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1/10 — Kicking it in Sofia.



JZ Radical's Eastern European Extravaganza Stop 6: Bulgaria + Turkey

The D383 Bulgaria Express, my overnight train ride from Bucharest, Romania to Sofia, Bulgaria, was relaxing. Taking the train through the mountains in the morning was unbelievably gorgeous.

The National Palace of Culture, located in the heart of the city, has multiple marble embankments scattered throughout the public park, and they’re tons of fun to skate. The police are pretty relaxed as well. This is where I would spend most of my 3 days in Bulgaria – skating the banks or cruising the streets with the Volt Skate Shop crew.

The next and final stop of this Eastern European Extravaganza: Istanbul.

There were riots taking place in Taksim Square and warnings to be careful in Turkey, but I had a flight back to New York City in a week and the love of my life was meeting me in Istanbul, so it was game on! One last 12-hour bus ride, and I had completed the 2,300 kilometer adventure which began in Moscow just 6 weeks ago.

It’s hard to pick a favorite city from this six country tour, but Turkey certainly ranks high on the list for feeling very foreign, which undoubtably is a huge high of itself when traveling. Waking up to prayer and hearing it three times a day from hidden speakers within the city feels strange, but exciting. It’s nice to be reminded a few times a day to take a deep breath and relax.

The Basilica Cistern, an ancient underground water filtration system, is one of the wildest structures I’ve ever seen. It’s 200 feet high, holds 100,000 tons of water, has 336 large marble columns that support the ceiling (two of which are etched out as Medusa’s head), and was built in the 6th century! It was amazing.

Grace and I explored Istanbul, took a 20-minute boat across the Bosphorus Strait to Asia for the day, checked out the riots in Taksim Square and watched the U-20 World Cup Finals at the countries largest arena: Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadi.

Thanks to Yigit and Sinad for taking good care of us during our stay in Istanbul. And a big shout out to Mazdack Rassi & Milk, AriZona Iced Tea, and Transworld Skateboarding for all the support in making this dream come true happen.

Be sure to check out the previous installments of JZ’s Eastern European Extravaganza here.

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