My partner and I had just been to the UK visiting family and friends. It was nice to arrive back, we had a good flight, and had decided to use the coach to take us back to Veliko Tarnovo, as we had used it coming to the airport because of the weather conditions.

All had gone well on the outward leg of the journey. On our return we made our way via taxi to the bus station in Sofia at approximately 7:15 pm, just in time to miss the 7 pm coach. Then there was a three-and-a-half-hour wait for the next departure at 10:30. Now at 10:30 there are three coaches that all leave at the same time, all to the same destination, all stopping at the same places and each a third full. What great planning, whoever arranges timetables must have a strange sense of humour.

A tip for other travellers who may use the bus station in Sofia: avoid the food at all costs as it is inedible. Much better to walk down the road and find an independent establishment that knows how to cook.

Things to watch out for at Sofia Airport: use only recognised taxi firms, all of whom must display their tariff both in the rear side window and inside the vehicle. Make sure the tariff is not in euros, as taxis can register any fare with the authorities, and providing it is registered that is what they will charge. Also insist on the meter being on, and take a note of taxi number and driver ID number in case of problems. Some unscrupulous drivers will print out a receipt from a previous journey so this is something to watch out for as well.

At the airport prices are high for refreshments, and seating is minimal in Terminal 1, which is quite basic, so any long delays are best spent away from the airport.

Terminal 2, being the newer, is better equipped and this is where the car hire companies have their kiosks. There are several shops and coffee bars, all of which are very expensive, so for those travelling on a budget, you would do best to avoid them. Hire car rates are much better off airport and most will deliver to the airport, so look online for better deals.

The duty free shop at the airport is no cheaper than supermarkets in Bulgaria. Exchange rates at the airport are always very bad, always change money at an official bank. In Bulgaria you will need your passport for any bank visit and anything official, so always remember to carry it with you.

David Waterhouse-Taylor,
Stambolovo, near Pavlikeni


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