So I figure I should keep a blog of my experiences this week, as due to my meagre luggage allowance, I could not bear to sacrifice a t-shirt and some underwear for my traditional pen-to-paper journal. Boo. As it happens, this looks to be a most interesting week indeed...
After my parents left me stranded on Harvey Road, Cambridge, I had nothing to do for the two hour wait until the 787 arrived so I did what every bored/slightly depressed girl is instructed to do: retail therapy. The Grafton was a ten minute walk, and I killed oodles of time in Primark, eventually leaving with a belt, a necklace, and a pair of sunglasses that I am 90% certain I will have no need for at all this week. How naive of me to extrapolate from last week's weather trend.
Even after killing time, I was still early for the coach...me...early? These two concepts do not go side by side but it was definitely a good feeling!
The coach journey was an hour and a half of pure and utter pain in which I was cruelly reminded of why I do not enjoy coach journeys - reading on an empty stomach leads to some majorly unpleasant sensations. Not even the awesomeness of The Hunger Games was enough to stop me from feeling like I had been tossed into a blender that in turn had been tossed onto a whirlpool-ridden ocean.
At the airport, after some speedy texting, some trials, some errors, and a Texan burger, I managed to board the plane - by myself for the first time! Somewhere along that line, I felt like I had what can only be described as a cheesy 'coming-of-age' moment. Cue classic epiphany music. Throughout the journey, I was completely and utterly engrossed in The Hunger Games, so much so that by the end of the flight, I only had 70 out of the 630 pages left to read. Ker-razy. As we landed, people clapped for what I can only surmise as being thanks for still being alive. I'd heard Wizzair was bad, but do people do this on any other airline?
The local time was 1:55am - I got picked up by a man who drove me to the place Ting had arranged for us to stay. As we drove through Sofia, he pointed out various landmarks to me. My first impression of Sofia was that it was a quiet city in limbo between culture, renovation and poverty. Some of the flashing bits reminded me a lot of developing China. It took me a while to accept that the driver wasn't going to kill/murder/rape/mug me in that order - years of stranger-danger conditioning are SO hard to overcome - but all too soon, we had arrived! The man led me through a nondescript looking door that revealed a charming hostel round the corner, and as I stepped in, I was greeted by the oh-so-sleepy face of Ting! Boy, was I relieved to see her.
She showed me to our room - a small place with beds for six. Having to navigate around in the dark when I was already half asleep was something that I do not wish to relive - let's just say I didn't get to bed until 3am and didn't even make it changing out of my jeans before I fell asleep in my coat...
I'm a pretty light sleeper, so I guess I started coming to and drifting in and out of sleep at 8am, local time. Ting got up around 8:30am and went to have a shower; I followed suit and optimistically dressed in a dress, shirt and tights. Got shot down a few minutes later when Ting told me I'd freeze to death and it was then that I realised that I'd only packed for summer. Good going, girlfriend.
Downstairs, I had toast with salami, cheese, tomato and apple for breakfast, and after downing two glasses of fruit squash, I was buzzing. We looked at the maps and travel guides for a bit before making a move. Ting had assured me that there was not much to see in Sofia, and sadly, it turns out she was right - the walk from one end of the city to the other takes about twenty minutes! Ting also assured me that I should not have eaten too much for breakfast - turns out she was right again - I was way too full to be able to appreciate the traditional foods for sale at the market!! Sad times! :(
So, to sum up the morning, we looked around some churches, got ice creams at the market, drank from a mineral fountain, and said hi to a stray dog before we headed to the Natural History Museum - and what a barrel of laughs that place was! It was here that I learned about Ting's fear of birds, specifically of her worst death possible - being killed by birds and then eaten by a vulture. Memorable quotes include:
"Killer mydia. You wouldn't want one of those in your vag." - Anonymous on a bambi-like creature known as a chamois, followed by yet another gem from her: "Have a little bambi coming out of my vag? I'd like to think my babies are cuter."
We looked at another market that sold hypodermic syringes (someone actually tried to sell me one), various knives and guns (so badass), accordions (squee), violins (I want), filigree jewellery and Communist stash (something for the brother perhaps?) before we headed to the cathedral as a detour en route to lunch. I ordered onion soup, stuffed peppers and mashed potato - after a relationshippy/religious conversation too deep for my liking, we rolled into a patisserie and spent the next hour or so gorging ourselves on tarts and tea until 5pm...
I'm not really sure what we did for the rest of the day, apart from shop and eat more food. And buy some gloves and a scarf to stave off the FREEZING cold weather - five degrees!?!? All I know is that we now own a bottle of gin that has been making it's way down my throat for the hour or so it's taken me to write this silly blog entry. Plus a pair of smexy trousers and a Minnie Mouse t-shirt and a Smurf t-shirt between the two of us.
And now I'm a bit too tipsy - so much so that I'm actually winning at pool! (Edit: We lost the white ball so no one won in the end)