Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy End Bar

With all this doom and gloom in the news today I thought it would be more in keeping to focus on the Happy End Bar.

This review conducted during my many visits last ski season.

The Happy End is the largest apres ski bar in Bansko. Its unmissable being situated virtually facing the gondola across the car park entrance road. A bizarre man in a chair lift dangles from a pole by the entrance.

Situated just 100 metres from Mountain Residence 3, and close to Bansko Royal Towers, Grand Montana and others its convenient for many staying near the gondola end of town.

Why The Happy End?

The good points start with its convenience, and nice wooden tables with lights on a weight and pulley counterbalance system that's sure to keep the kid in us amused for a minute or two as you play moving them up and down. Overall, a nice alpine and rustic vibe greets you.

Go there for apres ski drink but, unless you are not too fussed about food, probably best not to eat here. Although of course standard may improve in 08/09 season. The sache (mixed grill) is just ok but much better for less can be found.

Live Music

Best of all, however, are the Friday and Saturday night live bands. I have not been here when the band has not managed to get the placing rockin'. Mainly covers and a tendency to rock / popular. think Amy Winehouse, Rolling Stones, Guns and Roses, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Robbie Williams classics.

There are usually two or three bands that cover the whole ski season. The standard of musicianship was commented upon as being very high by my friend John, a professional guitarist friend.

Before the band, interval and after the sets, there is a DJ to keep things going.


Drinks prices can vary here. Be warned, I have witnessed a group get overcharged. Just best to have your wits about you but I've always been OK.

Needless to say prices are high for Bulgaria here - around 5 Lev (£2) for a large beer - but I cant now remember for sure. Bad points, well service can be average or worse, food is poor

You'll see both female and male cage dancers add to the visual treat, as well as a huge screen showing some stunning snowboard, skiing, speed paragliding and general extreme sports videos.

The male toilets always provoke comment with the interesting photographic murals above the urinals.

I have messed with the picture here, so as not to cause offence!

Overall Rating

Overall rating of the Happy End... on a Friday and Saturday night: 9/10. Other times 5/10.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Cheapest Bansko transfer

There hasn't been a huge amount in the news this week to bring back the feel good factor. So I thought its time to do my bit to cheer up all those Bansko skiers. If you are looking to save as much money as possible this coming winter then read on.

In addition to the excellent value Bansko accommodation offers, it was time to get a special deal for my accommodation clients as well as all those who had already registered.

Luckily, the idea was given to me from a transfer company who had contacted me to offer an unbeatable transfer deal. As I had already used, and been very impressed with, the services of this company, it allowed me to offer readers some good news this weekend.

Why a Bansko transfer deal?

To help contribute to the running of this site, I have taken on a couple of properties from owners to offer for rental, but I am limiting it to just a few in number - so that I can be sure that the standard and location of the accommodation is up to, or better than, my own. Its also what I think blog readers are after. Both apartment owners and I, wanted to be sure it will be financially worthwhile renting via this blog site - as there are plenty of pure rental web sites.

One way to do get high rental rates for Bansko apartments is to offer unbeatable rental deals. Not just for the Bansko apartment rental, but also for the transfer element of the holiday as well. Virtually all non package holidays to Bansko, at the moment, require a private transfer (see last week's blog post http://banskoaccommodation.blogspot.com/2008/09/bansko-transfers.html

Cheapest Bansko transfer:



So, for a limited period for Mountain Residence 3, Grand Montana and Villa Daisy (two and three bedroom) apartments.


Sofia to Bansko and Bansko to Sofia for up to 4 people for just


for the whole two way private transfer
if there is four passengers that's just €30 total each !!


Note: Renting an apartment from me, via this web site, will not only save you money due to the low prices, but will help me continually improve this site. The vision is for the Bansko Accommodation Blog to be the one stop shop authority for getting the best out of Bansko all year round.

