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Solo Features

Skiing anyone?

It’s not relaxing, costs a small fortune, and your bones ache for a week after, but, despite all this, skiing, or snowboarding for the uber cool, is still holiday to do. Grainne Burns did it, and is preparing to do it again.

So apparently if you ski once, you won’t do a sun holiday again. Whoever said this clearly could a) not afford another holiday that year or b) shagged one of the handsome instructors and so is looking to mount more than the slopes! True, a week long skiing trip is a great holiday, yet, a lot has to be said for a week long of doing nothing as well.
Last February, a party of eight of us went to the newest ski resort on the block, Bansko in Bulgaria. As a first time skier, it was an ideal location as many resorts can be littered with so-called professionals who are known for their slope rage, and you can be left as complete ski kill should you get in their way. As with all new resorts, Bansko is still in its infancy stages and as such it is quite undeveloped with only one ski lift, with the road infrastructure (beware of the pot holes) a lot left to be desired. However the standard of accommodation was first class and we took out two well-spaced apartments in the new Grand Montana, while my other friends stayed in Hotel Lion that was also well received.
One thing that everyone raves about Bulgaria is how relatively cheap it is, and by all accounts it is, however our instructor reported prices doubling in the last year and this can only worsen so be warned – it is not as low priced as everyone says it is.
For après ski there is one main bar from the ski centre that is enjoyable for one or two, but no more. In general the social life in Bansko is quite good but it is a case of having to look for where it is at as all the pubs and clubs are dotted around the area as opposed to one strip. And finding a decent restaurant is as difficult a task, and the end result is not much better as Bulgarian food more than tests anyone’s palate. For the entire week we did not stumble across any eatery that I could possibly recommend as ever chef in Bulgaria clearly has a fetish of throwing all food into oil before serving. Even the pizzas served in the bars on the slopes were covered in grease, and they also have a thing for cheese, and fling it on every possible dish.
However, all aside, Bansko is a good spot for novices and especially for groups with deals of €800 up for grabs. Next stop is Livignio, Italy and this time it is snowboarding. If I don’t break an arm I’ll report on it in March!

Tips for first time skiers
– Book now as you will get a good deal, and even at this stage many of the decent hotels and apartments are already booked out.
– Don’t book for the two middle weeks in February as it will be littered with school children and yummy mummies in Columbia gear.
– Ski gear is expensive so borrow when you can and if not, check out the clothes at TK Maxx. Meanwhile Aldi – for you PRAVs (Proud Realisers of Added Value) out there – will also be stocking their own brand in the coming weeks (don’t worry it does not come apart, well it will last the week anyway).
– It may be a bit chilly at night but on the slopes it is quite hot so best to pack a range of T-shirts to wear under jackets. Do bring heavy socks though as there is nothing comfortable about those skiing boots.
– While the night dress code is casual, there is no need to rock in with the Aran jumper! Remember to bring some more of your stylish clothes!


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