Luggage Theft at Mariot Hostel in Sofia, Bulgaria
Tsvetanka Stoianova's Hostel Mariot
No, Mariot (not Marriott) is not misspelled. Also, it used to be called a hotel (see Photo Gallery) rather than a hostel, and it used to be located slightly east of Maria Luiza Street at 51 Kiril and Metodiy Street (see Photo Gallery). Of course, once you walked inside "your" room, you'd learn that it was really a hostel. Get down to it and it was really a house converted into a hostel, with 2 rooms on main floor, 2 rooms upstairs, and a toilet and a bathroom located in the basement without the luxury of a way to lock the door from the inside. Now, the hostel has moved to the second (third, if you are from the Americas) floor of 65 Maria Luiza Street (see Photo Gallery), but is presently being accurately represented as a hostel. Only now, it's an office space converted into a hostel and still with 4 rooms. Both old and the new locations were barely a 1/4 mile from the Sofia train station.
Owner is still Tsvetanka Stoianova (see Photo Gallery), a mongoloid-looking single mother (her man having ditched her years ago) of a daughter who's been attending university forever. She'll quote you just about anything for your stay depending on your appearance. But do pay her in Leva or Euro because if you pay her in dollars, she'll come up with a higher new rate everyday, complaining of the crashing dollar. Since she and her driver hunt for tourists at the Sofia train station, she'll get her driver to give you a ride to her hostel for only 20 Leva, which should cost no more than 2 Leva without her "help". But if you negotiate to pay any less for the ride, she and her driver will bug you after arrival for tips for helping to assist you with your luggage. After freshening up, don't ask her where you might go out to meet some good Bulgarian girls or she'll either get on the phone and offer to call in a hooker for 75 Leva (which includes 15 Leva for her cut) or offer her driver to drive you to some nightclubs or brothels.
If you happen to be fairly well-dressed and carrying Samsonite luggage, be sure to be carrying traveler's checks and a homeowners policy, especially if you happen to exchange money or expose your photo or video gear because she will get on the phone and call over a "guest" with only a back pack for luggage and fluent English to your room who will try to befriend you. Next morning you two might even go out for a breakfast to a corner bakery to build up some trust for a lunch at a much farther restaurant later that day, where he will leave you with some excuse, never to return and when you make it back to the hostel, you'll find your luggae missing, and well, the fill-in man at the hostel desk, speaking not even a single word of English couldn't have possibly known your luggage from his since he wasn't the one who checked you in and Tsvetanka, well of couse, she's out on her doctor's appointment.
Now, what do you do? If traveller's checks went with the luggage, you could call to have them replaced, except Tsvetanka doesn't have the key to remove the long-distance dial lock on hostel phone. But fill-in man, which you'll never see again either, is kind enough to take you out to buy you a phone card with your pocket change and show you how to use the pay phone. If you carry a homeowners policy, it will cover the loss but not without a police report. But the nearest police station usually isn't the right police station, so you'll need to use more of your pocket change to get to the distant V police station by cab, but they won't make a report without an "official interrpreter", and will erronously assume that your embassy will spare one as Tsevetanka assumed that "Ambassador help you", except they won't, at least if it's the U.S. Embassy, but if the passport went with the luggage as well, it isn't a total waste of trip. Legally, they are supposed to help you in such time of crisis, and they would if they cared, but they don't.
So, not only you have to put down your Seiko watch as a collateral at the official translator's office for her services at $10 per hour, which require an entire day because the police report must be stamped at the court house and that stamp has to validated by I can't even remember who! At least, that's one out of four. Now, the embassy, run exclusively on "discretion", will ask for the names and addresses of your nearest relatives or friends so they can ask them to loan you some money so they don't have to. Luckily, there was a traveller's checks office in Sofia, which eventually replaced the checks so your very own Uncle Sam could ask you $60 for your replacement passport and Swiss Air could reprint your air ticket for only $120, but not until hearing daily "pay today" reminders from Tsevetanka.Am I sure it was Tsvetanka?
1. Upon arrival I was the only guest in her hostel, which leaves 3 rooms vacant. Why would Tsvetanka put this man in my room?
2. The only time I saw a key in the door to my room was when we were going out for lunch. This man locked the door, pocketed the key so no one but him would be blamed for my missing luggage . At desk was sitting the fill-in man with Tsvetanka just a few steps behind us. As the man locked the door, he asked her loudly "You have a doctor's appointment at 12?" and she loudly replied "yes." Would a hostel allow 2 person to lock the door to a 3 bed room?
3. Tsvetanka asked me within a couple of days of the theft if I had any cash in my suitcase, and I told her I didn't. Man must have told her there was no cash in the suitcase, and she wanted a conformation from me.
4. I noticed that later guests deposited their luggage in the kitchen, door to which she always kept locked, something Tsvetanka never offered me to do.
5. Tsvetanka was into ordering hookers for her guests and other improprities, is a theft really too far above her?
6. Thief Daniel Ifran, born 20 March 1950, Israeli passport number N7546895 was never apprehanded because Tsvetanka had used info of some previous guest to check in her man.