Wednesday 10 June 2015

How to spend a weekend in Sofia (without needing to take leave).

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Sofia Swing Dance Festival, in the nearby country of Bulgaria. As I had only started work, I didn't have any recreational leave, and it would have been a bit cheeky to ask for it anyway. Besides, there are no direct flights from Pristina to Sofia, so to fly there for a weekend without taking any leave would have taken 4.5 hours each way via Vienna, arriving at 12:40pm on Saturday, and leaving at 6:45pm on Sunday for the not-so-cheap price of 800 EUR.

However, there is another way, if you're feeling intrepid...

6:00pm - Board the bus at Pristina Bus Station, bound for Skopje.
8:30pm'ish - Arrive at Skopje Bus Station, depending on how long things take on the border crossing into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Change some Euros for Macedonian Denar, and get some dinner.
10:00pm - Board the bus for Sofia.

1:00am - Be awoken as the bus crosses the border into Bulgaria.
3:00am - Arrive at Sofia Central Bus Station. Find an ATM to take out some Bulgarian Leva. Find a taxi, go to your hostel, fall asleep....

8:30am - Wake up, and head to swing dance workshops all day. Followed by social dancing late into the night!

Source: Sofia Swing Dance Festival FB Page.
3:00am - Stumble back to the hostel, sweaty and swungover.

8:30am - Wake up and head off for another full day of dance workshops. Skip the afternoon workshops for a Communist History Walking Tour of Sofia. Have dinner, and head out to social dancing in the evening until...

11:30pm - Get a taxi to the Central Bus Station.

12:00am - Depart for Skopje. Vaguely wake up to hand over my passport at the border.
3:00am (Gaining an hour crossing the border) - arrive at Skopje Bus Station. Attempt to nap for a couple of hours on extremely uncomfortable furniture.
6:00am - Depart on the bus for Pristina.
8:00am - Wake up in Pristina Bus Station, not even recalling when you went through the border, but there's a new stamp in your passport, so it must have happened. Head home for a shower and a change of clothes.

9:00am - Arrive at work, ready for a productive day!!

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