With the delights of Plovdiv sampled it was time to move onto our final destination, the capital Sofia. We had a good choice of trains on this route but decided to plumb for the train that was in the end so late it merged with the next option. Entertainingly another English group identified us by the Waitrose bag we were using to carry some food, which they also had in their hands. Not only marking us both as English but the sort of reliable people to shop at Waitrose we exchanged our thoughts on which platform we should be waiting on and whether the train was late. They seemed satisfied with our assurances that we were in the right place and indeed the train would be late. By the time train 32 arrived there were a lot of people waiting and we all jumped on. We sat in a 6 berth cabin, not quite sure if it was covered by our ticket but at least the seats were empty, along with an elderly Japanese couple. Our travelling partners were very chatty and offered us some of their cake after thoroughly cleaning their hands in readiness for the meal like quantities. The impression of class was somewhat broken when she cracked open a cheap can of larger more likely to be found in the hands of a football hooligan and it was with some effort to suppress a chuckle. The train itself seemed much the same as we had seen everywhere on our trip with the exception of toilets that would put some in India to shame. A cheerful sign optimistically asked the user to leave it as they would wish to find it but frankly without a bucket of bleach, some brushes and most of the contents of a plumbers shop this was a literal impossibility so we had to settle for leaving it no worse than we found it.

Our first impressions of Sofia was of not being able to find a sensibly priced taxis at the station. Each taxi publishes its price on the door and the two that presented themselves seemed to be twice the price of any others we had seen in Bulgaria but we thought perhaps this was just the price in the capital. We spent the next few days with half an eye on prices and struggled to find one even half the price. Our accommodation was in an apartment rather than a hotel and we phoned through to meet the owner by the front door of a pretty ropey looking building with a lift even he wasn't keen on using. Feeling a bit nervous about what we might find we entered and shouldn't have worried as it was very nice and roomy. Since we had the facilities to cook for ourselves we thought we would take advantage and wondered out to find a supermarket. Just after getting on the escalator down the security guard explained to Eleanor that I should have checked my bag into a locker as it wasn't allowed in the shop but there was little I could do as I headed down and waved. A couple of other shops seemed to have security and this, along with the couple of touts who had approached us, immediately gave Sofia a slight less safe feel than the more relaxed towns we had been to. Once back in our flat we cooked our huge slab of beef and settled in for the evening.