We did a city trip to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Things we learned:

  • Stamp your bus tickets. We took a but into town from the airport and didn't (know to) stamp our tickets. A stop later a bus conductor came in and charged us an 80 lev fine for not stamping them. Some websites describe this as a scam, but it technically isn't. Those are the rules of the country and the transport service which you should abide by. Counterpoint to that is that the driver knew we had just bought the tickets from him so were not reusing them on multiple trips, and the conductor knew we came straight from the airport and clearly didn't speak the language or knew anything about the country. If it were any other country the people would be reasonable enough to just let us stamp the tickets and let us off, but nope. Our first impression of Bulgaria was that people want to fine you.
  • Don't take pictures in museums. Your standard ticket does not include taking pictures. No one will tell you this until after you've taken a picture so that they can charge you extra money and you have no way to back out since you've already taken a photo.
  • Not personally experienced by us, but after the two experiences above we researched some more potential fines/scams, and apparently taxi scams are quite common too. I'm not surprised. The taxis looked extremely dodgy. Pickpockets are reported to be quite common too, although we had no issue with that.
  • Our hotel, one of the better ones on, somehow was unable to regulate room temperature to be below 28 degrees C, even though it was 10 degrees outside. Complaining about it didn't help.
  • Not many tourists on the streets. Or people. 
  • Graffiti everywhere. Broken potholes everywhere.
  • Hot spring steam coming up from the ground!
  • Beautiful mountains in the background.
  • The food was pretty good. Amazing desserts. Excellent fish. Lots of pork.

What a 'fine' country.


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