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It also has plenty of parks littered with Soviet-era monuments. When the subway was dug a couple years ago, they unearthed a whole Roman city, so you could go on an archeological expedition while waiting for your train. But Sofia is also noisy, compulsively commercial and clogged with traffic. That said, it was circa 37 degrees during my four days in Sofia.
I did spend one evening with a couple of Scottish lads, both medical students in Glasgow. We compared the sovereignty movements in our respective outposts, the offsides rules in hockey vs. Another highlight of my Sofia period was the evening I spent with a local family. Deyan is a day host who I had arranged to meet a few weeks before my trip. He picked me up at the hostel and walked me to his apartment 10 minutes away.
Deyan is in his mids, with a shaved head, hip glasses and decent English. I was only expecting to chat but his wife, a very skinny and tanned woman who speaks perfect French, had prepared dinner. We sat at a small card table, me on the couch, propped up by a cushion. It was a simple meal of roasted potatoes with Bulgarian white cheese, green peppers and some sort of sausage whose provenance I dared not question.
Also, a really nice bottle of red wine from the hilly region in the south. For dessert, a big bowl of cherries and these very addictive custard-filled, coconut-covered munchkin-sized donuts. Their two girls, aged 9 and 7, are very cute. They both travelled with Servas when they were younger and met actually through the local coordinator, so the organization is close to their hearts. One of the best things about Servas is that, after dispensing with small talk, no subject is off limits.
What do they think of the Turks? Deyan said he sympathized with Israel on the flotilla incident because he was sure Turkey was just looking for attention. They sort of miss the Soviet-era music education their piano-playing daughters would have enjoyed. Upward mobility? Not much. Funnily enough, they have friends in Montreal who have told them apocryphal stories about our healthcare and social welfare system. With a name straight out of Dr. Seuss, Hostel Mostel is housed in a restored 19 th century inn, an urban oasis hidden inside a courtyard off the main drag.