I am not sure how long this deal will last, so be sure to register to for this offer now.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bansko Transfers

Bansko Transfer Stress

Having once been left hanging around Sofia airport for a Bansko transfer that never turned up, I know that this is a potential weak link in your trip

Over the years, I have tended to hire a car and drive myself for the flexibility that gives. However sometimes I just want to get there and, for longer stays, its a load cheaper having a private transfer.

Transfer Options

I know there is the train option but this takes much too long. There is also the bus option, get taxi to Ovcha Kupal bus station and prepare for a long journey, stopping at Dupnitsa. Be prepared to pay very little too. I will ignore train option as its not a viable option.

The Six Transfer Options From Sofia Airport:

1. Bankso Express
2. private transfer

3. hire a car
4. take a taxi
5. take the bus
6. take the train

bonus option 7: fly to Thessaloniki (Greece) or to Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

1. Bansko Express

www.banskoexpress.com This will be a new service costing from £10 per person.

Their web site says:

EasyJet, Wizz Air and Aer Lingus Flights are covered.

Book well ahead.


Bansko Express works as a booking agent which gets holiday makers from the same flights and transports them between Sofia Airport and Bansko in one vehicle.

Depending on the number of bookings the vehicles used are cars, shuttle buses, mini-buses and coaches. If you are the only booking for your flight then it would be like a private taxi transfer at a much cheaper price. Whatever type of vehicle used, your journey will be pleasant."

Initial reports have been favourable.

2. Private Transfer:

The most common way for skiers to get to Bansko from Sofia, unless you have booked on a package trip.

Here are my recommended transfer companies. There is competition. So here are six to choose from.

1/ www.bulgariatransport.com/transfers.html

They currently charge according to number a number of people.

Expect to pay for 1/2 people 1
38 euros return.
For 3/4 people, 145 euros in total (€74 if just one way, no return)

So that's €36.25 per person return if there is four of you.

Call Alex Lub. He's a great guy and speaks perfect English and is very helpful. Tel:+359.886.222.400 or email Alex on: office@bulgariatransport.com

2. www.banskoservices.moonfruit.com - Jordan speaks excellent
English and is helpful too. Recommended.

www.autorentbg.com - Radoslav. Drivers vary, but very reliable and
good car hire too. Recommended.

4. www.sofiaairporttaxis.co.uk - HHB Travel quote €150 return up to four people

5. www.motoroads.com - Very reliable service. Competitive prices

6. www.skidvd.co.uk/bulgariantransfers.htm - Prices on request. Luxury van from Steve. Recommended.

7. www.transferbulgaria.com - No reports - but efficient on email quote. But it was €178 for two people return to Bansko.

3. Taxi

www.oktaxi.net - I have used OK taxis several times. And its not a bad option - well, its just okay!

They are the official yellow taxis outside airport. If you're up for some hard bargaining remember its just one way, so start at €50/100 lev. Try and pay €80/160 lev. Let me know how you got on.

If you were last minute and all other options failed. Or you just forgot to book.

All is not lost. OK Taxis (Supertrans) will get you there. Try and pick and English speaking driver.

Very poor boot (trunk) space for your baggage. There is a large gas bottle in the boot.


4. Hire a Car:

www.BulgariaTransport.com Alex provides great rates from just 16 euros per day. Good service.

who also provide a very flexible car hire service. Their yellow mini cooper drew admiring glances driving through remote villages.

There is now lots of hire car competition and prices have come down.

Hiring a car is a good option once you have been once to Bansko - or are used to driving abroad.

A car will also mean you will save money by driving out of Bansko in the evenings to local restaurants. Restaurants that are often half the price of Bansko's Pirin street mehana tourist traps.


Go to
for directions from Sofia Airport to Bansko

TOP TIP: Be sure you have a ticket attached to screen for the motorways outside Sofia. Do check you have winter tyres attached and that the windscreen fluid is full.

Carry your driving licence. Be very careful to obey speed limits.

Police (Kat): The time spent stopped by police makes it a waste of time speeding. Be sure you have a road legal vehicle. Don't drink and drive. Winter tyres are essential.

Go to
http://banskoaccommodation.blogspot.com/2008/06/getting-there.html for directions from airport to Bansko.

