Today an interview with Boyko Blagoev, Spotter for our Sofia cityblog.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am 25 years old. Sometimes I hate it that I cannot tell you “I am an engineer” or “I am a doctor”. On the other side, I love doing many different things (very often at the same time).
I have a Bachelor degree in International Relations from Sofia University and an LL.M. in International and European Public Law from Tilburg University so officially I am looking for a new permanent job in that field. In the meantime I am freelancing as an interpreter and translator (currently translating The Starfish and the Spider). I have worked as a journalist in the Bulgarian news agency, trainee in the European Parliament, office assistant, business consultant. Free Sofia Tour also takes quite a lot of my time since I am one of the co-founders. I am also in the Advisory Board of one new international travel startup – TRIPtrotting.
So much for not liking to speak too much about myself. I love trying new things – be it travelling, food, drinks, sports, arts, etc. One of my hobbies is collecting quotations so you would probably hear (read) me a lot quoting some famous people words.
How do you like being a Spotter?
First time I used Spotted by Locals was when I was doing a traineeship in Brussels in 2009. It was extremely helpful because I spent 5 months there and it was great to have someone to “show me around” the little-known places of the city. This is when I decided that I would love to be a Spotter and I am really happy that I finally got this opportunity.
Happiness in only real when shared, they say. That’s why I am really happy that I can share my findings with more people. I want everybody to experience my city in the best possible way. I hate it when people miss out on great things in Sofia.
What is a must do when you visiting Sofia? What not?
What you should not do is just pass by. A lot of people consider Sofia just a transport hub for other Bulgarian or Balkan destinations. That’s definitely understandable – Sofia has been at the crossroads for thousand of years. But they miss out on a lot. Exactly because it has been at the crossroads, it has been under so many various influences – quite a fascinating mixture actually. Here you could have buildings that are separated from each other thousands of years from each other, sitting next to each other. A modern Italian restaurant in a former communist government building next to a 16th century mosque and 20th century bath as well as on top of 4th century Roman ruins.
What you should definitely do is stay longer. The best way to get a flavour of the city, of course, is to live here for a while. This way you might become some of the many expats that fell in love with the city and decided to stay. As I said in my profile, it’s only after I came back to the city that my love story with it started. I came to appreciate everything that I hadn’t noticed before.
Which prejudices about Sofia are true? Which ones are not?
The most common prejudice about Sofia is that it’s really messy, dirty and dangerous. It is messy. But that’s part of its charm. It’s not that dirty – at least not much more than any capital in the world. And it’s definitely no more dangerous than other tourist places.
It’s true that it’s a bit harder to get around than many other places. You’ve got the Cyrillic alphabet and not so many signs in any other language than Bulgarian. It’s also still quite unknown but it makes it even more interesting. A huge city with the appeal of a much smaller town with lots to explore and to be pleasantly surprised about.
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Sofia at this moment?
Probably the areas in the south, nearby the mountain (check out the Kopitoto article) but still very close to the city center. There are loots of parks (check out the South Park article), interesting restaurants (check out the Restaurant Torino article), sports areas, bars (check out the Studio 5 article). So there’s something for everyone without having to leave the neighbourhood.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
I would have to narrow down this question a bit. A perfect day would probably be a non-working one. Maybe even during the official holidays when Sofia gets really quiet since most people leave for other places. And it’s going to be spring or early autumn – best seasons to visit (unless you want to go skiing, of course). And it would definitely have to include some good company.
It would probably start with a hearty breakfast after a good night sleep. You can always prepare it at home (The ≈ bakery) or if you are feeling lazy, just go to a café (100 grama sladki). After I have finished my newspaper or a nice chat with friends, we can go for some culture (Sofia City Art Gallery). In the winter I can really see skiing fitting really well into that part of the day.
At noon always a good option is a vegetarian buffet (Dream House). After that, a good book in the park (Backyard of the palace) unless I take my laptop to some of the free wi-fi areas all over the city. A good coffee and something sweet might follow (Villa Rosiche) or be taken meanwhile.
Mens sana in corpore sano. So let’s go swimming in the late afternoon (Korali) and enjoy some magnificent view. Tennis might also be a good option. If I am not too tired after that, I would choose good food, tasty drinks and live music. In that particular order. And don’t forget the nice company.
Image by Bloyko Blagoev
Dinner may be heavier (Skara bar) or lighter (Supa Star). Drinks can also also vary – a glass of wine (Pri Orlite) or a cocktail (Toba & Co) are always a good choice. The next drink of the evening would be under the sounds of jazz, blues or the equivalent (Studio 5).
From then on, the night is long.
Check out all Boyko Blagoev’s articles and the other interviews with our Spotters.