Greg & Maisie’s Great Adventure: Welcome to Happy Bulgaria (3 Cards, 3 Continents)

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For the 3 Cards, 3 Continents Challenge, Maisie (the Culinary Concierge) and I traveled around the world in business class.  Our trip themes were luxury travel, great food from around the world, and exploring waterways.  In this series of posts titled "Greg & Maisie's Great Adventure," I detail highlights from our travel, food, and water experiences.  Our route in a nutshell: San Francisco to Tokyo to Vietnam; Vietnam to Doha, Qatar; Doha to Sofia, Bulgaria; Sofia to Istanbul; Istanbul to Stockholm; Stockholm to Bergen; Bergen to Toronto (via Newark); Toronto to Detroit (home!)
What is 3 Cards, 3 Continents? Frequent Miler loves creating fun and competitive team challenges. This year Greg, Nick, and Stephen are competing to book the most amazing 3-continent dream-trip using 3 credit card welcome bonuses.

Sofia (Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon)

Our Qatar business class flight from Doha (for which, I paid only 6,000 points per person!) arrived in Sofia on schedule.  Multiple signs welcomed us to Happy Bulgaria.  No Sad Bulgaria for us!

We withdrew cash at the ATM, bought metro tickets, and were on our way to our hotel. Bulgaria has applied to adopt the Euro, but they currently use the Bulgarian Lev.  Sofia has a terrific easy-to-use and extensive metro system, and a one-way journey to anywhere in the city costs less than $1 USD.

We checked into Marriott’s Sense Hotel and enjoyed some downtime before dinner.

Sense Hotel, Sofia. I plan to publish a review soon(ish)

Our reservations were at one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Bulgaria, ANDRé, which was barely a 1-minute walk from the hotel.  ANDRé offered two tasting menus: one meat & seafood and one vegetarian.  I chose the former and Maisie the latter.

As we progressed from one delicious course to the next, it became more and more obvious why this restaurant is so well regarded.  Amazingly, even though we both ordered these extensive multi-course meals and drank wine, the entire bill came to under $82 USD or about $41 per person.  What a great deal!

Chef André chatted with us both during and after the meal.

Here are photos of some of the courses we enjoyed:

I slept about 10 hours that night in the Sense Hotel’s comfy bed!  Then, after breakfast, Maisie and I split up.  We only had this one half-day to explore Sofia before leaving for our next adventure.  While Maisie went out to explore the local food scene, I joined a free walking tour to learn a bit about Sofia’s incredibly rich history.

Ancient ruins

We reconnected mid-day.  Maisie had picked up a terrific selection of local foods, including UNESCO protected bread (who knew there was such a thing?!) and we enjoyed a picnic!  This video shows more:

All too soon, it was time to go.  We returned via metro to the airport and boarded our Turkish Airlines flight.  This trip is proving to be a sampling menu of cities.  We got just a small taste of Sofia’s charms and would love to return in the future for more.

Stay tuned for chapter 4 in which we explored the endless culinary delights of Istanbul, ferried back and forth between continents, and rowed the Golden Horn.

Here’s another video that captures our time in Sophia:

 

 

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Nikolay

Glad you two had a great time in my home country; hope you return soon on a longer trip. “Happy” is a well-known (fast-casual?) restaurant chain that won an award in London recently. Your restaurant bill clearly had an error as the tasting menus by themselves should have been $60-70/pp before tip as the photos show…but a great deal for Maisie and you.