If you can recommend other transfer companies then please can you comment? I will then add them to the list.

5. Take the Bus

Why not take the bus? Save the environment and save cash. This is cheap, about 14 lev (7 euros approx) each way. It will take longer though.

Go to this site:
Central Bus Station - Sofia for timetable (its in English). But here its is as of today from Central Bus Station:

Be warned, this will take time as you have to get to Central Bus Station.

Best to use Ovcha Kupel bus station. But at least its on the right side of town. You will need to check these times.

Sofia Ovcha Kupal Bus Terminal to Bansko - 07:00, 09:20 (not Tues), 10:30, 11:50 (not Sun), 13:05, 13:55, 14:30, 14:40, 15:10, 15:28 (not Tues), 15:55, 16:30, 17:00, 17:30.

Bansko Bus Terminal to Sofia - 05:40, 7:00, 08:40, 13:15, 15:20 (not Tues).

6. Take the train

Never done it. But why not if you've got the time. Admire the scenery. Read a book. You'll have to change. Takes 7 hours, 7 euros click here for Sofia train station timetable and info http://www.razpisanie.bdz.bg/site/search.jsp)

Thessaloniki option

Fly to
Thessaloniki, hire a car and drive to Bansko from Greece. Car hire costs more and its a bit further but getting out of Sofia at busy times makes this an option to consider especially if you fancy time exploring Greece.

I went to
Thessaloniki in May 2007 and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Great bars and restaurants and really different from Bulgaria. Be prepared for drinks prices that are equal to, if not more, than London, Paris, Dublin etc.

Quality is high, however, and the weather is almost always warmer than Bulgaria.

Plovdiv Transfer Option

Sorry no knowledge of this. So no comments. But if you have experience of a private/taxi transfer from Plovdiv then please comment, thank you.

Do you have any more options? Please comment.

Thessaloniki option

Fly to Thessaloniki, hire a car and drive to Bansko from Greece. Car hire costs more and its a bit further but getting out of Sofia at busy times makes this an option to consider especially if you fancy time exploring Greece.

I went to
Thessaloniki in 2007 and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Great bars and restaurants and really different from Bulgaria. Be prepared for drinks prices that are equal to, if not more, than London, Paris, Dublin etc. Quality is high, however, and the weather is almost always warmer than Bulgaria.

Do you have any more options? Please comment.

If you found the information on this blog useful then please register for newsletter for more. In addition you get 5% discount off our reviewed apartments on this site, including Mountain Residence 3 as well as a free guides to Bansko.

If you are yet to organise your accommodation - hotel, chalet or apartment - drop me an email and I may be able to help. If you are organising a large group, then I can arrange accommodation, transfers, lessons etc at local prices.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bansko apartment rental prices 2008/2009

* 2 & 1 Bedroom Mountain Residence 3 apartments
* 2 Bedroom Grand Montana apartments
* 2 & 3 Bedroom Villa Daisy apartment
£225 pw (17th April to 20th December)
£325 pw (5th Jan to 2nd Feb)
£385 pw (23rd Feb to 28th Mar)
£445 pw (20th Dec to 5th Jan, 2nd Feb to 23rd Feb and 28th Mar to 17th April)
£38 per night outside ski season Click here for currency convertor & click here for calendar.
ADD £ 95 per week for Grand Montana ADD £120 per week for Villa Daisy

Why is this a great deal?

* Direct from owner unbeatable prices
* Transfers arranged at lowest price
* Welcome packs available to suit your requirements (tea, coffee, bread, milk, beer, wine etc).
* Local representative on hand to help ensure you have the best holiday possible.
* Mountain Residence 3 is just a few minutes walk, 270 metres, to lift.

Special Offer

* 5% off one week rentals. just subscribe to newsletter. I hate spam, your details are never passed to anyone else & you can opt out any time. By opt in subscribe system both you and I avoid spam.

