After 30 mins of travel, we discover the suburbs of the capital, frankly not pretty despite the sun, with melted snow mixed with mud on the sides.
Our search for parking on the outskirts via Park4night yielding no result, we’re taking the risk to look for other locations spotted downtown, close to the restaurants we plan to try. Big trouble: there are a lot of car parks but either not at all suitable, or (so-called) complete or no-trucks. People are unhelpful… The irritation is rising, and with the children who do not forget their stomach, we are ready to give up. Finally, we make a wiser choice: I leave to look for a restaurant with the children while Loïc focuses on looking for a parking lot.
We did not come across the most gourmet street in Sofia, a few shops, a pastry shop and an Italian restaurant! Nothing else reasonably closer on foot, so that’s where we’ll sit down. Phew! It’s quite large and family-friendly with a playground for kids to let off steam and decompress. Loïc joins us 20 minutes later, the parking search operation was a success. On the menu: pasta alla carbonara and plate of charcuterie. Decidedly Bulgarian gastronomy refuses us!
Then, visit of Sofia (a small leap back in time when leaving in an old tram with manual punching of our paper tickets), a lively city on this Sunday evening. We discover under the lights the buildings that we had not really paid attention to in the afternoon, our eyes fixed on our GPS. We visit the main square, the statue of Sofia which replaced that of Lenin and the local Avenue des Champs Elysées. Even if the Bulgarians are mostly orthodox and celebrate Christmas in early January, we feel the excitement around.
To add a local flavor to this first Christmas, we buy (after looking for a moment) a souvaknistza from street vendors. It is an object made of soft branches decorated with wool, ears of wheat and popcorn (yup yup) that children use to give lucky taps on December 25th. We leave our car park after our small Christmas shopping, towards our last bivouac in Bulgaria, on the way to the Turkish border.