It's Europe but...... the other Europe

There are a few distinctive features which always very well reflect the national psyche of a place, things like how people drive, the % of alcohol in the local beer, the number of McDonald's there are in the city, the size and security at the airport.... when I went to NYC last month, this lady coming from Poland was eating an apple at the arrival gate and got told off by 3 security guards. The poor woman had no idea what was happening to her, the more the gave her the "We don't want your stinkin' Polish apples here! look" the more nervous she got and the faster she ate her apple! When I left the US they made my sign this "disclosure thing saying my luggage was damaged so to don't sew them for it when I get to Montreal..... At the Brussels airport, the Bulgarian Air counter just seemed so happy to have people flying with them, and more so people who have luggage to check-in!

Anyhow, I get off the plane, already you can feel from the amount of women freshening their pink lipstick upon arrival at mid-night into Sofia airport that you are in eastern Europe :)

We get off the plane and true to form the first thing I do is go to the bathroom. First indication of the country psyche: airport toilets. In Germany the stalls are big, clean, with walls that go all the way to the top, the automatic flush goes off the second you stand up, the light goes off when you close the door after leaving, all together a very efficient pee. Back in Sofia, I go into the bathroom, all seems in order there are 4 stalls, two of which have no paper and two with paper and clogged toilets, and of course the two without paper don't have locking doors.... so get paper from one and close the door and pee in the other, then when mid-stream and hover peeing someone obviously opens the door :). The hand blowers don't work and the pile of paper on the bathroom counter is soaked in water! But no matter.  Then towards the passeport check, the girl gives me a few looks, laughs at the haircut I had on my picture, stares for like 3 mins only to let me pass without saying a word, I mean really I'm canadian!  Anyhow, I notice that one store in the entire airport is open....maybe they have a guide book, because yes despite that I really wanted to come here, for the first time I hadn't read up on the place at all, so I mosey on by towards the store only to realize that the only store which stays open 24hrs is a tabacco and alcohol store :)

My luggage arrives pretty quickly and the shuttle from my guesthouse is there to pick me up. The drive is fairly quick and the landscape to the city seems more and more farmiliar, seems like ex-communist countries all have this comon feel, a beautiful city center surrounded by beaten down houses and square buildings. It's night time and we get to the guest-house and from the outside you wouldn't even think the place is liveable! But sure enough the large metal door opens, the floor marking says 1914, electric cables hanging everywhere and just when I begin to wonder that maybe this time I should have planned more than the 3 mins it took to chose a guesthouse which is not a big hotel or a teenage hostel the door to the B&B opens and a little old lady smiling is waiting for me in a beautful hard wood room with a flat screen TV! PPPhhheeww! Made it again!

Welcome to Sofia


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