Come for Bansko Jazz Festival 2009 (free concerts)
click here for video of 2008 Jazz Fest Ya Ya Band
Loads of things to do and places to visit in spring, summer and autumn. Bansko has something for everyone all year round. Check out all the facilities in resort and in the area.

Receive my newsletter register on Bansko accommodation blog home page for:

* regular news * accommodation reviews * restaurant reviews * ski schools * ski guides * shopping tips * nearby towns & villages that save you money * transfer deals * car hire deals and more.

Are you a Bansko property owner?

* get my free property management companies review - what's best in Bansko
* top tips on how to pick kitchen & furniture to save you money.
* property insurance - what you should have covered & where to go for best deals
* paying your bills
* cleaning services

Need more info?

* Call Lance on 0044(0)113 313100, register or email lancenelson1 at gmail dot com.

Please note that prices and the special offer are subject to change and reservation is subject to contract. Prices assume 4 person occupancy in 2 bedroom apartments (extra £5 per night per person or £30 per person per week over four people. six maximum). Cleaning charge €25 (£20).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dobrinishte Infrastructure receives investment from Bansko

Dobrinishte to receive BGN 600,000

The recent report by stroitelstvo.info that the "Streets and the main square in Dobrinishte will be rehabilitated, BGN 600,000 will be invested by Bansko municipality in infrastructure projects in the area. The perspectives for development of Dobrinishte as a spa and mountain ski resort put forward the issues for the access roads to the town and the need of public works."

"The improvement of the public infrastructure is one of the priorities of the local administration said mayor Nikola Sakarev. A project for rehabilitation of the water supply infrastructure is also under preparation. Reconstruction of the network started with the change of the pipes in three of the streets in town. The central square is to be renovated too as well as the park and the green zones. The town is searching for new means to attract tourists and visitors."

Dobrinishte revisited

I don't like commenting on news until it becomes fact, but when I tackled the bumpy road from Dobrinishte town to the Bezbog chair lift on a recent Sunday, it was clear to see work has started in upgrading this road. This is a good thing, and will encourage more people to explore this great section of the Pirin range.

My visit revealed music and dancing on a Sunday afternoon with a large crowd of probably 500 locals mainly families enjoying the fresh mountain air, some camping, many having barbeques. After making a fool of myself queuing up for a kebabche only be told this was the private feast for the family supporters of the motorbike / motocross lads. The short stroll to a commercial cafe saw the £1 including beer meal - and good too.

Why Dobrinishte?

Well last year I visited Natasha of Bamro to check out the development she was building there. Whilst I haven't had the chance to go and take a look in person since, the pictures on her web site look great, and I also hear her property management services are of the highest quality. Her villas are in a most perfect setting and, with plans already in motion to put in 25km of ski pistes,

Dobrinishte will make for a great year round alternative place to stay from Bansko. In winter you will need to travel the 10 minutes to the Bansko gondola lift, but when new lifts and pistes are in place, Dobrinishte will attract more tourists who may well wish to stay in the apartments and villas being built up close by.

Have you hired a 4x4 before? If not, you will need one in winter to get up the track to the bezbog chair lift. I hear the effort is worth it: note to selk to go ski this piste in December. Check out car hire companies with 4x4 in the getting there post.

Mountain Biking

From what I could see, and have subsequently been told, is an adrenaline filled mountain bike downhill from the top of the Bezbog chair lift. Keep tuned for my exploits soon, as I hope to check out some routes and maybe compile a rough guide to mountain biking in the Pirin and Rila areas.

Anyhow, my point is that mountain biking in Dobrinishte and Bansko and on the Pirin and Rila mountains is set for a huge growth in popularity. Mountain biking has been on the up everywhere and , like golfers, mountain bikers like to take trips abroad to try new routes and to activity to their vacations.

So, if you are an owner of an apartment in Bansko, you may find that people ask where they can store their mountain bike and, if they do not bring their own, where they can hire quality mountain bikes.

Don't worry however, I'm looking for some help getting a guide together on not just mountain bike hire, but some quality routes with maps progress. If anyone can help with this task, then please let me know. If you have ridden the mountain please can you comment? Any experience, good or bad, on mountain biking in the Pirin. is sought. Thank you.

