Bansko Bansko

Bansko

I went shopping in Bansko during some downtime from snowboarding and got some new waterproof trousers, and Finance picked up a new top. We also explored the mall over by the river. It was uninspiring and the top floor was dominated by what can only be described as Mafioso style gangsters playing pool.

From there, I left Finance to go up the mountain with my DSLR and get some pictures.

I was thwarted in the gondola as others joined me at the first stop and their equipment blocked my view.

Once up the mountain, I took the first of the two lifts to the top.

When I got to the end of the first lift, I could see Bansko spread out before me.

Regrettably, the second lift was not running, so I couldn’t get a panorama from the top.

With no small measure of relief I was able to pull my gloves on once the camera was safely stowed away.

I met up with Assets and Mobile for a warm wine and we headed back down the mountain.

We picked up a few more bits in town and then retired to the bar and warm fire.

For diner, after trying the excellently reviewed Victoria and being turned away as they were too busy, we went to the Euphoria.

Slightly concerned by the pink neon sign, and 80’s music blaring away, we thought we’d give it a try. Once inside, it was a tasteful collection of battered whitewashed wood and dark velvet. Perhaps a little OTT, it none the less would have looked appropriate in Soho or Covent Garden.

The food was excellent and so plentiful that I could not finish the main, the Bansko Potatoes had a great flavour, the beef was tender and the Tiramisu was light.

All in all, an excellent meal, we returned for an early night as we wanted to be on the slopes early.

A later evening, we went out for a Bulgarian Feast, it was a lot of fun, big piles of shared food in the centre table with free wine to share. The group sharing our table were Mormons, or Muslims or AA members or some other strange group who don’t drink, and so, at the end of the evening, I acquired one of their full carafes and made a good dent in it myself before we left.

After eating, there was dancing, both participatory and watching the professionals. The darkness and fast movement put my photography and focus to the test and foxed me to remember some of the skills I’d learned doing gig shoots.

We had a morning off, and a nice lie in due to doing our Skidoo adventure that afternoon, it didn’t seem like it was worth getting up early for an hour or so snowboarding.

I nipped down to the ski center and had my board waxed and had some dents fixed up on Java’s board and we then rushed down a quick lunch before piling into an ancient Lada which too us to the skidoo runs.

Normally, you can run straight from the office up the mountain, but a lot of the snow had melted, so we drove them up on the back of a trailer.

We were given a quick demo by one of the three guys and he then took Java on the back of his snowmobile and I got one for myself. It was a good little run, and got me used to the machine. Handles like a heavier quad bike. Not quite as manoeuvrable, but fast. It is much tougher on your arms than you expect. After a first run, Finance and Java took the machines and did their own run.

After about 20 minutes, I got a call, both of them had stalled!

We piled into the Lada to go and rescue them. They had more or less gotten to the end of the trail.

Finance had managed to get her machine running again, but Java was well and truly stuck. The Lada did amazingly well with the icky pathways, we had to push once, but it carried on up the trail. Until we reached deep snow and then John and I continued on foot whilst Andy stayed with the Lada to get it turned around.

We got the skidoos back up and motoring but when we tried to reverse the Lara it had a small accident….

After much pulling and consultation, it was given up for a bad job. They would come and try to rescue it the following morning.

Andy and I walked most of the way down and met up with Aiden who was on the most powerful skidoo. He took me on a seriously fast run to the top, showing how little we had been pushing the beasts.

I took the skidoo down, pushing it harder than I had before thanks to seeing how it handled.

We then graduated to the Blue run, a much longer, snowier and bumper trail.

It was terrific fun, hard work and I nearly hit a tree when I instinctively grabbed the throttle of the powerful skidoo after a big bump causing it to jump forwards at very high speeds.

Once we finished up, we were taken to a proper local bar for a couple of beers, a local apple and a strange sandwich. They also gave us a homemade bottle of wine as we had been talking about the local wines and Aiden had explained how most people made their own.

They drove us back to Bansko via a local supermarket where we picked up a local champagne for £1.20…..

Assets and Mobile had not come with us, but rather had spent the day snowboarding and did a skidoo taster with the travel company. It was much more controlled and antiseptic, but probably a lot safer!

We regrouped for Pizza, beer and a quiz-night. Our team was joined by a lovely lady and her son. Did not catch her name, and so have named her Carmen.

We did well in the quiz, pacing 5th or so, and were one of the few groups willing to stay on behind and take part in the Karaoke. Mostly this was Finance and I.

I finally got up at lunchtime, ate and headed up the mountain with my camera.

I once again took the first lift up and when I got to the second, it closed as I was watching it! Thwarting my attempts to get a picture from the highest point. Although as I had no gear, better to be trapped at the start of the lift than the end of it!

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the bar relaxing and reading a book with the gang slowly filtering in.

That evening, we went to the Victoria, having booked after our failed first attempt to eat there. It was a delicious meal, and we went perhaps a little overboard tasting the various wines.

The Victoria had a range of oddities; they had a pot outside the building with Lennon’s “Imagine” on it, a cake baked in the shape of a book of cake recipes and other strange items.

We finished our last night off with some Guinness in an Irish bar just around the corner from where we were staying, it was empty, but the barman was great though Mobiles’ mentioned that he worked at Guinness Storehouse did not end up in us getting free drinks.