[Roadtrip] Where East Meets West - Part 4

January 13, 2015

The good thing in Sofia (in Bulgaria, it is spelled as София), was when we arrived there on the last day of 2014. Which means it was public holiday = no charge to park anywhere! At the beginning, we were so reluctant to park our car. So, we decided the two of us stay in the car, while the other two go anywhere to ask about the parking tickets. 

Where East Meets West
It was freaking cold!

Since it was not weekend, most people said we need to pay for it. It was hard too to find shops that sell the parking tickets. Most shops were still closed. Suddenly I saw few policemen (I guess, they were going to have breakfast). I tried to ask them and luckily one of them speak English. :D 

He confirmed with us that it was public holiday and we can park anywhere we want (as long as it is parking zone). What I mean with 'anywhere' is that there are at least 2 zones of parking (green and blue) in which each has different price per hour. ;)

1 Euro = 2 Bulgarian lev (BGN)

We managed to park the car quite close to places we would like to go. :) Yeay.

The first place to go is Banya Bashi Mosque! :D

Where East Meets West
Sweet mosque - women side on the first floor.

Early before (maybe many many many years ago), there were at least 70 mosques in Sofia but Banya Bashi Mosque is the only one that still functioning. It is very old (completed in 1576) and was built in the era of Uthmaniyyah (Ottoman). The opening hours, I guess during prayer times - as it was locked when we first come :) :)

Where East Meets West

Interesting fact about the mosque is that, it was built by Mimar Sinan

Who is he?

Where East Meets West
Image - credit

He is the famous Ottoman architect and civil engineer for Sultans in Turkey. He was responsible to build lots of mosques, bridges, palaces, hospitals and he was compared with Michelangelo who is famous for St. Basilica in Rome (basically famous in the west). Mimar Sinan also built the Blue Mosque of Istanbul! 

By the way, do you know that the word Banya Bashi is originally from Turkish language?
Banya Başı Camii

Camii means mosque while Banya Bashi means many baths. Outside the mosque, we can see an area of natural thermal spas, actually the remnants of original hammam (Turkish Baths). We can see from walls, there is warm water coming out. Nowadays, people will bring large empty bottles to be filled with the warm water. And it is FREEEE! ^_^

Where East Meets West
Turkish Bath - that uncle, he called the monopod as selfie melfie. Whattt? Haha. So, I invited him to take picture together.

Where East Meets West
The nutrients of water in Turkish Bath :) I can only understand that cations anions :p
Just in front of the mosque, we can see a building - Central Sofia Market Hall. They sell food, souvenirs, clothes etc. While around the market, there are lots of shops, some are branded shops and restaurants. I bought some postcards for my first giveaway! :) 

Where East Meets West

Where East Meets West
The market :)

If you are travelling to Europe or specifically Central & Eastern Europe, try to bring Euro / USD money instead of Ringgit Malaysia. RM is not recognised here (as far as I know). 

It was freaking cold with slippery pavements. I could not feel my fingers anymore, eventhough I wore the gloves! Ahaa, about the attire, make sure to wear clothes that are suitable for the winter. Boots (or maybe waterproof, strong grip sport shoes), gloves, scarfs, and coat (better with hoodies) 

After preparing hot drinks from Turkish Bath, we decided to continue the journey to Istanbul. :)

Where East Meets West
See the speed meter. Slow and safe. :) The route was dangerous T_T

Routes to Istanbul and within Istanbul were the most challenging among all. They challenge our driving skills and patience. Since our GPS didn't cover for Turkey (we knew it already), so, we need to depend on GPS on phone, Google maps, Waze and instinct. 

Why instinct? 
Because we didn't understand Bulgarian alphabets. T_T It was really hard to guess the signboards. 

Some incidents happened. 
Alhamdulillah, Allah saved us and guide us all the way :) 

Till then,

v Khaulah,

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