Things to do near Sofia | A walk along the Dragoman Marsh

If you are fond of outdoors activities and especially birdwatching, take the time to visit the Dragoman Marsh. Located just 35-40km away from Sofia, this area is part of Via Aristotelis: an important bird migration route passing through the area. In fact more than 160 bird species have been identified by bird watchers visiting the marshes along with dozens of amphibians and other species.

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Marshes, marshes, everywhere you look | Shot on LUmix FZ2000

In February birdwatching isn’t the best activity to plan, but the marshes still offer an escapist break away from the noisy city. The marsh itself covers more than 300 hectars but the most easily accessible to the general public area is relatively small: only several hundred meters of wooden bridges serpent their way through the marsh frail.

So unless you are into exploring the 160+ species of birds and plant species this trip would be relatively short. Me and my brother spent less than an hour there because there were no birds at this time of the year. Nevertheless, we were quite happy to explore the place and take some shots in the area.

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Historical Landmarks | Shipka

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It’s the national Liberation day.

Bulgarians all over the country celebrate the unshackled chains of Ottoman rule and one of the country’s key landmarks from the final year before the Liberation the Shipka Pass.

Nowadays part of the Bulgarka Nature Park, Shipka was the central battlefield of one of the fiercest and most dramatic battles in the Russo-Turkish war. In fact: it was in many ways the Bulgarian Thermopilis. Although Bulgarian and Russian soldiers were much more than 300 (around 7 500 in joint forces), the number of Turks attacking the pass was excruciatingly bigger: reportedly 40 000 men. Nevertheless, the joint Russo-Bulgarian forces managed to defeat the Ottomans in a feat of military valor which lasted for several blood-filled, dramatically brave days.

Shipka remains a symbol of fortitude both historically and in the realms of national poetry and literature. The photos in this post were taken several years ago in an especially picturesque frosted foggy afternoon.

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Hidden gems | Charming Sofia

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*Many of the photos are taken with a phone while roaming the city,

so please excuse the poor resolution

Sofia is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

It mixes the influence of East & West, old & new, traditional & hip. It has its downsides (try riding a bike without developing superhuman self-protection instincts, I dare you), but it also has piles and piles of urban charm.

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From its Thracian & later Roman proto-self Serdica, through the Byzantine Triaditza, Sofia has a long and colorful history of mixed cultural influence. Nowadays, it is consistently reshaping and improving its cityscape.

 You can find fantastic food at really affordable prices in a growing number of folk cuisine and gourmet joints which pop up all across the city. You have  the gorgeous mount Vitosha just a 20min drive away from the downtown district. There is a growing interest in urban art and building a better cityscape. And last but not least the city mixes a relaxed “you can just have a beer in the park” atmosphere with a mesmerizing mixture of Austrian Neo-Baroque/Secession and glass&steel modern architecture.

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