It was day two, and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again, this time there was no slowing down, I was going for it, and flying down the last section of the red run I hit the flat “ski-way” and tried desperately to reach the main gondola without having to unclip and walk…
I came to a stop alongside a fellow despairing boarder who had tried a similar tactic, “it’s a long walk to the gondola…” I lamented.
Borovets, Bulgaria, I’d arrived after a relatively painless EasyJet flight to Sofia, and a one hour shared ‘a2b Transfer’ to the resort. The taxi driver was also a tour guide in her spare time, and clearly passionate about her native country, understandably so.
I arrived at The Bor Hotel, which I can’t possibly complain about as it was very cheap, however it was dated, smelled of both cigarette smoke and stale armpits (mine, possibly), and was a 15 minute walk to the lifts, but for £150 half-board I didn’t care. The food was ok, and it had free wifi, a small sociable bar where the beer was £1 a bottle, and friendly staff.
I’ll admit I maybe overdid it the first two days, especially for someone who’d basically done nothing over the festive but eat and drink, and eat more, but I’d tackled most the the runs, hurt my back on the last, and was generally knackered.
I’d have to pace myself, there was two months of snowboarding to come!
It was Neil I met on the “ski-way” and we teamed up for the rest of the week while his girlfriend Suzie was getting lessons. We pretty much did every run, the three Blacks included, and it was good to have someone to board with.
Borovets was surprising in quite a few ways – the large number of ski schools, yet the standard of the nursery slope and the lack of wide assessable blue runs hindered learning to snowboard; as the internet reviews say, there are actually “erotic show” strip bars (or shacks), however you’d have to be brave to enter some of them, I wasn’t; and the poor linking between some of the lifts and runs could be irritating at times.
In the future though, from what I was told, there are plans for a few large expansion projects in Borovets, which would make a massive difference.
Apart of the “ski-ways”, the other big negative for me was getting pestered by the restaurant and bar owners all the time, who’s false friendliness and pushy publicizing really started to piss me off.
I preferred the Black Tiger, which is just off the nursery slope as it had no such person, and the view from upstairs was good.
It was often snowing, and on the gondola side, where the red runs were, the slopes were nearly empty, even with fresh powder, so I can’t complain about the snowboarding… well, for the money.
It was busy at the weekend as the locals from Sofia invade the conveniently located resort, but even then the gondola side was reasonably quiet.
Me and Neil tried the “night-skiing” which was a novelty, and we even managed to find a little off-piste snowboarding, although after trudging up through the hill in knee deep snow, we were left wondering if it was really worth it! Of course it was!!
On the last night we attended Suzies graduation from Snowboarding academy, where she received her certificate in the night-club under the Rila Hotel.
So, if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful snowboarding holiday then you should definitely look at Borovets.
I’d recommend booking with Crystal Ski and staying in The Rila Hotel – the Crystal package was as cheap as me booking independently, they organize nightly social events and activities, and the Rila is in an excellent location.
However if you do look at skiing in Bulgaria on the web, the same debate always appears – Borovets vs Bansko. And from what I heard from various people, not least the taxi driving tour guide – Bansko is further away form sofia, and a little more expensive, but it has a better lift system and runs, it’s an actual town and not a resort, and it generally attracts a younger crowd so the apres-ski is better.
So although I mostly enjoyed Borovets, and it’s worth doing if you’re on a tight budget (All-in: flights, transfers, half-board hotel, and lift pass = £450) it does have it’s draw backs, and next time I’d try Bansko.
Links & Resources
Bor Hotel – Booked via www.booking.com