ancient rituals of the summer equinox, it is believed that on this day winter starts its long return journey. It is also the day of herbs and herbs collected on this day are said to be the most potent.

Brasilian cultural festival comes to Sofia - bringing you live music, street parades, cinema projections, art exhibitions, workshops for Capoeira (type of martial art) and Samba and concerts featuring Lameck and Sambrazil. Party! Party! Party! For full program info: www. facebook.com/tudobrasil or www.tudo-brasil.com

insiders summer

International Short Film Festival


29th June - 7th July 2012 Balchik & Varna

The 10th International Short Film Festival In the Palace will be presenting documentaries that have received various prestigious awards and are documentary snapshots of the spiritual heritage and undocumented communist past : Cinema Komunisto, The World According to Ion B., Cooking History. 6 wars 11 recipes 60 361 024 dead, The Desert of Forbidden Art and I Love You. More details www.inthepalace.com

Petrovden: Peter
29th June 30th June

Pavlovden: Paul (Pavel)

the protection from fire, lightning and hailstorms and people should not work, in particular not light any fires on this day.

According to the Christian calendar Petrovden is linked to St.Peter and St.Paul, disciples of Christ. In the Bulgarian tradition they are considered brothers, in some areas even twins. For this reason the name day of Peter and Paul are celebrated just one day apart. Petrovden also coincides with the beginning of the harvest season and for this reason people work in the fields for half the day. Pavlovden is associated with

Sofia Rocks

7th & 8th July 2012 Vasil Levski Stadium This 2-day rock festival is now in its third year and will offer fans the chance to hear and see live the 1980s rock legends Guns N Roses, as well as Iggy and the Stooges, Godsmack, Ugly Kid Joe, Clawfinger, Kaiser Chiefs and others. Tickets are on sale through eventim.bg and their partner stores and cost 60 - 120 BGN.
www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

insiders summer
Kavar na Rock
13th - 15th July 2012 Kavarna Stadium, Black Sea Coast

This year the already traditional summer rock festival in Kavarna on the Black Sea coast will host some classic bands, and the first day of the event is dedicated to the late rock legend, the singer Ronnie James Dio. The stage will belong to Dio Disciples, Glenn Hughes, Michael Schenker Group, and the Bulgarian band BTR, on Friday 13th July. Saturday will see concerts by Stryper, Dokken, Big Noize (feat. Sebastian Bach), and local stars D2 with Dicho. On the last day, Sunday 15th July, the Kavarna stadium will host Lizzy Borden, Kamelot, Rhapsody, and Bulgarian bands Ahat and Renegat. Tickets cost 100 leva for the three days or 50 leva for one day and can be purchased from the network of www.eventim.bg.

Goreshtnitsi (Dog Days)


15th,16th, 17th July

People believe that if during these three days they do not follow the traditional rules and instead work in the fields, garden or home, fire will descend from heaven and burn down their home and fields.

pinnacle of his profession. He is currently one of the most sought after producers and ranked no.1 DJ in the world. Tickets 35 leva www.eventim.bg

Spirit of Burgas

3rd - 5th August 2012 Black Sea Coast

David Guetta

27th July 2012, 21:00 Nessebar City Stadium

French DJ & house music producer whose mega hit When love takes over (with Kelly Rowland) made him a household name and has firmly placed him at the

Three day rave on the beach at Burgas. Headlining acts include Busta Rhymes and Tinie Tempah and nu metal band Korn (5th August). This year the festival will be combined with the Solar festival for electronic music attracting big names from the scene, like Armin van Buuren (3rd August), Richie Hawtin (4th August) and house DJ Mark Knight (5th August). Already celebrating its 5th anniversary fans can expect new stages and many more surprises. Tickets start at 35 leva for one day at the Solar festival, 60 leva for one day at the Spirit of Burgas up to 200 leva for the full 3 day pass to both festivals. www.eventim.bg, www.spiritofburgas.com

insiders summer
Bansko Jazz Festival
4th - 11th August, Bansko

Already in its 15th year this festival is the summer highlight in the mountain resort town of Bansko for all jazz fans. Participants from around the world will entertain on the open air stages of the town, making this a perfect holiday opportunity. The line up this year includes Mungo Jerry (In the summertime) Programme details and further information www.bansko-jazz.com

Lady Gaga

14th August 2012 Vassil Levski Stadium

Lady Gaga will kick off the European leg of Born this way ball on 14th August 2012 at the Vassil Levski Stadium. No doubt this concert will bring some life back into Sofia, as the crowds return from the seaside to see what this mega star has to offer! Tickets 120-200 leva from ticketpro.bg

BULGARIAS western-swing pioneers Lilly Of The West have just released their 9th studio album Swings & Heartaches. As the title suggests the album has two parts. It starts off with lively, up-tempo swing hits from the 40s and 50s, featuring two Patsy Cline hits Gotta lotta rhythm in my soul and Walkin After Midnight, and one by Hank Williams, Lovesick Blues, while the second part (heartaches) brings a change of mood with beautiful, heartfelt ballads such as the Johnny Cash/June Carter duet If I Were A Carpenter and the Everly Brothers classic Crying in the Rain. Two traditional Bulgarian folk melodies are included. Lilly of the West was formed in Sofia 1996 by Lilly Drumeva. Shortly after releasing their debut album, they toured successfully throughout Europe and the US, winning European and international music awards. Lilly is a moving spirit in the European bluegrass and country music scene, she is a pioneer and leader in Bulgaria. Her crystal clear voice and charming personality touches all who meet and listen to her. Throughout the summer months you will be able to catch Lilly of the West giving live open air performances around Sofias parks. You can get more up to date information and buy/download the CD on their website: www.lillydrumeva.net

www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

insiders summer
Golyama Bogoroditsa
(Assumption): Maria
15th August

This day is devoted to the death of the Holy Mother of Christ, the patron saint of motherhood and women, protector of the family unit. It is a big folk holiday in Bulgaria, not only because it is the name day of Maria. It is believed that if sick people spend the night in holy places they will be cured. Offerings are made and the first fruits of the season; grapes, watermelons as well as small loaves of bread are blessed in church and distributed for health.

Apollonia Festival of Arts


30th August - 8th September 2012 Sozopol, Black Sea

Il Divo
25th September 2012 Arena Armeets

Every year (since 1984) artists, musicians, writers, poets and actors gather in the beautiful old town of Sozopol on the Black Sea coast for a week of music, dance, theatre, literature and art not only to preserve and promote Bulgarian culture but also acknowledge achievements from other countries. Sozopol during this week is positively buzzing with creativity and culture, making a pleasant change from the usual holiday entertainment. For more information www.apollonia.bg

The international divine male performers will enchant and thrill the audience in Sofias Arena Armeets with their operatic vocal renditions of new and classic songs. Their newest album Wicked Game was released 2011. Tickets 70 - 130 leva through the network of www.eventim.bg

Red Hot Chili Peppers


1st September 2012, 20:00 Georgi Asparuhov Stadium

The cult US rock band founded in the early 80s will be rocking Sofia on September 1st. Tickets between 70 - 150 leva from the network of www.ticketpro.bg

Lenny Kravitz

30th September 2012 Arena Armeets Part of his Black and White Europe Tour, Lenny Kravitz returns to Bulgaria to play live at the Arena Armeets. In a musical career spanning over 20 years, Kravitz has transcended genre, style and race and has sold 40 million albums worldwide and won 4 grammy awards.His most recent album is called Black and White America. Tickets from the network of www. eventim.bg

ADVAN CE N OTI CE

Status Quo
18th October 2012 NDK Hall 1, Part of Music Jam 2012 This will be the first time in Bulgaria for the legendary rock band fronted by Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi. Tickets 50 - 120 leva www.ticketpro.com

Disney on Ice
9th - 11th November 2012 Arena Armeets www.ticketpro.com

insiders summer
v Cultural Venues
Bulgaria Hall
Home to the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, this building dates back to the late 1930s and comprises of two concert halls; Bulgaria Hall and the much smaller Chamber Hall. 1 Aksakov St., t. 02 987 76 56 Ticket Office (10.00-13.30, 15.3018.30) For more programme details: www.classicfmsofia.com and www.nsobg.com

Earth and Man Museum


Minerals, giant crystals, semi precious stones. Enormous crystals from all over the world, as well as real precious jewels and examples of metal ore and how metal is made. Unfortunately the labeling is virtually nonexistent. 4 Cherni Vruh Blvd. t. 02 865 6639 Working hours: 9.00-17.00, closed Sun&Mon.

Museum of Contemporary Art


2 Cherni Vruh Blvd. Working hours: 10.00 18.00, closed Mon.

National Palace of Culture (NDK)


Built in 1981 to mark the countrys 13th centennial, it is Sofias most prominent modern landmark, housing concert halls, exhibition space, offices and restaurants. The various halls and foyers are home to some of the most impressive specially commissioned contemporary art. 1 Bulgaria Square. Ticket Office: to the left of the main entrance (Fritjof Nansen St.) t. 02 9166 2368, www.ndk.bg

Museum of Socialist Art


Paintings, sculptures and memorabilia from the Socialist era (1944 1989) 7 Lachezar Stanchev St., Iztok Area nearest Metro station: GM Dimitrov Working hours: 10.00 17.30, closed Mon. Admission 6 BGN. Children, students, OAPs 3 BGN

Sofia National Opera


Built in 1909, seating 1200, the repertoire is a mix of internationally recognised operas and ballets, usually sung in Bulgarian or Italian. 1 Vrabcha St. (off Rakovski St.) t. 02 981 1549 For programme: www.operasofia.bg Ticket Office 08.3019.30

National Art Gallery


Bulgarian art, 18th-20th century. New permanent exhibition. 1 Battenberg Sq. t. 02 980 0093 Working hours: 10.00-17.00, closed Mon. www.nationalartgallerybg.org

National Ethnographic Museum


Bulgarian folklore, costumes, crafts 1 Battenberg Sq. t. 02 987 4191 Working hours: 10.00-16.00, closed Sat&Sun.

National Musical Theatre


It features international operettas and musicals, usually sung in Bulgarian. 100 Vassil Levski Blvd. (by the Levski monument) t. 02 943 1979 For programme: www.musictheatre.bg

National Gallery for Foreign Art


Van Dyke, Rodin, Picasso, Goya; large collection of Indian and oriental sculptures; temporary exhibitions by foreign artists. 19 February St. t. 02 980 7262 Working hours: 11.00-18.00, closed Tue. www.foreignartmuseum.bg

v Museums
Alexander Nevski Cathedral Crypt
Orthodox church art, icons, 4th-19th century Alexander Nevski Sq. Working hours: 10.00-17.30, closed Mon.

National History Museum


22,000 exhibits show the development of social, cultural and political life on Bulgarian soil. Dont miss out on going to see some of the amazing recent Thracian gold discoveries. Vitoshko Lale St, Ring Road, Boyana, t. 02 955 4280 Working hours: 09.30-18.00, closed Mon. Bus 63 and 111, Marsh Route 21 www.historymuseum.org

Archaelogical Museum
Gold and silver treasures, coins, pre historical monuments as well as thracian treasures from recent digs 2 Saborna St. t. 02 988 2406 Working hours: 10.00-18.00

cultural venues
National Military-History Museum
Tanks, planes, weapons, uniforms, medals for bravery, personal belongings of Levski and Battenberg, including a lock of Levskis hair. 92 Cherkovna St. t. 02 946 1805 Working hours: 9.00-17.00, closed Mon&Tue.

Sculpture Garden at the MFA


The work of some of the countrys finest sculptors in the grounds of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Sculpture garden is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday, 10.0017.00hrs.

National Polytechnic Museum


History of technology in Bulgaria. there are some hologram exhibits. 66 Opalchenska St. t. 02 931 8018 Working hours: 09.00-17.00, Closed on weekends

Sofia Art Gallery


Bulgarian art & sculptures, contemporary drawings and photography. 1 Gurko St. (entrance from Battenberg St.) t. 02 987 2181 Working hours: Tue-Sat: 10.0018.00 Sun: 11.00-17.00, closed Mon. www.sghg.bg

Natural History Museum


A collection of stuffed and pickled animals, skeletons and butterflies as well as rocks and minerals, and a live reptile exhibit. Some of the exhibition cases are so old that they are a fascination in themselves. 1 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. t. 02 988 5115 Working hours: 9.0017.00

The Red House


Centre for culture and debate. Nice cafe. 15 Lyuben Karavelov St. t. 02 981 8188 www.redhouse-sofia.org

Union of Architects
Tzentralen Dom na Architekta Exhibitions, library, cafe and restaurant 11 Krakra St. t. 02 943 8349 www.bularch.org

www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

inside bulgaria

nfortunately, all too often the international media still portrays Bulgaria in a bad light. Those who spend a little time here trying to understand the country usually find the positive outweighs the bad. Beautiful nature, genuine hospitality, excellent wines, great mountains and beaches, an abundance of mineral spas, a lively folklore tradition and many talented young artists are all things Bulgaria can be proud of. No wonder so many of us are falling in love with Bulgaria...

