Bulgaria Ski Flare
Yeah, now I remember, PART 2, let me just go through my notes, let’s see here — praise Crystal ski, condemned airline and transfers, buffets and subtle and not so subtle bigotry, hair bamboozlement. Here we are the skiing section!!
(REMINDER - RED RULE - “With every action, there is a reaction and every plus needs a negative!!")
As a friendly note and I may mentioned in part 1, you need to book any ski/snowboard hire before you get to the slopes or on the plane really (obvs), otherwise it will be more costly and too much of a fiasco to sort when you’re freezing your nips off. We booked our ski hire through http://www.bulgaria-hotels.com/en/ski-packages.html. Generally the cheaper place to hire however it was a bit of a faff to get everything sorted and confirmed, literally a day before we were due to get our gear the rep, Galina told us where to go (not in a rude way). And for a panicked like me that’s the worst! In Pamporovo the main ski centre is Ski Centre 2, Ski Centre one is the beginner section but most of the lifts and connections are in one, call me crazy (Please don’t i’m sensitive eek) but logically 1 would be the main hub but this is Bulgaria and logic does not need to apply my fellow simpletons. The hotel we stay at has a free connecting bus to Ski Centre 1 & 2 but be warned despite there being masses of skiers and holiday makers. ( I never understood that term, you didn’t make the holiday the agency did, we would in affect be the holiday takers, or in Bulgaria’s case Bulgaria Undertakers)
*Nudge Nudge* “ Marv hurry up I have shit to do and its pancake Tuesday soon and the way you're writing I’ll miss Lent and Easter”
Alright other train of thought, I’lll get back to blog! So we get on the free bus which could barely fit a football team in (minus balls) and arrive in Ski centre 2. I was going to say it was not very well labelled where it was but between me and Andy we collectively have 2 working eyes and there’s a 10 FT sign above the only non-restaurant in the area, how we missed that I don’t know. After several interrogations to find Galina (GA LEN AH, don’t get her name wrong). She shows use to our equipment and I have to point this out. I Marvin Lowe and Andy (insert Greek surname) had to speak to GALENAH she kept saying my name but speaking to Andy. Now I know it’s not a racist thing (although she said hello to me in disgust, blind eye to it Marv, blind eye) but by process of elimination, the white dude would have the greek name and “Marvin” the 3rd blackest name after Winston and Junior, you thought she would speak to me. It’s either talk to the tall blue eyed wonder or the round cheeky chocolate chap… Oh I see her reasoning now! I would have said something but I’ve been raised in the British isles and stiff upper lip, so I do the next best thing, Nothing.
Alongside that incident I got into an “mis understanding” with the bus driver who told me I was going to the wrong hotel even though I said the hotel he just mentioned the bus was going to. Andy went on fine no fuss, I clearly looked like I was lying!! He also gave me a dirty look that read” you look like you are staying at the hostel and nicking free rides, negro” Ummm excuse me driver I know where I’m going!!
Also if the locals give you any lip, give em a slap, no I joke but RED RULE applies again. The crusty old dude heading the hire centre chucked my stuff at me and that was my stellar customer service. However I asked for size 9 and he just wrote down 8 and gave me something that felt like a 7. On the flip side when I went in to “enquire” aka bitch and moan, old man winter said my shoes were correct, I needed to have blood sipping out my socks to exchange. So being British I did the next best thing, asked someone else, and behold the customer service king, who was like 48 years younger than the old geezer, searched high and low for new boots. Praise the lord!
Ski and Warning No 2
Next skiing, if you’ve skied before there’s not really a need to get lessons HOWEVER if you’re crap at maps and remembering life saving skills, go with a ski school. The runs here are not so much complicated just more haphazard. You generally have 4 levels of ski/snowboard courses, beginners, easy, intermediate and daredevil. Now I being a skier whose last venture skiing was when I was going through puberty (whoever said last year GET OUT!!) Decided to stick with easy/beginners. As the last thing I need to do on this break is break anything and be on national Bulgarian news for “Black crashes on Black Course” and have the nurses stares at my bare black bottom when I’m in one of those awful hospital gowns. No doubt chunky Booberella from the buffet would be in the waiting room, dropping her heat magazine and gawping in awe.
