Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Blissful Slopes of Bansko - Travel Review and Advice

Bansko Ski


Leap of Faith Travel Review                                                   Bansko

Bansko, Bulgaria, Brilliant!

What an incredible time I had amongst the cold slopes of Bansko so full of adrenaline packed adventure for all levels of this marvellous sport of skiing and snowboarding. Even with the adrenaline packed week I had I couldn’t have felt more relaxed also if I had tried. The people and culture of Bulgaria were fascinating and I absolutely adored the atmosphere of the old smoky town of Bansko. With its narrow cobbled streets, stonework buildings and worn down rooftops, it definitely gives you the feeling of stepping back in time with very little interference of modernised buildings. Plenty of restaurants and nightclubs scatter throughout the town but not enough to overtake the good old atmosphere.

Town of Bansko

This trip was more about the skiing and as a first time skier I was pretty nervous about what I was about to do. I needed somewhere which specialised in beginner skiers and Bansko was the answer. Balkan Holidays was the answer too to my question about which company I would take the trip with. Along with the impressive reviews I had read they were extremely cheap too. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind about booking with this company and I was about to experience more than I expected during my ski trip. They also provided brilliant activities, transfers, and excursions which I took full advantage of. The activities I did were:

·       Pub Crawl - Explore the nightclubs of Bansko full of good music, drinks and dancers with welcome shots at each club.
·       Bulgarian Folklore Fiesta - Experience Bulgarian culture in one night with dancers and band as well as the history whilst enjoying good local food and Rakia.
·       Snowboard taster - Tired of skiing, take to the board and discover a new way of riding the slopes with great instruction throughout.
·       Snowmobile ride - Whether this is your first time or your 100th time, this is definitely a ride you don’t want to miss as you ride your way up and down the ski road.
·       City of Sofia - Just before you return to the airport take a guided trip to the city of Sofia to learn about the culture and history of the city with an option to explore Sofia’s shopping centre.

Snowmobile ride

The ski brief at the beginning of the trip was very well organised by Balkan Holidays and the staff were extremely fun and friendly throughout. During a ski brief you will eventually receive your weeks ski pass card giving you access to all ski lifts and gondola. You will also receive a small form to fill out to retrieve the correct skis for your weight and height. This must be filled in correctly otherwise having the wrong type of skis could result in injury.

My accommodation was a place called Hotel Pirin; a 4 star hotel on a half board basis. With a beautiful room, comfortable beds, en-suite, breakfast and evening dinner, indoor swimming pool and sauna as well as helpful staff, it was all I needed due to the fact I was out skiing most of the day. Despite this it was a fantastic hotel not too far from the central area and gondola station. What was great was that a transport service was provided to get from the hotel to the gondola station at 8:30am so it was one less thing to worry about. The food at the hotel was outstanding and certainly filled my stomach each encounter.

Hotel Pirin

Before I took the trip I had pre-booked skiing instruction throughout the whole week which is definitely advisable for a beginner skier. I was so glad I did this as I met some incredible people and my instructor was absolutely brilliant. The Instructor was called Katy Harding and she was constantly praising each of us for our achievements and extremely helpful on our faults. Throughout the week she built our confidence up one by one going through the very basics of skiing with safety being priority. She also pushed our abilities further by taking us down some slightly harder routes and we all loved her by the end of the week.

Katy and the Beginners Group

The cost of my brilliant journey to Bulgaria including:

·       Flights with Jet2 from Newcastle – Sofia – Newcastle including 23kg luggage
·       Transfer from airport – hotel
·       7 nights in a 4 star hotel half board basis
·       Single room supplement
·       Ski pass, skis and boots
·       1 weeks beginners instruction

Total = £550

What an absolute bargain I thought especially with everything you get and with all this there was no need to take a great amount of spending money. The activities and excursion I went on were reasonably priced too which is why I took full advantage of it. 

Bansko Slope Map

Beginner: Blue Line
Moderate: Red Line
Intermediate: Black Line

To finish off this wonderful place is of course the breath-taking views of the Pirin Mountains which is home to outstanding natural beauty. I truly adored this place and so should you. Be prepared for the odd fall on the slopes like I experienced but please take care as there are plenty of bad accidents on the slopes; safety is priority.

Pirin Mountains

The equipment I brought along for the trip was:

·       Warm clothing – Thick jumpers, jacket pants and socks
·       Ski clothing – Waterproof ski clothing
·       Hat and gloves - Most of your body heat comes out of your head so cover it up

·       Sun cream – Surprising as it is it is definitely possible to get sunburnt in this cold environment
·       Ski helmet – Extremely important
·       Ski goggles – Stop the snow hitting your eyes as you fly down the slopes

The best advices I can give are staying safe and having fun. What great thing to do also is to place your ski pass in an inside chest pocket of your thick jacket to save you from taking it out all the time, the scanners will still pick up your pass through your pocket.

Moderate Route - Red Line

Useful Links:  - book your ski trip away with Balkan Holidays - up to date information about weather, conditions and events

Bulgarian Landscape

So if you are eager to begin this life of skiing then you are in safe hands with Balkan Holidays. I’d like to thank Balkan holidays for an extremely fun packed week in the beautiful world of Bulgaria and I finish with this:

Live life to the fullest
It’s the best way
Live every moment intensely
Because life is too short
And the moment comes when we are going to die
And we’d have wished to do so many things we didn’t
That is why we have to enjoy every moment
One must enjoy life
Try not to acquire so many things
But instead have experiences
Accomplish everything you want to do
No matter the effort it deserves
Life is too short and one must relish it

Travel Writer: Shaun Davison
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