Thursday, 2 April 2015

Going Underground

A quick look at the calendar shows that we are now in April, it is so easy to lose track of the days here in Bulgaria. Which means that Baba Marta has packed her bags for another year. The Storks are back, there is blossom on the fruit trees and daffodils are nodding their heads in the gardens. I think that we can say that Spring is definitely here, and as we all know following Spring we have the long awaited Summer. Summer is also the time when families come out to stay in Bulgaria. Not only that, those of us living here also start to get itchy feet, and start to plan our own Summer getaways. Some will choose to explore different parts of Bulgaria, whereas others will have their sights set further afield. Whether it be family coming into Sofia, or yourselves leaving from there, the common link is the airport.

So let us take those flying out, as for anyone flying in this hopefully handy guide will operate back to front. Many choose not to drive and leave their cars in the long stay car parks at the airport. This tends to give them one of two options to get to Sofia, either by train, or by bus. Fortunately the Central Bus and Railway stations stand almost side by side on Knyaginya Marie Louise Blvd, not that far from the Lions Bridge. Previously, to get from either place out to the airport, involved dealing with taxi drivers and their somewhat erratic tariff schemes, which in some cases cost the unwitting 100 Leva. As of today, April 2nd, there is another option, as the Metro line out to the airport has opened, and the price of a ticket in 1 Lev, for anywhere on the Metro.

As is always the case with something new, there are going to be people worried about how to use the thing, but hopefully this blog will help as I haven't found anything in English yet. So first of all, if you have arrived in Sofia's Central Bus Station you need to wander over to the Central Railway Station, but please remember to watch out for buses and taxis. Especially the taxis, as they know where you are going, and you are one fare less for them. Once you have safely reached the Railway Station you will need to find the Metro, so look for the big blue M above a blue chevron. Tickets can be bought at the ticketing desks or from machines. The Metro is underground, so you will need to go down steps, at the moment I don't know about disabled access, but if in doubt ask.

You won't be surprised to learn that this station is called Central Railway Station (Централна Гара) and is on Line 2 (that's the blue line for you and me). The airport is on Line 1 (the red one), so you will need to change platforms. The station where you do this is the main interconnecting point for the Metro lines, and is called Serdika (Сердика), and is only about 4 minutes journey. With it being the main Metro interchange there will be a bit of a traipse through tunnels to get you to the Line 1 (the red one remember), so try not to get yourself lost. Once on the Line 1 platform look around and see if you see others there with suitcases, if they are on the other platform to you then chances are you are on the wrong one. Keep an eye on the notice board for train arrivals, you want to go to the airport (Летище Софиа) and not out to the Business Park (Бизнес Парк Софиа).

It used to take about 20 minutes to get as far as the old line ended at IEC - Tsarigradsko Shose (ИЕЦ - Цариградско Шосе), but now you have another 4 stops to go. It might be cheaper than a taxi, but if time is important for checking in then maybe its not such a good option. So almost an hour after starting at the main Railway Station you arrive outside Terminal 2 of the airport. I daresay that in time the service might quicken up, but at the moment that is definitely something to take into account when planning journey times. The Metro station isn't even connected to the terminal, so you still have a bit more walking to do, although it is only a couple of hundred metres. Maybe not so bad in the summer, but possibly not so pleasant in the winter, or when it is persisting down.

That is OK for those who want to be at Terminal 2, but what about those who want Terminal 1, the old terminal. Look outside the front of the Terminal building and you will see a marked area for a FREE transfer between terminals. If you see a vehicle there all well and good, if not then you might have to wait half an hour for the next one. So all told it could take you about an hour and a half to get from the main Railway Station to your check-in at Terminal 1. The return journey, or for family coming out the time constraints might not be quite so important, unlike your flight out or their return journey. The Metro runs from 5 in the morning until midnight, and the FREE inter terminal link runs from 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening. The return journey is the reverse of the outward trip, but if you do decide to use the Metro keep in mind that it does get busy during the rush hours. Hopefully this blog might help, or at least it may give a bit more of an insight until more information becomes available.

   

5 comments:

  1. Thanks, Kris, for taking the time to post such a detailed, helpful explanation. I have referred to it on one of my ex-pat forums (with the link).

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    1. You are most welcome, as hard as I tried I couldn't find anything written in English so hopefully people might find this of use

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  2. Lovely description (Informative, Interesting and definitely very very HELPFUL - thank you much my dear friend! :* Tons of hugs! I still waiting the lovely SPRINGtime to come on my balcony and to move my flowers out from my room :) Even today I planting in pots flowers as "Zdravets" (geranium) and Iris flower (which Bulgarian people often named it "Perunika") Hope someday you and your lovely family will see my flowers in real....not only in photos, which i planning to upload in FB! :) xxxx Have a wonderful evening and Sunday ahead!!! :) xxxxx

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    1. Thank you for your support of the blog Mariya, and please feel free to share it with family and friends. We have the sunshine today, but I wish that the wind would lose its cold edge. Wishing you a wonderful weekend xxxx

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  3. A warm welcome to the latest follower to the blog, from the looks of things it is Isaac. Thank you for taking the time to read the blog, and I hope that you will share it with friends and family

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