The following is the breakdown of the experience when entering the great country known as Bulgaria. Begin.
The time is 2.27am local time. We have landed in Sofia, Bulgaria. We get off the 737 plane and walk across the tarmac, its a cool 59 degrees Fahrenheit and slightly windy. Everyone from the 737 piles onto two buses and are transported to the security/customs area. They don’t have scanners. They check our passports and let us through, no stamp … nothing. It is now 2.58am. No forms are needed to be filled, we just walk right through. With no extra baggage there is no need to wait at the luggage carousel and we can dig into figuring out how to get to the city at 3am.
We are now in the arrivals section there is a convenience store to the right, eight different stands with companies trying to rent you a car in front of us and one ATM with little to no information, except when you insert your card. Inserting your card produces a response from the machine giving you four options, you can chose 10, 25, 50 or a 100 lev withdrawals with no display of a fee or exchange rate. We get 100 lev because we don’t know where the next ATM is.
I download taxi.me, the local alternative to uber, linking passengers with taxis. It comes preset in Bulgarian, with no initial option to change language.
I have to learn Bulgarian fast. I eventually figure out how to organize a ride and the Bulgarian man takes me to a hostel. It costs 20 lev (10 dollars) for a 16 minutes taxi ride from the airport. The time is now 3.14am. I get out of the taxi and thank the driver, taking in my surroundings, I look up and there is a man in the shadows 80 yards from me seating on some steps. All the buildings have their lights turned off and I have no idea where this hostel that I am supposed to be staying at is located. I stand there on the street with my two bags on ground, the street lamp flickers displaying a mosaic of graffiti sprawled over the adjacent building in front of me. It would be smart to get off the street in the middle of the night in a rundown district of the city.
Taking out my phone I call Costo the owner of the hostel. He gives me the deets, over the phone, on where I need go to get in and says I can pay in the morning, a light flicks on illuminating a small window in the building opposite me. He is watching from this building on the other side of the street.
3.45am I fall alseep.
9am, I wake, talk to the people in the room and later on book another night here in a private room. Time lapses and I eventually walk to the closest McDonald’s buying a large big mac meal for 6 dollars, the owner likes me so much he gives me a limited edition coca cola glass, haha no, McDonald’s is having a promotion and everyone gets a glass with their meal. I also buy a coffee and a bottle of water for 2.5 dollars. It is currently raining but warm out.
END OF ENTRY (EOE)