Sofia has become the motor of Bulgaria’s sustained economic growth in recent years, with real estate prices growing 30 percent in 2008. Finance, construction, trade and transport have all benefited, and foreign companies like IBM, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard have opened offices here. The International Monetary Fund predicted 1 percent growth for Bulgaria this year, despite the financial crisis.
Pick up a copy of the airport magazine, Highflights, for background information and tips on what to do in Bulgaria. There are distribution points throughout both terminals.
Grand Hotel Sofia (1 Gurko Str., +359 2 811 0811) is an efficient five-star business hotel with a great location in the city center, overlooking the City Park and next to the National Theater.
Flannagan’s Bar & Restaurant at the Radisson Grand Hotel (4 Narodno Sabranie Sq, +359 2 9334 334) offers a buffet with 100 items, a range that should satisfy every taste. In summer, the outdoor patio is a breath of fresh air.
Don’t be put off by the strange name: Beyond the Alley, Behind the Cupboard (1 Budapeshta St., +359 2 983 5545) is a local legend that’s been visited by the likes of Bill Clinton. The food is astonishingly good, as are the Bulgarian wines.
Just 20 minutes from Sofia, Vitosha National Park offers a taste of the great outdoors, with skiing in winter and hiking in summer. For a quieter excursion, take a seat at one of the restaurants and admire the views.
Be patient, and do not try to rush meetings—Bulgarians prefer a thorough approach. They are not deadline oriented and will consider an issue finalized only when it has been comprehensively examined and discussed by all concerned. Decision-making tends to be consensus-based.
• Bulgarian wine and food: Did you know the Japanese are big fans of Bulgarian yogurt?
• The outdoors: Skiing, hiking, climbing and caving are all available on Sofia’s doorstep.
• Bulgarian culture, including the famous folk singers and mysterious fire dancing.