“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?