Finally, for those mountain biking enthusiasts looking to bring their own bike, then secure underground storage is what you will be after. Pleased to say many apartments, like Mountain Residence 3, have an underground garage.

Make sure the garage is secure by, not only a locked automatic gate before the ramp, but also on the actual entrance to the garage.

Dobrinishte Swimming Pool

This year now its all finished - the pool looked fabulous, very warm from Dobrinishte's own hot mineral water. A great place to go and sunbathe, and for children to have a perfect day. If you are over for the Bansko Jazz Festival in 2009, then be sure to take a trip there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Villa Daisy

Top specification 3 bedroom apartment. Villa Daisy: 3 double bedrooms each with a double bed.

2 bathrooms with wc
1 separate wc.
Italian kitchen
Large fridge freezer
Ski locker
Underground garage parking
Top floor mountain views
850 metres from lift
550 metres from town centre
Shuttle bus to and from lifts in ski season
mini market 100 metres away

Two bedroom apartments offer available, click here

more details on Mountain Residence 3 here

Apartment Prices 08/09

be sure to register on Bankso Accommodation Blog home page for news, tips and 5% discount

Internet cafe "Plan B" - fully stocked bar with snacks
Massage Room
Quiet room for internet
Wireless internet in apartment
Plasma TV and DVD player
click on map enlarge

one of the three double bedrooms
Prices may be subject to change at the owner's discretion.
February Half Term and Easter Holidays £445 per week
Peak weeks Christmas and New Year full payment required.
Other weeks a 50% non-refundable deposit is required to confirm booking. Thereafter the booking balance of 50% is due 28 days before arrival.
A refundable security deposit of £100 is required with the final 50% payment against breakages and damage which will be refunded within 14 days of return of the apartment keys to us providing our agent has found everything to be in order after checking the apartment inventory.
Cleaning and linen change €25 (20 UK Pounds ) at the end of your holiday are added to the total price.
Apartment available on a per night basis at £38 per night. Enquire for available dates. Euros accepted at current exchange rate at time of booking.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Katarino Spa Resort review

Katarino Spa resort near Bansko gained legendary status amongst Bulgarians when it opened five years ago or so. It was the place to go. Thinking why the hell I should be bothered to go there when Mountain Residence 3 satisfies, I was lucky enough to be offered a trip there as part of a team weeekend in March; well I could do with a change, and a chance to relax with a swim and a massage in Katarino's spa was too good a chance to miss.

There's no doubt why Katarino was built where it was, the view of the Pirin are probably the best I have seen - stunning. Receptionists were friendly and efficient - a good start. The seating area with log fires was all very calming and frankly more impressively alpine in feel than the Kempinski Grand Arena equivalent.

Four stars implies some degree of finesse when it comes to one's room. So first disappointment was the smell of cigarettes. After a quick call to reception another room with fag odour was offered and the view was even more stunning up a few floors. The views of Pirin and the hills in front made up for what I would call a tired room. Carpet tiles were past their sell by date and the bathroom was good but not Kempinski standard.

Below, there was a predominance of Bulgarians from Sofia relaxing with their families so a visit to the spa was a must and this is where the Katarino scores - a spa that really is special. A pleasant indoor pool and an outdoor pool accessed a few steps (still inside) from the indoor pool. With big glass panels and those views if you cant unwind here you might as well give up. A superb facial and it was time to meet friends for dinner.

The choice was either the buffet or restaurant section. We tried the buffet which was good, for a hotel, and the variety would be more than enough for most. Once you are here it would take a drive to go anywhere else and that is the point of Katarino Hotel and Spa, once you are there why bother moving.

