GES140 - Sofia Metro - Trip 2
Having been to the 3 Line 2 stations near NDK the previous night, it was time to check some of the other extension stations on Line 1. Ironically one of the newly built stations was right outside this hardware chain (see pic). However after wandering around a newly built car park, that had subterranean links to the metro station. We were unable to find a way in. The passages from the car park to the station were blocked off with wrought iron metal grids. We crossed over to the other side of the main dual carriageway to the airport, and descended the steps. GE099 was first down, and quickly tiptoed back up. There was a door open to the station, and a small booth inside. Within the booth was a guard away with the fairies. I did contemplate crawling passed, but maybe GE099 was right to veto it. I did look around the surrounding rooms, but none offered a way in, other than with rope in a ventilation section. Sadly none of us were carrying rope. GE099 then punched another new station into the GPS, and we were off again.
We ended up next to an empty field with a few bits of building equipment here and there and a couple of sunken concrete structures. At the far end of the field/site, was some plant vehicles and a few huts under bright lights. The whole area was surrounded by heras fencing. After walking up to the heras, we decided it might be best to enter from the far side, as it was so lit up, we'd stand out easily. So we continued by whizzing around the block. On the far side we found some heras already handily moved back. After creeping in, we found ourselves next to a some excavation work and a newly built concrete structure. We hoped it would be an access point for the station. Some moving around in the shadows, and we were at the bottom of the steps to what indeed was the station. However it was sealed off with the same wrought iron large mesh we'd been defeated by at the previous station. There was a small gap at the top I noticed, and climbed up to give it a go. I managed to get through, and dropped down. No obvious signs of anyone. GE099 followed, making a few clangs here and there like myself, but nothing too worrying. We then checked around the ticket hall and what appeared to be future shops for anyone. Nothing. The ticket hall area, beyond the far pillar on the right of centre is where we entered, and steps lead to the surface. This is Mladost 3 station.
The ticket hall from the back. Either side of the camera were steps from the surface, and on the left and right of the picture were steps down to the platform. I like the artwork here a lot. Pretty minimalist on the whole, but still more than is ever done in London's metro system.
We then preceded down to the platforms. GE099 got there first, so I let him take pics while I took the pics seen above. I thought it would be cool to have a pic on the roof of the little service train, as it was perfectly placed. GE099 agreed and wanted a similar shot. I set up my camera and climbed up. As I stood on the roof, it bent down with my weight and issued a massive 'VA-DOOM' noise. Shit! I then removed myself, and the roof bounced back into place with another 'VA-DOOM' Double shit! We then heard someone moving about at the top of the stairs, opposite to where we'd come down. GE099 was already running, and I hopped down and grabbed my camera, heading behind GE099 into the tunnel. (this pic was taken from some HD film I shot, you'll find out why by reading on!)
GE099 had got to behind the wall just past the lit up area on the right behind the mesh barrier. I got to the lit up area and was frantically trying to collapse down my tripod. I then heard some Bulgarian shouted across at me. I turned to see by the mesh barrier on the opposite of the tracks a fat Bulgarian in his early fifties maybe, in a dark jumper and grey hair. Oh, and he was pointing a small black revolver at me. I gabbled something about being English and a photographer. He seemed to quickly realise I wasn't a threat, and I picked up my half collapsed camera and tripod and tried to come across to him via the flat carriage attached to the service train. When it looked dodgy with my camera, I agreed to meet him at the top of the steps. I realised he hadn't seen GE099 who was stuck into the corner of the wall and probably wasn't aware he had a gun. It was then a climb up the steps and I met the guard (referred to from here as guard 1) at the top. He kept talking to me in Bulgarian, and I kept saying "English" back. He called someone on his mobile, bizarrely not an iPhone, and we sat looking around awkwardly. Meanwhile GE099 was off exploring the tunnel he was near.
Eventually the security guy got a call back. He then undid lots of bits of wire from the gate, and undid the padlock. I got the impression this entrance wasn't used much, meaning that he probably lived down there! He pointed up the steps while he re-did the padlock. I was at the top of the steps long before him, and briefly considered legging it. But I'm not very good at that level of bravery. He finally came up the steps, and gesticulated to walk to the lit up huts ahead of us. He was clearly bewildered by what I was up to. We got to the huts, and a couple of small dogs appeared, one of whom would not stop barking the whole time. Another rotund chap came out, who seemed around the same age as the guard 1. He indicated they'd called the Police. I gathered I was to wait around until they arrived. I stood looking around and being awkward. While the two talked to each other sporadically, helping themselves to drinks from a vending machine. Mostly I got the impression that they were trying to work out what I was doing, their gesticulations and tone pointed to a sense of disbelief and confusion.
About quarter of an hour later a cop car pulled up. Guard 2 from the site hut went up to talk to them. Then a stern female looking cop in her mid forties and a short dark haired younger male cop in his early thirties. The male cop spoke English. He asked for my passport, and then the question the two old guys were waiting to find out, 'what were you doing in there?' 'I like photographing Metros.' I showed the cop my photos as requested. Thank god I didn't have any of GE099 on there. Although one of the 'photos' was a movie file with him on there, which luckily they didn't realise. I then had to show the male cop how I got in. So we went back to the station, guard 1 lead the way.
I was panicking, because I'd told the cop that I was alone. If they saw GE099 there, we'd both be for the high jump. We entered and no sign of GE099, phew! I pointed to the bit of mesh where i'd climbed in. Guard 1 seemed to intimate it was impossible, pointing over to the steps we didn't use to get to the tracks. Obviously this is where he had an office. I'm guessing, as did the cop, that he was likely asleep in there. Satisfied, we returned to the site hut, where I was invited in and sat down. The cops made a few calls, and I was told they were waiting to find out what to do with me from HQ. The female cop went through my passport, looking with astonishment at the various passport stamps in there, like I'd been to Mars. 'Columbia, Bolivia, USA, Mongolia, China...' Eventually a call came through 20mins or so later, and the male cop watched me delete my photos (all but one I managed to recover). And I was sent on my way. I went back to the car, and it was gone. Obviously GE099 got out ok. As I stood looking curious and pulled out my mobile, he turned up. He'd been watching proceedings from the street near the site office. It was then back to the hostel. Unfortunately, my run in with the law (and by law, this time the secret service) would continue the following morning, see GES144 (currently unwritten).
Thanks to GE099 for his professionalism in this explore.