Skiing in Bulgaria: Bansko Travel Guide


Sorry, everyone. Yes - I'm one of those Instagrammers who gloated about their recent winter break. Apres ski, snowy mountainous landscape and going to a country that can actually handle snow. Yeah, Britain - I'm talking about you.

I spent the first week of March swish swishing away on the slopes of Bansko, Bulgaria. A really popular destination for those who love to ski but hate paying the high price to do so.

Some of the slopes were quite narrow but the views were so impressive. You could see the whole of Bansko city centre from just half way up the mountain. But when you're at the top - wow - you're surrounded by stunning and breath-taking views up there.

Bansko town is fairly small. But a heck load of apartments and restaurants to choose from. It didn't feel like I was in Bulgaria. The amount of British tourists there makes it feel like you're closer to home.

As the town is mainly focused on skiing, drinking and eating you may get a bit bored if you stayed longer than a week. There aren't as many slopes as other popular destinations (but I'm a newbie to skiing so what do I know). To be frank, when I wasn't skiing I was so knackered that I couldn't do anything else apart from drinking and eating. And that's my excuse for being gluttonous!

Saying that, there's one other activity that is really popular in Bansko. And that's relaxing in a spa. The complete opposite of strenuous skiing. The spas are cheap and they have a range of massages and treatments (don't worry I'm going to do a price costing below to give you a rough idea how much the trip costs). Your thighs, arms, back... basically every limb and muscle will be sore after non-stop stop skiing. The most painful part will be your legs because they do all the work. It's normal and acceptable to treat yourself to a massage on this trip. A sauna for your muscles is hugely suggested.

The food in Bulgaria is dominantly meat-based. As you would expect from an Eastern European country. I actually gave up meat for Lent. Sinfully, I had to delve into it because the vegetarian and fish options were sparse. I pictured Bulgarian food to be hearty but tasteless. The plates I imagined were slaps of unseasoned meat and boiled potatoes. I wasn't going there as a food blogger. I thought I wouldn't have much to say about the food.

Oh oh oh. Snobby Kara was so wrong!

The food was yummy, flavoursome, calorific and comforting, cheap in price but not in flavour. I didn't have a bad meal.  Let me say that again. I didn't have one bad meal. Most holidays I'd really appreciate having three or four good meals and I don't mind the rest being poor. I was pleasantly shocked how good Bulgarian cuisine was. Even their beers are great!

This was my first time skiing as an adult. I went when I was about 13 or 14 or 15 (as you can see my memory is terrible). I didn't know much about skiing back then, hence why I wasn't frightened. No one in my family had done it before so I was more than excited than scared. But now, at 23, I had a lot of anxiety about the trip. All the horror stories you hear about so-and-so breaking their leg from skiing. So-and-so knows someone who knows someone who died from skiing. I also think it was because I thought I would remember how to ski, but when everyone started warning me about what not to do and how dangerous it is - I panicked. I shouldn't have been. But when you do something new to in your 20s your mind is like "woooahhh whatsss thisss I'm scaarreed!"

I had a few meltdowns on the snow. Plenty of "I can't do this I'll just take the lift back down". I still was nervous throughout my trip. But it will take more practice to get the hang out of it.

Doing something out of my comfort zone was challenging. But on my flight back, I was ready to take on more challenging things. I can tell why people become obsessed with extreme sports. It makes you have a bit more faith in yourself.

I recommend skiing it to everyone. I think schools need to encourage it more. Possibly promote discounted fares to low-income families. People from different backgrounds, not just white and middle-class, need to realise how fun skiing is.

Skiing is predominately a white and middle-class hobby. People outside of that culture may feel hesitant to try it because it seems as an exclusive thing.

I try not to count how many other non-white people I see when I go travelling. Sometimes I would, and go back to my family stating 'so-and-so was touristy and diverse!' In which makes them consider said country to be 'alright for us'.

If a country has a history of racism or a lack of diversity, it stops ethnic minorities from ever visiting there, thus halts all opportunities and experiences that could have arisen.

I didn't 'count' when I went to Bulgaria as I know skiing isn't considered a past-time for ethnic minorities. Why's that? I can't say there's a definite answer.

One, and it's a prominent one, could be, if you don't see people that look like you doing it, then you won't do it. That's a subconscious thing, right? In the back of your mind you think "if they don't do it, then why should I?"

Two could be, the cost of skiing puts people off. Flights, hotel, food, ski wear, hiring skis, ski pass and lessons. It's not a cheap vacay. Especially as the majority of ethnic minorities have a lower income salary compared to whites, would they risk spending their savings on something they may not enjoy?

Three could be, they would rather spend money on visiting family in their native country.

Four could be, well, I don't want to sound stereotypical but ask your grandparent if they would like to go skiing. They would shiver and say it'll be too cold. If our parents, or parents' parents didn't do it. The chances are, you won't. Unless a opportunity with a school or university invites you to.

But there are so many reasons why we are not taking part in a great holiday. When I know I'm the first person in my family to do something, it doesn't put me off. It makes me want to do it, even more, and then to show off to them what they are missing out.

It's 2018 - there isn't anything anymore stopping us from exploring locations and ventures.

It was the first holiday I came back home lighter in weight and gained a life skill. Shouldn't we be spending more of our free time doing activities that benefit us?

I think this is a whole different blog post to talk about being non-white and travelling. I'll save it for the future.

Bacccck to my trip!

I can't say I'm a good skier. I certainly need more lessons. And I won't make people I know try and teach me again! That was more frustrating than actual skiing. I will save up and book to go with a ski school, practice with people at the same ability as me.

I really think Bansko ski resort should be up there in the popular skiing destinations. It's more value for money and it's practical. It's not rough or dirty as people picture it. You'll be surprised how many tourists are there. Everyone is keeping it as a secret hotspot!

Rough prices of the trip:

Flight (return) from London Stanstead - Bulgaria Sofia: £140
Car Hire (Bankso is 2 hour drive from Sofia): £70
Ski Rental (boots, skis, sticks and helmet)*: £60
Bansko Daily Ski Pass (for one day): £20
Apartment (one night): £40
Lessons (2 hour session): £55
Spa (sauna, steam room, pools): £15
Back and neck massage (30mins): £15

Average Price for Meals in Bansko:
Starter: £3-6
Main Meal: £4-8
Beer: £1-3
Glass of wine:£1-3

- The fondue meal was more pricey.

*Go to Ski Rental under Sport Hotel. They are so close to the ski lifts so you don't have to walk far carrying them. Also, if you need lessons, ask for Nina! She was amazing and so nice!

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