“Sofia Park” is a new subdivision created in the vicinity of the so-called “Business Park” (creation of the same German company) and in the foot hills of National Park Vitosha - lots of park atmosphere. This is wonderful – tonnes of green space, fresh air rushing down from the mountain to shove the smog downtown and of course, the views - towards Vitosha or toward the city. Next feature imposing itself immediately is the immaculate maintenance of the “Park” to a level that makes you wonder why the rest of Sofia does not look the same way - after all there are in very close proximity. The only explanation that comes to mind is that the inhabitants of “Sofia Park” are no simple people and have the means to pay maintenance fees (now that Lenin voluntary work days are dispatched into oblivion). Later on, this guess is backed up by information that the developer himself and at the same time a minister in the current government has his home there. Bit by bit all the pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into place just like the picturesque townhouses fall in line with the street in front of them saluting the gorgeous view of the "Kopitoto" TV Tower on one side and the controlled access point on the other. The fence around this island of prosperity and model of the bright future in Bulgarian terms is not as menacing and forbidding as a similar installation is in Johannesburg, one discovers with a sigh of relief. Suddenly, a mutt, exuding lots of dignity, springs out of nowhere and lines up solemnly with the row of quant townhouses as if to say that he is the owner of all this material wealth and by the way wants to check out the credentials of the visitors. That is all right that there is a check point and he knows that the “boys” are doing their job well but the final stamp of approval should be reserved for him.
So, no matter how much money and prestige a person has invested in his property in Bulgaria, there is always one common denominator that levels and in a way democratises the newly “layered” society. The same mutt or his family would wake you up with enviable regularity at two o’clock in the morning (fighting off look-alike intruders) if you were to reside in the high-end development of Sofia Park or in the damn people’s quarters of Mladost-4. The conclusion seems self evident and not very flattering.
O Sofia, Sofia! My birth place and probably last anchorage was not palatable at all. This particular spot (Mladost 4) is dear to my heart because of the many fine moments I have had during my teenage years. Right now it has been developed beyond recognition. Right beside the ugly apartment buildings of the communist/socialist era a new and swanky office buildings have sprouted up like mushrooms quite appropriately in what used to be a disused meadow. So far so good on side of progress but there is a little "BUT" with capital letters. This new development has been built by a German company with broad interests in Bulgaria and they have outdone themselves in the sense that instead of just boring office towers they have produced architecture which is no mean achievement. Blown away by the newly rediscovered freedom of expression in aluminum, glass and other flexible materials, I started snapping at the wonderful environment. In no less than a couple of minutes a security guard leaped out of nowhere to deliver his warning: “Picture taking is forbidden!” Wow, this sounded very communist and it took more than a double take to realize what was going on (I checked with the ugly apartment buildings and yes, indeed, they were beyond the fence of the “Business Park”). Still, feeling rather a foreigner than a local and being led by my kind “hosts” who dared not to ask the question “Why?” I behaved as a well-brought-up individual and shut up myself. So the mystery remains out there, why in “new Europe” and the backyard of the “old Europe” where its “values” have triumphed there is this sickening resemblance of the old “non-European” days?
Dragalevtsi is a village on the slopes of Vitosha mountains. It's a good place to catch some fresh air and/or catch the chairlift uo to Goli Vrah peak.
Close to the chairlift station is Dragalevtsi monastery, according to my guide book the oldest one in Bulgaria, dating back to 1345. Not much is left of the original church, but it's said that there are some nice murals inside. I couldn't check on them as the church was locked when I visited.
Bus No.93 goes up to the chairlift station, leaving from Hladilnika stop in Sofia.
This is a picture of complex "Mladost 4" taken during the winter (obviously :-). These are the outermost appartment buildings of the city. This is where Sofia ends, behind the camera is the ring road and beyond it is the "Kambanite" (The Bells) monument, a pleasant.
Mladost is one of the newest neighbourhoods in Sofia... Even it's name - Mladost means Youth. The buildings here are simple and ugly. However the place is just bellow Vitosha mountain which is a really beautiful place!
Most tourists see the best of the places they visit... But "the best" is almost never "all". I will use the "Off The Beaten Path Tips" to show you the part of Sofia, which tourists rarely get to see...
Nadezhda (which means "hope") is the neighborhood where I live.
The center of Sofia is small and nice, but the bigger part of Sofia are the different neighborhoods like the one you see on the picture... there are very many of them and I will put pictures of each of them later on.
Now about Nadezhda... it is situated in the north part of Sofia. When I was born the building where my parent's apartment was has been at the very end of Sofia.... now from our windows we can see the biggest neighborhood in Sofia - Ljulin. No matter the common socialistic architecture (cheep and easy to build ugly buildings) Each neighborhood has it's own spirit and atmosphere. For example Nadezhda consists mainly of small (4 to 6 floors) buildings separated by nice parks or gardens and many playgrounds. Ljulin is all huge buildings and concrete...
As much as I love my neighborhood, I must admit, the few tall buildings could really get in the way... especially when one is trying to be romantic...
Thise thise James Boucher Blvd in sofia here you can find some good apartament buildings and some nice office Buliding's.