Bulgaria – All Over Too Soon

Just like that.

Its day 3.

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We didn’t really want to book much more time than 3 days on Borovets.

We had been hanging out to go snowboarding again, but 3 days kinda worked out to be the right amount of time to go boarding.

First reason, we have found very quickly that the slopes are really strongly oriented for skiers, and not snowboarders. Second reason, were are on a budget, and we knew that going snowboarding wasn’t exactly going to fit into the budget super smoothly. Lastly, it’s just long enough to remind ourselves that we really do love snowboarding, and leave a sweet taste on our tongues for the next  time we want to hit the slopes.

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We have decided to meet the guys a little late, so we get to sleep in till around 8:30. This is mint, but we also know that everyone else is going to beat us to the slopes too, but it’s a price that we are willing to pay.

We meet the guys in the kitchen, stuff our faces and get on the road to the mountain.

Over the last two days, we have been getting to know the hire shop guys. The main dude is a champion. His name is Danny, and he goes skiing after work. Except, what he does is head to the top of the mountain, then catch the highest chair lift, then walk another few hundred meters and then go skiing. He’s telling me (half using charades actions to combat the language barrier), that when you go out that far, that when you switch from side to side, the snow from where you switched will fall right on top of you as you fall.

That is how steep the ridge is there.

Its mental.

Personally, the really steep slopes aren’t my cup of tea just yet. I can make my way down the black slopes, but not in a manner that makes is exciting. Intermediate/red is kinda what I’m enjoying the most, where you have the option to hammer down the slope, or carve it a little more. Danny, however is more about the most mental slope you can find.

Fair enough though.

If that’s his cup of tea, no worries.

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We grab our stuff, and head to jump on the gondola. However, much like the other day, it is absolutely chockers and the queue runs all the way to the end of the road. We all decide that we are just going to start on the other slopes. They are less busy and there is more option in the way of not having to undo your bindings and skate ’til The Lord returns.

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Ian and Sophie are doing their own thing, so Bec and I have decided to just head and do our thing too. We get to the chair lifts, and Bec is keen on doing the lighter slopes. I’m down for something a little more intense, so we decide to do our own things. We spend a couple of hours hitting a few of the slopes to get warmed back up. Bec and I have decided that we are just going to meet up for lunch and then board a little together then.

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After an hour or so, I decide to head up the mountain on the gondola and see what else the mountain has to offer on this fine day. As I am making my way over there, I see Bec standing by the map, deciding to head over to the gondola also. We jump in (what is now) the small queue to reach the gondola, and off we go to the top. We get talking to this british chick who buys, sells and manages property in Borovets. She is telling us that this year, the snow is so good in Borovets that they’ve got the french and Italians coming over to ski at Borovets. This is usually un heard of, since they have always got good slopes, but the snowfall has been poor in the alps, and really good in Bulgaria. Bec and I kinda look at each other like we have hit the jackpot without even knowing. We just kinda turned up in Bulgaria because we were at Dublin airport at that particular time, and we decided to board at Borovets cos we couldn’t get to the Serbian slope easily.

We didn’t go out of our way for it, but turns out that we unintentionally chose really well. She goes on to tell us that you can buy a holiday apartment in Borovets for 10,000 pound. Thats it. That works out to be around $15,000 AUD. Pretty damn cheap. They’re returning around $3,000/annum at the moment, so thats not too bad.

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As we are on our way up, I look below us, and see that there are these really cool tracks which pretty much nobody is riding. They run directly under the gondola, and pretty damn close to the edge of the mountain, with just rocky outcrop and shrubbery below. Not the kinda thing that you want to stuff up on.

I’m getting a little over the normal slopes, as there aren’t too many slopes on Borovets with much creativity, so I’m beginning to wan to push the boundaries a little more. Yesterday Ian and I tested out a run below the chairlift on the left of the mountain. It was ok, but the path that you have to ride is literally only 2m wide, so you pretty much just have to commit to the slope and have the balls to switch when you need to.

Ian wasn’t so fond of it, but I liked the challenge of something new.

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This time, I was on my own, and even though the path under the gondola wasn’t so hectic, it was still something that you kinda just had to commit to. There aren’t many places to just hit the anchors if you need to, so you gotta just go for it. It is worth it though. The normal straight slopes down can get a little monotonous after a while. You gotta do something to change it up.

I head down the intermediate slopes to the far right of the mountain, where a chairlift takes you back up half the distance that the gondola takes you. As I am on the chair lift, I spot a path that runs through the forestry. This, also, I am keen to try. I get off the chairlift, and see that there is a huge sign telling everyone not to go beneath the chair lift. This isn’t fun, so I head down the slopes until I find a little sociopath which connects the two slopes, and passes under the chair lift.

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This time, there is no signage.

I, therefore, have pretty much just been asked to hit the slope I want to.

It doesn’t look that steep from above, but once you are standing on the lip, you see that the grade of the slope is actually pretty damn decent.

I zig zag below the chairlifts until I finally reach my path through the forest. I dip down the side of the slope and through the trees until I hit the snowy path. Its just me, and nobody else, and it is utterly perfect. I stack it a few times in the process of riding the path, and at one point, came face to face with a stick protruding from the side of the slope. It was a close call, but I was unhurt, so it only really counts if you get hurt.