Situated on the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria has borders with Romania to the north, much of it denoted by the River Danube; Greece and Turkey to the south and south-east, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia, to the west. To the east, Bulgaria is flanked by the Black Sea, one of its biggest assets for summer tourism. A total of 380 km of coastline offers everything from rugged secluded beaches to fully developed, highly commercialised resorts, such as Golden Sands. Add to that Bulgaria's mountain ranges: the Balkans (locally known as Stara Planina) run out centrally across the country; the Rila (with Mussala, 2925 m, the highest peak of the region), Pirin and Rhodope ranges, with their charming mountain/ski resorts and unspoilt national parks, and it is easy to recognise the potential of this country for year-round recreation. Bulgaria's land is fertile, producing a large variety of crops such as wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers etc. The central plains of Bulgaria are home to the famous Valley of the Roses which produces a high quality 'attar' much coveted by global markets. Bulgaria can also boast the hottest mineral spring in Europe: Sapareva Banya (102C) at the foot of the Rila Mountains. Overall the country is blessed with approximately 500 mineral springs, many thermal, with a vast range of healing properties. A lot of work and investment, however, is required to capitalise on these assets, rather than just exploiting them.
population (2006): 7 385 367 religion: Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Catholic 0.6%, other 4.6% (Protestant, Gregorian - Armenian, Jewish) ethnic groups: Bulgarian 83.9%, Turkish 9.4%, Roma 4.7%, other 2% (Armenians, Jews, Wallachians, Greeks, Russians) Capital: Sofia (1 173 988 citizens) principal cities: Plovdiv (338 302), Varna (320 668), Bourgas (209 479), Rousse (178 435), Stara Zagora, Pleven, Sliven, Dobrich, Shoumen.

the country

10

country & climate

Summers in Bulgaria tend to be hot and dry! As anywhere, things can go terribly wrong with the weather and cold wet spells are not unheard of. Freak hailstorms with hailstones, the size of golf balls, are not uncommon, particularly in and near the mountains. So far the weather in 2012 has been far from normal, so who knows what the summer will bring? Temperatures in the summer months can be as high as 35C and people are well advised to avoid the mid day heat. Siestas are very popular with locals, especially when on holiday. Generally the temperatures in the mountain resorts are 5-10C lower than in the cities, making the mountain resorts a popular escape on weekends. The weather at the Black Sea is mainly hot, sunny and dry and generally more stable than inland, although thunder storms and flash flooding can also be expected. The Black sea itself is generally calm and warm, but there are areas with dangerous undercurrents, so please take all flag warnings seriously.

the climate

Average temperatures
June July August 13 to 26C 16 to 30C 15 to 30C

Average water temperature of the Black Sea 19 to 24C

inside bulgaria

the language
The biggest barrier faced by all visitors to Bulgaria is the language and in particular the Cyrillic alphabet.

Ee

While in the bigger cities and tourist resorts most signs, street names and menus have translations, and many people speak another European language (English, German, French) a basic grasp of the language and alphabet (or Russian) are a distinct advantage but may require some effort. The Bulgarian language itself is strongly based on its Slavonic roots, closely related to Serbo-Croat and similar to Russian. Over the centuries many foreign words have crept into the Bulgarian language through years of Turkish and Russian occupation, but even nowadays through modern technology and international business many German, French and English words have crept into the language.

In 855 A.D. the brothers Cyril & Methodius developed the first Bulgarian alphabet (Glagolic) which was said to more accurately reflect the sounds of the Bulgarian language (the Greek alphabet had been used till then) and assist in their adoption of Christianity.

This alphabet was later simplified to become what is nowadays referred to as the Cyrillic (or Slavonic) alphabet and used in Bulgaria, Russia and the Ukraine (with minor variations). It has thirty letters and is a phonetic alphabet, the letters are always pronounced the same. Most confusing is that although some letters look exactly the same as Latin letters they are in fact pronounced differently. A classic example is the word restaurant. When written in Cyrillic as such it is often read as pectopaht by those who grew up with a Latin alphabet, even after ten years of living in Bulgaria.

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vocabulary
Aa Bb Vv Gg Dd Ee 'zh' Zz Ii Yy Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu Ff Hh 'ts' 'ch' 'sh' 'sht' 'u' 'yu' 'ya'
Good Morning Good day Good evening Good night Good Bye Hi (familiar) All the best How are you? (familiar) I am fine Have a nice day Who What When Where Why How GREETINgS dobro utro dobur den dobur vecher leka nosht dovizhdane zdraveite zdravei vsichko hubavo Kak ste? Kak si? az sum dobre priyaten den QUESTIONS koi K kakvo koga kude zashto kak BASICS Yes da No ne Maybe mozhe bi Please ako obichate You're welcome molya Thank you blagodarya (less formal) mersi Excuse me izvinete Sorry (forgive me) proshtavaite I am az sum You are vie ste (ti si) I want az iskam I do not want az ne iskam Do you speak govorite li angliiski? English? I do not speak az ne govorya Bulgarian bulgarski I don't understand ne razbiram English Bulgarian spoken ( ) ? Written ? ?

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inside bulgaria
It is best to arrive in Bulgaria with prebooked accommodation, as it is often cheaper than booking the same accommodation locally. There have been major developments in the availability of modern, clean and well-run private hotels throughout the country - in particular popular tourist destinations. In some of Bulgarias more rural beauty spots (check www.baatbg.org), private accommodation with families is available, which is more basic and usually does not include private bath facilities. Sofia itself has an excellent range of accommodation on offer: from the well known five/four star brand hotels to smaller, privately owned hotels, fully serviced rental apartment buildings and backpacker hostels (see our directory).

Accommodation

Airports

Sofia Airport

(www.sofia-airport.bg) has two terminals, 1&2. Most scheduled flights now operate out of Terminal 2 (the new one), Terminal 1 being used for budget and charter flights. Check carefully with your airline from which terminal they operate. The new terminal is modern, bright, clean and absolutely smoke

free (not even smoking lounges!). There is a multi-storey car park with over 800 spaces at the new terminal and although short term they charge 3 BGN per hour, their long term rates are more reasonable. OK Supertrans and Taxi-SExpress are licensed to operate out of the new terminal. Go to their booths to book your taxi and avoid the touts or those taxis loitering outside the terminal building at all costs! Several hotels operate a pick up service on request. Public transport bus no 84 travels from Gurko St. in the city centre, via Sofia University, Orlov Most, Pliska Hotel, Tsarigradsko Shosse to Terminals 1 and 2 and back again. Tickets for the bus are on sale in the Arrivals terminal at the newspaper stand. Luggage bigger than 60 x 60 x 40 cm requires an extra ticket. There is also a small inexpensive shuttle bus that operates from Terminal 1 to the railway station and the international bus station.

Sofias international bus station (http:// tis.centralnaavtogara.bg) is adjacent to the main railway station. Most buses for the country and abroad leave from here and the new clean facilities, which include a food court, certainly make the idea of a bus journey more attractive.

Bus station

Car Parking

The designation of much of the city centre as a blue parking zone means that those who just want to stop for a couple of hours and dont mind paying should find a spot. Blue parking zone means vouchers must be validated and displayed in the car window. Vouchers (talon za parking in Bulgarian, 1 BGN per hour) are avail-

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able from attendants at parking areas. If you have a local account with a GSM operator you can also send an SMS with your registration number to 1302 and your bill will be charged for one hour. Check carefully if you are in a blue zone as you will be clamped if you fail to display parking vouchers. In the city centre there are many guarded car parks, both private and municipal, charging 2-3 BGN per hour (in front of the Hotel Sheraton, next to the Halite, behind The National Palace of Culture). Should you get clamped you will find a note in Bulgarian on your windscreen giving you a telephone number to call. There is also a reference number for which you will be asked and the operator may also want to know what street you are on and the make of car. In many

areas spider trucks will remove your car to a compound either near Yuzhen Park or Oborishte Park. To retrieve your car you will have to go to the compound. If you suspect your car may have been towed away, call t. 02 983 6747 for information.

Caution

Always advised when travelling to foreign countries and Bulgaria is no exception. Unfortunately like in so many other countries, there are opportunists who prey on tourists, knowing that they may be carrying desirable valuables and be slightly disorientated. This can range from simple cheating on restaurant bills to armed robbery. The number of incidents of serious crime against foreigners is relatively low.

see 'Safety'
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inside bulgaria
- Post offices can be found throughout the country, in most villages, towns and tourist resorts. You can use the smaller post offices for buying stamps and sending mail, although international parcels need to be sent from the central post office or larger post offices. Parcels needs to be sealed at the post office after a customs inspection. Get a local to help you if you can - its not easy to work out by yourself which counter you have to go to and in which order. Central Post Office 6 Gen. Gurko St. Customs Post Office 84 Veslets St. (near the main railway station). Parcels arriving from countries outside the EU are collected from here. Public Telephone - Telephone calls can be made from most post offices, or from public pay phones. You will also find booths offering cheap internet phone calls in major resorts and cities. Mobile phone - Bulgaria has three GSM operators, M-tel, Vivacom and Globul, offering coverage across much of the country. All offer prepaid card packages. Internet - There is no shortage of Internet cafes around town. All big hotels and many of the newer private ones also offer Internet facilities. Many cafes and restaurants around town offer free wireless internet connection (WiFi) for their customers. Free open air wireless access is also available in the Zaimov Park between Madrid Blvd. and Yanko Sakazov St.

Communications
Postal

Disabled Access

Sofia is almost totally inaccessible for wheel-chair users. Gradual improvements are being made. A particular problem is the state of the pavements, which are not only cracked and full of un-covered man-holes, but also frequently blocked by cars. Many public buildings are adapting for wheelchair access which new business centres already have.

Drinking Water

Tap water is safe to drink but not always pleasant in taste or appearance. Bulgaria's vast supplies of mineral water are widely available in 0.5 litre and 1.5 litre bottles. They are very tasty and not expensive.

Driving

Conversions

Bulgaria uses the metric system for weights and measures: 1 kilometre = 0.62 miles 1 kilogramme = 2.2 pounds 1 pint = 0.568 litres

Depending on your previous driving experience, driving in Bulgaria may seem a little harrowing at first. There is, however, no need to feel daunted as long as one drives defensively and sticks to the rules. Many local drivers are either arrogant and aggressive or bumbling and insecure. (Try to avoid confrontations, as these could get nasty!) Visitors to Bulgaria may drive using their national license, as long as it complies with international standards. It is advisable, however, to carry an international license. Legislation is now in place to make fining and the withdrawal of licenses of all EU citizens possible. Bulgaria is gradually making progress in building motorways to the main cities of Varna and Bourgas, although completion is not to be expected before end 2012. Overall the quality of the country's major

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a-z what you need to know


roads has much improved in recent years, but be prepared for repair works which can cause confusing detours and delays. Petrol service stations are plentiful in both cities and along major routes. Most offer clean toilet and refreshment facilities. Fuel in Bulgaria is lead free and available in the following octane levels: 92, 95 and 98. Road signs follow international standards. Major destinations and routes are signposted in Cyrillic and Latin letters, often however whole signboards have disappeared or are hidden behind bushes so it is possible to miss a turn off! According to Bulgarian law seat belts must be worn by aLL passengers, mobile phones can only be used with 'handsfree' sets, and the legal alcohol limit is 0.5 pro mil. All cars must carry a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and reflective jacket. Speed limits for cars are 50km/h (30 mph) inside the city limits, 90km/h (55mph) outside cities and 130 km/h (80mph) on motorways unless indicated otherwise. Police may stop you to check your documents (you must carry them on you at all times!) or for committing an offence such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt etc. They are instructed to identify themselves by name. There are many notorious police traps around the country. Oncoming motorists tend to warn you by flashing their headlights. Over 30 speed trap cameras have been installed in cities and across the country, so watch the behaviour of local road users carefully. If they all conspicuously slow down you can be sure there is a speed trap up ahead. Should you be unlucky enough to be caught, you will be issued an akt - a document stating the offence, which you have to sign. You then have seven days within which to pay your fine by bank. The document is in Bulgarian and English. If you do not agree, you have 30 days to protest the fine. Do not give in to the temptation to buy yourself off with a bribe as its against the law. Generally the traffic police are friendly and polite and it is recommended that you remain likewise. Getting into an argument will only make matters worse for you. In the event of an accident the traffic police (KAT) should be called (t. 165, 02 982 2723) and an accident report will be filed. This is essential for any insurance claims. If the damage is minor, like a broken light, the matter can now be settled between parties without the long wait for the traffic police.

Road assistance-24 hour service


t. 02 91 146, Check with your car hire company for arrangements in the event of a breakdown.

Vignettes/road tax
There is a road tax for most major roads, outside the main town areas. It applies to all roads marked vignette. For local cars up to 8 seats, the annual tax, valid from 1st January till 31st December, is 67 BGN (34 EUR for foreign registered cars). One can also buy vignettes valid for shorter periods of time; 25 BGN per month or 10 BGN per week (13 and 5 EUR respectively). Available on sale from petrol stations across the country as well as at border crossings, post offices, branches of DZI Bank, the fine for non-compliance ranges between 100 200 BGN.

Electricity

Bulgaria operates on 220 volt using the continental standard two-pin plug.

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inside bulgaria
Homosexuality
Foreign newspapers and magazines are
available through Bulgarpress from newsstands within the main hotels and also at various newsstands in the centre of Sofia. Bulgarians are not very open about the subject and homosexuals tend to keep a low profile. There are only a few gay bars and discos in Sofia.

Electronic Media
www.sofiaglobe.com is Bulgarias newest English-language news and features website by a team of experienced journalists well known to the market. novinite.com is a popular website in English providing local and international news in a lighter magazine style format. You can subscribe to daily and weekly news bulletins.

Hospitality

Bulgarians can overwhelm with hospitality. If you are invited to someone's home, here are a few things to remember that may be different to your own country's customs. Do not go empty handed - if you are invited it is customary to take some flowers or wine or other small gesture. With flowers remember they should be an odd number of stems (even numbers are only for funerals). Many Bulgarian families remove their shoes at the door. Of course they will not allow you as their visitor to do this, but if weather conditions are particularly bad you can always pre-empt any embarrassing situation by bringing along a pair of clean shoes to slip on. Most importantly remember that shaking your head means yes and nodding means no. It can cause great confusion and it is best always to say the word. When complimenting the looks of a child, people may make a couple of spitting sounds which according to superstition should prevent a jinx.

