Because this is my first post, I decided that I should start this blog off with a bang. I am a school teacher, and on February 8th, schools all across Bulgaria were closed, and I had the whole day free to travel around Sofia. Being ambitious, I managed to complete three separate tram lines, however, by the end of the third my feet were numb and I was tired from being in the cold all day. I am planning to highlight an individual transit line in each post, so even though I did three in one day, they will each be highlighted in their own article. I hope you enjoy my blog, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, or requests, please feel free to post or message me. Enjoy!
#10 starts at the end of Stamboliiski Boulevard at Zapaden Park in the neighborhood of the same name. I boarded tram No. 2030 at 12:48 pm, which was 2 minutes later than the time listed on the transportation web page. The tram travels down Stamboliiski past Vardar Boulevard and towards Vuzrazhdane Square. This is much of the same route that tram #8 travels. #10 passes by the Mall of Sofia, which in comparison to its colleagues Serdika Center and City Center Sofia remains vibrant and full of stores. As of New Year’s Day it has been wearing a tarp, probably due to a firecracker falling on it and igniting the roof. After the mall, the tram turns at Vuzrazhdane (meaning “renaissance or revival”) up to Macedonia Square where it turns left onto Alabin Street. From Alabin, #10 passes Sudebna Palata (Palace of Justice – the building with the large lions in front that formerly housed the National History Museum) on to Graf Ignatiev St., one of the major shopping streets in the city. I exited the tram at 13:12 at Gharibaldi Square. This is a great area to get a bite to eat, from McDonald’s at the corner of Vitosha and Alabin or Confetti, the Italian restaurant and gelateria (BTW if you go, make sure you try the chocolate-red pepper-orange ice cream) to Soupateria, the second or third of Sofia’s increasing soup spots. I didn’t have time to eat, but rather needed to buy a notebook and a pen to write down all the numbers I needed to remember.
I climbed back on a tram at Slaveikov Square and Rakovski St. at 13:24, this time No. 2049. Both No. 2049 and No. 2030 are orange and white “Tatra” models made by CKD in pre-democractic Prague in the 80’s. From Slaveikov, #10 goes SE to the Vasil Levski Metrostation before turning right into the up-and-coming Lozenets neighborhood. On the way to Journalist Square, if you look to the right you’ll see the “Roman Wall Market,” though I’ve read in several places the wall is probably younger, from the Old Bulgarian Kingdom or Ottoman Empire. At Journalist Square there is an organic market at cafe called “Biomag” that I went into searching for quinoa. These places tend to be expensive, but I like the idea of free and fair trade and culinary variety. Right after Journalist, the tram takes a dive into a hilly part of Borisova Gradina, Sofia’s large park, which is my favorite part of the ride. To marry something with such an urban persona with the forest is neat. The one tram stop in the park, Vishneva St., is a wooden cottage used by (I think) park groundskeepers. The surrounding snow reminded me of the dwarves’ cottage in Snow White. Three teenage boys (although one of them had a full beard at 13, the mark of a true Bulgarian) got on here and remarked that “…this isn’t a tram! It’s a ski lift!” After the park, #10 skirts down James Baucher Boulevard before coming to Korab Planina Street, the last stop. Before the extension of the blue line of the subway, #10 continued down Cherni Vruh Boulevard, however I can’t find any information on whether once the metro construction is finished that it will be restored. I exited the tram at 13:40 pm, with total line travel time at 40 minutes from end to end.