Have you ever been to the capital city of Bulgaria? Thomas Brock, our resident travelling English teacher visited recently. He has written a detailed account of visit in the latest entry of Thomas’ Blog! Read, learn some new vocabulary, and practise English!

Vocabulary List

Trendy: popular or fashionable at a particular time.

“That new cafe serves trendy, plant-based dishes.”

Ache: a feeling of pain, especially a dull, continuous pain.

“After a long hike, my legs ached for hours.”

Crunching: to make a sound as if something is being crushed or broken.

“The sound of crunching leaves echoed through the forest.”

Pines: a type of evergreen tree with needles instead of leaves and cones instead of flowers.

“The forest was filled with tall, fragrant pines.”

Leap: to make a large jump or sudden movement, usually from one place to another.

“The gazelle gracefully leaped over the stream.”

Bound: to move quickly with large jumping movements.

“The playful puppy was bounding through the fields.”

Architecture: the style in which buildings are made.

“The city is known for its stunning Gothic architecture.”

Stumble: to walk in a way that does not seem controlled.

“She stumbled on the loose cobblestone and nearly fell.”

Rustic: simple and often rough in appearance; typical of the countryside.

“The cabin had a cozy, rustic feel with its thick pine walls.”

Descend: to go or come down.

“The aeroplane descended as it got nearer to the runway”

Elegant: graceful and attractive in appearance or behaviour.

“The room was decorated with elegant furnishings and classic artwork.”

Pine trees.
Some modern architecture. Photo by gdtography, on pexels.com
Swans are often thought of as elegant animals. Photo by moonzigg on pixabay.com

A trip to Snowy Sofia, in Bulgaria!

This week I am in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. I had never been to Bulgaria before this trip, so I didn’t quite know exactly what to expect, but I was excited to discover a new location, as always! I am actually in Bulgaria because I have been invited on a skiing trip with some friends – something I will write about soon. I think there will be some useful vocabulary to do with skiing!

I’m going skiing just over this mountain, happily it is covered in snow!

So what is Sofia like?

After having just been in Belgrade, I think it is natural for me to compare these two cities, and if you have recently read my previous post all about Serbia’s capital city, then it may be useful for me to describe Sofia in comparison to Belgrade.

Sofia is more colourful than Belgrade. The two cities do definitely share some similarities, but they definitely feel quite different. I found a few trendy and interesting bars and cafes in Sofia, just like I had in Belgrade. The two cities are very different though, and I’ll share those differences as I go on.

As I am skiing next week, snow is obviously something I am very happy to see, but snow is also something that is quite rare to see where I grew up, so it is always a nice surprise.

I walked around Sofia for a long time, so long in fact my legs ached for days afterwards. First I want to talk about the beautiful snow-covered South Park.

I woke up on my day off to discover that it had snowed quite heavily the night before, and the streets outside my window were covered in a pleasing white blanket of snow. I set off out of the building and followed my phone’s maps to the South Park. Once there I walked the winding paths through tall pines and other trees, crunching my way over the muddy snow.

What I noticed seeing was, families out with small children, all wrapped up from the winter temperatures. I saw people out walking their dogs, leaping and bounding through the soft snow. As I walked on I found a small book-share library. I saw a number of statues around the park, of interesting figures from different parts of the world.

After the park, I walked further into the centre of the city. I saw the main governmental buildings, the churches and the public buildings that makeup Sofia’s varied architecture. Now that I write this, I am thinking that it is one of the things that felt quite different from Belgrade, it was a distinct variation in styles amongst the buildings and their colours.

What I also found fascinating was the history of the city, incorporated into the modern functions of the capital. Under many of the busy road intersections were foot passages, and in some of these were visual reminders of the city’s long and fascinating history.

I walked and walked for ages, until I stumbled into a kind of restaurant, bar, or concept space as they liked to put it, which was, genuinely very nice. I had a nice local Bulgarian beer and even stayed for a rustic vegetable soup with Bulgarian pasta. This place was pretty cool inside, the staff were friendly, the beer was nice, the food was nicer, and the prices were nicest of all.

After my lunch came yet more walking and more picture-taking. I went inside a few of the churches and the cathedral, and I was amazed at the beauty of these structures, both inside and out. Before long the sun had set and darkness had started to descend over the city.

Sofia lit up quite beautifully in the evening and I felt a cosy kind of atmosphere emerge amongst the people walking around, in and out of the restaurants and bars, along the long streets, on and off the trams, around the parks and so on. I stopped for two drinks before heading home.

I had two cocktails, one in a lively-looking semi-outdoors bar in a small square. It had the feel of an upmarket cocktail bar and was rather elegant. The second was a little rougher, but actually nicer. As I wandered up a quiet street after my gin old-fashioned, debating if I should take the tram home, I walked past an open door at the top of some steps. Inside, on the wall was a sign for a bar. As I began to read a woman descended the stairs inside and spoke to me in Bulgarian. After I had clumsily explained that I only spoke English, she smiled and switched language, telling me that I should go upstairs and try a negroni, and to ignore the poor English on the sign.

My gin old-fashioned.

And so I went upstairs, but as I am not one for Campari, I chose instead a Gin Basil Smash off of the menu, which was pleasingly printed on the side of old rum bottles. This drink was particularly delicious.

The bar was quiet as they were preparing for a larger party, but the decor was good, and the atmosphere was nice. I drank my deliciously citrusy and basil-y drink and wandered home.

That about brings my visit to Sofia to an end, short but sweet.

Have you ever visited Bulgaria? If so, what did you think of it?

Do you often see snow in your hometown?

What is your capital city like? Is it unique?

Do you have recommendations for places I should visit next?

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By Thomas Brock

Hi I'm Thomas and I'm an English language teacher and editor. I teach English to adults from all over the world. I focus on written English and on conversational English. I also edit written English in a number of different fields and areas. When I'm not teaching I'm travelling as much as I can, cooking new dishes, and trying hard to play and watch sports.

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