Traventuria is partnering with Free Sofia Tour. Free Sofia Tour is one of the many initiatives of 365 Association. I’m interviewing Tomislav Rashkov, who I know from our cooperation with Association 365.
Can you please present yourself with a few sentences? When did you join the 365 Association team?
Hi! I am currently working as the Vice President of our Association and deal with the new projects and partnerships of our organization.
I really liked the exhibition the Association organized at the Lovers’ Bridge in 2012 (https://365association.org/projects/exhibition/). Do you plan to have another exhibition soon?
Yes, we are planning to do something, which will hopefully display the way tourists see our capital, but now we are more focused in designing other projects in the sectors of tourism, culture and education.
What projects are being developed at the moment at the Association?
We are now working on a gallery space to show people how was life like during the stage of Communism, designing a new free walking tour, developing the second season of Free Sofia School and the first season of Free Plovdiv School and also thinking of producing a theatre play in English. We try to stay busy all the time!
One of the problems we are facing regarding the logistics of our tours is the lack of public WC near Alexander Nevski Cathedral (the pick-up point for most of our tours), which is one of the most famous and iconic attractions in Sofia. We have written a few letters to the municipality’s administration, but nothing has been done so far. I find the situation outrageous.
Free Sofia Tour (FST) got huge! How do you deal with the problem of not having enough WC in the centre of Sofia?
Well, we try to inform people right at the beginning of the tour that there won’t be any breaks and try to point them to the nearest restrooms near the start and finish points of the tour.
You are running the FST tours in English every day and in Spanish 3 times a week. Do you plan to have the tour in another language soon? There are a lot of tourists coming to Sofia from Italy as well.
We also offer private tours in different languages, but so far we are not planning to do the regular Free Sofia Tour in any other languages.
FST is offering a paid Communist Tour. What is your opinion about the status of the Soviet Army Monument in central Sofia?
Most of the tourist show great interest in the monument. They are both intrigued by its size, symbolism and story and also by its current state of maintenance. That is why this one of the central pieces of our 365 Communist Tour.
There is a Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia. Do you recommend to the tourists joining your Communist tour to visit it afterwards?
We often get asked about a museum dedicated to the history of the communist period, so if we mention the Museum of Socialist Art we strongly highlight that it is an art museum and that we haven’t got a historical museum dedicated to the period yet.
Can you tell me a bit more about your Culture Tour – (https://freesofiatour.com/tours/culture-tour/#1)?
The Culture Tour aims to involve people in the process of discovering Bulgaria through all senses – smell, touch, taste, sight. During this experience, we focus more on Bulgaria’s symbols, visit some local places, talk about traditional habits, food, drinks, dances, the alphabet etc in an interactive way so that people truly learn what it takes to be a Bulgarian.
How many guides are working at Free Sofia Tour now?
About 20 wonderful, licensed and very active guides at the time 🙂
You are one of the guides. Can you tell an interesting story that happened to one of your tours of Sofia? Well, every tour has its interesting and funny stories, but I remember one time I was doing a presentation about the Bulgarian royal family and tried to involve everyone in the process by dividing roles – some tourists played the royalties and the rest played the Bulgarian people. The job of the Bulgarian people was to react with different expressions – when something good happened, they had to shout happily and when something bad happened they had to boo. After some minutes into the demonstration there were so many local people around us, that the group became twice bigger and in the end, everyone in the park next to the formal Royal Palace was shouting together, which shocked local passengers, who had no idea what we were doing.
Thank you for your time and answers. I wish you and your colleagues all the best.