I already had talked to the girl at reception last night about today’s hiking trip and she suggested that I should take taxi to starting point of cable car lift. I also read online that it’s very cheap and time-saving.
I woke up at 8 or something like that, stayed in bed for another 30 minutes. After getting ready, I went downstairs to get the breakfast. They had pretty decent stuff for free breakfast at hostel.
After having breakfast and packing my bag, the girl at reception called cab and it came to hotel within 2 minutes. It took like 14-15 km to get to the stop and I paid only 5 euros for that. Throughout the drive, I couldn’t help but notice how Sofia is similar to Karachi in terms of roads and architecture.
About the stop, there is a cable car that takes you half way to the summit of mountain and from there you have to hike. Return ticket for the lift is 5 euros which also includes accident insurance 🙂
I took the ticket and after waiting for 5 minutes, I got my chance to enter booth. The travel with lift was around 20 minutes or so, and it gives you option to get off on the way at two different stops. Here are some pictures I took from lift
I got off at the last stop and went to see the map of Hiking trail, it was in Bulgarian but I asked a few people around about the trail to Cherni Vrah (Black peak), the summit of Vitosha. I started hiking and came across several wonderful places across the trail. Some of the pictures are
After that, I reached a point where I had to decide either to take long but easy trail or short but steep way. I chose the short one and I am glad I did that. That’s how it looked like
After getting back to normal trek, I was walk side by side with two girls and I asked them if they local or tourist. They were two sisters from Sofia and they were also hiking to black peak. Like every Bulgarian I have met so far in Sofia, they were very friendly and humble. We started talking and we decided to hike together. We hiked and stopped from time to time to take pictures. It felt like those places from Hobbit :). Here are a few pics
After more hiking, we reached the black peak. I haven’t done hiking on mountain for almost a year and I got so happy to see the summit. We decided to eat fruits and sandwiches we brought at a nice stone on the edge. I also shot a few timelapse from that place.
After that, we decided to climb this rocky formation. Aleks and Demi decided to stay down and I climbed that. It was tricky but fun climbing and worth the try. Here is a picture of me there
I was standing there and I decided right there that I am coming back to Sofia in November again. After that we roamed around and before descending back, we stopped to take a few more pictures
Now we started return journey, again we came across several beautiful scenes, some of which are
On the way back, we had very interesting discussion on various topics. When we reached the lift, it was still half an hour before last lift. We decided to grab the coffee. On the way to cafe, a middle-aged man with white beard said something in Bulgarian and Aleks and Demi started to laugh. I asked what he said and Aleks told me he asked if I was a Shiekh who had two wives at the same time :D. That was start of series of jokes we made afterwards.
Aleks bought me coffee and sweet Banitsa. Banitsa is a very traditional Bulgarian dish made with cheese and milk. It was very kind of her 🙂
After that, we decided to talk to the guy and tell her that he was right and I have two wives and I am looking for two more :D. He turned out to be more interesting than we thought. Apparently, he studied different religions and figured that none of them were right, so he decided to start his own. Here is a pictures of us
After this interesting talk, we got into cable car and topic of dance came into discussion, Aleks told me about this traditional Bulgarian dance and I asked her to let’s practice it in the lift 😀 and we did. I’ll ask Demi for videos she made and post here when I get it. One picture that I took from lift
Update: Here is the video I was talking about. Thanks Demi for recording and sending the video and Thanks Aleks for teaching me the dance 🙂
After getting back down, Aleks again was so kind to offer me lift in her car to downtown. When we reached downtown, they called cab for me. We had goodbye hugs and I told them I’ll see them soon. At the end of trip, we were like best friends 🙂
Cab cost me 2 euros to my place and I decided to grab dinner. I went to the same place from yesterday and met the same waiter from yesterday. I asked for his recommendation in chicken and suggested Pile Lutika. I ordered Shopska Salata (Bulgarian salad) as starters and also asked for a different beer. He brought Astika that was a lager and I liked it. For dessert, I asked for something small and he told me that they don’t have something small but he came with following cake pieces and said they were on house, another example of Bulgarian generosity and hospitality.
All that food for just 10 euros. After eating, I roamed here and there taking timelapse and pictures. Some of them are following
After that, I decided to go back to hostel and it took me 2 hours to finish this post. It was raining outside but not the depressing rain of Amsterdam but the good one. From today’s trip, I can confirm that Sofia is an amazing city with a lot of nature, sunshine and most importantly kind, generous and friendly people. People hangout with their friends and family just like in my culture. If you’re thinking about going to Sofia, just do it!