a train ride through bulgaria

Traveling by bus in Europe has actually treated me pretty well. Quite a few of them had TV screens, hostesses or complimentary tea/coffee. All of which is a farcry from the Greyhound buses I was used to in America. This was my first solo cross country train ride and for all my bravado I’ll admit to being apprehensive about getting a seat and whether or not I would make it to my destination – Sofia, Bulgaria. Instead the only thing I had to fear was the air conditioner not being on and being trapped in a metal capsule in this 30 degree heat. No TV screens, hostesses or complimentary tea/coffee either.

The day started out poorly but eventually I found the International Ticket Office at Bucharest Gara du Nord Station. As I headed onto the platform to board I noticed a familiar face. It was H, the Irish Lass, whom I had met the day before yesterday on my walking tour. The train itself wasn’t a particularly uncomfortable experience except for border control when they turned off the air conditioner and just left us there to die. Otherwise, I got my naps in and read several chapters of A Fork in the Road without worrying about motion sickness. All of this as the Bulgarian countryside rolled by the window. In the distance I could even see the sunset over the Balkan Mountains. And before I knew it I had arrived in Sofia.

Balkan Mountains in the distance

At 11pm on a Saturday night I was expecting the streets to be more crowded. They are apparently just not crowded near the Sofia Central station it seems. The hostel suggested walking 25 mins, which after sitting for 10 hours was a welcome change. The street they recommended though was definitely “interesting”.  There were about 4 minor intersections and at each one I saw about 3 hookers walking back and forth. I didn’t appear to have the assets to start a turf war and looked drab enough they weren’t going to roll me of the only possessions I have for the next month or two. I will definitely be taking the tram back to the station.


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