TV
Bulgarian National Television (BNT), Btv (part of the Murdoch empire) and Nova Televisiya are the three main nationally licensed channels. There is also a multitude of Bulgarian cable stations. Cable TV offers access to many international channels.

RADIO
Bulgarian National Radio has two programmes; Horizont 103.0 MHz FM and Hristo Botev 92.8 MHz, which broadcast solely in Bulgarian. (Frequencies vary across the country). There is a vast choice of commercial radio stations, covering all music tastes. Weekday evenings at 19:00 there is a short bulletin of Bulgarian news in English on Radio Sofia FM 95.4

Media

Obviously most of the media are Bulgarian language and focus on Bulgarian issues. There is limited access to local news in foreign languages, especially regarding printed publications. Bulgarisches Wirtschaftsblatt: A monthly German language newspaper giving a summary of news and profiles of local companies.

Medical Emergencies
Depending on the nature of the medical emergency and ones insurance cover, there are several options regarding the type of help you may wish to seek. For minor ailments and problems, we can recommend the excellent level of service at the private Vita medical centre and Tokuda Hospital. There are other private health

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a-z what you need to know


centres dotted around the city. The main state-run emergency hospital for Sofia is the Pirogov Hospital at 21 General Totleben Blvd and the medical staff there is generally acknowledged to be of a very high standard. Most serious accidents are referred directly there, though patients may be taken by ambulance to one of the many specialist state hospitals depending on their affliction. In recent years there has been much talk of the inefficiency of the ambulance service and one cannot rely on an ambulance arriving in time. A viable alternative is the private Tokuda Hospital, whose ambulance service can be called on t. 02 403 4150. Conditions in state-run hospitals vary: some may be newly built, have been revamped or offer VIP rooms for those who can pay, others may be shockingly run down with questionable standards of hygiene. Doctors and admin staff can be rude and unpleasant and it is difficult for foreigners to understand the rules. The parallel universe of paying under the table for various medical treatments also appears to be well entrenched in some hospitals. This is why the private hospitals and clinics are becoming increasingly popular.

Money

The national currency is known as leva (plural). One lev is made up of 100 stotinki
The following coins are available: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 stotinki and 1 lev The following notes are available: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 leva (BGN) (study illustrations above)
Beware: Only exchange money in reputable places and spend a little time familiarising yourself with the local currency. Most locals do not usually bother with the small coins and shop staff take the liberty of rounding up the amount (more often up than down) If this offends you, ask firmly and politely for your change.
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Money Exchange

Money can be safely exchanged at most banks and also at exchange bureaus, although not all are reputable. Hotels and airports tend to give slightly lower rates. Although exchange rates fluctuate on a day to day basis, for orientation purposes you can assume the following rates: 1 Euro = 1.95 BGN (fixed) 1 US Dollar = 1.57 BGN (fluctuating) 1 Pound Sterling = 2.45 BGN (fluctuating)

19

inside bulgaria
Organised Crime
Organised crime in Bulgaria is not much different from anywhere else in the world and does not generally affect law abiding citizens. the West (Lyulin) via the city centre (fat red line on the map below). It is fast, clean, efficient and modern. Two further stations opened just recently extending the line as far as Metro Cash & Carry / International Expo Centre on Tsarigradsko Shosse. The expansion of the underground is now in its second phase (blue line on the map below) which will continue causing major disruption to the general traffic for the foreseeable future. Bus, trolley bus and tram tickets must be bought from kiosks prior to boarding and validated on the bus or tram. Look for the punching devices on the wall. Insert ticket and punch. Most trams and trolley buses now have ticket machines from which you can buy a ticket that you do not need to punch. The ticket is only valid for the journey on that particular tram/bus, if you change you will need to punch/buy a new ticket. Each ticket costs 1 BGN, or you could buy a booklet of 10 for 8 BGN. Daily, weekly and monthly travel passes are available. Metro tickets also cost 1 BGN per journey and can be bought from the metro station cash desks.

Prostitutes
What at first glance may appear to be a desperate young woman flagging you down for help on the roadside, usually turns out to be a prostitute. Prostitution itself is not illegal, though pimping is, and after brief clean-up operations - it appears not much has changed.

Public Holidays
1st, 2nd January - New Years Holiday 3rd March - National Holiday 13th April 2012 - Good Friday 16th April 2012 Easter Monday 1st May - May Holiday 6th May - St. Georges Day, Day of the Bulgarian Army 24th May - Day of Slavonic Literacy & Culture 6th September (7th September also nonworking) - Day of Reunification - 1885 22nd September - Bulgarian Independence Day 24th, 25th, 26th December - Christmas Depending on which weekday the public holidays fall, the government may declare an additional working day as a bridging holiday, expecting people to work a Saturday in return! Extra working Saturdays in 2012: 29th September, 15th December

Public Transport
Trams, trolley buses and buses cover the whole of the city, including the outskirts. They are, however, mostly old and overcrowded. Taxis are cheap and may be a better option. Sofia has an underground, which now runs from the East (Mladost) to

20

Recycling
Large colourful containers collecting glass, plastic and paper can be seen in various districts around the city and also in popular tourist destinations. Most containers have already been vandalised or are just filled with household rubbish. The containers at supermarkets are a better bet for those serious about recycling. Old clothes and scrap metal can be left next to bins where it will be collected. Batteries for recycling can now be deposited in special collection containers at the following stores across the country: Globul, Metro, Mr. Bricolage, Handy, and Kodak photo studios. www.ubarecycling-bg.org

a-z what you need to know


keep your valuables in the hotel safe. You should be aware that crossing the road in Bulgaria can be something of a challenge. Pedestrians are expected to only use marked crossings, drivers are not however educated to give the pedestrian right of way! Most traffic lights allow the cars turning right through at the same time as pedestrians, and unfortunately many of the cars do not see fit to stop. There is safety in numbers, of course, so if you see a crowd, go with it. Zebra crossings give the pedestrian no rights at all, leaving you with the choice of stepping out in front of the cars and hoping they will stop, or waiting for a gap in the traffic.

Safety
Bulgarians constantly lament the level of crime in Sofia, and yet to many foreigners used to European capitals, Sofia appears to be a safe city. The most frequent crimes here are: pick-pocketing; mugging; car theft. You should use your common sense when it comes to walking around the city at dusk or night. Keep to well-lit areas, do not walk across parks in the dark, and avoid lonely areas even in daytime. It makes sense not to walk around displaying new or expensive items. Pickpockets are most active in the city centre and unfortunately they lurk in the places most popular with foreigners, who offer the richest pickings. Beware of leaving your hand bags hanging on the back of your chair in pubs and restaurants. On the streets a group of several well-dressed women (not necessarily Roma) may crowd you at the exact moment when you need to concentrate your attention on some other task, such as crossing the road, entering a shop or public transport, or dealing with a small child. Best

Scams
The most common scam used to be money exchange. Although they have reduced in number in recent years, money changers still hang around the resorts in high season.

You should NEVER change money with anyone who stops you on the street.
You will always be cheated and it will be your own fault if it happens. Generally we no longer recommend exchange bureaus as most banks nowadays give equally good exchange rates with better service and without the risk. There are branches of reputable banks all over the country. Foreigners are often overcharged at restaurants and cafes, prices on the English menu being up to three times that on the Bulgarian. Also check your bill carefully, as extra items may have been added, especially if you are a bigger group. Beware of nightclubs where prices are often much higher than you would expect especially if you agree to buy drinks for the local girls that come and join you at the table. You will not be allowed to leave without settling your bill and we have heard
www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

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inside bulgaria
stories where the situation has become quite aggressive and unpleasant.

SHOPPING
Shopping in Bulgaria has come a long way in recent years and there is plenty to choose from at prices not dissimilar to other countries. Bulgarian manufactured products still represent excellent value for money. Most of the bigger cities now have modern shopping centres or malls, but also the smaller cheerful street stalls in tourist areas are very attractive to visitors. Sofia has several larger malls and countless smaller retail centres with a good mix of international brand names and local shops. TZUM Tzentralen Universalen Magasin, corner of Dondukov and Maria Louisa Blvd. CCS, City Centre Sofia, Arsenalski Blvd. Mall of Sofia on Stamboliiski Blvd. has its niche in the western end of the city and apart from the usual mix of western shops you will find here the only Imax cinema in Bulgaria. Sky city, 52 Kosta Lulchev St., Geo Milev district Princess mall, Mladost 4 area (behind Hit supermarket) The (on Sitnyakovo Blvd.) has an excellent selection of shops, many from the high streets of Austria and Germany, and far too many to check them all out in one visit. The good news is that you are bound to find what you are looking for. There is a large food court, several cafes, restaurants and an ice cream parlour, childrens play areas inside and outside, and a regular programme of special entertainment and events, but otherwise no other entertainment. The Mall, Tsarigradsko Shosse, combines shopping and leisure activities.

Obviously visitors to Sofia shouldnt miss the opportunity to explore Sofias other main shopping areas to get a clearer overview of Bulgarian products, and maybe discover a real gem or two. For tourists the flea market in front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is particularly enticing (but beware prices are accordingly high) Shops in Sofia are generally open from 09.00 - 18.00 or 10.00 - 19.00 Monday Saturday. More and more shops are now also open on Sundays although with slightly shorter hours. Small shops might close for a lunch break. Most shops these days accept local debit cards and international credit cards but if not, you can usually find an ATM (cash point) that will give cash advances against credit cards. Shops tend to stock small sizes only, anyone of slightly larger than average build will have difficulty finding ready made clothes in their sizes. Bulgarian manufactured clothes have their own sizes so always try before you buy (see table on page 49). Customer service is very inconsistent in this country. If you are not sure about something always check the possibility for exchange or refunds before buying. Most shops are reluctant to do either unless the item is faulty. If you feel your consumer rights have been infringed (e.g. if someone refuses to refund you or exchange something, or you experience corruption in state administration) you have the right to complain to the European Consumer Centre Bulgaria, whose purpose it is to help EU consumers who have a problem in Bulgaria or Bulgarians who have a problem in EU. t. 02 986 7672, ecc.bulgaria@ kzp.bg. There is also a downloadable complaint form on their site http:/ /ecc.kzp.bg/

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a-z what you need to know


though the site is frustratingly only in Bulgarian. The form is, however, also in English.

Tipping
Tipping is generally expected by the waiting staff in restaurants, cafes and bars. Taxi drivers expect the fare to be rounded up and hairdressers also accept tips. At petrol stations the attendants who fill your tank and clean your windows will hope for some small gratuity. Some restaurants automatically add a service charge, so check the bill first.

Smoking
Bulgaria is a nation of heavy smokers, and locally-produced cigarettes are a lot cheaper than those in the West. Till recently very little consideration has been shown towards the non-smoker but as of 1st June 2012 smoking indoors in all public places has been banned i.e. all work places, restaurants, bars, public transport (please tell the bus drivers ;-), all hotels, near administrative buildings, day care centers and schools, playgrounds and at outdoor events.

Toilets
There are not many decent public toilets in Sofia. Clean public toilets can be found in most shopping centres (free of charge). Recently chemical toilets have appeared in some of the parks and at public events but these are really not to be recommended. If you are really desperate you could use the toilets in the many cafes, restaurants and hotels around town. We have rarely been turned away if asking politely beforehand.

Taxis
Taxi fares in Sofia have finally been regulated (May 2011) and a maximum fare imposed! This is currently 1.30 BGN daytime and 1.60 BGN nighttime. Fares are displayed clearly on the back window of the cab as well as on the dashboard. All taxis are yellow and are generally fairly new, well-kept vehicles, though you may occasionally get the odd unkempt one. Smoking is prohibited but despite this you will find that some taxi drivers smoke while waiting for a customer; if it bothers you then ask them to put out their cigarette. All taxis should have the name and contact number of the company clearly displayed on the dashboard as well as the ID number of the driver, enabling you to make a complaint should you wish to. Despite the cap on fares, rogue taxi drivers still hang around the airport and tourist attractions.

Visas
EU citizens are able to come and go freely from Bulgaria (even just on their ID) and now enjoy far greater freedoms especially regarding employment, settling and buying property. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and several other countries with reciprocal agreement (check with the Bulgarian Embassy), can spend up to 90 days within a six month period, in Bulgaria visa free on a valid international passport, but must register with police (48 Maria Luiza Blvd.) if not staying in a hotel and spending more than 5 nights in Bulgaria. Nationals of countries not included on this list, require written, notarised invitations from Bulgarian citizens or organisations before applying for their visas.
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TicKs
Beware of ticks in the summer months. Should you discover a tick on your body, seek medical advice.

23

out for the sights

View to the National Assembly with Alexander Nevski Cathedral in the background

ofia became the capital of Bulgaria as recently as 1879, usurping the position from Veliko Turnovo after six hundred years. Sofia was felt to possess a strategic location and the change of capital marked the end of Bulgarias dark ages under Ottoman rule. When it became capital, Sofia was a muddy, underdeveloped town of just 12,000 inhabitants, something akin to a large, open-air market. Historians talk of how the citys inhabitants attended the first royal ball dressed in woollen socks and baggy Turkish pants. The citys historic buildings date from the turn of the century up until the 1930s, when there was a rush to bring the city up to date and turn it into a modern European capital. Evidence has been found that Sofia was inhabited as early as 7000 years ago. Thracian and Roman remains can still be seen dotted around the city: in the underpass in

front of the presidency, behind the Military Club, and behind the Sheraton hotel. Sofias thermal springs meant that it was always an attractive place for settlement. There are springs in the city centre, Gorna Banya, Bankya, Knyazhevo and Ovcha Kupel. Under Thracian, and later Roman, rule Sofia was known as Serdika; from the middle of the 6th century the Byzantines renamed it Triaditsa and from the 9th century onwards during the First Bulgarian Kingdom it took on the Slavonic name of Sredets. The city finally became known as Sofia from the beginning of the 15th century taking on the name Sofia (Wisdom), from St. Sofia church. Sofias coat of arms was designed in 1900. The citys motto Raste no ne staree (grows but does not age) was added a year later. During World War II, Sofia was badly bombed by allied air raids in the early months of 1944. Over 3000 buildings were totally destroyed and another 9000 damaged.