The popularity throughout the year, especially at weekends with Bulgarians means that Katarino has benefited from its superb Spa. However the bar has been raised with many new luxury hotels, apartments and chalets to rent in Bansko that I suspect that, unless the rooms are updated soon, then they may lose some regular clients. As a destination day spa and if you fancy a break from skiing, its your better half's birthday, or you need a holiday indulgence, then Katarino's spa in well worth a visit. 7.5/10 (9/10 for Spa)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bansko Royal Towers review

I had heard a lot about the Bansko Royal Towers development during construction. I have been watching its progress over the last few years as its close to my own Mountain Residence 3 apartment - so therefore I was very pleased that the development sponsored the recent Bansko Jazz Festival 2008.

So the Jazz Fest Stage B was well positioned on a slope above the pool and the natural amphitheater helped create good sound and plenty of room for visitors to soak up the late afternoon sunshine, Top it off I was there to enjoy the jazzy chill out sounds of Mind Trips and the audience favourite, Ya Ya Band. All in all, it was the perfect time to review Bansko Royal Towers or BRT to its enthusiastic owners.

Checking out the bar in readiness to soak up the Jazz Fest atmosphere revealed very enthusiastic and brisk drinks service. My immediate thoughts were, must come back to use the facilities and, come winter, imagine an apres ski drink on the deck with views to the south and the Pirin range after the days exertions on the piste.

Bansko Royal Towers is just a short walk over the river Glazne and, as the large building comes into view, immediately one is struck that this development has more space than most. It avoids the mutro baroque style architecture, which afflicts some developments in Bansko.

Noteworthy is a useful childrens' grassed play area and a swimming pool to one side of the green area in the central U shape. The pool was at least 24 degrees and again the pool service brgought the obligotry drinks quickly and with a smile. Bravo!

Time for a snoop around, and chatting to some owners made my way to their ground floor apartment. Wow, I think I experienced one of the best ground floor units in Bansko. It had all the convenience ground floor provides but with top floor views.

In my opinion, both investors and renters often underestimate that ground floor is perfect for those, like me, who don't care much for lifts and of course are ideal for the less mobile and those with children. For skiers it often means you are another 50 metres closer to the lift!

The one bedroom apartment I viewed was spacious and was very well finished with good bathroom fitings. I could not see anything to complain about... snagging here must have been done well.

Moving down to the the spa saw a friendly Spa receptionist and the indoor pool The swimming pool was small but big enough and the jacuzzi looked particularly inviting. There was plenty of natural light and the overall feel was that this was a great apartment building for all year round visits and good for those who like their apartments with all the services, bars and restaurants you would expect of a quality four star hotel.

So the O2 nightclub will be interesting this season and, as a cheaper alternative to the Kempinski, the spa is well worth a visit. If you book your holiday here, I am sure you will be very pleased with your choice.

Criticisms, none really... oh if I was nit picking I could be forced to concede that the drinks were a little more expensive than some. Did not sample the food but, for some, the nod towards UK tastes on the bar menu may be considered a good thing. Summary: 9.5 out of 10.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bansko Budget Skiing Tips

OK, so budget skiing will be all the rage this year - what with the pound at below €1.3. So what do I need to do to save money? Here are my top tips:

1/ Before looking at Bansko, you may be unsure about Bansko being able to deliver the goods, then you may not know that the Guardian newspaper placed Bansko as the number one budget ski destination.

2/ Many beginners, or those new to skiing, may be a little nervous going for a diy ski holiday. By this I mean you book flights, transfer and accommodation separately. However many apartment owners, including those on here, have local representation that will pick you up from Sofia airport, show you your Bansko apartment and answer all your ski and accommodation questions. So before you leave you can have transfer, lessons, ski hire, left pass all sorted.

3/ If you can book a flight online and send a few emails the job is done. The savings on Bansko accommodation by going direct with owner are illustrated here when booking at Mountain Residence 3. Saving over £100 per person is easily achievable and often a lot more.

4/ Evaluate all the costs of going skiing: ski/board hire, lessons, lift pass, food, nightlife and quality of accommodation. Some of these you can save money see section on supermarkets
So a ski holiday in Bansko does not require a package tour. If its your first time you will have all the information for a successful holiday and a a few clicks on this site and you will probably be better equipped on info than you think.

