With the weather warm and sunny and Sofia at our feet we set out on a walking tour of the highlights. In parts this involved more walking than highlights but that was down to map reading rather than a lack of high to the lights. We went past the suitably imposing Palace of Justice with two huge black lions guarding the custodians of justice in Bulagria and onto the Sveta Nedelya cathedral. This was built between 1856 and 1863 on the bones of older churches. Inside there was a ceremony taking place so we just hung around at the back of the crowd sucking in the incense and the almost low moan like choir. The colourful history of the cathedral includes how it was partially blown up in 1925 in a botched attempt to assassinate Tsar Boris III, this did successfully wipe out most of his cabinet and 120 bystanders but luck was shining on Boris that day as he walked away unharmed. Just north of the cathedral we saw the Sofia monument, a bronze female figure which as recently as 2001 had replaced a huge 24m high statue of Lenin, signs of the communist era fading into history. We got as far as the Banya Bashi mosque and the lovely mineral baths building behind it with a park in between and settled on a bench to read our books in the sun with the locals with the sounds of classical music drifting over from the other side of the road as two buskers plied their trade. Judging by the slight sun burn the next day we probably spent a little too long in the sun, our peace was finally disturbed by a large tour group arriving and we decided to push off.

Just behind the mineral baths building is a set of free water fountains where the locals were busy filling up their bottles, the cynic might say to sell back to tourists somewhere but at least it would actually be mineral water rather than tap water. From here we went past the presidents building with the dressed up guards attracting the attentions of tourists and popped into the courtyard where there is a brick church from the 4th century AD. Just down the road we found ourselves at the imposing Aleksander Nevski memorial church and judging by the line of tourist buses were clearly not going to have the place to ourselves. This was built between 1882 and 1912 in memory of the Russian soldiers which had died fighting for Bulgaria's independence. Outside it is hard to miss the large gold domes on top, inside it is easy to miss your feet in the gloom and foggy incensed air. The walls were covered with dark murals and the crowds were busy lighting candles. Our next stop was the doctor's gardens, a small park just behind the national library. Our guide book described this as a well maintained park in the smartest residential area of town but clearly times had moved on. In the middle the Soviets had thoughtfully left behind another monument to those who had died in the Russo-Turkish war, specifically the medics and hence the name of the park. Our final stop on the walking tour described in our guide book was another park which had another huge monument to the Soviet army as well as a group of skateboards, inline skaters and bikers taking advantage of the stone structures to hone their skills with varying degrees of success.

With our walking tour completed we flicked through the guide book to decide what to do next and settled on the National musuem of military history. This was a little way out of town and so we switched to the larger scale map. Our route finding was not perfect to say the least. We eventually walked three sides of a rather large square to arrive at our destination a little weary with our enthusiasm flagging. I won't say who was reading the map but it wasn't Eleanor. The museum itself had lots of decrepid pieces of serious military hardware outside, from tanks to MIGs to helicopters and scud launchers. It says something of the pace of military hardware that these fearsome looking machines have already been mothballed due to being obsolete on the modern battle field. Inside were lots of uniforms and a history of the Bulgarian army from the days of their contribution to the Russo-Turkish war to their present day role in NATO. Surprisingly in both world wars Bulgaria initially sided with Germany and not Russian a one might expect given their close ties and many many monuments celebrating their help with the liberation. After the museum we made the rather shorter walk back to the centre and hunted out our favorite chain of restaurants, the happy bar. Just as we sat down a premiership football match was switched onto their big screens keeping me happy and the menu still contained a certain chocolate pudding keeping Eleanor happy - the restaurant living up to it's name.