Bulgaria – Over-Polite Ian & Over-Confident Jacob

Bec wakes me up, but I’m not 100% there.

We had a pretty decently big night last night, so I am a bit groggy, but I try to shake it off.

I’m sure Bec is just being polite, but I still try hide my grogginess as best I can.

We head back down stairs and wait for Sofie and Ian.

Ian arrives, but Sophie is a no-go. We hang around for a little while, but Sophie is still a no-go. The knee plus a hangover encourage Sophie to spend the day in bed. Its not till we would get home that we would find out that she literally spent the entire day in bed. She didn’t even get out of the bed. Literally all day.

I’m not disgusted by that.

It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that all day without your joints getting too stiff. I mean, even if you sit on your butt all day, surely your ass is going to have to hurt at some point. That’s damn near an achievement.

The three of us pile into the car, and we try to make conversation with Ian, but it’s apparent that something else is up, so we just kinda ignore it and pretend like we can’t tell he’s pissed off. Not sure what about, so we just go about our own thing. He’s keen to board with us today, so we all pile into the gondola and head to the top of the mountain.

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The closer we get to the top of the mountain, the more we are seeing that there is less and less visibility. The top of the mountain is shrouded in cloud cover. There is literally no more than 15-20m visibility. By the time we have our bindings on, the clouds already begin to part and the sun peers through again. Ian has been here for a day or two longer than us, so even though he hasn’t been on the slopes for years too, he is already pretty well warmed up.

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The issue with this, is that he kinda has this moral obligation to hang around and wait for us, but we are getting in the groove of things. This creates an award situation where Ian is often waiting for us and being super patient. We tell him multiple times that he can just cruise and do his own thing if he wants to, but as all good pommy boys, he opts to just hang with us instead. I’m fairly certain that he just wanted to boost it, however.

We come off the tip of the mountain, and make our way to the bottom of the chair lift. Behind the chairlift is a slope/track called the Musala Pathway. Being that Ski Ways are bad bad news because it usually invites you to a begrudging walk in the snow, instead of snowboarding in the snow, we are a little dubious of this “Musala Pathway”, but we did see a few dudes on boards bomb straight down the path without any hesitation. So, that is a good sign.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that your first day at Borovets is just to work out which slopes you should avoid as a snowboarder because of the flat areas. You pretty much spend your time working out where you should be bombing the slopes to get enough speed to se the distance. The Musala Pathway was nerve wracking because it was so long. it connected the top of the right side of the mountain to the bottom of the left side of the mountain. It’s a long bloody path. The last thing that any of us want to have to do, is to be walking most of the path.

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We hit it anyway.

I mean, curiosity is going to get the better of us at some point, so why not just do it now?

We all hit the slope.

The path is only a couple meters wide at some points, and a lot of the time, you don’t want to be slowing down, because slowing down too much means walking for a little while later on.

Not ideal at all.

We learn this the hard way. We stop and check out the view at some points, and even though it may not be the more thrilling of paths, being able to board through pine trees and zig zag through forests is pretty much awesome. When we were in Queenstown, most of the time it was open and no sort of forestry in sight. Here, there are always trees hugging the edge of the slopes and everywhere you look, you’re in the middle of an alpine forest. Its awesome.

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We get to the bottom of the pathway, and Ian has been chilling there for 20 mins, waiting for us to get to the bottom of the slope. Bec and I have come to a realisation. Bec’s idea of fun on the slopes is casually enjoying the scenery and not overdoing it too much.

My idea of fun snowboarding is seeing how well I can destroy the slope without tearing my ACL. With this in mind, we decide that we will split up for the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, Ian’s idea of fun is largely similar to mine. Bec decides to head to the gondola again, while Ian and I head to the left of the mountain to hit the smaller slopes. We literally spend the rest of the day just repeating these slopes and honing our boarding skills for these slopes for the next few hours.

On one of our rides on the chair lift, I get talking with this kid. His name is Jacob, and he looks like he has got it sorted. He’s got the hoodie made from light material, lightweight gloves, has a helmet, but no goggles, and is rocking these gangster baggy pants. The guy looks like he knows what he is doing. Ian and I ask the kid how long he’s been boarding, and he tells us that this is his last day of 6 at Borovets. He tells us that he has had a snowboarding coach with him for each of the days and how his coach has been teaching him how to land jumps and that they pretty much only do intermediate and expert slopes now.

