Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boarding in Bansko (Bulgaria)

BoardingBansko 030

My (rented) snowboard for the week

Early 2009, and time to get fit and Andy, Justin, and Gary invited me on their snowboarding trip to Bulgaria, and a relatively new resort in Bulgaria called Bansko, apparently a load of money has been pumped into the resort and you can see why.  Bulgaria is fast becoming the snowboarders destination of choice and we wanted to visit before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.  It felt very much a confused place, wanting to be the finished article with bars, hotels and ski runs up and running, but with so much unfinished it almost felt cheeky that people running the resort were charging so much for everything.  I say “much” but it was actually only the same prices as here in the U.K. but you got the impression that you were only being charged those prices because you were IN the resort.

BoardingBansko 032The mountain we would be frequenting for the week

So after a long journey from Liverpool – Bristol – Gatwick – Sofia – Bansko (12 hours), we arrived with enough time to have a quick look around, quickly finding the best deals on the equipment that we needed and saving ourselves over 100 lev (50 GBP) by simply crossing the road to another rental company, the only price that wasn’t going to budge was the lift pass price, but at 280 lev for the 6 days that wasn’t too expensive, and after all no one said that snowboarding is a cheap past time.

BoardingBansko 014 I’m top o the world ma… (2600 m above see level)

So we are up early to try and catch the first lifts up, and after a 20 minute ride up about halfway, we thought it best to get some practice in, call it a refresher course.  The last time I was boarding was whilst living in Montreal in March 2007 so it was a wise decision to do a little bit of catch up, strangely though I found going up the slight incline on the button lift the hardest part and kept tripping on my board.  But that problem was soon fixed and with our confidence restored somewhat we headed up to the top of the Pirin Mountain where many photo opportunities await.

DSC00214Gary in contemplative mood

That first day was tough!  I think we all got a little carried away, and instead of pacing ourselves, we went flat out boarding without breaks all day, and then decided to board down to the bottom (that took 2 hours), but this was mainly because it was so flat if you lost your momentum you were done for.  I think we definitely deserved a few beers after that though…  Early night!!

BoardingBansko 009On our way down

The next few days were spent improving on the slopes, morning would consist of the same Michael Caine film on one of the Bulgarian channels that seemed to be on at the same time as us having breakfast every morning, then the walk down to the lifts through the building site (good warm up) followed by some confidence building slight inclines halfway up, then we would tackle the rest of the mountain.


Justin halfway up… 

Justin caught my first “proper” run on camera… One linked turn at a time

I’ve well and truely caught the snowboarding bug now, and all was going perfectly until late Friday on our last run of the day, when I was getting smoother with each run, but bit off a little more than I could handle on a turn, and flipped over on a ridge in the snow/ice that saw me land square on my chest, which knocked the wind out of me and meant that I had to give Saturday our last day a miss as I couldn’t even lift myself out of bed I was hurting that much, so I’ve been popping painkillers like jelly beans since.


Boarding in Bansko Picture Album

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