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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Our Big Family Trip to Sofia, Bulgaria!

Cathedral Saint Alexander Nevsky (23997168458)

For as long as my kids could talk, pretty much, they wanted to fly on an airplane. But we had no money, and most our of family was local, so we never flew anywhere. For the first 7 years I lived in this country, I didn't fly anywhere, and when I finally did, it was on a work trip, my expenses paid by a sponsor.

Only in the last 2.5 years did I start traveling. I have this insatiable need to travel, to experience and explore the world. I thought all doors were closed to me, because I was short on cash, but I found out how to do so cheaply, and I started traveling.
First to Poland, then to Belgium. I had tickets to Cyprus and Germany, but those trips ended up being canceled. In the past few months, I've been to Greece, USA, and England.

My kids, though, were jealous of me. They wanted to travel. And though I wanted to travel, the expense to take 4 kids abroad and pay for accommodations was just too steep of a price.


Last summer, though, when my oldest was almost 11 years old, I took him on a trip abroad. Honestly, he didn't care where to. He just wanted to go to another country. And so Romania it was (since that's where I found cheapest tickets). I chose a ticket specifically during the summer months when Mike wasn't working, so that he'd be able to watch the rest of the kids, and off I went for a fun few day trip to Craiova, Romania.

And my other kids were jealous.

Why does Lee get to go?

I told them I'd take them on a trip with only myself in the summer before they turn 11.

And they were mostly satisfied, knowing that one day they'd get their turn.

But when they hear of their friends flying abroad, they definitely would get jealous. "It's not fair," they'd say. "All our friends have been on airplanes. All our friends have been to other countries." And they weren't wrong. And I tried to explain to them that their friends who were flying abroad were doing so because their families all lived far away, their grandparents, their cousins, their aunts and uncles, and I told them how lucky they were to have family live nearby.
But it fell short.
They were jealous. And understandably so.

I went on so many trips as a kid. Most of them were road trips, but we also had some plane trips, notably our trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Hoover Dam. As well as our trip to Florida and Disney World. Living without a car, road trips haven't been an option (though with my license I hope to do so sometime soon!!!) and because of finances, plane trips haven't either. And it makes me sad that I haven't been able to share this part of my childhood with my kids. But I've always wanted to.

Recently, though, I was looking at my favorite site for buying cheap tickets, and I was astounded by how cheap I was able to find flights. 28 dollars round trip to Sofia, Bulgaria. I've heard from other people what a beautiful place Sofia is, how amazing it is for trips, and when I saw prices that cheaply, I decided to just go for it. I booked tickets (after first getting permission from their dad to take them abroad) and we'll be going to Sofia for a week in December.

My kids are so extremely excited!

I found a really cheap Airbnb but the guy who was renting the place was a fraudster and wanted to charge me double what the place's booking page said, so I ended up finding another place that is a little bit more expensive, but still decently cheap, $226 for 7 nights.

I still have to plan the trip, what we're going to do there during our week there. But what we do is less important. Bulgaria is cold in the winter, and there will likely be snow, something we don't usually get here. Even if we just end up doing nothing but play in the snow for a week, I know it'll be amazing. Of course I'm going to make plans, though, and if any of you have been there and want to give recommendations, I'm happy to here.

Before we go, I still need to get passports for my three younger, but I haven't done it yet since it's cheaper to do it locally during specific months, and I'm just looking into that.

I'm so glad I was able to find cheap tickets for my children to come with me abroad. I'm a little nervous because it will be my first time traveling abroad with kids, and I know not to expect a relaxing vacation, but instead a fun adventure like our last family trip. And I'm cool with that, since I did just get to relax on my trip to London. I'm doing this trip entirely for my kids. I don't need another trip right now, having just been to Greece, US, and England in the last few months, but the kids need this. And I'm so excited I have this opportunity to help fulfill one of their dreams.

Ever been to Bulgaria, Sofia specifically? Any recommendations of things to do while there? Help would be greatly appreciated. I mean I can just Google, but personal recommendations are always the best.

7 comments:

  1. Passports are cheaper from Nov 1st.. so not too long to wait.

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  2. So happy for you and the kids! What is your favorite booking site for cheap tickets?

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  3. What is the name of your favourite site for buying cheap tickets?

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  4. Where do you find your tickets? My children or I have ever been abroad and would love to travel.

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  5. Hello! I live in Sofia, even if being a stranger in this country (work matters...). My advise with kids:
    -go and see the Alexander Nevski church you put in picture, yes, it is big and nicely looking. DOn't forget the many statues on the same square place and the monument to the unknown fighter (neverending fire) just aside.
    Just up the road is the "Russian church" with a look totally different
    -Vitoshka street the central pedestrian street, in the middle of the town. You start from the nice huge park with the National Centre. There is a bridge behind nicely decorated. ONce in the Vitoshka street walk allllll along, taking care to take drinks and brunch. Then you arrive at the Court, with the 2 statues of Lions. You continue the same way, and will be front of a nice small church, continue straight ahead and you'll reach the crossroads with the statue of Sofia looking at the road, on your right will be the Presidential palace (just before, hidden under an arch, is an ooooold church) facing different huge ministry buildings.
    Just crossing the street will be a metro station, nice to be noticed as it has also old church, ruins of the old town. You'll be then at a place with a church you just passed, a mosquee on your side, a synagogue on the other side. And they don't fight. The garden after the mosquee leads to a nice "public baths" building.
    -Mont Vitosha, as you have noticed, the mountain above the city is easy to be accessed. There is a lift to get directly from the city center to up the mountain. Paths are woooonderful, long and well maintained.
    -South park after the National Center (start of the previous daylong trip) you can go in the opposite direction. You'll pass front of the Lindt factory :p and reach a big park, place for sports and art and family walks.
    -once done, you can feel free to walk all along the city, explore the different commercial centres, find the Eagles bridge, cross the river (Evolgi and Hristo Georgiev street) up to the stadium.
    The national history museum is to be visited, with the botanical garden just nearby and the Boyana church (unesco site) behind.

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  6. Sounds like fun! Maybe you could give some of your kids the job of learning a few phrases in Bulgarian - Duolingo probably has Bulgarian, and it's fun!

    But definitely get a European SIM card, so that you can get Internet and find up-to-date bus schedules (Google Maps is your friend) and opening times; personal experience with bus schedules is that not all of the ones posted on the official websites are accurate, and you do not want to wait in the driving wind and rain for 15 minutes if you don't have to. Have fun!

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