Ian and I both clue on pretty quick that this kid really hasn’t been boarding too much, and reckons that he is the tits.

He asks us how long we have been boarding for, and so I tell him that I boarded for 6 days in NZ, but that is about it, other than yesterday. Jacob is felling pretty alpha-dog at this point, as he tells us that he knows exactly how to land jumps, but he can’t land all of them every time.

I do that mild frowning, pondering look, while I try to make sense of what he means, to no avail, which is when I look to Ian, but I am only met with a little shrug of confusion also.

“This kid really doesn’t sound as good as he thinks he is”, I think to myself.

He tells us that his coach clocked him tipping 60km/h today. This is awkward, cos Ian snuck up to 61km/h yesterday. We have kept our mouths shut this whole time, as Jacob casually throws down the challenge for us to keep up with him. Ian and I were already a little unsure of the validity of our friend’s confidence, but nonetheless, we took him up on the challenge.

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We strap our bindings on, and before we can get on our feet, Jacob is already well on his way. Not being one to back down from a good challenge, I bee line for the youngster as best I can. Ian trails just behind me, and in no time, we bomb past Jacob, doing the narrowly missing “I’m going quicker than you” move. We reach the bottom of the slope, and as we had suspected, Jacob thought of himself a little too high than he ought to.

Jacob and I have no idea where Ian went, but after hanging around for 5 mins, we opted to just keep moving. “So how long have you been boarding then?”, he asks me.
“Oh, like this would make it about 8 days?”
We get talking more about it, and without even realising it, I stick my foot in my mouth. I end up telling him that I only took a class when I first started, which taught me how to stand and direct the board the direction I wanted it to go. I went on to say “I mean, once you’ve got the basics sorted, you kinda don’t need more instruction. Its just about practice”, which is when I realised that I was talking to someone who had a coach with him for the last 6 days.

I didn’t bother looking at him.

Would have done neither of us any favours.

We hit another couple runs together before we have to part ways. We head back and drop my gear off to the lads in the hire shop and meet up with Ian, “Mate. Where did you go?”
“The question is, where did you go?”
After a series of identifying questions, we came to the realisation that nothing made sense and that there was no logical reason as to why we should have missed each other.

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Bec meets me at the hire place, and I get the low from her as to where she went and the slopes she took throughout the day. All in all, it was a bloody good fun day.

We pile back in the car and head home.

Sophie has worked out that her knee is bad when outstretched, and is ok with weight on it. Since your knees have to be bent most of the time when you are skiing, she’s going to give it a crack tomorrow. Don’t know how good that idea is, but only time will tell.

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Bec and I just chill at the table for a bit, playing this game called BB-Tan, which we are kinda addicted to. We’re just having some down time, and another one of the guests decides to start making dinner. Nothing wrong with that. Except that he starts using our groceries. He just goes and grabs our bread, and I look at Bec and we do the whole “Is what I think happening, happening” conversation between each other with out eyes.

The bloke can feel our conversation because I see him peer over his shoulder.

We both kinda just shrug our shoulders, “Whatever. It’s just bread” we say to each other without actually exchanging the words. We go back to our game, and just as we get started again, this guy heads to the fridge and pulls out all our lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. I involuntarily frown and cock my head to the side in confusion.

Bec looks at me with the look that is needed to confirm that what I think is happening is actually happening.

“Ahh. Mate, thats our food ay”
“Oh right. Yeah.”

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He proceeds to then put all our food back, including our bread. He knew from the outset.

Who does that?

When Ian and Sophie come down stairs, we’re into it. “Oi. Get a load of this”, I start the story as I tell them, with them showing equal amounts of confusion. The guy ended up doing some shopping, and as he comes back home, Ian gives me a look and mouths the words, “Is that him?”
I mouth back, “Yeahhhhhhhhh”. Ian just raises his eyebrows in a “huh” kinda manner.

The night goes on, we prepare dinner (with our own ingredients), while we all share our little party tricks.

Ian used to be able to turn the top of his ears inside out. Thats a little yuk. I show the guys my oddly flexible fingers and Sophie makes here eyeballs shake really fast. All very odd and impressive.

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We tuck in for the night and look forward to a sleep in tomorrow morning.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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