Resist Sofia

“It’s not so much that I don’t like it here. It’s more that I really hate it. The view and the air, the food, the water, the way they treat us like we’re dying”.

~ M. Penkov, “East of the West. A country in Stories”.

If you asked me what I think about Sofia, my answer wouldn’t be much different than the quote you read above. I had a problem with the city, and I am glad that I solved it by moving out of there. This is, of course, my subjective view, and I will never tell you “Don’t go to Sofia”; there are many people happily living there, and you should definitely experience the city for yourself. That said, here are my two cents on why Sofia sucks.

I don’t agree with the people’s mentality: mostly arrogance, ignorance, and weakness. Many of them have a very little knowledge about the history and heritage of their own country and the capital city but when you start to criticise those they get offended. The most common answer you receive from locals for any question regarding something else than the closest bar is “I don’t give a fuck”.
I cannot accept the fact that the majority of people don’t fight the corruption. It’s not only Bulgarian thing but I have the feeling that Bulgarians comply too much.

I don’t understand the spatial planning in the city, and the general lack of logic. I have nothing against mess and chaos. I’m actually a sincere fan of cities that hide their beauty. That are not easy to explore, that seem rough and a bit unwelcoming. But Sofia is not among them. It’s a city where everything seems to be placed just randomly.

Sofia is a growing city – there are many possibilities, but also many problems. International companies massively open their quarters and create multicultural organizations to cut cost. But people there are not ready for foreigners. So if you don’t speak Bulgarian and want to stay longer, you better learn.
If you think that everybody will welcome you with open arms, smiles and hospitality, better stop. You should get used to grumpy faces on the street. And forget about hugs and kisses when you greet a Bulgarian – you might be labeled as a freak.

Nevertheless, I was not forced to live there, obviously. It was my decision driven by curiosity and desire to explore more of the Balkans, and Sofia makes a good starting point for a tour around the peninsula.
And after one year of being a resident of the capital of Bulgaria, I can tell that I don’t regret my stay there. No matter how many negative vibes I received, I still managed to meet some people who have a significant influence on my life. And at least one person was worth it for sure.
The photographs below show the city from my perspective. That’s how I see Sofia. Do you see it different?

 

St. Nicholas of Sofia

 

My favourite house lost between higher, modern buildings in the city centre.

 

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art.

 

Walking between murals.

 

Church of St. George

 

You can buy everything at the flea market. Especially II WW items forbidden in many other countries.

 

Uncle Joseph.

 

Have I mentioned you can buy everything at the flea market?

 

The city centre.

 

Chimneys.

 

Around Zhenski Pazar (Women’s Market)

 

It’s hard to find any geometry in Sofia. But I managed!

 

The entrance to the subway.

 

At the NDK subway station.

 

One of the dozens of pieces of Roman ruins spread randomly around the whole city centre.

 

If you don’t drink coffee, you’re a lucky person in Sofia.

 

The bench.

 

I struggled a lot as a biker in the city. Just sayin’.

 

Me, waiting for the subway to come. Taken by Daniel Slavov.

6 thoughts on “Resist Sofia

  1. My wife and I have lived in Bulgaria for 11 years. We came with an open mind, and we have not been disappointed . We came in a camper van with no particular place to go. We ended up in a village near veliko tarnovo. The people here are friendly, helpful and good fun.. we now have a grandson English /Bulgarian. We have visited Sophia . I have to say it is like every other big city in the world.

    1. Bulgaria is a beautiful country, indeed. I was lucky to have enough time to explore it and I know for sure that I will be back since I’ve missed a few places I still would love to visit. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I’ve lived in Sofia for 15 years or so, having lived in many other countries over the years. Firstly, it ISN’T “a big city” and secondly, it certainly isn’t like any other city in the world – only someone who hasn’t really travelled and who doesn’t open their eyes could possibly say such a dumb thing. It certainly isn’t perfect but it definitely doesn’t suck either. There are things that urgently need to change in Bulgaria as a whole: corruption, bureaucracy, valuing educators, better opportunities for young people, pollution to name but a few. Unfortunately, these changes need seriously robust – and perhaps even violent – measures to achieve and that isn’t going to happen given the prevalence of OC here and the pathetic PC attitudes in Brussels; where is the new Stefan Stambolov when he is so desperately needed?

    However, Sofia is a largely modern and vibrant city, with a long history (albeit much of it dating from pre-Bulgarian times) and a beautiful setting. I’ve found the people mostly helpful and interested (even many of the pen-pushers, although by no means all) and I really love the city, the country and (most of) the people!

    1. That’s great, it’s a pity that we haven’t met cuz I’ve also travelled a lot and lived in many different cities around Europe. We would have had a nice discussion I guess πŸ™‚ I think that someone with a narrow mind wouldn’t ask for others opinion πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your comment. Take care!

  3. I agree with almost everything.one more thing: sofia looks like one bog miserable ghetto, everywhere it’s just the same: buildings are the same, there is a total lack of street maintenance, the same misery and grumpy faces all around Sofia. just a miserable place. it’s not worth moving there.

  4. The “when you start to criticise those they get offended” part is particularly true throughout Bulgaria (and not only). Between each other, we might literally swear and curse the same things, often even without reason, but as soon as an outsider (especially one who hasn’t earned our respect) mentions something negative about us or our country, we automatically enter defensive mode. Of course, most other points here are also true not only for Sofia, but for the whole of Bulgaria and the region (some of them not just the Balkans, but Eastern Europe as a whole).

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