Sofia, Bulgaria – a culture rich European capital

Although this blog is mostly about Norway and the Nordic countries, it’s also about my daily life. Last week I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, an experience I gladly share with you. The reason for my trip was to attend a meeting in The Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) as a representative of The Norwegian Computer Society. I met more than 30 other European representatives, most of them for the first time, and that in itself was a great experience. Important contacts and discussions were made to improve and promote high standards among informatics professionals in recognition of the impact that informatics has on employment, business and societies.

I also had some time to explore Sofia and its lovely mountain surroundings, too. It is my pleasure to share some of the highlights with you.

(Taken with my Nikon CoolPix S2 – the rest with my mobile phone)

I stayed at Radisson SAS Grand Hotel at 4, Narodno Sabranie sq. located in the most attractive part of the city, on the famous yellow pavement street overlooking the Parliament and the golden domes of the huge Alexander Nevski Cathedral. I asked a lot of people why the road was made of yellow cobblestone, and always got the same answer: “It’s been there for more than 100 years, why?”.

Sofia from the plane

Like always when I go by plane, I have my Mobile Camera ready. It gives you a better overview, you know, especially right before landing. Here you see the Cathedral and the Narodno Sabranie right behind.

Walking around in the streets, I found it the city clean, nice and friendly. Only the youngest spoke English – and did it well – but there are a lot of possibilities to communicate and get information if one uses body language and gestures. Only by paying them attention and even wanting to take some pictures gave me a lot of interesting and informative experiences.

On Friday evening we had a social and a chance to get acquainted. When entering the restaurant I saw this sign on the door – no guns allowed. I didn’t see that sign on any other buildings and of course out of curiosity I had to capture it. It was interesting to see that fast food had reached Sofia too. Excuse me, but I don’t go to Bulgaria with all their rich culture and food tradition to eat hamburgers :-). I might tell you about our culinary sensation on Saturday in my next post!

For me, Sofia was a pleasant combination of urbane relaxation and awe-inspiring buildings and museums. The stylish Bulgarians fill the tree lined boulevards and parks. Mobile phones were everywhere, still juxtaposed with the occasional donkey cart. Hip teenagers, indistinguishable from their Western counterparts, shred the skate park that surrounds a Communist-era monument. I will defiantly go back one day, but then as a quality time with my wife :-)