5 places to be on Valentine’s Day
Five suggestions on where and how to spend your Valentine’s day in Sofia
Written by Alex Portarev, edited by Scott Green, photos by Unsplash and Ilias Iatropoulos.
Happy Valentine's Day!
The controversial honorary day of Saint Valentine is upon us, where modern tradition dictates you should grab your partner or confess to your crush, cheering the night with laughs, jokes, and for some, instagrammable moments.
Wondering where you could celebrate with your valentine in Sofia? Here are several suggestions from the Open Bulgaria team.
Next to NDK, there is a bridge over a highway that overlooks McDonald’s. Not very romantic at first glance, or a second and third glance. But the non-official name of it does all the magic, the Love Bridge. Technically, it’s Bridge of the People Who Are in Love, but Love Bridge is shorter for SEO purposes. The name derives from all the young couples that meet up there on their first dates.
Literally any park - Borisova, Yuzhen, Naroden, the King’s Garden next to Naroden, Vrana park, Doktorska park, and those are just the famous ones. So many spots to have a picnic with wine and so much space to walk around while discussing the compatibility of your zodiac signs. Just bring an umbrella and a sense of adventure.
Vitosha, of course
Honestly, what did you expect? It’s a beautiful mountain overlooking Sofia that has so many beautiful sights that can be shared with a lovebird. Places like the Dendrarium, the Boyana waterfall, or the Golden bridges are wildcards when you ask somebody on a date. Also, there are many mountain cabins around in case it gets too steamy.
Every bench, every sidewalk, every couch, or every floor with a pillow. There should not be limitations for love and we will not give you specific places, instead, we’ll remind you that you can do it everywhere. Even for you couch potatoes out there, don’t feel pressured by society in making this into a special event, pizza and Rick & Morty could also suffice.
And don’t forget, whatever you decide, do it with wine because it’s Bulgarian wine lovers' favorite holiday, Trifon Zarezan. This holiday is all about wine, wine, and wine. The reason that some Bulgarians frown at St. Valentine is not only because of its catholic origins but also because it attempts to make love more important than wine. This leads us to the last entry!
The local vineyards
If you are by any chance dating a Bulgarian, this suggestion would hit the mark harder than a cupid shoots an arrow in a butt cheek. Look around and find the vineyards and winemakers around town, even in a time like this, you could organize a little visit and at least buy yourself wine from the producers themselves. This country is proud of its wine and for a good reason.
Or as one producer on Hrankoop’s Sunday farmers markets asked me once: “How do you guess if someone’s had too much wine? By the red lips, of course!”
Now, some history!
History fact #1: Valentine himself
The day originates from the 3rd-century Roman Saint Valentine, a religious man who died advocating for Christians during the reign of Claudius Gothicus. He was the bishop of Terni, a region of Umbria, modern-day Italy and he was also the patron of epilepsy.
History fact #2: Valentines themselves?
Seems that St. Valentine of Umbria was not the only St. Valentine out on the market for love. According to the continuations of “Lives of Saints,” after Jean Bolland’s death, there were three St Valentines! The earliest of the bunch died in Africa and that’s almost everything we know about him. Valentine number 2, according to the Acta, was living in Rome and ended in the custody of a rich man. Then he performed a miracle to save his children’s sight, for which he lost his life. And that leads us to Valentine 3 of Umbria, who … was in the custody of a rich man and performed a miracle to save his children’s sight. Another thing in common between them is decapitation. Amazing odds but also historians debate that it’s one story told by different people, the inhabitants of Rome and the inhabitants of Terni.
History facts #3: Not my Valentine
There is absolutely no record of either one of the Valentines being a romantic. No sexy drama between the nobles, no forbidden fruit within church grounds, no secrets of a tinder account. Oral history along the years carries folklore of romantic moments of letters written to students or courtly notes passed from jail cells, it says a lot more of people’s frustration from Medieval times until now than it tells us of historical romance.
If you're looking for more romantic locations in Bulgaria, check out our list of the most gorgeous spots to see a sunset in Bulgaria and the most beautiful views of Sofia from rooftops.
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