Getting to leave Bucharest is even better than getting to go to Bucharest. I was off on my train to Sofia Bulgaria! In my compartment there was an American gentleman and we started talking. He had been in Bucharest as well, but he had been doing a gypsy stay. He had stayed with a man who lived next to the gypsies, and got to meet and eat dinner with the gypsies and hear about their experiences. I learned from this that the girls are married off at twelve and thirteen which I find sickening. But as he tells me about himself, and how he lives in LA I can’t help feeling like I’ve seen him somewhere before. I know he looks like someone famous, but I can’t put my finger on it. I start wondering if he is a celebrity who just likes backpacking. I start hoping he is. Finally I find out I’m crazy and he isn’t. He does a myriad of jobs, none of which are actor. I do find out who he looks like though. It’s Eric Bana in the Time Traveler’s Wife. He looks exactly like him in person. It is scary, but very hot. We also find out that while he’s stopping in another city first, that in a couple of days he will be in the same hostel as me in Sofia. We start making plans to smoke shisha and hang out.
After he gets off my train trip makes a turn for the worse. Pretty much everyone gets off. I swear there was like no one on this train, and as it got later it gets creepier. The light barely worked in my compartment, so I was sitting in a spooky empty compartment at night. No one was in any compartment near me. When we finally got to Sofia I was so glad.
I walk out to the cabs and walk up to a cab driver. I ask if he knows Macedonia Avenue where my hostel is. He says, “Hostel Mostel?” It’s great to find a cabbie who knows exactly where your hostel is. I ask him how much, and he tells me twenty lev. I know that it should be around five. I tell him that I know that it should be five, but that I will pay him ten and not any more. All the cabbies laugh and the man agrees. As we drive he smokes in the front seat, but he gets me there in one piece. That night I slept. No crazy stories there.
The next day I did a walking tour and made friends with a girl named Michelle. A group of us went out for lunch after to a Bulgarian restaurant. It was like sitting in someone’s backyard. The menu was an entire binder. I swear that if there was an animal that got on Noah’s boat then it was on this menu. They had snails, rabbit, pheasant, quail, and deer to name a few. I settled on cow trip cooked in butter and rabbit stew. As I ordered the cow trip the waiter just looks at me and asks, “Are you sure?” Of course I am. I didn’t know what cow tripe was, but I damn well will eat it. I soon learn that it is cow intestines. That’s fine. I get it and it is absolutely delicious. It is buttery and amazing. The rabbit stew comes and it is great as well. I dream about returning to this restaurant.
Later I meet Dessi, who is a friend of a friend who is from Sofia. She shows me around the city, and I invite her to join the free pub crawl my hostel has. We go to a Route 66 themed bar first. It’s odd to be in American bar in Sofia, but the bartender is making killer shots and lighting things on fire so we’re having fun. The night continues and Dessi and I are having a great time. We make plans to hang out the next night as well.
The next day I drag myself out of bed to do a free hiking tour. It hikes the mountain next to Sofia, and I can’t wait to be in nature. We take cabs out to the start of the hike, and then we walk up this road to get to the start of the hike. And as we walk up this road I am dying. I’m breathing heavily, and I start thinking, “Fuck! If I can’t do this how can I do the hike?” Luckily it turns out everyone was dying, and while the hike was grueling, that road was the hardest part. We climb rocks and explore the gorgeous woods, and after a couple of hours we make it to the waterfall where we eat lunch. Our guide is great and gives us so much information about the woods as we walk. At the waterfall we watch two women rock climb, and it is god damn impressive. Then we continue on our hike to make it to the lookout point on top of the mountain. Up there it is breath taking. You can see all of Sofia, and the mountain. After that we have the walk down, and that is so much easier, except for my friend Michelle who kept slipping.
That night I round up a crew, including my Eric Bana look alike who showed up at the perfect time, and we go out to smoke shisha with my friend Dessi. We sit at a cafe on the main road and enjoy the shisha. Dessi helped translate with our waiter, and was amazing at telling us who owed what since the bill was in Bulgarian. After we headed to a bar that I had heard great things about. It is called The Apartment. It is an apartment. Like seriously just an apartment. Every room is decorated differently. It is chilled and layed back. You go into the kitchen to buy a beer or drink from the girl in there. I got myself a glass of their home made white wine.
We picked a room where the seats were all pillows on the floor and had the best time. The conversations got odd. I now know at least one man who talked about how he loves a lady with a full bush and loves when a woman doesn’t shave her legs or armpits. Don’t ask me how we got on pubic hair as a topic, but it was a hilarious conversation. Near the end I was dozing off, which is what happens when you lie down on a floor covered in pillows. We all walked back, and I was so sad to say goodbye to Dessi and to Sofia. It was sad to say goodbye to the Eric Bana look alike as well, because honestly who doesn’t want to stare at Eric Bana?