NDK - national palace of culture, Sofia
Sofia is now a busy city with a tempo of life comparable to many Western cities. It is a place, where one can find practically everything, starting with finding old medals, pins, badges and other kinds of memorabilia at the little market next to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and ending with buying pirated CD's for 15 leva (about 7,50 EUR) from the book market in Slaveikov square (although I am not sure how possible that one would be since the police keep hunting down the sellers and confiscate thousands of illegal CD's each time)! It is very hard to describe everything that you could possibly do there. In my opinion, the options are unlimited! I personally enjoy sitting at a cafe next to the National Palace of Culture, or someplace else and sipping my drink for hours and hours, in the company of friends and enjoying the atmosphere. There was this great Bulgarian poet who had a famous saying: 'Unless I drink my coffee for at least two hours, I feel like something's wrong with me!' You go to Bulgaria and you can see that lifestyle, you can see how much people appreciate the company of a friend (even a stranger quite often) and what it means to them to have quality time.
Fondest memory: Got me there! That's a really hard one! I guess I remember too many things, so that I can narrow it down to the best of all time. But what I love the most is the humanity of the people and all the unwritten laws that exist in practice and are followed to make people's lives better. For example, in the city transport people would punch their ticket and if no inspector checked them, they would leave it on their seat, or hand it to someone when getting down so that someone else could benefit from it. If you ask a bus driver to stop somewhere, where on graphic he is not supposed to and politely explain him that you got lost, he will open the doors for you. It's the little things like these that I really enjoy and that I haven't been able to encounter anywhere else.
Favorite thing: Usually referred to as NDK. This spaceship-like modern building, which you cannot miss near the top end of Vitosha Blvd was opened in 1981 at enormous cost to the nation reflected in much of the original and dramatic art commissioned for the building. The several-building complex serves as a congress centre and also houses several large concert halls, exhibition space, offices, cinemas, restaurants and shops. The pedestrian area outside provides countless open air cafes and entertainment rides for young children. Sadly the magnificent fountains are dry. The NDK plays an active part in Sofia’s cultural diary.
Favorite thing: The biggest Congress Centre in the Balkans. It is located in the centre of the city and faces the Vitosha Mountain.