5/ So whilst you have already made great savings by booking an apartment direct remember that other savings are yours for the taking whilst you are here in Bansko that apply in any resort, like taking your own sandwich for lunch as prices on the mountain are generally more expensive than the town and like being careful to check out meter rate when taking taxis.

6/ If you are going a period greater (or less than 6 days skiing) or just fancy a relaxing morning on a long weekend, think about buying a half day pass for skiing after 1:00pm.

7/ Get some friends together, you'll save on transfer costs and also accommodation costs. A two bedroom apartment is cheaper than a one bedroom apartment on a per head basis. If there's a big group of you then ask for a discount if you take two apartments.

8/ Take just hand luggage for a long weekend. You're quicker through the airport and as, apart from Bulgaria Air and British Airways, the rest are charging you for check in luggage.

9/ Eat in. Read my blog post here which gives ideas for cheaper shopping. My Bansko curry recipe will be in newsletter soon!

10/ Take a taxi to Dobrinishte, Razlog or Banya. Restaurants over half the price and an excellent meal with wine, beer, coffee is to be had for 10 levs (about £4) per head.

and my bonus tip number 11 is to subscribe to my newsletter which will bring you regular news, views, apartment to rent reviews, hotel reviews, money saving tip plus my thoughts relating to restaurants, bars, clubs, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding in Bansko. Subscribers get 5% discount on the already low cost Bansko apartment rental prices.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Jeremy Clarkson on Skiing

Couldn't think of anything amusing to add on this damp, overcast Friday. So i'll leave it to the pro, Jeremy Clarkson - do keep reading right to the end:

Jeremy Clarkson: For your next holiday, why don’t you take all your money and put it on the fire? Then stand in a fridge for a week, beating your children with a baseball bat until their arms and legs break. And then, after you’ve eaten some melted cheese, dislocate your shoulder. If all of this appeals then you are probably one of the 1.3m British people who go on a skiing holiday at this time of year. Skiing, for those of you who’ve never tried it, is an extremely expensive way of combining acute discomfort, butt-clenching embarrassment, mind-numbing fear and a light dusting of hypothermia. Plus there’s a better than evens chance that at least one member of your family will come home in a wheelchair.
The first thing you must understand is the ski boot. It is specifically designed to be as heavy as possible and to ensure that if you fall over - and you will, all the time - your leg will break at its most painful point: just above the ankle. The only way to prevent this happening is to cushion the fall with your face.
These holidays are called winter “breaks” because at some point you will end up in a doctor’s surgery that looks like a Baghdad market after a nail-bomb attack. Once, after I’d broken my thumb for the second year in succession, I sat in the waiting room with a chap who had a ski pole sticking out of his eye. And opposite was a pretty young girl whose left foot was on back to front.

Of course you might think it is possible to avoid such injuries by going very slowly. Unfortunately this is not possible because to counter the surprisingly powerful effects of gravity you need to dig the edges of your skis into the slope with such force that after a very short time your thigh muscles actually catch fire.
When the smell of burning flesh becomes too overpowering you let go, and suddenly you are travelling at 700mph. Then, equally suddenly, you will be breathing gas and air while the doctor sharpens his hacksaw.
This year, on my skiing holiday, the air ambulance was lifting five newly formed paraplegics off the mountain every day.

Falling over, however, is not the greatest danger. Far worse is being hit by a teenager with baggy trousers on a snowboard. Snowboarding is like skiing, except you have absolutely no control over your direction of travel, mostly because you will have had a lot of marijuana at lunch time.

It’s certainly better than eating the food. The food at ski resorts is cooked by people whose only qualification for the job is that they are called Arabella. Once, I was served salt soup. Mostly, though, it’s bread, which you dip in melted cheese.

And because you are expected to melt the cheese yourself, the Arabella has more time to have sexual intercourse with her surly French ski-instructor boyfriend.
I am a very good skier . . . in my mind. However, video evidence suggests that I’m rubbish. I look like a bus driver in a primary-coloured anorak, sitting on an imaginary lavatory. Also I can only turn right. So to mask my embarrassment, and the pain in my thighs, I ski only when very drunk. I can recommend this wholeheartedly.