24

city centre walk


Sofias main sights are nearly all located within a short walking distance of each other and can easily be seen within a few hours, depending on how much time you decide to spend at each. It is best to start from Narodno Sabranie Square (Nearest under ground station University)
In the middle of the Square sits the impressive Tsar Osvoboditel monument (1), potraying the Russian Tsar Alexander II on horseback.It was erected as a gesture of gratitude to the Russian Tsar and his troops who finally liberated Bulgaria in 1878 from Ottoman rule. The statue itself is a 14 metre high bronze by the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi. Not far from the monument you will see the golden domes of a far grander gesture of the nations gratitude. To get to the Cathedral, make your way past the beautiful white parliament building, referred to as the National Assembly (2) (Narodno Sabranie). The National Assembly was built in three stages between 1884 - 1928, by a Bulgarian architect who had been living and working in Vienna. The slogan on the facade above the entrance Obedinenieto Pravi Silata, loosely translated means United we are strong. This is the scene of regular public protests and back in 1997 the building was actually stormed and damaged, leading to the eventual downfall of the then ruling Socialist party.

Alexander Nevski Cathedral (3) is without a doubt the most spectacular building in Sofia. Named after Alexander Nevski, the patron saint of Tsar Alexander II, who is also referred to as the Tsar Osvoboditel (Liberator). Built between 1882 - 1912 in the Neo Byzantine style, typical for Russian churches in the 19th century, the cathedral is 76 metres long and 53 metres wide and is said to hold up to 7000 people. Some of Russia and Bulgarias best artists of the time worked on the interior with its five aisles and three altars. Sienna and Carrera marble in the entrance area, stained glass windows, Venetian mosais and dramatic murals such as The Lord God Sabbath in the main cupola, and Judgement Day above the exit, onyx and alabaster columns on the thrones, all add to the richness of the interior without making it in any way gaudy. The Crypt (4) below the cathedral is part of the National Art Gallery, housing the Old Bulgarian Art Collection, depicting Orthodox Church Art from its origins in the 4th
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out for the sights

century through to the 19th century National Revival period. The focus is predominantly on icon painting with some 300 permanent exhibits including an altar cross and a pair of altar doors from the Rila monastery. Just a stones throw from Alexander Nevski is another important church: the contrast in style could not be starker. St. Sofia (5) is the oldest Eastern Orthodox church in Sofia and after major restoration and renovation works, it reopened to the public about ten years ago and once again plays an important role in the day to day rituals of Sofianites. It is in fact this church that gave its name to the present day capital back in the 14th century. The simple red brick church dates back to the 5th/6th century when it was the site of Serdicas necropolis. During the Ottoman yoke it was turned into a mosque, but after an earthquake in 1818 toppled the minaret and another some 40 years later killed the Imams two sons, it was abandoned and restored as a church after liberation. Outside St.Sofia burns the eternal flame of the unknown soldier (6), set up in 1981 to honour the nations war casualties. Across from there is Sofias flea market of sorts (7) of course aimed directly at the tourists heading for the Cathedral. From here turn left onto Rakovski St., heading towards Tsar Osvoboditel Bld. Also referred to as the Yellow Brick Road (Nothing to do with Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, the yellow bricks were in fact a present

from the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph to his cousin Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg in 1907). On the corner is the Military Club (8), an attractive Renaissance-style building which in its hey day (prior to 9th September 1944) was the venue for many a splendid ball, attended by royalty and Sofias elite and now once again is a popular venue for functions and cultural events. On the other corner, with its five golden onion domes, sits the small and beautifully ornate Russian Church (9). Built from 1912 1914, to appease a Russian diplomat afraid to worship in Bulgarian churches, the church is named after St. Nikolai the miracle maker. To this day wishes are written on slips of paper and placed in the wooden box by the white marble sarcophagus of Bishop Serafim (1881 1950), who is buried in the crypt. Although never canonized he is revered by many Bulgarians as a saint. Continuing along the yellow brick road towards Battenberg Square you will pass on your right the former Royal Palace (10), nowadays home to the National Art Gallery (currently closed for repairs until Spring 2012) and the Ethnographic Museum. Built in 1873, it was the residence of the ruling governor during the Ottoman occupation, with administrative offices and police headquarters on the lower floors. It was here that national hero Vasil Levski was tried and sentenced to death. After liberation it was the first building to be refurbished in contemporary Viennese style, and it became

26

city centre walk


the seat of the Bulgarias first post liberation monarch, Kniaz Alexander Battenberg. The art gallery, established in 1948, has over 12,000 examples of Bulgarian art from 19th and 20th century in its funds, of which approximately 400 are on permanent display, including works by Zahari Zograf, Tsanko Lavrenov and sculptor Andrei Nikolov. The Ethnographic Museum in the eastern wing gives an insight to Bulgarian folklore and traditions. Although started in 1878, many valuable exhibits were lost during the bombing in 1944 and probably the most interesting exhibit is the beautifully carved wooden ceiling. Walking through the City Garden in front of the palace you will reach the beautiful Ivan Vazov National Theatre (11). On a nice day the area outside is usually buzzing with stylish street cafes that give Sofia a metropolitan feel. You will of course be paying more for your coffee here but it is worth it, as you take in the 40 metre high faade, fronted by a large pediment, supported on six white marble columns and depicting Apollo and the muses, behind which rise twin towers crowned with sculptures of the goddess Nike. Built in 1907, the interior was destroyed by fire in 1923, and was restored again six years later. Continuing back up along the yellow brick road past the National Bank you will come to the Archaeological Museum (12) (2 Saborna St.) This is the oldest museum in Bulgaria, and has been in its present location the Bujuk (Big) Mosque since 1899. The mosque itself dates back to the end of the 15th century. It recently underwent major restoration, reopening in 2000 and is without a doubt one of the most charming and interesting museums in Sofia. Its collection includes treasures, coins and pre-historical monuments from Bulgarian soil through Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The highlights include the Valchitran gold treasure from the 14th century BC and the original floor mosaic from St. Sofia Church as well as some of the more recent Thracian gold discoveries. Just beyond the museum is the Presidency the colourfully attired guards are always worth a snapshot - and in the courtyard behind sits the St. George Rotunda (13) among the excavations of ancient Roman ruins. This charming round red brick church dates back to the 4th century (although it did not become a church till the 6th century) and is Sofias oldest preserved building. Having undergone major restoration work, it was reopened to the public in 1998 for the first time in 70 years. Three layers of frescoes can still be seen, the oldest dating back to the 10th century. Nowadays it often hosts small art exhibits.

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out for the sights


At the opposite end of the courtyard you will find the Sheraton Hotel. In front of the hotel is St. Nedelya Church (14), situated on the square of the same name. Built at the end of the 19th century, it is the direct successor of several smaller churches from mediaeval times and lies directly above the crossroads of ancient Serdica. In 1925 it was largely destroyed in a bomb blast assassination attempt on Tsar Boris III in which over 200 people were killed although the intended victim was spared. Its central location makes it the focal point for locals and you may well be able to observe a wedding, christening or funeral. In the underpass directly infront of the TZUM Retail Centre, nestled among the cafes and shops, is the tiny church of Sveta Petka Samardzhiiska (15), built in the 14th century. Behind TZUM at the beginning of Maria Luisa Blvd is Sofias only mosque, the Banya Bashi mosque (16), built in 1576 by Hadzhi Mimar Sonah. Banya, the Bulgarian word for bath, refers to the adjacent magnificent Public Baths (17) that were completely derelict and are currently being painstakingly restored to their former splendour. In front of the Baths are mineral springs where Sofianites often form long queues to fill up their plastic bottles with free mineral water. Crossing over Maria Luisa Blvd you will see the beautifully restored Halite (18), the former food market built in 1909. Once again

Insiders tip
Why not join Free Sofia Tour on one of their free tours around the city? 11am or 6pm outside the law courts on Vitosha Blvd.

the main focus of the shops inside is food, with stalls selling fresh fish and special dietary foods, as well as a variety of other shops. From here you have several options. To the south side you can take a stroll along pedestrianised Pirotska Street, with its cafes and shops, or on the north side you can walk along Exarh Josif Street to Sofias synagogue (19) another beautiful building renovated in recent years. Built between 1905 and 1909 by Austrian architect Gruenanger, the building is a smaller replica of the Sephardic synagogue in Vienna, which was destroyed during the second world war. If after that you still feel you have the energy, you might like to take a stroll through the backstreets to the Zhenski Pazar (20) (Ladies Market). This is Sofias biggest and cheapest market where you can find everything from fruit and vegetables to household products including Bulgarian ceramics. It is always busy and extra caution regarding your valuables is advised!

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out of town tour

Boyana Church National History Museum

This tour takes you out of town to the foot of Vitosha mountain, a pleasant escape from the city.
The sights can be reached by public transport but they are not interconnected, so it may be better to hire a taxi for the tour. Included on UNESCOs World Cultural Heritage List, the Boyana Church is considered one of Bulgarias most significant historical treasures. Dating back to the 11th century it has undergone major restoration work. Built in three stages (11th, 13th and 19th century), the frescoes dating back to 1259 are considered a remarkable example of realistic art from that era. At the nearby museum, visitors can get a more detailed insight into the remarkable history of this church. As you head back towards town, look for the signs to the National History Museum,

spectacularly set at the foot of the mountain in part of the former dictator Todor Zhivkovs residence. 22,000 exhibits show the development of social, cultural and political life on Bulgarian soil. From the first prehistoric settlements through to the National Revival Period and the Bulgarian State 1878-1945; covering the Greeks, Romans, First Bulgarian Kingdom in the Middle Ages and the Byzantines. Among the most spectacular exhibits are the unique gold treasures from Panagyurishte and the Thracian silver from Rogozen, as well as silver and bronze jewellery from the Bronze Age.
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out to eat
hose restaurants listed in this section have been tried and tested by the expatriate community and are genuine recommendations.
They are listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive list. New restaurants are constantly opening, some need a little time to establish themselves. There are only a few specialised cuisine restaurants, many do not survive for long as Bulgarians appear to be conservative in their tastes and still prefer their own national or Mediterranean cuisine. There is a slightly irritating habit of making exotic cuisine more palatable to Bulgarian tastes, which means that the connoisseur may be horrified to come across watered down curries or more recently something known as avtorsko sushi (authors sushi). This includes your sushi being smothered in cream cheese and covered in a wasabi mayonnaise sauce! You can be sure that the places we list here as Indian or Japanese cuisine do not do that! Eating out in Sofia is no longer the value for money experience it once was. Unfortunately far too many of the restaurants are inconsistent in both quality of cuisine and service. Restaurants tend to open around 11.00am and stay open throughout the day till around midnight. Those listed as NEW are new to the insiders guide, map references have been added for your convenience. In a bid to beat the financial crisis most restaurants now offer daily lunch specials at very competitive rates, so if you are on a budget but still enjoy eating out - now is your chance to try some of the better restaurants.
A loose indication of price per person for a three course meal EXcluding aLcoholic drinks: $$$$$ $$$$ $$$ $$ $ Above 60 BGN Up to 60 BGN Up to 40 BGN Up to 30 BGN Under 20 BGN

New smoking rules came into force on 1st June 2012 completely banning indoor smoking in all restaurants, bars and cafes. Although many restaurant owners are still grumbling about the potential loss of business they may well be surprised to see that the negative effect is minimal. Time will tell ;-)

Worth bearing in mind:

- tips should be roughly 10% of the bill. Do check to make sure a service charge hasnt already been added. - Check your bill carefully! There are still many cases of unwitting foreigners being overcharged. - there is some confusion as to what order meals are served in, some restaurants serve food as it becomes ready. Others stick strictly to the rules so that the person who is only eating a main course has to wait till everyone has finished with their salad and starter before it arrives. Make it clear when you would like to receive your food. - Check whether your meal comes with garnitura (side dish) or whether you need to order it separately. - Food tends to be served warm rather than piping hot.

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out to eat
33 chairs 14 Prof. Assen Zlatarov St. $$$$, Italian, courtyard
E7

Bistro Landau 63 Oborishte St. $$$, German, sun deck

NE W

E7

The courtyard offers a tranquil shelter on a warm summers day and the menu is fresh and Italian. Daily specials.

Adis Cook & Book NE W 31 Budapest St. $$$, International, Garden

C5

We were just going to give this restaurant a thumbs up review for the tasty selection of German dishes on offer, however we understand that it is now under new management so we can no longer be sure.

Simply an enchanting venue especially for those special occasions; something in between a restaurant, bookstore and someones home. Open for lunch and dinner (12:00 23:00) bookings are recommended.

Blue Moon 27 Rakovski St., t.0897 811 733 $$$, Thai, Open evenings only

E5

F4 Annette 27 Angel Kunchev St., t. 02 980 4098 $$$, Moroccan, Courtyard


Enjoy the lovely decked courtyard, and genuine Moroccan cuisine, based on original recipes from the owners mother. Salad starters are presented on a tray from which you can make your selection.

