It has been two years since the guests of Sofia can join Free Sofia Tour and enjoy the friendly company and exciting stories of our guides around the center of Sofia. This is a very special day for us and it would have definitely not been the same without you – our (future) guests, friends, partners, supporters!
We are really happy about the success of our first project, especially because it encouraged us to start two other walking tours in Bulgaria. Free Varna Tour started on Friday 13th April and for its 4 months it has shown the sea capital of Bulgaria to more than 850 guests from many countries across the globe, mainly from USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain, but also from Chili, Brazil, Japan, China, South Africa and many others. Many citizens of Varna also join the tour, eager to rediscover their city and its thousands of years of history. Only for four months Free Varna Tour reached place number one “thing to do” in Trip Advisor for Varna.
For its first month Free Plovdiv Tour had already more than 100 guests and its popularity is growing at fast rate. What makes us really happy and proud is that some of our guests have already visited all our three tours!
Since our first birthday, we have not only explored some of the potential of free walking tours in other cities, but have been quite active in Sofia too. It has been one year since we started with the charity tour and we collected altogether 2.000 BGN, which we spent on different projects with the children from one social house for children without parental care in village Doganovo near Sofia. We bought new sport shoes for the start of the school year, organized a trip to Sofia with theater performance especially for them, and invited them to the International Animation Film Festival.
We have also been in close contact with other free walking tours in Europe, joining efforts to build up the network United Europe Free Tours. After a first meeting in March, the network started to build up our brand. Designers from whole Europe took part in our logo competition, contributing with 30 different logos.
In order to collect some ideas for alternative tours in Sofia, we organized a workshop as part of the conference TEDx Bulgaria. This was the beginning of various routes with communist, art, cultural and other focuses. This will be the basis for our future projects in the coming year.
However, our NGO is not limited to walking tours. We started to add some variety to our project spectrum on the European Mobility Week in September 2011. Of course, the purpose of that project was to promote Sofia – especially its hidden gems.
Encouraging intercultural exchange through travelling – this is one of our goals. Therefore, cooperating with Triptrotting, we brought together local and foreign travelers to the first TRIPup Sofia party in October last year.
And maybe some of you remember the “Car(e)free Sofia” photo exhibition on the Lovers Bridge in April? The exhibition was inspired by pictures of Old Sofia from Stara Sofia and Lost Bulgaria websites. And this is not going to be the last one – a new photo exhibition is planned for next month 🙂
We would have not been able to achieve this success without the support of all our friends, partners, and fans, and especially our guests. The enthusiasm we invest in our project is generated by the fact that – every day, twice a day – we actually discover Sofia through the eyes of our guests. Thank you!