Considering we are in 1985, all the chair lifts operate to 2005 electronic standards with e-lift passes and I admit I’m not a fan of heights but there’s something relaxing about chairlifts, maybe it's the views, maybe it’s the thin air cutting much required oxygen to my common sense centre but I’ll just drift off here ZZZZZZZZZZZ……
Now see the pic of the map, looks simple enough, I play Professor Layton on the Nintendo DS, I like puzzles, however when you get to the destination, you’ve no frigging idea where to go, there’s no obvious sign posts or directions. The signs were either part way down the course or was in no relation to the map. I went skiing in Italy and they had the sense to have an open gate with the course number/colour at the start of each section with reminders. Bulgaria, this is game of chance and life. And so many intercross sections where you can go from easy to daredevil in less than 40 ft but thankfully you can use your common sense and have a gander at the slope ahead, if it steep, you will weep!
The ski runs themselves were quite long and very well surfaced although some of the “easy” sections were very suddenly downhill and on day 1 I went so fast, I think I transcended time and space and think I saw a Tardis.
Also the slopes, will be invaded with ski schools and follow them if you are unsure, whatever you do don’t get too close or in my case piss them off. I literally stopped in the safest place I could find until Andy caught up with me. An Instructor bitch with a god complex decided to shout at me to get out of the way, if I had gone back any further I would not be writing this blog, someone would be writing my obituary.
“Here lies Marvin, a generous man you backed up too far just so 6 pre schoolers who needed to ski really slowly pass him in a wide bank, he was a gracious idiot RIP”
To be fair all my skiing could be summed in one "How to Ski" Disney Goofy cartoon, look it up..
Again Red rule here in terms of instructors, my run in with old crusty involved me being stuck with a ski that wouldn’t keep the boot holdall in place so was constantly adjusting it. However out from the heavens’ light came the Cheryl Cole of Ski Instructors, striking looks and helpful demeanour. She whipped of my ski, adjusted without glancing to the right setting, beamed a smile and left me blindsided. like an angel, WHERE ARE YOU MY ANGEL?!?!
Thankfully on the runs there’s a few huts, cabins and pubs, who drinks and skis?!?! Anyway great places to escape the all inclusive or just grab something different. There’s a chain of Irish pubs called Alex’s and there’s a hut in the middle of the main run where they had a sneaky yet clever spot. it was on a flat surface and had numerous benches, all conveniently outside with a blazing colossal logwood fire in the middle of the hut and photo of a large pizza, how intriguing……
Although the owner resembles Geppetto doesn’t speak any English, he gives a pleasant service and a tasty pizza, not as large as the poster one, but I’ll let it slide.
The first 2 days we remained on the main easy run, day 3 and I can’t stress this enough was eye opening, we went to the top of the hill and I swear we were in the middle of a silent hill game, you couldn’t see a thing. Maybe a yeti? With the Alice in Wonderland signs, shaky legs and fog, I was mystified how they could put the remainder of the easy courses here, you read that right readers, the less visible courses were the easy ones. Seriously the designer of the maps had memory loss and colour blindness.
So people grab your ski equipment, head to one of 2 pub huts at ski centre 4. There's another Alex’s Irish pub here where its brit food and European surroundings or make your way or you can saunter to the other pub where the next RED RULE applies.
We are lost, hungry and confused, out from behind the beaded curtain comes an adonis, a man of pure sexiness, the thin air is not helping as there’s not enough blood in my system to cope with this. He even directs us to a table and apologises for the mess in a gentle tone. Oh take me away with those dishes and clean me up…… uh where was I? Andy gets to pay this time and he speaks to him and I’m sat there like time needs to stop, just thinking we need that Doctor Strange time loop to activate now, “Dormammu, I come to bargain”
With me and Andy in shock we eat slowly and savour every moment. We then ski down what can only be described as “pot luck” runs and decide to get another drink in the sexy hut. So we had the nice, now it’s time for the nasty, we are not greeted by the Vin Diesel/ Jason Statham love god, we are greeted by Dracula’s great uncle… why?
Unfortunately it’s time to pay and that means I get the attention from the largest faced man I’ve ever seen. Also as it’s the paradox rule, our interaction starts off like this:
“So where you from?”
“uh um, we’re from Manchester, England”
“Fuck Manchester, you know City”
Urgh, I’m sorry, we don’t do that in our country, if you are going to insult another person’s football team you at least do it after a few pints and when the bill has been paid. Customer Service 101 FAILED!! I don’t even like football but at least we have 2 well known football teams in Manchester, you Bulgarian Bully (nice one Marv, 2 weeks too late for that response)
We even said we were not into football and he looked sorely disappointed, I don’t think “Fuck Manchester” is a good start to a debate, ugh I never, I think I’ve stopped clutching my pearls now.
Well that’s day 3 done for me we can’t do better than “Fuck Manchester”, my sensitivity barrier is shattered
Day 4 of skiing was even more eventful as we had to finally give into the bell sellers. Miraculously I forgot the bell sellers, there’s a group of men with shovels for hands and breath that could knock out George Best for being too toxic. Whatever you do, don’t give your name to them or all you’ll hear every morning your name said but with extra syllables in it, Andy is now called “Ander ah roo”, it’s £5 for a bell so why not?!?!
