Have arrived in Bulgaria for a few days and walking around Sofia today I was inadvertently reminded of the conversation that I had a number of years ago with an old lady on a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. “Haven’t been back in Glasgow for about ten years.” I said! “Oh, ye’ll no recognise it son.” She replied, and I thought: “What am I going to mistake it for Edinburgh, am I going to think that Buchanan Street is Princess Street?” And sure enough when I got out of the train at Queen Street and walked into Buchanan Street, Buchanan Street was indeed still Buchanan Street and no, it hadn’t really changed much in the ten years that I had been away. Indeed, I was in Glasgow this summer and a further ten years down the road, it really is still very much Glasgow and not Edinburgh or anywhere else for that matter.
So, on to Sofia and I had been told that a lot of things have changed since I was last here and I was last here only a couple of years ago and no not very much has changed. Well, there is a new Metro but it only has one line and anyway, it being a Metro and it being underground you don’t really see the changes. In fact, most of Sofia’s changes seem to be where you don’t really see them; underground and there is a flourishing of nice chic little shopping centres below the earth’s surface, like the one you can go through when you cross over the main road to see the Alexander Nevsky cathedral. However, change, real change? No, I don’t think so and you get the impression, most of them are getting by, if only just, some are on the make and there are a lot on their uppers. The little market in front of the Alexander Nevsky, for instance, the goods look good enough, the prices seem alright too but finding customers appears to be more than a trifle difficult and there they are and are they to counted among those who are getting by, if only just, or are they also on their uppers? Yes, it hasn’t changed much since I was last here.
Yes change and if I have seen it, it was in China and the experience in Shanghai was an eye opener when I discovered that my favourite little hotel there was still there but inside two months the building opposite that little hotel had been more or less replaced by a new one and the Starbucks had metamorphosed into a Costa Coffee. Not to worry, I prefer Costa Coffee and not to worry Sofia has a lovely selection of little cafes, including a couple of Costa Coffees, with wireless internet, good coffee and I am looking forward to my four days in Bulgaria.