Concrete Jungles, Sofia
When I first saw Sofiya, it felt a lot like 'deja vu' & I had to keep reminding myself I was not across the Black Sea in Ukraine, for so many things here are so similar, on first impression. Unfortunately, this includes the state of the roads, & having thought that Ukraine had the worst in Europe, now I reconsider after second impression, because if it's possible, pavements in Sofiya are worse than Kiev! If you had told me this before I walked around the city, I would not have thought such a thing possible, but with the exception of the central thoroughfares, all the side streets in Sofiya are in such disrepair as to appear like a demolition site. The situation is made worse by the grapevines & trees that line most streets, with roots no more than an inch below the asphalt or concrete, & in places have grown out of the ground, to cause real trip hazards. I was reminded of Rudyard Kipling's 'Jungle Book', & the ancient city that has been overwhelmed by verdure, & so become a squat for the chimps! Worst of all is when it rains, because some puddles are so wide it's impossible to skirt around them, & because of missing drain covers, 1 never knows if the next footing is ground or hole...
Common sense Acommon Travel rules as to where ever you go.
#1. Don't go where you shouldn't go.
#2. Follow the rule of law in the country that you reside.
#3. Adhere to the rule of law from your home country.
#4. Respect and "pre-" read up on the culture(s).
#5. Gain some familiarity with the country's national language prior to your trip.
#6. Practice the local language with the locals.
#7. If concerned with lodging then don't do what isn't familiar to you.
#8. Eat what has been cooked.
#9. Drink bottled water that has a seal. Open it yourself.
#10. Know your coordinates (esp. North & South). Memorize the major cross-roads prior to taking your trip.
#11. Have a copy or two of your Passport in a safe place (either on you personally or in an emergency place).
#12. Go electronic (with back up paperwork) when you can.
#13. Be reluctant to share your full plans with strangers.
#14. Be flexible.
#15. How you handle "it" determines whether it'll be a good event or day or not. Understand that something weird, funny, or bad might occur.
#16. Watch your travel companions as they might just as well cause trouble by accident / unknowingly or on purpose.
#17. International travel is not a time for pranks. (Stay away from pranksters that want to travel with you)
#18. Just try to remember that "nothing" is for "free". (This goes for women too! Crazy partying guys should know this.)
#19. Silently meditate as to rehearse (or re-play) plans.
#20. Always be prepared for a back-up exit plan (... where ever you are (and check for exits)).
#21. Travel with flex travel time on the front end but esp. back end of your visit. This'll reduce your frustrations if there happen to be delays.
#22. Pack light while being wise.
#23. Be nimble. (physically)
#24. If you have good judgment with befriending people (anywhere) then be social with out giving away too much information.
#25. Know your money. Where it is. How much is on you. Denominations in order. Minimize coins if possible (don't need to be heard walking around jiggling).
#26. When driving a rental car ... pay the extra for full coverage. (Take it from a guy that has had 2 separate flat tires and locked up engine all in the same trip. Can you guess where?)
#27. Walk like you know where you are going even when you get lost. The best way to not get lost again is to remember where you were when you were lost.
#28. You are not a "stick" in the mud if you choose to stay away from the "loud" crowd.
#29. Avoid traveling during the host country's elections.
#30. Be aware of political and labor union protest. Don't accidently get caught up.
#31. Never walk away from your open beverages and/or food. Once you've stepped away then pass on further consumption as to be cautious.
#32. Ladies and guys, know that you will meet lots of wonderful people plus some not so. Don't be fooled by "beauty" or a "handsome" face. Danger lurks. If you have a bad judgment of character domestically then it is not going to get any better outside of the country.
#33. If you're not considered "HOT" back home then don't be fooled when you are abroad. Money matters. It isn't really your looks.
#34. The money train gets you access but it can also generate trouble.
#35. Make certain Taxis / Limos drivers happen to be locked into the price and directions prior to departure.
#36. Know the weather conditions prior and during your trip.
#37. Read the local newspapers / journals prior to arrival. (seek to understand cultural, social, economic, etc topics of the day)
Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/202817/#ixzz1ydaOSmn3
Hotels can often be located in concrete jungles like this area of Sofia. This was the view from out hotel room.