Recently opened, this is Sofias first Thai restaurant. We have not yet had the chance to check it out ourselves but the general feedback seems to be all round positive and with so few genuinely good exotic restaurants in Sofia we had to include it in our listings.

Art club Museum 2 Saborna St., t. 02 980 6664 $$, International, Terrace

D4

The prominent location right next to the Archaeological Museum has always made this a popular place for relaxing, meeting friends having a drink and maybe a bite to eat. The menu has a variety of choice to suit every taste and budget.

D8 Before 10 (Predi 10) 1 Prof. Milko Bichev St., t. 088 493 58 57 $$$, Bulgarian
Far removed from the ubiquitous Mediterranean cuisine that most of the citys trendy restaurants offer, this place concentrates on high quality food made from fresh, local ingredients and based on traditional recipes from the Balkan region.

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out to eat
Bodega Tapas & wine 17 Akad. Boris Stefanov St., Studentski Grad, t. 0898 638 003 $$, Spanish, Car Park, Terrace
Great for both a light bite, or dinner with friends. The menu includes an attractive selection of tapas, sandwiches and salads as well as the traditional Paella and a variety of original starters and main course dishes which are beautifully illustrated in the menu. The service is very attentive and friendly. Live Spanish music on Thurs, Fri, Sat evenings.

Checkpoint Charly 12 Ivan Vazov St., t. 02 988 0370 $$$, International, Garden

E5

Borimechkata 6 Akad. Boris Stefanov St., Studentski Grad t. 0888 222 124 $$, Bulgarian, Car Park, Terrace
An extensive menu presents all that is good about Bulgarian cuisine, at very reasonable prices. The service is genuinely friendly and attentive. Lively Bulgarian courtyard setting, without the usual tourist gimmicks.

A favourite venue for a meal or just a coffee in the trendy black and white, Checkpoint Charly themed setting. All the details have been specially selected by the owners: table napkins from old newspapers, antique ashtrays, etc. Traditional Bulgarian dishes and daily menu. Club Ivan Vazov in the adjacent historic building offers a homely atmosphere for dining, served by the Checkpoint Charly kitchen.

Chepishev 27 Ivanitsa Danchev St., Boyana, t. 02 959 1010 $$$, Bulgarian, Car parking, Terrace
At the start of the Boyana residential area. The menu offers both traditional Bulgarian dishes and more adventurous international cuisine.

E4 Brasserie 3 Raiko Daskalov Sq., t. 02 980 0398 $$$$, Intercontinental, patio garden
Ultra trendy, sleek interior and a very beautiful patio area at the back. The menu is brief and original with a good variety of dishes and taste styles.

Confetti 4 Graf Ignatiev St., t.02 988 4444 $$$

E4

Cabra 18 Oborishte St., t. 02 846 8687 $$, health food, pavement dining,

E7

What looks like an ice-cream parlour from the street actually turns out to be a restaurant with very large indoor dining area and even larger garden. The menu includes the typical Mediterranean salads, fish and meat dishes, pasta and a daily special consisting of soup and main course for under 10 leva.

Innovative health food bar at the lower end of Oborishte St. A simple and cheerful interior and a surprisingly fresh menu that definitely takes the boring out of vegetarian. Daily specials.

Divaka 16 Hristo Belchev St. $$, Bulgarian

NE W

E4

Large trendy location for a favourite Bulgarian eatery, that is always busy, probably because it presents excellent value for money. The staff are generally very friendly.

32

E5 Fancy Terrace & Garden NE W 10 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., First floor $$$, International
This chain of restaurants is present mainly in the malls of Sofia, offering acceptable food at acceptable prices. The main attraction of this particular restaurant is the spectacular view onto the quaint Russian Church across the road, which till recently was reserved only for smokers but now that the new regulations are in force non-smokers can also enjoy front row seating. For gadget lovers your order can be placed directly via the touch screen on every table traditionalists can talk to the friendly waiting staff. Service is very prompt.

out to eat
Hilton Sofia Restaurant Seasons 1 Bulgaria Blvd., t. 02 933 5062 $$$$, International, AC, Terrace
H3
Completely revamped, impeccably stylish, the restaurant offers modern, fresh and delicious food, combining flavours from all over the world. The Sunday brunch is well worth treating yourself to especially as they offer a baby-sitting service.

K.e.v.a. (K.E.B.A.) 114 Rakovski St., t.0877 313 233 $$, Bulgarian, Courtyard

F4

Flannagans on the Square Radisson Blu Grand Hotel $$$$, International, Terrace

E6

Flannagans offers a selection of international favourites in a dramatic black and red interior with a cosy lounge area, a generous terrace and great views.

Set back down a little from Rakovski St. next to the National Film & Theatre Academy (NATFIZ) you will find this popular restaurant serving simple tasty Bulgarian cuisine in an informal modern setting at very affordable prices. The delicious homemade lemonade and tasty traditional appetizers (referred to as dips on the English menu) with the fresh bread are welcome at any time of the day.

Flocafe Lounge Bar and Restaurant E4 3 Sveta Nedelya Sq. t. 02 950 66 45 $$, Continental, Terrace
Lively and trendy. Enjoy a selection of coffee, shakes, cocktails and desserts or have a light meal. The menu offers enough variety to appeal to all tastes.

LEtranger 78 Tsar Simeon St., t. 02 983 1417, 088 752 3376 $$$$, French

D4

Within easy walking distance from the Sheraton Hotel and the many hotels situated along Maria Luisa Blvd. this charming restaurant is the longest running French restaurant in the city with a regular following of clients and friends. Open for lunch and dinner during the week, dinner only on Saturdays, closed on Sundays.

I3 Gurkha 56 Tsvetna Gradina St. t. 02 865 02 16, 088 493 9100 $$, Indian and Nepali, Easy parking
Not far from the Kempinski and Hilton Hotel. The menu features traditional and tasty Indian and Nepali cuisine. The decor with oriental touches makes for a cosy dining ambience.

NE W La Cubanita 2 Bitoyla St., Beli Brezi district t. 089 689 5341 Cuban, International, Garden

I0

The beautiful garden area is probably one of the most attractive features of this restaurant. The rather extensive illustrated menu
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33

out to eat
offers half a dozen or so Cuban specialities and a good variety of international meat and fish dishes. The real attraction of La Cubanita seems to be the evening entertainment program that starts at 22:00 and offers a variety from Ladies night on Wednesdays, erotic dance night for men on Thursdays , salsa and latino parties on other nights. You can check the program on their website.
Discover the Sunny Heart of Italy! Savour the warmth, friendliness and typical Mediterranean hospitality and try our summer specialties.

food and service is highly rated, and the selection of mainly French wines is good without being too expensive. Closed on Sundays.

Mali Beograd Samokovsko Shosse, Pancharevo t. 02 974 9296, +359 87 986 3611 $$$, Serbian, Car Park, Terrace
If its tasty grilled meats you are after it is well worth stopping by here especially on a warm summer evening.

J8 Mezze 12 Nikolai Haitov St., t. 0897 889185 $$$, Mediterranean, Terrace


Mezze literally means appetizers, and indeed the menu includes bowls of olives etc., but there are also fresh pasta dishes, salads and fresh fish on the menu. Always busy. Reservations recommended.

Lavazza Espression 44 Vitosha Blvd., t. 0885 733 580 $$, Italian, Pavement dining, Non Smoking interior

F3

The menu offers much more than just coffee and drinks. Choose from a variety of bruschetta or one of the many tempting salads or sandwiches. The novelty coffee creation espessone is dessert & coffee in one!

D5 Miyabi 5 Stara Planina St., (close to junction with Dondukov Blvd) $$$$, Japanese
The restaurant is a little hidden, not far from the main junction of Rakovski St and Dondukov Blvd, set back in the courtyard of a new office development but well worth finding. This is one of the best Japanese restaurants in town. The menu is authentic but if you are not too familiar with Japanese food, may be a little tricky to navigate. The staff are helpful in advising without going over the top in their recommendations.

Le Bouquet 21 Vitosha Blvd., t. 02 8100 800

E4

Restaurant of the fantastically trendy Les Fleurs hotel on Vitosha Blvd. The restaurant serves modern contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, natural ingredients.

Maison Godet 17a Alexander Stamboliiski Blvd. $$$, French

D3

E5 Motto 18 Aksakov St., t. 02 987 2723 $$$, French/Continental, Garden


This place just continues to be popular with locals and expat alike. Modern bistro-type menu. Reservations recommended.

Stylish underground restaurant, not far from St. Nedelya Square and the Sheraton Hotel. The

34

out to eat
E4 Olive Garden 18 Angel Kanchev St., t. 02 481 1214 $$$, Mediterranean, Garden
Good food, friendly service and reasonable prices. The menu is orientated towards pasta & Italian but it also features specialties from around the world. Particularly attractive is the extensive lunch time menu with smaller portions and lower prices. The menu is creative and the dishes are tasty. Regular guest chefs. Has lovely garden area across the street.

H6 Pod Lipite 1 Elin Pelin St., t. 02 866 5053 67 Cherni Vrah Blvd., t. 02 962 5953 $$$, Bulgarian, Car parking, Garden
Both restaurants present authentic Bulgarian cuisine in an authentic setting.

E5 Opera 113 Rakovski St., t. 02 988 2141 $$$, international, Pavement dining
Just below the Opera, this place is trendy and the food tasty at any time of day.

Riverside Brewery & restaurant Dragalevtsi Suburb, BBQ


This popular out of town restaurant has now re-opened after burning down a couple of years ago. Located just above the suburb of Dragalevtsi, bordering Vitosha National Park it is a great choice for escaping the heat in the city during the summer months, although not so easy to locate. The menu is mainly BBQ, there is a new childrens playground.

Pastorant 16 Tsar Assen St., t. 02 981 4482 $$$, Italian, Garden

E3

Saffron Francois Mitterrand St., next to bl. 42B Studentski Grad t. 0890 917203, 0886 963846 $$, Indian, Easy parking, Terrace
The restaurant is tucked away in Students town, behind Fantastiko supermarket and is worth checking out. Good Indian food at reasonable prices. Open every day from lunchtime onwards, except on Mondays from 17.00hrs.

Charming and intimate, done out in refreshing pale green with delightful knick-knacks.

Sage Bistro 63 Stefan Stambolov St., 1st floor, Bistritsa village square t. 02 992 7140 $$$$, International, Balcony
Although situated in the village of Bistritsa (approx.15km from city centre) this restaurant is a popular venue for foreigners and locals alike who appreciate the high quality of the cuisine and attentive service.

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out to eat
Closed Mondays, open weekdays for dinner only, Saturdays and Sundays for lunch and dinner. can choose from the ready-cooked buffet or order from the menu. Very reasonably priced.

E4 Sidoniya - Lord of the Chefs 29b, Hristo Belchev St., t. 0893 688 884 $$$$, International
Sidoniya Radeva is the 2011 winner of the Bulgarian Lord of the chefs TV show. Her prize was this restaurant. In the cosy and intimate atmosphere diners can experience her passion for cooking, choosing from a brief yet imaginative menu.

D5 Vino & Tapas 38 Dondukov Blvd. t. 0878 410 930, 0879 435 930 $$, Mediterranean, Summer Courtyard
Not far from the back of the Opera this quaint little wine bar is tucked away at the back of a courtyard. The wine list is comprehensive (Bulgarian and international) and reasonably priced. New menu. Opens at 17.00hrs. They also offer catering.

D7 SkaraBar 2 Dimitar Grekov St., t. 02 483 0696 18 G. Benkovski St. $, Bulgarian, Terrace
Something between a BBQ restaurant and a bar. A relatively short menu based on Bulgarian cuisine, along with low prices make this an attractive option. Generous portions!

v Cafes, Pubs and Bars


365
E6
Corner of Oborishte St & Vassil Levski Blvd Lively bar on a busy street corner.

Afreddo Spaghetti Kitchen 9, 6th September St. t. 02 441 0270, 0888 105 816 $$$, Italian - Americano, Garden
E5

NE W

E4

Warm earthy tones, raw natural materials and a variety of seating options arranged on several levels all around a very visible kitchen hub. If spaghetti (pasta) is not your thing there is so much more to choose from; steaks, fish, seafood etc. The main dishes all come with a choice of side orders and are good value for money. There are also daily lunch time specials and on Sundays they do brunch from 11.30 - 16.00.

12 Vitosha Blvd. Serving some of the best ice cream in town (made with real milk and fruit) this ice cream parlour/cafe near the law court end of pedestrianised Vitosha Blvd. is a welcome spot to stop off and treat yourself. Choose from waffle cones or plastic tubs and over 30 different flavours including frozen yoghurt and fruit sorbets the price is by weight. Espresso coffee and a limited selection of drinks and sandwiches are also available, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Artists Bar

H3

F4 Tavite 58 William Gladstone St., t. 02 980 3747 $$, Bulgarian, Pavement dining
Not far from the book market at Slaveikov Square, the fresh white interior makes a welcoming and clean impression. The menu is mainly traditional Bulgarian home cooking. You

Hilton Hotel Stylish bar with live music each evening from Monday to Thursday. Live piano music each evening from 6pm to 8pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays live jazz from 10pm to midnight.

Before & after

E4

12 Hristo Belchev St., t. 02 981 6088

36

cafes, pubs and bars


Bar Me
E5

Jackin bar

E5

Military Club, 7 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., entrance on Rakovski St. Stop off at this eclectic bar for a coffee and croissant, or something a little stronger depending on the time of day and your preference.

8A Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. A place to socialise, enjoy a drink with friends after work and listen to funky, groovy or house music. Guest DJs.

