Apologies for my absence this past week. One of my best friends is visiting from London and I’ve been busy showing her around Los Angeles. Next week I’ll be posting my 48 hour guide to Savannah which I’m excited to share. I really fell in love with that city and am hoping to return next year! If you haven’t already, feel free to read my 24 hour guide to Charleston which is another great city in the South.
Until then, enjoy a guest post written by Martin Nolan from The Travel Ramble. Martin is a full blown travel enthusiast. Whether that’s spending his winter indulging in fresh powder up a mountain or trying to make sense of a worn guide book in the summer. You can read his musings on Twitter @martinnolan7 or check out his Google+ Community.
It might surprise a few people who have never been – but ski resorts are as unique as the snowflakes that rest on their slopes. Every mountain, and its accompanying resort, has its own vibe. Each mountain has its own curves that are unique to it. They all develop their own reputation. Some as a party town. Others as a powder hounds dream and some as adrenaline filled white knuckle rides. Skiing in Bulgaria has developed its own reputation. It is known as being “cheap and cheerful”. That dreaded back handed compliment that’s thrown around the skiing world. But anyone who has been there knows different. I know different. I know that skiing in Bulgaria was the one time that I could do what I wanted. The one time I could burn the candle at both ends without a worry. Skiing in Bulgaria allowed me to live like a king.
Earlier this year I decided to take a chance on skiing in Bulgaria. It was the first time I had ventured into the former Eastern Bloc to go skiing. The value on offer swayed me as much as the desire to experience a different culture did. It was half the price of the Alps and due to the great exchange rate on the Lev; I would be able to live like a king. Or, at least Lev like a king. That was reason enough to get me to book with Crystal Ski. Outside of the value and the fact it was a former soviet country I knew little about my destination of choice –Borovets.
It might have been my naivety but I was expecting a grey village to greet me. Every programme I’ve seen about former Soviet Union nations seemed to be littered with grey little buildings. But Borovets’ streets were lined with sleek and modern accommodation. New builds were engulfing the bottom of the alpine covered mountains. Affordable new builds at that. Borovets, the former country retreat for kings and Princes was becoming a modern ski resort. I wasn’t in the Eastern bloc anymore – just like Bulgaria – I was now in a European Union country. My expectation of having a culturally different experience was long gone. In my mild disappointment, I decided to take solace in the powder filled alpine runs. My sorrows would be comforted by morning’s indulging in fresh powder, afternoons in spas and evenings sipping wine in bars.
Soon I started to get over the fact that skiing in Bulgaria wasn’t the Soviet esque experience that I thought it would be. Instead, I started to realise the true value of skiing in Bulgaria. The fact that it is value! I could afford everything that I wanted to do. Suddenly my days were filled with activities. I was spending afternoon’s dog sledding, snow shoeing and taking mountain walks. Every day was full of experiences and because of this I saw more of the landscape than I usually would. Usually I would be consigned to my hotel room but here I was out and about. I was doing whatever I wanted.
Skiing in Bulgaria has its flaws. It’s not a snow sure as the Alps and some of the new building work can be a bit of an eyesore. But for all of its flaws, my time there was the first time I was free of the dreaded b word looming over. The first time I didn’t have a budget and one of the few times I was truly relaxed. It gave me a freedom to explore the slopes in more ways than I usually would. One of the criticisms people label at Bulgaria is “you get exactly what you pay for” and they’re right. You do. But the only thing is that I paid a lot, lot less for it. So much so that I ended up doing more than I usually would.
Where are your favorite places to ski? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below