Bulgarian Impressions at First Glance

This past June, my friend and formmate Andrew ’21 came to visit me for a week in Sofia, Bulgaria. The second he came out of the empty airport’s glass doors, for a few awkward seconds, we debated hugging or just fist-bumping it out. We insisted on a hug. Regardless of the rain, we were both excited to go downtown and walk the main street. Our first stop was Starbucks. There’s no better way to experience “another city’s culture” than coffee from the local Starbucks. We ended up being confined in the café until the monsoon-like rain subsided.

We slowly started making our way to my favorite part of the city: the main pedestrian street, known as Vitosha. The name stems from Mt. Vitosha; the mountain that towers over Sofia and acts like a giant lung for the city, providing cool breezes in the evening. Walking through the city center, we traversed many of the historical layers of the capital that date back thousands of years. This includes structures from the Thracians, Romans, Ottomans, and the typical prefab panel buildings: “architectural masterpieces” endowed upon the city during communism. Andrew and I ended up sitting outdoors in a street-side restaurant and enjoying delicious local Bulgarian food, such as beef tongue fried in butter. Yum.

Since he wasn’t staying in Bulgaria for too long, our schedule was jam-packed. The next day we drove two hours to the most historically rich and best-preserved little town in Bulgaria, called Koprivshtitsa. The name doesn’t really roll off the tongue, and even I have trouble pronouncing it sometimes. We got to spend a night at a friend’s house and explore the town by going to a couple of museums and conversing with locals, whose families have been there for generations.

Other highlights of Andrew’s visit include him winning in squash, losing in tennis, meeting a few close friends of mine, and going on walks with my dog. While Sofia wasn’t as animated as it has been before, Andrew still had a great time, and I can’t wait for his next visit and other friends’ first visits!