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July 5, 2002

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In Sofia, Bulgaria, we kept busy by getting fined and robbed. We reached Bulgaria's capital city on a two hour bus ride from Koprivshtitsa. From the moment we stepped into this city we ran into trouble. On an inter-city tram, the inspector fined us for not having tickets, even though we flagged her down to buy the tickets in the first place. Luckily the fine only cost us $2. But the inspector booted us off the tram. That set us up for the next adventure: a pudgy blond lady tripped in front of me, so close we bumped, and her accomplice made off with my wallet. The thieves made off with $130 in my wallet - a huge score in a country where that's an average month's wage. We realized the wallet was gone several blocks down the street. We came back to the crime scene and tried to question several street vendors - no one saw anything, of course - but a nice lady, clearly against the wishes of the other street vendors, pointed in the direction the thieves left. She came with us as we searched trashcans, alleyways, and gutters for the discarded wallet. Miraculously, we found my wallet, minus the cash, in a trash can three blocks away. We gave the lady a $10 reward for helping us and felt lucky to retrieve the credit cards and drivers license.
Sveta Nedelya Cathedral (1863), a central location in Sofia and an easy place to catch the tram - remember to buy your ticket from the driver before boarding.
It's easy to recognize Communist architecture, and Sofia has many examples. This is the former Communist Party Building. Since the Communist days ended, this building has served as a cinema, bazaar, and disco. Now it's a venue for concerts and cultural events.