However, what you must never do is ski while under the influence of Billy Idol. No, really. I can absolutely guarantee that within five seconds of putting an iPod in your ears one of your bones will shoot out of your skin.

Of course you might imagine that there are other things to do on a winter holiday apart from skiing. ‘Fraid not. On a normal summer break you can sunbathe, swim, snorkel, jet ski and, if you like The Guardian, go to look at museums.

But on a skiing holiday what you do is get up at dawn, eat some salt soup and queue for hours to get on something that makes a Tube train look deserted. Then queue for some more hours because your place keeps being taken by burly Russians who have daggers tattooed on their foreheads. Then you ski until it goes dark.

You have probably heard about après-ski activities. In your mind, you see nightclubs and pretty girls and drinking fiery cocktails till dawn. Well, I’m sorry, but what actually happens is that you get back to your hotel or chalet, climb into a relaxing bath to try to jump-start your burnt-out muscles and fall fast asleep.
This is a good thing because in addition to the cost of the holiday and the flights and the ski rental and the lessons and the ski pass that lets you use the mountain, you will have been utterly bankrupted by your wardrobe. This year the cheapest pair of padded trousers we could find for my 13-year-old daughter were £250. And it’s not as if she can wear them anywhere else.

Finally there’s the weather. If it’s poor you will freeze and crash into things because you can’t see where you’re going. If it’s good - and over half-term it was very, very good - you will need sunglasses. And that means you will come home after a week with a face like a barn owl.

The thing is, though, that when the sun shines and you are whizzing along, drunk out of your mind, under a perfect blue dome with your happy, giggling children on a deserted, freshly pisted slope, and you’re about to have lunch in a restaurant with a view that is unparalleled anywhere on earth, none of the misery matters. Because there is no feeling quite like it. It’s called perfect happiness.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bansko apartment to rent -100m from lift

Sorry to disappoint you, but the Bansko apartment to rent, 100metres from the gondola, does not exist and never will.

The only time you'll get within 100 meters of the gondola entrance is by staying at the Kempinski Grand Arena (about 52 metres) - from ski store door to gondola.

Metres from lift is now easy to verify, you simply go into Google earth and use the ruler function at the top. For many rental apartments you cannot walk as the bird flies, so you will have to add up the distances for each straight stretch you actually can walk - if you want to be really certain!

I make this point because the distance exaggerations are huge. Its happened to me in a resort in Vrance, I arrived at a hotel with the unwelcome surprise that the advertised 400 metres is a 1,000 or more metres. As I wanted a comfortable stroll to the lift, I was disappointed.

Most Bansko owners, as well as past visitors, reading this will have come across this issue. One Bansko hotel, called villa Roka, was advertised on a web site as being 550 metres from lift. Its not, its 1,500 metres from lift down near the traffic lights.

So my post today is to expose the untruths about distances from the gondola but also to confess to my own innacuracy. a quick measure for Mountan Residence 3 sees its a 270 metre walking distance not the 250 metres as advertised. In part, the reason that there are so many errors, is that the distance to lift is one of those things that once others set the standard you then feel as if you have to copy it. To be fair, these inaccuracies were often started by the developer when putting the original property details together for the development sales.

We can excuse the 30 metre margin for error, but not over 60 metres which is the quite normal, and often a lot more. I could even possibly excuse the "mistakes" if the measure was "as the crow flies" distance, or even to the car park of the gondola, but not when we see so much variation from the reality.

For some skiiers/boarders who dont want to take a bus, their Bansko accommodation must be less than a five minute gentle walk to the gondola. Why not type Bansko into Google earth and identify the building? You will see many are marked with their development names or photo links. If not, ask the owner or rental agency to identify your Bansko apartment for you.

My final word is for a campaign for a definition of distance for Bansko apartments quoting "metres from gondola". Comments from renters and owners on what constitutes a fair definition would be very welcome.