Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bulgaria and crazy French women and accordions, Oh my!

The trip to Sofia was pretty uneventful, but it was thrilling to finally be off, heading to uncharted territories, boldly going where no ma--okay, where I had never gone before! With the windows open and the night breeze rushing in, we said goodbye to the Bosphorus and left the twinkling lights of Istanbul behind.

Arriving in Sofia around 11 am, Dani and I bought tickets for Thessaloniki for that evening, also a night train, I left my bag with an attendant (no lockers here!), and we set out for a walk around the town.


Well Sofia is a charming little city; we stopped in at a couple of old churches, as well as the odd cafe or four, before hitting up a sidewalk vendor for some GREAT(and cheap!) pizza. Then we hung out at the park for a while, before going to *blush* an internet cafe WITHOUT WHICH I wouldn't have discovered a Bulgarian friend (Minna) from Madrid was living and working in Sofia, so we arranged to meet her 20 minutes later.

Minna took us to meet some of her friends, whereupon (isn't that a great word?) we went to a pub for dinner, which meant a local sausage done in one of those long coils ("multo bene!" or whatever it is one says on this sort of occasion). After that we headed back to the train station for the night train to Greece.

With Mina and friends in Sofia, Bulgaria

Another night train, a whole other experience! Firstly, we met a crazy but lovely French girl, Anne, who maybe was not crazy so much as eccentric; a few Spaniards, one of whom was crazy enough to be traveling without a passport; and many, many Bulgarian gypsies, one in possession of an accordion and not afraid to use it! I shared a carriage with several of them for part of the time, using Turkish to communicate with one of them, who translated for the others.

Location was a very fluid concept that night, reminded me of something I read once:
"All night now the jooks clanged and clamored. Pianos living three lifetimes in one. Blues made and used right on the spot. Dancing, fighting, singing, crying, laughing, winning and losing love every hour..." -- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Well Dani spent the night in relative comfort, having paid the extra 20 Euros for a sleeper car, while I settled for the cheap, seating only carriage. Although it was a memorable evening (at one point involving dancing in the passageway with said crazy French girl while the gypsy played a tune on his accordion), it was also uncomfortable and tiring, and I was glad when it was over and we arrived in Thessaloniki at last!

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