Marie is a French expat living in Sofia and the funder of the web magazine Madame Bulgaria. She will be our virtual host to help us discover Sofia #likealocal.
Marie, what is your favorite neighborhood in Sofia?
M On Sundays sometimes I like to walk in Lozonetz but I have a big love for my district, the hyper center and the small and dynamic streets around close to Vitosha Boulevard where you can have a quiet drink or discover new things every day.
When I will visit Sofia, what activities would make me feel like a genuine local?
M Make a party with the Association Foreigners in Sofia & Friends, the most important and active Bulgarian and International community in town. You can also spend a day working on your own projects in the most promising, and probably the best, coworking space of the capital: Puzl CoWorKing Space. It is in an impressive and modern area with view on the mountains and you can take advantage of the many events organized there every week and meet lot of interesting entrepreneurs or freelancers people.
Where do you love to have breakfast?
M At home, with the best products of the Bulgarian shops around me: Yaourt, delicious seasons fruits, Bulgarian Honey.
Where do locals go when they want to have a nice lunch or dinner?
M In fact, there are lot of delicious places in Sofia and everywhere in Bulgaria. Some of my favourites are:
1. Cosmos, a gastronomic Bulgarian experience in a design atmosphere;
2. Niky Restaurant garden, a Bulgarian traditional restaurant that I like a lot;
3. Smuggler’s Diner for their amazing burgers;
4. Aubergine a cute restaurant that offers “quality meals, using quality products, and an interesting and remarkable tastes to our guests. We want to treat our employees good, respectful”;
5. Club Pouchkine is a fine dining restaurant and bar in an amazing location: it is “situated in the House of Moscow on Moskovska street, close to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral and all the main sights, the restaurant offers shady seating in the delightful park behind the Russian church on hot summer’s days” (cit. In Your Pocket).
And where do they like to grab something to drink?
M To really discover the Bulgarian wine it is interesting is to find a place in the capital where you can be received by real professional passionate about local wines.
Vino Orenda is not a bar but a Bulgarian wine shop where it is possible to sit and taste some Bulgarian very good wine; every thursday, this place organize some tasting events where you can meet the owner of the wineries who present himself, his wines and you can also find a lot of friendly people, wine professional or not. Valentina and her partners welcome you in a very cool atmosphere. Tempus Vini Wine Point in another wine shop in the center where clients can take a glace of wine on the spot; Kalin – the owner – is very friendly and can give you some information about his wines. It is possible to make a wine tasting.
Do you have any suggestion about local shops or designers that we should consider in case we look for a mindful and unique souvenir?
M Definitely this one: get your Bulgarian t-shirt to support an association of young Bulgarian entrepreneurs called Nosiya.
And what about typical Bulgarian delicatessen that everybody have to try when in Sofia?
M Guvetche, Tiknevik, Halva, kyopolou, etc. ALL 🙂
And what are the best bulgarian traditional restaurant in town?
M You can find a post about our favourite spots to have a bulgarian dinner on Madame Bulgaria blog at this link: http://madamebulgaria.com/category/lifestyle/to-eat/
Back to the hipster side of the moon, where do you have your sunday brunch?
M At Smuggler’s Diner Restaurant. The brunches are just amazing and the staff is really nice and friendly. But it is only my choice, there are probably lot of nice places where you can take a sunday Brunch. I’m little bit exclusive, though 😉
Do you have a favourite bookstore already?
M I don’t speak or read Bulgarian, yet. So I have not yet a go-to Bookstore to choose the next book that will shatter my life; when my parents come to visit me, they bring me books. But do not hesitate to go to the super cute bookstore in the park of the Sofia National Theater Ivan Vazov, just Behind the Fountain where you can sit to read books with a view point on the park. You can also try Greenwich on Vitosha Street where you can read while drinking a coffee, a tea, or a fresh juice.
Three off the beaten tracks activities/day trips outside of Sofia
M Vitosha Mountain is worth a detour for its beautiful nature and the amazing point of view of Sofia. Plovdiv is the first city to visit after Sofia, only one hour and a half far: visit the Old Town and the contemporary and artistic district Kapana. Plovdiv will be the European Capital of Culture 2019! In another direction, the Monastery of Rila is the Bulgaria’s most famous monastery for 1000 years and one of the symbols of Bulgaria as well as a popular tourist destination included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1983. During the winter, spend a couple of days in Bansko or Borovetz that is great for skiing.