By the Way

G4

JJ Murphys

NE W

E3

166 Rakovski St. This long running bar is ideally located if you are looking for somewhere near to NDK (National Palace of Culture) to have a drink and a small bite to eat before or after a show. There is a limited but innovative selection of items available (salads, sandwiches, bruschetta) and some fabulous homemade desserts which go down well with an afternoon coffee.

6 Karnigradska St., t. 02 980 2870 The citys leading Irish pub has live music at weekends and real imported Irish food items. Does a Sunday roast and is very popular with ex-pats. Large choice of beers including Red Murphys and a lovely BBQ Garden.

Local

E6

Casa de Cuba

I3

1 Tsvetna Gradina, Helsinki Sq. Great atmosphere. Stop by here for some genuine Cuban coffee, or a cocktail with or without Cuban rum and a cigar.

Clouds

44 Patriarh Evtimii Blvd Relatively new cafe/bar in the centre of town that offers refreshment whatever the time of day; sandwiches (freshly made) and cakes (muffins, brownies etc.) to accompany the drinks on offer. The ambience is pleasant and relaxing.

NE W

F4

2 Sheinovo St. This wine bar has a large spacious feel to it, thanks to the high ceilings and large windows which open on to the street. For those who would like a bite to eat there is a limited daily menu of healthy but tasty salads, sandwiches and soups. The selection of home made desserts is enticing and rewarding!

Mando Cafe

J8

Joliot Curie Metro stop, downstairs Small and friendly non-smoking cafe that serves very reasonable priced freshly baked rolls and French pastries as well as healthy salads and fresh pasta.

Dada Cultural bar

D5

10 G. Benkovski St. Regular cultural events, daily fresh menu, tapas and more.

Funky kitchen

E4

26 Stefan Karadja St., t. 0883 44 8338 Restaurant & dance bar, newly refurbished and offering a new menu. Worth a visit especially in the evenings.

Gramophone
6 Budapest St. Retro dance club

D5

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out to eat
McCarthys
E4
50a Alabin St. Irish run with the authentic look and feel of an Irish pub. Live Music. Guinness, Kilkenny, Heineken, Bulmers cider and a wide range of local and international drinks. No food served.

Memento

E5

106 Rakovski St. corner of Gen.Gurko St. 32 Vitosha Blvd. Trendy and popular all day coffee bar with regular music events open till the early morning hours.

NE 11 Angel Kanchev St. This ice cream parlour/cafe offers a great place to stop for coffee or a bite to eat at any time of day. In addition to the large variety of ice cream flavours on offer, the menu offers plenty for the more health conscious diner; yoghurt and fruit melbas, salads, sandwiches and daily cooked specials. They offer a daily 3 course lunch special for just 5 leva! Happy hour 18:00 20:00. Pavement dining.
Tea House (Chai vuv Fabrikata) D5
11 Georgi Benkovski St., t. 0887 051 080 Tea house in one of the rooms of an old factory. Serves over 50 types of tea, healthy food, including an Ayurvedic menu and home made cakes. Regular events include jazz concerts, childrens matinees on Saturday mornings and other interesting initiatives.

Raffy Bar & Gelato

E4

One Coffee

J8

Joliot Curie Metro stop, upstairs Large trendy cafe/bar serving sandwiches, mekitsi (doughnuts), salads and a variety of drinks.

One more bar

F5

12 Shishman St. This is no doubt one of the hippest places to go, no matter what time of day. Go for a coffee, a drink, a tasty sandwich or a healthy salad. You wont be disappointed.

Tiffany

E3

1214 Denkoglu St. Trendy dance bar in the city centre.

Timeless

E6

Park bar

E7

Corner San Stefano / Shipka St. A popular meeting place for a bite to eat during the day or drinks after work.

11 Krakra St At the back of the Union of Architects this is a relatively inexpensive cafe with a turn of the century feel, bentwood cafe chairs interspersed with cosy sofa corners and a shady garden area.

Toba & Co

E5

6 Moskovska St. At the back of the former Tsars palace, you can enjoy the outdoor shelter of the large trees on warmer days or enjoy the retro interior of this imperial setting.

v Live Music
Backstage
100 Vassil Levski Blvd. This club features live music every night, Wednesday is blues night.

D6

38

cafes, pubs and bars


Sofia Live Club
NDK underpass by the fountains t. 0888 331 193 Closed July and August. Full programme details: sofialiveclub.com

G3

Studio 5

G3

NDK Entrance A3 Lovely small sized venue within NDK for lovely intimate live music evenings. Closed in August.

Yalta Club
H6

E6

Swinging Hall

8 Dragan Tsankov Blvd. Different bands play alternately in each of the two rooms. Crowded, the emphasis is on jazz and rock every night

20, Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. opposite Sofia University The oldest club in town with a new look for the 21st century. www.yaltaclub.com

v Discos / Dance clubs

Places we dont recommend


Modera Coffee
6 Shipka St This is only for people who dont mind loud music, any time of day! If you want to meet people for a coffee to actually chat we suggest Costa Coffee round the corner on Krakra St.

(usually open from 22.00hrs)


Please note that many of the clubs in Sofia close during the summer months or should we say relocate to the Black Sea Coast. We have tried to include clubs here that are open all year round but ask for your understanding if we have got it wrong.

Blender Club

G3

NDK underpass opposite the fountains One of the newest and hippest dance clubs in town.

And we have our personal reasons for not recommending these places ;(

Intrigue
102 Vitosha Blvd.

Chervilo

E5

9 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. (Military Club) House music

Funhouse The Clock


81 Tsar Assen St.

Culture beat
NDK

G3 G4 D5 E5

5th Avenue
174 Rakovski St.

Central bar & eatery


137 Rakovski St.

Escobar
3 Vassil Levski Blvd.

Fetish
4 Vitosha Blvd.

Mascara
113 Rakovski St., below Opera

My Mojito
12 Ivan Vazov St. Admission charged on weekends.

Sin City

D3

Todor Alexandrov and Hristo Botev Blvd. Several party venues for different music preferences under one roof.

Dont agree with our restaurant recommendations or found one you would like to recommend?
Post your comments: www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

Wake up Bar

G3

underpass between Hilton Sofia and NDK


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39

expat section
advice and tips if youre pLanning on staying a LittLe Longer

FORMALITIES

Since joining the EU new rules have come into force for EU citizens, for all other nationals the restrictions remain unchanged. Check with the Bulgarian Embassy in your home country. The new regulation replaces the identity cards (lichni karti) with new residence permit cards, or certificates as they are officially called. These new cards do not have a photo, nor do they give the national identification number (EGN in Bulgarian). We suggest you hang on to your lichna karta (if you have one) for as long as possible. The other major change applies to family members who are not citizens of the EU. They can be issued with a residence card for long or permanent stay in Bulgaria depending on the period of stay of the EU citizen. Several other minor changes in the law in terms of long and permanent residence have been noted. According to the new law, long stay is up to five years (while the old regulation provided only one year). There are three conditions that an EU citizen must meet in order to apply for long stay in Bulgaria. They must either be working in Bulgaria, enrolled in school or university; have a health insurance number and sufficient funds to support himself and his family. For permanent residence, an EU citizen must also have lived in the country for the past five years and have legal work status. The passport office is at 48 Maria Luisa Blvd.

FINDING A HOME

with the expat community and the first decision you will need to make is whether to live in town or in the suburbs. Accommodation in town will usually be in apartments, either in modern purpose built blocks or in some of the older grander buildings, which unfortunately may have rather run down and dirty communal areas. Living in town is recommended for singles or couples without children who enjoy going out in the evenings. The drawback is the noise, dirt and bad air. Popular residential areas in Sofia include Iztok, Lozenets and Doctors Garden. It is worth checking with Cleves as they have an excellent choice of brand new ready-to-move-in apartments in prime locations. Out of town accommodation is usually in villas with all sorts of extras, including pool and sauna (depending on your budget). The air is cleaner here and most villas have reasonably sized gardens making it the better choice for families with small children. Access in the winter months can be tricky as side roads in these areas are rarely cleared of snow and ice and the general condition of the roads is bad to start off with. Four wheel drives are highly recommended if you choose to live in the suburbs. Popular areas include; Boyana, Dragalevtsi, Simeonovo, Bistritsa, Pancharevo and Gorna Banya. The city centre is generally a 20-30 minute drive from these areas, depending on traffic. Estate agencies will usually take a commission of half the first months rent. In exchange for this they should help you negotiate the amount, the terms of payment and sort out any legal issues such as contracts signing.

This should in theory not be too difficult as there is an abundance of accommodation available for rent. The problem is finding something that will feel like home away from home. There are several areas popular

SECURING YOUR HOME

Most properties available for rent offer some form of security. An alarm system preferably linked to a security firm is a must (sorry!). Foreigners are attractive targets

40

for burglaries, especially when the property is vacant, although there has been an increase recently in night time break-ins based on the assumption that the alarms are disengaged when people are home. Alternatives to alarms include living in secure compounds, hiring a guard, or keeping a guard dog (although sadly these are sometimes drugged or poisoned before a break in).

Finding the right person to help around the home is no longer easy in Sofia especially if you want someone with a foreign language. The going rate can be quite steep these days but then it is a question of supply and demand. The IWC (International Womens Club) usually has a good network of recommendations for everything from gardener, housekeeper, driver or babysitter.

FINDING HOME HELP

FURNISHING YOUR HOME

Many homes come partially furnished or unfurnished. Most typically foreigners complain about badly equipped kitchens. A compromise can often be reached with landlords to foot part of the bill for any purchases or improvements you want made. Finding suitable furniture till now has been quite an arduous task although there has been a vast increase in the number of furniture shops around town. A lot of time and patience is required in finding what you want as there are very few large shops offering a broad spectrum. Likewise it is very difficult to find companies who have a large stock base. Another alternative is custom-made furniture which is very reasonably priced. On the Ring Road between Mladost and Dragalevtsi, there is a whole array of home furnishing shops for people with different tastes and budgets.

expat section
216 Okolovrusten Pat / Ring Road near junction with the Bistritsa Rd. www.ikea.bg (in Bulgarian) Long awaited, IKEA finally opened in September 2011 and has certainly filled its niche in the market. The product range is fairly comprehensive and prices are in line with other stores around the world despite efforts to discredit the Bulgarian IKEA in the media before it had even opened. The restaurant and food shop still lack many of the familiar products but this may just be a question of time and assessing the market. There is plenty of parking space but if possible visit during weekdays as on the weekends it gets very busy.

323 Tsarigradsko Shosse, Gorublane district 20 Obelsko Shosse, Lyulin district www.praktiker.bg German DIY hypermarket chain with two outlets in Sofia,and several more across the country. Open 7 days a week 08.30 20.00 (9.00 19.00 Sundays) An excellent range and choice of products for everyone from the serious builder to the amateur home decorator or gardener. Check out their website which is in Bulgarian and English. There is no shortage of choice when it comes to finding technical equipment for the home. Everything from DVD players to vacuum cleaners can be found at prices comparable to elsewhere in Europe. Check Technomarket, Technopolis, Zora (most helpful and knowledgeable sales staff) and Metro.

CARS

The best recommendation for a car in Bulgaria is any form of four wheel drive, es-

42

pecially if you plan to live outside the city or travel the country much. Try to avoid however anything too flashy or new, as you may find yourself separated from your car much sooner than planned.

INSURANCE

There have been major changes regarding insurance in Bulgaria in recent years with all the big international companies such as AIG, Allianz, Generali etc, represented here. The packages they offer are no doubt comparable with what we are used to, so it is worth checking out.

YOUR HEALTH

Many expatriates maintain an international health insurance policy throughout their time abroad. This entitles them to scheduled and emergency health care abroad, usually in the closest European capital with a hospital approved by the insurance company. However, if you cannot afford such a policy you will be reliant on the local healthcare service. The general opinion is that there are many good doctors in Bulgaria but the healthcare system as a whole, and some of its practices in particular, are outmoded by several decades. Certainly those doctors that have studied or worked in the West will be a better bet, and many speak foreign languages. Such doctors can be found working in private health centres, and will often also work in a state hospital. They can also refer you to a state or private hospital. If you are involved in an accident then you will be taken to Pirogov Emergency hospital (in Sofia). Here the doctors are competent but conditions are appalling and you may have to get a relative or friend to bring in medicines, dressings and food for you. Not all countries have reciprocal health care agreements with Bulgaria, and you should check whether you are covered. If you live in Bulgaria, you or your employer should

Galardo Real Estate


Sales-Rentals Tel.: +359 2 821 21 21 galardo@century21.bg www.century21galardo.com 202, Cherni Vrah blvd. Sofia, Bulgaria
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expat section
IN VITRO CENTRE
be paying Bulgarian health insurance for you and your family, which entitles you to emergency treatment.

WORKING

VITA MULTIDISCIPLINARY HOSPITAL 9, Dragovitsa str., 1505 Sofia t. +359 2 960 4950; 960 4951; 943 4398 Mobile: +359 882 060 433 Fax: +359 2 944 13 43 Email: invitro@vita.bg

It can take a while to get used to the business etiquette in a new country. Dress Code: Bulgarians are fairly formal in their work attire. Men usually wear a suit and tie and women also wear suits or dresses with high heels and ample make-up. In creative and media fields the dress code is more casual, and many international companies have implemented the casual Friday. Smoking: Most offices are now legally non-smoking, and most smokers are now resigned to smoking on the street. Punctuality: Bulgarians are not known for their punctuality and you may find people strolling in late for meetings, often without even apologising. Obviously your reaction will depend on your relationship to the offending party, but if you have arranged to meet in a cafe or restaurant, it may be worth waiting 15-30 minutes before deciding to leave. Formality: Most Bulgarians are on a first name basis amongst their colleagues using the familiar you, but will address the boss by his/her full name and the polite you. Women in the workplace are treated fairly equally in Bulgaria, but US citizens and other westerners may find male comments sexist. Bulgarian women tend not to get too bothered about this kind of behaviour, but if it bothers you point it out firmly and politely.

