TennisTrip #1 – The Sofia Open Diaries (Part One)

I leave Rome very soon this morning, when there is just a pale sun on the city. The flight to Sofia is quiet and short, and 100 minutes are enough to see this ancient town appears in a thick blanket of clouds. The airport is completely surrounded by snow, it’s raining and it will not be so easy for me to look at matches and contemporary visit the town. But we are TennisTravellers…..

I choosed my hotel in a strategic position between Armeets Arena and Sofia Airport; not far from city centre connected directly to Hotel by metro. The Best Western Hotel Expo surprises me with a a wide double room in place of a single room I booked some days ago. Included in the price, it offer free shuttle airport service, a powerful free wifi, breakfast, onsite restaurant and a little spa with free sauna. I will try, pheraps,  everything…but now is the moment to get my accreditation as reporter for Sofia Open.

Once withdrawn accreditation I try to understand where I can have access and where not. So for sure I can’t have access to VIP area and their privileges (ahahah!) but I can follow games directly behind tennis players in a prime location to breathe court’s emotions…and to be hitted by powerful aces of the players.

Today there aren’t great matches, but Gilles Muller vs Mathias Bourge and Mikhail Youzhny vs Marko Tepevac create very spectacular games. In particular I am very impressed by the strength and maturity of Müller, a player who seems to be planned for this hard surface and who wins 6-3 6-2 his match. In the following match is Youzhny to prevail for 7-6 6-4 but I’m very impressed from his 22 year’s old opponent Marko Tepevac, and this not only for his powerful style of play which suffers for a mental approach still immature and nervous, but especially because he is a character completely out of the box with his special look suspended between nerd and hipster. A partially insane tennis player who could do well at the entire tennis movement.

I give up momentarily to my role as reporter and come back to my role of traveller. I take a taxi and in five minutes I’m in Sofia city center under the majestic Cathedral of Aleksandr Nevskij. The cathedral is much more beautiful view from outside than from inside. The inside is fascinating especially for darkness illuminated just by candlelight. The entry is free…but there are fees to pay if you want to take some pictures (10 lev).

With a short walking from A.Nevskji is possible to visit all the historical buildings of Sofia which are concentrated in a little area around the Parliament. San Nicholas Church, National Assembly, St.George Rotunda Place, Saint Sofia Basilica, Sveta Nedelya Cathedral Church, Banya Bashi Mosque, Sinagogue and Statue of Sofia. You can’t finish to take a picture to a building that you need to begin sudden to take a new picture to another building. Really amazing! And I liked particularly St.George Rotunda Place and Statue of Sofia.

But now is time to have dinner after 14 hours of fasting. I’m exhausted but luckily right next to the Sveta Nedelya there is Happy Bar and Grill a restaurant which has great reviews on TripAdvisor and that above all it’s crowded. And this, as you know, is always a good sign. This American restaurant has surprised me either for the wide range of dishes or for the quality of the ingredients used. But the most amazing thing was…the bill. Really paltry!!!

After dinner for me is time to take metro and have some rest in my hotel room. Tomorrow it will be another long TennisTrip day!

It follows a statement of costs incurred during this 1st day in Sofia.

  • Taxi ride Best Western Expo Hotel – Arena Armeets 2,5€
  • Taxi ride Arena Armeets – A.Nevskji Cathedral 5€
  • Fee to take pictures inside Nevskji Cathedral 5€
  • Dinner at Happy Bar (Paradise Burger + 400 ml bottle beer + Cheesecake + tip) 12€
  • Metro ride from Serdica to Expo 0,80€

Total: 25,30€


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