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Date : 10th March, 2016
Time : c 58’
Total distance run to date : 740 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1086957555 (partial data only)
I’ve heard betting disparagingly dismissed as a tax on the stupid. Other people argue that gambling activities like bingo are sociable and fun – with any winnings being the icing on the cake. Still others will point to the threat of addiction and how it destroys peoples’ lives.
Personally, I find it dull. But I know lots of people enjoy it. And, if I lived in poverty, and it was my only way out, then I might be tempted. Whatever the odds.
Irrespective of your views, if you do happen to enjoy a flutter, then Sofia could be the place for you. There are gambling emporiums on virtually every corner of the city centre. Which was a bit of a surprise to be honest.
My image of Bulgaria was as the loyalist of loyal allies of the Soviet Union. There were none of the anti-Soviet uprisings seen in Czechoslovakia, Hungary or Poland. None of the independence shown by Tito’s Yugoslavia or Ceausescu’s Romania.
I was therefore expecting a grey city full of Stalinist architecture with a dim view of Western style decadence. Which, given that the Communist party gave up its monopoly on power in 1989, was a pretty out of date view.
What I found was a city that seemed to tick the two weekend break boxes : local sights and culture and plenty of nightlife. It’s not quite Las Vegas on the Black Sea but it’s not far off.
I saw some of the sights on my run which took me down Boulevard Maria Luiza before turning west to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral (picture above). Through the Knyazheska Gardens to the gigantic Palace of Culture (picture below) then down Vitosha Boulevard – the main shopping and entertainment street – before getting back to my hotel in approximately 58 minutes. It rained, and it was my 4th run in 4 days so my legs hurt, but otherwise it was a good run.
I saw some of the nightlife later that evening as I had dinner at a restaurant on Vitosha. Excellent food, spoiled by the screens showing the mighty Spurs being walloped by Dortmund. Why is it that, as I get older, seeing my teams lose seems to hurt more? Sport’s my current addiction but it brings me so much emotional pain that I think I might have to switch to gambling….