EDUCATION kindergartens
There is plenty of choice of nursery and preschool education for your young children. Your choice will depend on which part of Sofia you live in and your language preferences. Most offer full day care,

44

healthy meals and snacks and extras such as swimming, skiing, etc. Some of the more popular ones may have a waiting list; check out the following and see if they meet your personal requirements. ABC Kindercare Centre has two fully English-speaking nursery schools in Sofia one in the town centre and one in Lozenets. Both are situated in lovely houses, beautifully furnished and equipped with state of the art technology for language learning and development. Children from 26 years old. t. 02 434 1082, 02 434 1119

Bright Childcare and Development Centre As the name suggests a bright modern house beautifully equipped, just off the Ring road in Boyana (near Shell and Mcdonalds) t: 0888 558 997 Germani, located at the foot of Vitosha
Mountain, offers a whole variety of services (bistro, spa centre, party centre) but uppermost is the German speaking Kindergarten with native German educators. The generous site is newly developed with a large outdoor playing area and they have their own indoor pool, where the kids have swimming lessons twice a week. t. 0884 735 954

International Childrens Creativity Foundation in a large house between


Simeonovo and Dragalevtsi accepts children between the ages of 2 and 5. Fully English speaking. This is the oldest Englishlanguage nursery and still the most popular choice with expats. For further information t. 02 967 3112

Little Steps
New English-language educational centre for children from 2-6 years in Simeonovo. The centre uses a British-based curriculum taught by well-qualified and experienced nursery school teachers. Based in a large house with a garden with several play areas. t. 02 961 4906; 0895 700 605

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expat section
Schools
Most foreigners send their kids to the The Anglo-American School, The French School (Lycee Victor Hugo), or Deutsche Schule Sofia, whose fees are in line with European schools. Here are some alternative options:

Euro Lyceum
t. 02 979 19 49; 02 978 64 55 This recently established school follows the British National Curriculum and the Cambridge International Primary programme. It has recently been awarded the necessary license by the Bulgarian authorities and currently offers Kindergarten and 1st till 3rd grade (classes are growing).

Montessori Childrens House


6 Yana Yazova St., 1164 Sofia tel: +359 2 9622748 A fully English speaking nursery following the principles of Montessori to give children a holistic education. Special teaching materials, set in different thematic areas, help children reach their full potential and promote independence and concentration. Located in a lovely house with large garden in the south of Sofia, a nice touch is that the children grow their own vegetables, then prepare and cook them for their lunch. Nemo in Dragalevtsi (near the square) is a convenient choice for those living in the suburbs. They have an international group of children and although the main language is Bulgarian, they also have projects in English and German. They work in conjunction with the National Opera and Ballet, introducing children to music at a young age. t. 02 967 2099

The American College of Sofia


www.acs.bg The elite school for bright Bulgarian kids also offers IB for international students. 8th - 12th grade. t. 02 434 1008 for more information There are several private Bulgarian schools with a strong focus on foreign languages but they are obliged to follow the Bulgarian state curriculum. These include:

St. George School


Bilingual English-Bulgarian school, part of Wondergroup. t. 0885 689 402 for more details.

Uwekind
In a renovated state school building at the foot of a wooded hill in the Knyazhevo district, the main focus in the early years is on German, with English being introduced in the 3rd grade. Uwekind is now certified for the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. t. 02 857 2000, www.uwekind.com

Tuti
English language Kindergarten up to preschool (2-6 years), in purpose built premises in the Lozenets district. t. 0888 522615, 02 9630662 Wonder World has two separate kindergartens - the English one in Dragalevtsi and the Bulgarian one (Chuden Sviat) in Boyana. For further information please contact t. 0885 689 402.

Higher education

American University in Blagoevgrad


t. 02 943 4415 for more information

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LEARNING THE LANGUAGE
Bulgarian is not such a difficult language, it has a much smaller vocabulary than English, and the grammar is quite straightforward. For some the Cyrillic alphabet is the sticking point, and they never progress beyond it. It all boils down to how much you want to get to know the real Bulgaria by speaking to its inhabitants in their own language. If you do decide to learn Bulgarian, you can try the many language courses available, or individual lessons with a private teacher. The latter may often take place in your office or home. There is no right or wrong way to learn, though theres a definite advantage to intensive courses, if you can spare the time.

Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria (HBCB)


Organisation for Greek and Cypriot companies operating in Bulgaria. It was formed for the purpose of promoting and strengthening the economic and cultural ties between Bulgaria and Greece. www. hbcbg.com

International Womens Club of Sofia


The club is a valuable support group for women who come here as non-working spouses offering support groups, activities, excursions and charity projects. www.iwc-sofia.org for more information.

EXPAT BUSINESS AND SOCIAL CLUBS

SHOPPING

American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria


A large organisation of companies that are either American or do business with the USA. www.amcham.bg

The increase in the number of super/hypermarkets in Sofia does not appear to be slowing down, making shopping a much easier experience all round for expats. All are self serve (with the exception of the deli counters) and air conditioned. Most have trolleys with child seats, easy car access, and accept debit and credit cards. Your favourite choice will depend on the location of the supermarket and your personal preference of products on offer. Help the environment by using cloth shopping bags or recycling your plastic ones.

Billa
Austrian chain with outlets all over the country. They seem to be catering predominantly to the Bulgarian market, and you may therefore not find the same range of exotic products.

British Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce


An organisation dedicated to promoting business between the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Membership is open to any British or Bulgarian registered company - visit www.bbcc.bg for more information.

Carrefour
In The Mall on Tsarigradsko Shosse and several smaller locations in town. The in house brands offer excellent value for money, but otherwise on the food front there isnt a lot to differentiate it from the likes of Hit or Picadilly.
www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF)


A business organisation under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales. www. bblf.bg

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expat section
Fantastico
Local chain of convenience stores open till late plus a couple of bigger supermarkets around town. New outlets on the main road to Dragalevtsi and on Simeonovsko Shosse are proving popular with those living in the suburbs. The supermarket in Students Town next to the Extreme bowling alley is open round the clock. outlets in the larger malls in Sofia. Excellent selection of foodstuffs, bio products, fresh fish and deli counters as well as cooked meals to take home. Popular with city based expats.

Sofias open air markets


Still a good place for fresh fruit and veg. Remember the offer still tends to be dictated by season and the best flavoured products are those that are local and in season. The most popular markets with the foreign community include Sitnyakovo market (behind the Romanian embassy) and the Roman Wall Market in Lozenets.

Alexander Malinov Blvd., Mladost 4 and 20 Obelsko Shosse An exotic selection of fruit and veg as well as a good range of ingredients required for oriental cooking. On the premises there is a dry cleaners and several other shops such as JYSK (home decor) and Hippoland (everything you need for kids). They are open seven days a week from 8am to 10pm. www.hit-hypermarket.bg

Health food shops

Kaufland, Phillip Avramov Blvd., Mladost 3


Strategically placed between Billa and Hit in the Mladost area (behind Nova Denitsa) Good fresh bread counter.

Most of the up-market supermarkets now have specialised sections promoting local and international organic products, food, cosmetics, household products, fair trade, gluten-free, baby foods, etc. There are also several specialised shops.

Sluntse Luna (Sun&Moon)


48 Parchevich St. (corner with Hristo Belchev), t. 0878 878 342 Open daily till 20:00 Biomag www.biomag.bg 1 Journalist square 50 Yanko Sakazov Blvd. 10A Doiran St.

Lidl
German discounter has recently opened in the following districts: Nadejda 2, Hadji Dimitar, Ilinden and Drujba 2 and more recently in the Este complex in Iztok area and in Mladost 4. Worth visiting for selected items.

Balev Bio Market


The Mall, Tsarigradsko Shosse 115 Just across from Carrefour.

Metro Cash & Carry


Tsarigradsko Shosse (open 24 hrs) Evropa Blvd (Lyulin) Before you can shop here you need to get a customer card. This can either be registered to your business or as a foreigner you can get a day card against your passport. Some items need to be purchased in bulk, the price tags will inform you of this.

Specialist food shops

Looking for that special treat from home or some exotic destination? There are a couple of specialist shops that may well have what you are looking for.

Andys foods
5 General Kiril Botev St., t. 0885 205 553 British sausages (produced to original recipe in Bulgaria) and fine beers and ales as well as your more staple British culinary items.

Piccadilly
High-end Bulgarian supermarket chain with

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Sokoni - Indian and British food shop


108 Nikolai Gabrovski Blvd., t. 0885 762 542 Open 10:00 to 18:30, Mon to Sat A large selection of Indian spices, curry paste and ready curry sauces as well ayurvedic beauty products and a large selection of teas, cereals, chocolates and biscuits from the UK.

Clothing

With the opening of the Serdika Centre and The Mall, it seems as though most of the expats shopping headaches have disappeared. Till recently it had been nearly impossible to find reasonably priced childrens clothes & shoes, womens clothing (especially anything over a size 12 UK (40 EU) and shoes, decent inexpensive toiletries etc. For those familiar with German and Austrian or even British High Street stores, the relief is great as more and more familiar names appear in Sofia, even if pricing is still sometimes more than in the West. For others, here just a few tips on which places to check out:

Fashion: Quality at a reasonable price, in a


variety of sizes: Peek & Cloppenburg

Childrens clothes and accessories: Zara,


Next, Gap are all recent new additions. Other favourites include Oviesse and Sprider and of course Benetton. The first H&M store in Bulgaria recently opened in The Mall. Childrens Toys: Jumbo - the closest to a toys r us, that we have here. Although the variety of toys is limited, it has an excellent selection of household decor and accessories, baby wear and necessities, stationery and so on. Prices are very reasonable. You will never leave empty handed! Toiletries etc: dm a German chain, whose own brand name cosmetics (balea & Al verde) are extremely good value for money. Shoes: Deichmann (budget) Humanic (good quality at a reasonable price) Also in the outlet centre next to Metro good selection of shoes at discounted prices.

Womens plus Sizes: Ulla Popken in the


Serdika Centre

Note: Adult clothing sizes in Bulgaria are


different from European sizes so again it is best to try before you buy. You will also find that Bulgarian shops tend to stock very small sizes only, and often the cuts are less generous forcing you to go up a size.

www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

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expat section
We are proud to present Combobrand the fashion store that will make you smile! 4 Kapitan Andreev St., Lozenetz, t. 02 963 4244

Mladost Baptist Church


Sunday Worship: 10:00 am Bible Study: 11:20 am Mladost 2 across from block 219c Pastor Steve Swann: t. 088 865 6598

We are a Bulgarian company, selling current models of clothes and accessories. Our products are fresh, colorful, fun, casual and most of all - affordable. We offer ladies and mens clothing and our goal is to bring comfort to our clients. In our stores you can find dresses (13 ); jeans (15 ); tunics (8); t-shirts (5); mens shirts (14); men polo shirts (7), etc. As this is our first participation in Sofia the insiders guide, we will give you a voucher with 20% discount of the official price and the voucher applies for the new collection. Our general store is located at 40 Graf Ignatiev St. and we are glad to meet you there. Dont forget - come, smile and keep your style!

St Josephs Catholic Church


Latin lithurgy Sat. and Sun. 11.30am Open 7am to 7pm 125 Knyaz Boris St., t. 02 981 5548

Deutschsprachige evangelisch-lutherische Kirchengemeinde


An ecumenical community, open to contact with other evangelical congregations. Invitation to worship: We celebrate every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month at 17.00 hrs in the building of the Methodist Church of Sofia, 86 Rakovski St., opposite the Opera House. t. 02 963 2050 evkirchesofia@web.de www.sofia.diplo.de/Vertretung/sofia/ de/06/Religion/Aktuell.html

RELIGIOUS SERVICES
The Anglican Church
Meets once a month at the Chapel of the Catholic Church, 5 Oborishte Street (close to the National Library). This is a service of Holy Communion in English, usually on the 3rd Sunday of the month. AnglicanBG@yahoo.co.uk, t. 0889 261 511

International Baptist Church Sofia


Every Sunday worship at 11am (also Children Sunday School) t. 02 961 3236 for more information. Interpred World Trade Centre, Dragan Tsankov Blvd, t. 02 971 1750

Bahai Centre
Every Wednesday from 11am till 7pm visitors are invited to an Open House 8 Boyanski Vuzhod, Bukston district, t. 02 955 5833, nsa@bahaibg.org How YOU can help support Sofia - the insiders guide?

The Bulgarian Lutheran Church


English services: Sunday mornings at 9am The Church is on the second floor.

ADVERTISE, SPONSOR or SUBSCRIBE!


Call + 359 888 408647 to find out more

We are grateful for all the support we can get!

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expat section
YOUR ANIMALS
As long as your dog or cat has an international health passport there are no restrictions in bringing your pet into/or taking it out of Bulgaria. Bulgarians are generally very fond of pets and there are plenty of pet shops around town. There have been some attempts recently to introduce tighter controls on pet ownership including the registration of all dogs with the local municipality. If you are considering a pet, then dont shop, adopt. Local charities are inundated with cats and dogs looking for loving homes. Check www.arsofia.com

VETERINARIANS
The Blue Cross veterinary clinic (www. bluecrossbg.com) is highly rated and also offers boarding facilities for your pets. They are on duty 24 hours.

Newly refurbished 1 Bedroom Apartment in prime central but quiet location On Ivan Vazov Street, just 5 minutes walk from the University metro station, this fully refurbished apartment is light and airy and has tons of charm and character. Well equipped.

