Well I guess I will look back on this little adventure one day and smile.
Who would have thought that a relatively harmless volcano in Iceland could wreak such havoc and that I would find myself caught up in it all?
I was doing a short tour of Eastern Europe teaching sample lessons to promote my company. There were twelve of us altogether, two groups of six heading in different directions. The idea was we would all meet up again in Bulgaria and catch a plane home from there. Well, by the time we all converged on Bulgaria’s capital city we knew what was going on in the big wide world via CNN and BBC and we were not surprised to find our flight was cancelled. We were not expecting such a long wait for the next possible flight though. At the moment it looks like we won’t be able to get out of here until Friday or Saturday at the earliest. (Trains and busses are either too expensive or far too booked up. Besides, our company’s insurance requires us to make use of the airline’s legal requirement to take care of us until they can provide an alternative flight).
I am the senior person from our company here at the moment so it is my job to sort out whatever problems come up. In a way I am quite pleased to have something to do because Sofia is not the most exciting city in the world. Today I have spent most of the time on the computer exchanging emails with my boss back in the UK, drinking lots of coffee and smoking lots of cigarettes. The hotel itself is comfortable and the airline allows us to bill them for meals as well up to a reasonable level. So to be honest we are in a much better position than many of those who are stranded in various parts of the world at the moment.
Even so, the feeling of being stranded is quite disturbing. We all have things we should be doing back home. We are all in one way or another losing money and many of us have friends and family that are anxious about us. In my case I am worried about my Mum who is not well at all and I was supposed to be accompanying her to hospital this week…
As for Sofia, I don’t want to be mean about it. There are some good restaurants to eat at and a few interesting sites in the city centre. The people I have met here have mostly been warm and friendly although there is a lot of petty corruption and you have to be very careful which taxi you get in. It is in many ways a typical East European city in a fairly poor East European country. There are a lot of pot-holes in the streets and an uncared for feel about the place. There are also a lot of abandoned and wild dogs roaming around which is a bit dangerous.
Hopefully during my enforced stay I will be able to explore the city a bit better and find some more redeeming features. I also plan to venture out of the city and see a bit more of rural Bulgaria while I am here.
But I do hope it is only till Friday…