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Shop-Tour in Zentral-Sofia (oder Einkaufen in einem Shop)

During your stay in Sofia, naturally, you might want to do some shopping. Incidentally, in this part of the country, natives are also called Shops (Shopi). The name has nothing to do with buying things, though - it is actually the name of the shepherd?s crook Shops were famous for. Sofia?s indigenous people (Shopi) are well-known for their practical philosophy;
A very popular joke sums it up in a humorous way: ?Once a Shop went to the city, saw aromatic soaps on a stand and, thinking that they were something to eat, bought a piece. He began to eat it but soon his mouth was filled with foam. He said: "Foam or not, it cost money, I shall eat it." (Source: Wikipedia)
One should always consume what they?ve bought, even if it isn?t that good, because it would otherwise be a waste of money (unacceptable!). Don?t be too afraid to adopt this lifestyle for a bit, because during the tour you are about to take, you will hardly find anything that Shops wouldn?t be happy to spend their money on. So let?s hit the markets!
From Budapest Hotel you only need to walk for 2 min until you get to the roundabout of Lion?s bridge. Once you cross the Lion?s Bridge on the right side is the biggest outdoor market in Sofia - Zhenski Pazar. You will be amazed at how dramatically different things look just across the street from your hotel! Zhenski Pazar (Ladies? Market) has recently been renovated but it still preserves the Oriental vibe that the area has to it. The most common things you can find there are fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs that most of the time are the vendor?s own produce. If you?re in the mood, you can visit any of the small streets around Zhenski Pazar and find proper Oriental shops with anything from tobacco to darbukas in them.
From Zhenski Pazar find Knyaz Boris I str. and in approximately 300 meters turn left to reach Pirotska str. This is a beautiful pedestrian area with many stores that offer souvenirs, clothes, accessories, cosmetics, shoes and sporting goods at great prices. There are also a couple of places to eat or to sit and have a coffee and enjoy the environment. It is like a small outdoor shopping mall, with the advantage of it being much more pleasant to spend time in!
At the end of Pirotska str., on your left, you will find a well-preserved, Neo-Renaissance building. Do not mistake it for its looks ? it is actually a three-story market place called Tsentralni Hali (Central Market Hall). Inside, besides amazing architecture, you will find some of the best places to buy rose products and chocolates, as well as great cheese, wine and fresh fish. This is, of course, if you are able to set your eyes on something else than the beautiful building itself.
When you finish savoring all the delicious temptations that Tsentralni Hali has to offer, it?s time to continue your walk. Exit thru the main entrance and go right, until you reach the underpass of Serdika subway station. Go through the underpass below the statue of St. Sofia, and continue forward until you reach the Sofia Palace of Justice. You are now faced with two very intriguing options. If you go left on Graf Ignatiev str. (commonly referred to as Grafa), you will find a number of fashion clothing stores and various places to have a drink or coffee. You will also bump into one of the most famous open book markets in Sofia ? on Slaveykov square. There you can find lots of books in English and various other languages as well. If you continue straight you will also find a row stalls that offer a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, but most notably ? nuts, dried fruits, honey and honey based products.
Back to the Sofia Palace of Justice and your second option, which most people consider the icing on the cake ? Vitosha Blvd. This all-pedestrian street combines luxurious looks with prices that are slightly higher than other places in the city, and it carries the spirit of the biggest shopping streets around Europe. Vitosha Blvd. is riddled with many stores and boutiques for brand goods from all around the world. Besides those, there are also a number of indoor and outdoor bars and cafes that are a bit more expensive, but they do offer great service in a great environment. Vistosha Blvd. is very popular with tourists and often you will hear all sorts of languages spoken when you?re walking there. Once the afternoon settles, the place easily gets packed with people that are out to do some shopping, or to have dinner. Simply taking a walk through the street can be pleasant enough ? there is always something happening there. People go to play live music there, other performers do magic tricks and you might even find yourself in the middle of a street circus.
You?ve come a long way and those bags must be really heavy on your arms. If you manage to do the whole tour in one swing you automatically receive a Shop shopper status. By the way, if you decide to have something to eat here, remember where it all started ? with the Shops. Have a Shopska salad for starters and enjoy the rest of the courseJ