FOR RENT

For more information or to arrange a viewing please call t. +359 888 408647 or t. +359 888 633 990

www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

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the insiders directory


Emergency Numbers
ALL services Ambulance Fire Police Traffic Police Road Side Assistance Crime Hotline 112 150 160 166 02 982 2723 91 146 02 982 2212

Airport Information
www.sofia-airport.bg InternationaL ArrivaLs 02 937 2212 InternationaL Departures 02 937 2211 Domestic FLights 02 937 2213 Lost Luggage 02 937 2491, 02 937 3554, 02 937 3555

UtiLity PRobLems
Phone Lines Waterworks ELectricity CentraL Heating 0700 17 000 0700 121 21 0700 10 010 02 951 5258

CentraL RaiLway Station


02 932 3333

InternationaL Bus Station


0900 2100 (24 hour) 1868 (Mtel, Globul)

ACCOUNTaNTS (ENGLIsH sPeaKING) Aidos Ltd.

BOWLING ALLEYS GaLaXy BowLing

8 Racho Dimchev St. (inner house), 1000 Sofia t. 02 981 30 82 info@aidosbg.com www.aidosbg.com
APaRTMeNT HOUses APARTMENT HOUSE BULGARIA

National Palace of Culture - Administrative Building. Entrance from Vitosha Blvd. t. 02 916 6590 galaxybowling@galaxybowling.bg
CHAUFFERED CAR SERVICES My Way Car

16 Nevestina Skala St., Borovo, 1680 Sofia t. +359 2 818 41 41, f. +359 2 818 42 43 office@apartmenthousebulgaria.com www.apartmenthousebulgaria.com www.fpihotels.com
Apartment House Iztok

t. +359 888 642465 t. +359 888 542913 info@mywaycar.com www.mywaycar.com


COMPUTeR seRvICes Creative Centre

6, Atanas Dalchev St., Iztok, 1113 Sofia t. +359 2 970 01 00, f. +359 2 970 01 28 office@apartmenthouseiztok.bg www.apartmenthouseiztok.bg
BED & BREAKFAST The Red House / Red B&B

15, Ljuben Karavelov St., 1142 Sofia m. +359 889 226 822 info@redbandb.com www.redbandb.com

Authorised Apple reseller and service provider The Needle Building 37A, Fritjof Nansen Blvd, 1000 Sofia t. 02 946 33 50, m. +359 88953 0000 www.creativecenter.bg

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the insiders directory


DIPLOMaTIC MIssIONs ALbania ALgeria Argentina AustraLian consuLate Austria BeLgium BraziL China Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech RepubLic Denmark Egypt ESTOnIA European Union FinLand France Germany Greece Hungary India Indonesia IreLand IsraeL ItaLy Japan Korea (RepubLic of) Kuwait

Address

tel./fax


Lebanon Morocco NetherLands Norway PoLand Romania Russia SLovak RepubLic South Africa Spain SwitzerLand Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom UniteD States of America VenezueLa

10 Krakra St. 16 Slavianska St. 36 Dragan Tsankov Blvd. 37 Trakia St. 4 Shipka St. 1 VelchovaZavera Sq. 19 Juliot Curie St., bl. 156/1 7 Alexander von Humbolt St. 32 Veliko Tarnovo St. 1 Konst. Shturkelov St. 1A, Plachkovitsa St. 9 Yanko Sakasov Blvd. 54 Dondukov Blvd. 5 6th September St. 26-30 Bacho Kiro St. 9 Moskovska St. 26/28 Bacho Kiro St. 29 Oborishte St. 25 Juliot Curie St. 33 San Stefano St. 57 6th September St. 23 Sveti Sedmochislenitsi St. 5 Yosef Vadhard St. 26-30 Bacho Kiro St. 1 Bulgaria Blvd. 7th floor 2 Shipka St. 14 Lyulyakova Gradina 36 Dragan Tsankov Blvd. 53 Simeonovsko Shosse Residence 15 Juliot Curie Block 155 1 Chervena Stena St., ent.1 15 Oborishte St. 26-30, Bacho Kiro str. 46 Han Krum St. 4 Sitnyakovo Blvd. 28 Dragan Tsankov Blvd. 9 Yanko Sakazov Blvd. 26 Bacho Kiro St., fl. 2 27 Sheinovo St. 33 Shipka St. 80 Vasil Levski Blvd. 29 Boriana St. 9 Moskovska St. 16 Koziak St. 12 Narodno Sabranie Sq.

02 943 3857 02 980 2250 02 971 2539 02 946 1334, fax: 02 946 1704 02 932 9032 02 988 7290 02 971 9819 02 973 3873 02 943 3225 02 872 2014 02 961 7731 02 946 1111 02 917 0100 02 987 0215 02 937 9900, 02 937 9909 02 933 5252 02 8102110 02 965 1100 02 918 380; visas: 02 918 38109 02 843 3085 02 963 1135 02 963 5676 02 962 5240 02 985 3425, fax:02 983 3302 02 951 5044 02 921 7300 02 971 2708 02 971 2181, 02 971 2536 02 962 5689 02 962 5209 02 971 2723 02 865 1137 02 816 0300, fax:02 816 0301 02 803 6100, fax:02 803 6199 02 987 2610 02 971 2858 02 963 0912/14 02 942 9210 02 981 66 82, fax:02 981 5776 02 943 3034, 02 943 3032 02 942 0100 02 935 5500 02 955 9478 02 933 9222 02 937 5100 02 987 0341
www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

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the insiders directory


HOTeLs You can find sofia the insiders guide eXcLusiveLy in the bedrooms of the hoteLs marked with an asterisk and at the reception desk of aLL other hoteLs Listed here. HoteL HiLL

76B James Bourchier Blvd., Lozenetz, Sofia t. +359 2 806 55 55, f. +359 2 806 55 00 hotel@hillhotel-sofia.com www.hillhotel-sofia.com www.fpihotels.com
HOTEL LES FLEURS

arena di serdica Residence hoteL 2-4 Budapest

St. t. +359 2 810 77 77 f. +359 2 810 77 70 reservations@arenadiserdica.com www.arenadiserdica.com, www.fpihotels.com 1 Gurko St. t. +359 2 811 0 800 f. +359 2 811 0 801 reservations@grandhotelsofia.bg www.grandhotelsofia.bg

21 Vitosha Blvd., Sofia, 1000 t. +359 2 8 100 800 f. +359 2 8 100 801 office@lesfleurshotel.com reservation@lesfleurshotel.com
PARK INN BY RADISSON SOFIA

GRAND HOTEL SOFIA

36, Atanas Dukov St. t. +359 2 861 57 00 f. +359 2 861 57 10 info.sofia@rezidorparkinn.com www.parkinn.com/hotel-sofia
SOFIA PRINCESS HOTEL

HiLton Sofia

1 Bulgaria Blvd. t. +359 2 933 5000 f. +359 2 933 5111 Reservations.Sofia@hilton.com www.hilton.bg 4 Narodno Sabranie Sq. t. + 359 2 933 4334 f. + 359 2 933 4335 info.sofia@radissonsas.com www.radissonsas.com

131, Maria Louisa Blvd. t. +359 2 9338 888 f. +359 2 9338 777 sales.sofia@bgprincess.com www.bgprincess.com
VITOSHA PARK HOTEL

RADISSON BLU GRAND HOTEL

1 Rosario St., Sofia 1700 t. + 359 2 816 88 88 f. + 359 2 962 29 25 reservations@vitoshaparkhotel.com www.VitoshaParkHotel.com


ARTE HOTEL

Sheraton Sofia HoteL BaLkan 5 Sveta

Nedelya Sq. t. +359 2 981 6541 f. +359 2 980 6464 sofia.sheraton@ luxurycollection.com

5 Dondukov Blvd. t. 02 402 7100 f. 02 402 7109 reception@artehotelbg.com www.artehotelbg.com

HoteL GorubLiansko hanche


CrystaL PaLace Boutique hoteL

t. +359 2 9 489 489 f. +359 2 9 489 490 reservations@crystalpalace-sofia.com www.crystalpalace-sofia.com www.fpihotels.com

* 14 Shipka St.

357 Tsarigradsko shose Blvd. t. +359 2 973 6246 m. +359 888 004 820 f. +359 2 979 1746 reservations@hotelgorublianskohanche.com www.hotelgorublianskohanche.com
HoteL Niky

16, Neofit Rilski St., t. 02 952 30 58, 02 953 01 10 f. 02 951 60 91 office@hotel-niky.com www.hotel-niky.com

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the insiders directory


HoteL Zenith ReaL esTaTe

81 Lyuben Karavelov St., Sofia t. +359 2 986 22 03, 986 22 06 986 22 09 f. +359 2 981 13 49 hotelzenith@abv.bg www.hotelzenith.net
LOw-COsT HOTeLS EASYHOTEL SOFIA

ANIMA-M

Real Estate Consultants 75, Patriarh Evtimii Blvd., fl. 2 t./f. +359 2 953 17 66 t. +359 2 852 06 53 anima_m@realtor.bg, office@anima-mbg.com www.anima-mbg.com
Century 21 GaLardo

108 Aldomirovska Street t. +359 2 920 16 54 f. +359 2 822 82 15 enquiries@sofia.easyhotel.com www.easyhotel.com www.easyhotel-sofia.bg
LANGUAGE CLASSES EXCELLENCE LANGUAGE LEARNING

The worlds largest real estate agency organization 202, Cherni Vrah Blvd. t. +359 2 821 21 21 galardo@century21.bg www.century21galardo.com
CLeves LuXury Apartment RentaLs

36 Iskar St., floor 4 t. 02 983 49 50, m. 0878 39 23 51 (0878 excel1) www.excellence.bg info@excellence.bg
STUDY IN BG EDUCATIONAL CENTRE

145 Rakovski St. Entr.G, ground floor (entrance from Gurko St.) t. 02 986 69 73, m. 0884 63 21 22 www.studyinbg.com info@studyinbg.com
MedICaL CeNTRe aNd HOsPITaL Vita

Sophisticated rental apartments in the most convenient areas of Sofia 16C St Pimen Zografski St. t. 0700 17 008 office@cleves.bg www.cleves.bg
EL-EM ReaL Estate Agency


MOvING COMPaNIes ALLied Pickfords BuLgaria

9 Dragovitza St. t. 02 943 4398 f. 02 944 1343 www.vita.bg

Always with a good solution 21A, Dondoukov Blvd. t. + 359 2 986 80 10; t./f. + 359 2 986 80 20 m. + 359 885 406 349 el-em@el-em.net www.el-em.net
SOFIA CASA LTD. PROPRETY MANAGEMENT & LETTINGS

Business Park Sofia, Building 12B, fl 1, 1766 Sofia t. + 359 2 807 6683 f. + 359 2 807 6689 movers@allied.bg, www.allied.bg
CORSTJENS WORLDWIDE MOVERS GROUP

59 Kostenski Vodopad St., 1404 Sofia t. 02 958 9721, 088 892 3570, t./f. 02 958 9721 info.sofia@corstjens.com www.corstjens.com

Passion for Bulgarian property since 2004! The original British owned full service estate agent in Sofia! 42 Vladayska St., fl.2, ap.4 m. + 359 897 684 208 + 359 896 670 507 t./f. + 359 2 953 01 16 Twitter: @insidebulgaria @sofiacasa info@sofiacasa.com www.sofiacasa.com

www.inyourpocket.com/bulgaria

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the insiders directory


RELOCATION SERVICES MatriX ReLocations - BuLgaria

(Full member of Inter Relocation Group) Delivering professional relocation solutions to expatriates since 1991. Building 12, Business Park Sofia, 1766 Sofia +359 2 807 6633 (o), +359 2 807 6639 (f)
SCHOOLs aNd KINdeRGaRTeN ABC KinderCare CENTRE

ABC NDK, 25 Knyaz Boris I St. t. 02 434 1082 ABC Lozenets, 27 Hr. Smirnenski Blvd. t. 02 434 1119 abckinder@carebg.org www.abckinder.org

TRaveL AGeNCIes HRG BULGARIA

American CoLLege of Sofia

Campus Office: Sanders Hall, Floyd Black Lane, Mladost 2, Sofia 1799 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 873, Sofia 1000 t. +359 2 434 1008, 434 1010, 434 1011 f. +359 2 434 1009 acs@acs.bg www.acs.bg Dragalevtzi Simeonovo, 36 Vaklinets St. t. 02 967 31 12 office@iccf-bg.com www.iccf-bg.com Simeonovo, 16, 54th Street t. 02 961 4906, m. 0895 700 605 office@littlesteps.bg www.littlesteps.bg 6 Yana Yazova St., 1164 Sofia m. + 359 884 032 852 t. + 359 2 962 27 48 office@montessori-bulgaria.com www.montessori-bulgaria.com t. 02 973 2121 t. 02 9 12 80 t. 02 911 19

VETS

Jamadvice Travel Ltd. 5 Asen Zlatarov St. t. 02 943 3011, 02 944 1520, f. 02 946 1261 mark@bg.hrgworldwide.com www.hrgworldwide.com
BLue Cross AnimaL HospitaL (24 hours) & Boarding KenneLs

INTERNATIONAL CHILDRENS CREATIVITY FOUNDATION

For regular check ups please make an appointment.

1 Chereshova Gradina St. Pancharevo district

t. 02 979 0935 m. 0898 361903 (emergency calls) www.bluecrossbg.com

LittLe Steps Learning Centre

MONTESSORI ChiLdrens House

TaXI (all reputable) OK Supertrans TAXI-S-EXPRESS yeLLow

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