Alternative Tour(ism)

10 August 2017 text Natalia Ivanova photos Violeta Ivanova
Knowing the city as the palm of our hand is a proud statement until someone else points out the hidden lines on his map. After we followed in the footsteps of Sofia Alternative Tour, we felt just like that - both as locals and guests, who have forgotten how glamorous their landlord can be. We are now joining the flow of this tour and act like tourists - at least at the beginning, because later we even don't have to pretend.

We've been on 24 Denkoglu str. before to get to know the place of Valeri Gyurov - Gifted is a tourist center, a gallery and recently the address where the alternative tour of Sofia starts and ends. Its main organizer Tomislav Rashkov (also a guide in Free Sofia Tour) welcomes us on the threshold. We're ready to spend the next few hours with him but it turns out that we're wrong - the first part of the tour is "you're going to be alone" and begins when we decide. It takes between two and three hours, and the compass for it is a survival kit in English, which we take in place for 20lv (or 10 euro respectively). With the instructions inside can operate up to five people (but it's ok if you decided to invade Sofia alone).

Here we are now: two citizens, who are mostly struggling to breathe the hot air of August. We open the big white envelope, and inside we find a map with locations, another small envelope and 2 leva, which will later materialize in a pair of sexy slippers.

First stop - Lion Bridge. Question: What is the missing part of this four bronze guards? We know a city legend on the occasion: after the architect Vaclav Proshek realized that he missed this detail, he jumped off the bridge. "That's not true," they say to us later, but what is the truth then? You may know it for a long time, but this is the easiest of the eight tasks to solve in the tour. Describing the others will be a sneak peek, but some of them really surprised us - a high view or a dungeon with thousands treasures where we spent shamefully long time.

The best thing about this tour? That among the fascinating tasks, it is able to show some hidden features of Sofia. The ones that we are proud of, but also those we would hide, such as the ruinous monuments of culture or the absurd coexistence of private interests and historical heritage. We heard the stories behind each one in the second part of the tour, which starts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Gifted at 19:30. We also met there a family from Belgium, two girls from UK and a couple from Plovdiv who shared experience and testimonies from their tour.

"One of our first visitors didn't have a camera on his phone, and to prove his presence in some of the locations, he had brought with him the signatures of local people who had proclaimed:" Peter was here, it is true! " This is also one of the tasks of the alternative tour, explains Tomislav - to get to know the city first through the people who come home here every day. We are also one of them, but we still have a lot to learn - as long as we look for the roundabout.

Sofia Alternative Tour is on


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