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I appear on some kinda slope that I should have come across at some point, but certainly haven’t yet. The path just magically appeared to join into it. The bloke who is bombing past me gives me an equally odd fleeting look. I follow the slope down, to be met with an unappeasable length of flat ground for a snowboard, just before I reach the bottom gondola station and wait for Bec to arrive.

There were a bunch of new boarders who I would assume were having their first day on the slopes, because they weren’t aware of the speed that they needed to pass this mammoth flat surface head of them.

Its was funny to watch.

It was funny to pass them.

It was even better when they were giving me odd looks for walking up the hill on the side to get more speed.

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I meet up with Bec, and we find ourselves a little picnic table to pull up on while we tuck into our sandwiches. It is certainly the way to go. Easy, filling and cost effective. Everybody wins. Post-lunch, we head back to the top of the mountain. I want to take the Musala Pathway again, and this time, because I have tuned in on the board, and because I’ve already done it once, I know where you have to be going quick (pretty much everywhere), and where you can chill (pretty much nowhere).

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You pretty much just have to assume that if you don’t take every chance to get the most speed you can, you will have to resort to skating your board again. One thing, I am impressed by, however, is how little of a decline you need to be able to pick up any kind of momentum. It can literally be the tiniest of degrees, and you’ll start sliding down the slope. Its actually kinda amazing.

The Musala Pathway lead me to the other half of the mountain, where I pretty much spent the entire day under the chairlifts, zig zagging and hitting the banks as sharp as I could. By the end of the day, I’d honed right in, and was able to nail the sharp turns without any mistakes. Certainly happy with that.

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We meet back up with Ian and Sophie, and I am expecting her to be a limping mess, but surprisingly, she is perfectly fine. She doesn’t have any pain in her knee as long as it is bent, so as long as she is skiing, she is totally fine. I dunno how long that might last, but still, she was on the slopes all day, and after a big crash a couple days ago, that is a good effort.

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We pile into the car and head home. Bec and I decide to go collect some groceries. As we are headed to the shops, we walk past this house and just out the corner of my eye, I see this standard sized dog about half a meter away from me, at full speed. I dont think I have had a worse fright in my life. I literally hip and shouldered Bec in a last minute effort to put as much room between me and this dog that I can.

This is literally the best fright I think I have ever had in my life. Just in the last minute I saw this dog leaping up against the fence, and I literally shat myself. It was mental.

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As a means of saying thanks, we pick up a tub of ice-cream and some scratchies for them. Naturally, we get a scratchy for ourselves too, but we couldn’t understand what the hell was going on with the scratches in Bulgaria anyway. It was more of a novelty than a real hope of winning money. We feed ourselves and throw a load of washing on.

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We plan ahead for the next leg of the trip, and Bec heads down go check on our washing.

…except its not there.

This is particularly odd.

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So, she comes back up and stands in the doorway awkwardly, and tells me “Ahh. Babe… Our washing is gone…”
I’m thinking, “was it the food guy from the other night?”, but obviously not.

“Its not in the laundry at all?”
“Nope”
“That is odd. I’ll ask Alex in a sec”

A few minutes pass, and I head and knock on Alex’s door.

“Hey mate. Do you know where our washing is?”
*gives me blank look*
I begin to reiterate my question. It is usually at this point that I would begin to employ some sort of charades or sign language to help me along, but I have no idea how I would sign language washing to someone else.
I just kinda repeat my question to him again, trying my best impersonation of a front-loader.

It clicks.
“Ahh. Washing. Yes”, it is at this point that things started getting weird.
“I have washing. I put up for you. My job”
At first I thought he was just being nice and helping us out, which is when I said “Oh nah. Thats find mate, we can just hang it up in our bedroom”
“No. This not your job. My job. I give to you tomorrow. 5 lev”
“What? 5 lev?”
He maintains my eye contact, “5 lev”
“No”
“This not your job. This my job. 5 lev, I give to you tomorrow”
“Mate. No way. You cant just take our clothes and then decide that we have to pay you to wash them.”
“This not you job. This my job”
“How is it not my job? I’ve been doing it for the last 3 months”
“My friend…”, he says… It pisses me off no end when europeans say “my friend “ when they’re trying to win you over. Regardless, be brings me over to his pin board and shows me a big list of things in Bulgarian with prices next to them. Pointing to the word in Bulgarian which means “Washing”, he says “See. 5 lev”
“Oh you have got to be taking the piss?” I say to him. I mean, lets be honest, its only 5 lev. That is stuff all in AUD, but the thing that I am not happy with at all, is that he led us to believe when we had checked in that we were free to use his facilities, if we needed to, and then when we do use them, that he wants to charge us for it, and that his proof that we should have known better was in a completely different language that none of his guests were able to read.

Nah.

I’m sorry.

That’s not happening.

“Mate. What does this say?”, I ask, to which, he reads the Bulgarian word out to me.
“Oh right! And how am I meant to know what that means?”
At this point, he just looks as me, tilts his head to the side and shrugs his shoulders.
“You’re a snake mate, and I’m not paying anything”, I tell him as I slap his back and walk up to our room.

I fill Bec in on what has happened, and we just decide to tackle it in the morning.

We sleep really well and tomorrow we are off on the next leg of the journey.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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