We did another new “easy” course and I swear my guesstimates on distances is becoming more wildly inaccurate. 1.9 KMs isn’t that far, unless you’re skiing and it’s actually twice that if you include the hills, again map designer with dulled senses at large and my horrendous guessing caused us to have the strongest leg muscles in the land. Anyway I was up I was down, I was bipolar skiing, there were so many twists and turns and before you know it you’re at the bottom breathless and confused (insert nonsensical inappropriate sex joke).
Know earlier I said, I liked the chart lifts despite my fear of heights, scratch that we had 2 incidents where my fear took over.
First time was on a 4 seat chair lift where me and Andy glided to the top but I had hoisted myself into the seat forgetting I have 5ft long skis and had my leg wrapped around the bar. Andy lifts the overhead bar forgetting my leg is trapped and my ski and leg were spread eagle. I had qualms about me being hung upside down by my twisted leg screaming my way down to the bottom and cursing Andy forevermore! Ignore the fact there’s 2 safety escorts on each lift and I can click my boot out of the ski... MOVING ON!!
Second time was on day 4 where the 2 seater lift, just seem to go on for AGES. We skied 1.9kms we climbed 10 kms according to that lift. He kept going higher and scarer. I was going to use my Samsung Galaxy S5 to record my video will.
So that was the skiing portion, ummm hello, are you awake??!?
Only thing we have left is the Apres Ski, and let’s just say you won’t get bored, the hotel Perelik has loads of activities to keep you entertained after a hard day of skiing or hard day of watching people ski.
Here’s a brief summary:
Bowling Alley - Only £4 a game but looked proper knackered, I suspect this is the only bowling alley to hire ball boys as the electronic components are still to be installed
Games Room - Some how it’s the only arcade to still wait for Playstation 1 games to be ported and has a snooker room which should have a madame hosting, very red and black with tassels if you get my drift…
Sauna & Massage parlour - Well I can guarantee you’ll get the best massage here, everyone seems to have massive hands here so no knot, crick or fat person to hard to reach in this place
Surgery - if you want medical attention you got it, if you want medication you need to head 1/2 mile to ski centre 1, I’m not joking
Swimming Pool and Gym - Pool was good length, with the oldest lifeguard, I would probably have to rescue him. The Gym, how can I put it, it was somehow modern yet retro, very confident this is where they filmed the training scenes with Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV.
Shopping Centre if you need those last min skiing bits, and nothing else. Only you fancy a chat and smoke with the shop owner, she couldn’t stop
The Pub - that seriously is it’s name, yet they have a club called addict, why stop the creativity there?!? Friendly staff and only place to get a decent coffee and the widest range of hot cocktails. Note the word cocktail is sued very loosely here, it’s basically 2 drinks put together you won’t be getting any Black Russians here.
Conference Hall - Pretty self explanatory, you can hire it if you fancy getting some teddy bears, chairs and 80s album. Get your partner to reenact Dirty Dancing with you
Travel Agents - If you get desperate and want to leave (jokes… maybe not)
Bar - You know you’ll end up here
Also they have a traditional food night in the buffet once a week, this is the food they have in the mountain regions. We are in the glorious mountains Why oh why are we eating earthly peasant food?!? (insert posh scoff) Why did they not grace with the adorable food from day 1?!?! I will gladly swap a vacuum packed chicken breast slopped in mystery gravy for gently roasted feta bread or Kebapche (that’s Kebab or Kebob, for you meat enthusiast).
I can’t forget we had ANOTHER incident where we were searching the village for somewhere to get breakfast and after finding nothing, we were stopped by the police. Well the police saw me, got in his car, drove past us, glared at me and then stopped 200m in front of us to jump out and ask us where we were going and where’s our passports!!! Uh abusing your authority mister!!! But again Red Rule, he had a mean handsome face and bulging arms, yes throw me in prison and visit me at night …officer, wink wink!!
Well lovelies I hoped you enjoyed this blog, inspire of what I’ve written you need to take it with a pinch of salt..and lemon… and 2 tequilas. Bulgaria was fun, awkward, relaxing, painful and overall enjoyable. Book away people and get down those slopes :)
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Love Marvo (that’s right I’m sharing the love now ) :) xxx
P.S If you play Scrabble with Andy, prepare for yourself to start feeling the ageing process, I think I wrote most of my clip notes for this blog while I waited for him to put his 11 point word down….uuurrrgggghhhhh!!! HURRY UP!!