“Welcome to the dark side… Welcome to Borovets!” a bar owner said as he presented me with a complimentary round of shots! Having been to Ibiza twice, I can honestly say that this place isn’t a million miles away from the white isle, in terms of a friendly party spirit that borders on being a totally wild, hardcore night out! Want the music turned up? No problem! Want the music turned down? Tough!!! All the bars are crammed together within easy staggering distance. Always start the night at the only English-owned bar in town, The Alpina bar, where pints are served for approximately 50p each during the tea time happy hour. Combine that with the friendly, chilled-out owners (nothing is a problem to them) and the good music, this place is a winner. Always a great start to the evening’s antics…
With everything après ski has to offer, it’d almost escaped my attention to mention that Borovets is a purpose-built Bulgarian ski resort! It’s slightly set in a time warp (from circa 1976), however it more than makes up in character what it lacks in contemporary style! The most central hotels here are the Samokov, the Flora and the Rila (named after the mountain range it is set within). For most skiers, the ski slopes provide challenging conditions. There were a range of runs to suit everyone, from the complete novice to the more experienced experts, like ourselves, obviously!! One funny and completely insane event held whilst we were there was the charity ‘ski-a-thong’ – self-explanatory really. It was pretty amusing, if not slightly disturbing, to watch fat, middle aged, balding men hurtle down the slopes in nothing but a thong!!! What would possess them?!! Bobby was my instructor for the week, and contrary to reports of poor instructors elsewhere in this resort, Bobby honestly had the patience of a saint. We had many interesting conversations, especially over lunch when he talked us through the ins and outs of the Bulgarian mafia system! I realised I was still drunk one morning whilst on the slopes after a heavy night, and had gotten very little sleep. I was a complete mess, however, Bobby really looked after me and, as I mentioned previously, was ridiculously patient with me as well as very humorous. He told me he expected nothing less of me, and that I wouldn’t be enjoying my stay if I was tucked up in bed for 9pm each night! Absolute legend, although I did feel slightly guilty for holding the class up, due to an extreme lack of balance and coordination!!!
I think you could quite easily spend the week without setting a ski the slope if you just wanted to soak up the atmosphere, although it is fun to challenge the mountain! There are plenty of places to watch English football etc. in the local bars. On the whole, the bar and restaurant food is very tasty and can be quite affordable, if you choose your venue carefully. However, some places in mountain resorts are extortionate, and as a tip make sure you see the price of what you’d like before ordering, and don’t just assume it’ll be cheap. One day I had a lovely roasted lamb salad (beautiful chunks of lamb), but was stung by the price. My salad turned out to be approximately £13-£14, which for a lunch was just plain stupid! The café we chose very cleverly didn’t display their prices, then lumbered us with an extremely pricey bill! Don’t let a little thing like that detract from what is a cracking ski destination though…I’m sure you’ll have a great holiday if you choose Borovets!
By Ben Charlton