I’m in Sofia! Once again I flew my favorite airline, and although the plane was not equipped with the in-flight tracking device, I made do with taking photos out of the window.

Somewhere along the Austro-Hungarian border.

The afternoon sun on Lake Balaton, Hungary.

The Balkans range in Serbia. With this landscape I fully expected to see two moons on the horizon.

Sofia, with Vitosha Mountain in the background.

My flight arrived a half hour before Tony’s, so I thought I’d use the time efficiently to withdraw some Bulgarian Lev from the Bankomat. Except that there are no ATM machines inside the Sofia terminal.  I’m not making that up.

 Instead, I went to Baggage Claim to wait.  Aside from the two Customs Officers, I was the only person there. On a Sunday afternoon.  I’m not making that up, either. Shortly thereafter a flight arrived and other people came and collected their bags. Then it was the three of us again, and I’m pretty sure the Customs officers started talking about me. Soon enough, though, Tony arrived, we found a Bankomat outside the terminal, and off we headed to our hotel to drop bags before heading to dinner.

Is it still considered “chain smoking” if the taxi driver had three cigarettes in his mouth at once? He didn’t, but it seemed like it by the pace at which he was lighting cigarettes on our 10 minute drive to the restaurant. He also had other unhealthy tendencies, like honking at an unmarked, all black, high end Benz on a dark side street that he wanted to pass. Bulgarian taxi drivers are crazy.

Alive and safe, we were deposited at the restaurant I had painstakingly selected, one serving traditional Bulgarian fare in an old wine cellar. Four forks straight away for the decor.

 

And four forks for our meal. Not knowing what to order, even with English translations such as “Ewe’s Milk Paste with Walnuts and Garlic” and “Lamb Guts with Mushrooms and Cheese” to help us, we surrendered to the very helpful (sort of) English-speaking server, who brought first this gorgeous salad plate. We savored every bite, and cleaned the plate with the yeasty, crispy, toasted bread at the table.

The main course was a shared kebab of pork, fabulously presented and equally as delicious.

A litre of “No Man’s Land” Bulgarian red wine complemented our meal, chosen of course by our server.  The wine comes from a 7km region of Bulgaria that was once the “DMZ” between Socialist and Communist Bulgaria. The area is of hilly terrain and volcanic origin; the vineyard, established in 1940, is now a protected preserve.  Our server also brought us Bulgarian baklava and espresso to finish the evening, and even called a taxi for our return to the hotel.  Truly four forks on every account.