In 2012, I had the opportunity to go to Bulgaria for work. It was a one week trip, so I took my girlfriend with me. And since we were travelling that far (4,700 miles or 7,700 kms), we decided we’d extend the trip to a nearby destination as a mini-vacation. We chose Istanbul.
I must admit I was not sure whether I would like Istanbul. But looking at the cities around Sofia, it seemed like the most interesting one that was only a short flight away. So on the Friday at the end of my work week in Sofia, we hopped a plane and went to Istanbul.
We chose a hotel in the city center, close to the Blue Mosque (more formally called Sultan Ahmed Mosque). My general rule of thumb when choosing a hotel is to try to stay close to the largest tourist attraction in a place, and that technique has served me fairly well in trips in the past. So the area just below the Blue Mosque was perfect. From our hotel, we could walk down the main shopping street, visit 3 or 4 of the largest tourist attractions on foot, and allowed us a more intimate view of the city.
You may have noticed things are quiet over here at My Sabbatical. As life twists and turns, one’s priorities shift around from career, to family, to self-improvement, to starting a business, and to other things. Taking a sabbatical has not been on my mine for the last couple of years.
But perhaps the travel bug is back. I’m starting to form an idea for taking a break that involves a long-time stay in a warm locale. And as the days turn into weeks, that feeling grows again.
I hope to provide some interesting content for you here. Stay tuned for posts on planning for such a trip, dealing with jobs, money and planning for a long trip.
I’ll be looking at web sites, apps, books and other resources for planning, and reviewing their usefulness for my needs.
One of Europe’s many jewels, the Bulgarian Capital of Sofia boasts a myriad of options for all. Nestled 5km from the base of the gorgeous Mount Vitosha, the hypnotic peak offers a breathtaking view of the city as well as activities for amblers to adrenalin-junkies alike with opportunities to ski, trek or climb its many trails.
Each nook and cranny of this beautiful city’s streets beg to be explored and can be done so via a leisurely stroll or even hop aboard a charming tram to marvel at the most splendid architecture. Highlights include the much-loved Russian Church of St Nicholas, built to celebrate the liberation of Bulgaria and the beautiful Aleksander Nevski Cathedral, built a decade earlier, an elegant Neo-Byzantine-style memorial to the hundreds of thousands who fought and lost their lives in the Ottoman War. The controversial Statue of Saint Sofia caused quite the stir with the local church who believed her attire to be unfitting for that of a holy figure, but a work of art it most certainly is and a photo opportunity not to be missed.
The National Theatre, the grandest and oldest in Bulgaria showcases ballet, opera and plays, both home-grown and from abroad, and likewise the National Gallery of Foreign Art has some outstanding pieces from as far a field as China, India and Africa. Sofia even boasts her own Colosseum, the Amphitheatre of Serdica, in which gladiators once fought to the death in front of up to 20,000 spectators and is now home to one of the city’s most impressive hotels, the Arena Sercia.