07 February 2006

Ski every mountain

Shelly, Joel, Kristen...at Bansko ski resortLast weekend I skied at Borovets, a resort about an hour and half from Sofia that is considerably nicer and somewhat more expensive than Vitosha. This weekend we (Shelly, Kristen, Kat [the diplomats] Ryan, and I [the Corps]) drove to the next biggest resort: Bansko. The town is a lot like any other little town in Bulgaria except the main drag, which is wall-to-wall ski shops and mehanas (traditional Bulgarian restaurants.) The resort though, is as nice as any east coast resort in the US, complete with plenty of high-speed lifts and copious groomed trails. The only downside is that there is only one black diamond-esque run. I eventually tired of the same old runs, so I decided to go off-piste—mainly under the lifts—where I found some more challenging stuff: moguls, narrow trails, and some very steep section.

I had been warned that it would be considerably more expensive to ski here, but it turned out to be only 62 leva ($39) for a 2-day pass with the locals discount (for which you have to present your lichna karta and/or say “Аз съм пастанин клиент.”) Plus, upon returning the amazingly sophisticated RFID lift pass, we received 5 leva back.

Thanks to the fact that I had skied the previous two weekends, I wasn’t hurting after skiing all day Saturday. However, by noon on Sunday, I was getting noticeably winded—at times, I had to stop every 100m to catch my breath. Additionally, the weather had turned from the beautiful sunny day you see above to snow showers—reducing visibility and stinging my face. By the time we met for lunch on Sunday, we all agreed (well, actually we had to twist Shelly’s arm—she want to ski until they shut down the lifts) that it was time to head back home. We knew the trip home would take longer due to the inclement weather, but never imagined how long. At about the half way point, we ran into a line of traffic that did not budge for over three and a half hours! We later found out that there was a truck accident 30km ahead on our 2-lane highway. If there was an alternate route, we assumed the locals would have found it, but everyone just patiently sat there. The highlight of the traffic jam was when the Finlandia girls came out of their van to pass out free shots to their fellow stranded motorists. Below is a good picture I got for Ryan as they were making their way back to their van.

Ryan and the Finlandia girls
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