Category Archives: snow

Calling Home from Bulgaria? You won’t need a loan….

Since their emergence at the beginning of the 21st century, smartphones have systematically changed the way we communicate with friends and family. Apart from producing a generation of teenagers that struggle with full sentences, everything is all rather convenient nowadays. Taking a photo, writing a caption and sending it to hundreds of people takes all but a few moments making the traditional snail-mail postcard effectively redundant.

In the UK, we have an understanding of what we can and can’t do to avoid seeing a frightful surprise on our next bill, and that’s ok. But the moment our plane lands in another country and we turn our phones back on (ignoring the captain’s request to wait until we reach the terminal building of course), there’s that sudden awareness that checking what your friends are doing on Facebook may mean not being able pay your electricity bill for the rest of the year.

June 2014: All Change

In mid-2014, the EU commission introduced caps on charges for EU-operating mobile phone networks, which slashed the prices we had all been paying when travelling within the EU, which as of 2007 includes Bulgaria, the nation in which the beautiful ski town of Bansko sits.

So, instead of returning home to a larger than normal surprise from your mobile phone network, you’re now able to keep your non-holidaying friends jealous with a phone call and only pay 15 pence per minute (19 cents). For topping up the aforementioned jealousy throughout your trip, a text message will now only set you back approx 5 pence (6 cents).

If the beautiful mountains and snowy scenery doesn’t keep your attention, you can see what your non-holidaying friends are doing on Facebook for approx 16 pence (20 cents) per megabyte. It’s probably worth looking up the average file sizes of those inevitable cat photos to get some perspective.

Photo to two women looking at a phone in the snow.

Calling home from Bansko won’t cost the earth.

999 Means Nothing Outside the UK

From childhood, our parents have drilled the fact into us that if we call 999, some responsible people will turn up and make everything ok again. In the UK that makes perfect sense, but what do you do in Bulgaria if you need assistance?

Unlike in the UK, there are three numbers depending on the emergency:

150 – Ambulance

166 – Police

160 – Fire

…and according to the EU website, calls can be answered in English which is helpful (although you might have to wait to be transferred to an English speaking operator).

The best thing to do is pop these numbers in your phone for your time in Bulgaria and we certainly hope you never need to use them.

Snow Capped Mountains vs Your Phone’s Screen

Whilst you’re out there, we know the breath-taking scenery will be something to remember and your mobile phone is going to take a back seat to good company, great skiing and a fantastic chalet holiday but it’s always good to be informed!

Our first impressions of Bansko

We arrived in Bansko on a cold night on the 2nd of December, after a 2 hour flight and 2 hours in a taxi. The Chalet is really well located between the old town centre and the gondola station, 5 minutes walking distance but in the dark we could only see the small, winding streets and we did wonder where we were!

Bansko is a town in southwestern Bulgaria, located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, 927 m above sea level. The local population is around 9000 people but amazingly this number doubles during the winter season because of Bulgarian and foreign tourists. Bansko is the biggest and newest ski resort in the country and appeals to both keen skiers and beginners, due to the diversity of the slopes and the lengh of the ski runs.

Bansko has been called, “The New Andorra”, but we would say that Bansko has something else: history. A walk to Bansko is like a tour through the past. In the Old Town there are fortified houses and taverns within the cobbled streets. Close by, Thracian burial mounds were discovered and just southeast of Bansko are the remains of late medieval basilicas.

Bansko locals and snow

Bansko offers a lot of history as well as great skiing.

When we first went out, the streets seemed deserted and so quiet. Except around the Gondola, where all the shops and restaurants were under intensive work preparing for the season. In a couple of weeks, everything unbelievably came to life, illuminated and busy as ever just in time for the Christmas arrivals!

But when we arrived, we just took time to admire the amazing white landscape. The Pirin Mountains are incredibly beautiful (especially at sunset) and it was lovely to enjoy the ‘calm before the storm’.

“Mehanas” (traditional Bulgarian taverns) are found all over Bansko and look so enticing and cosy; it was so hard to choose which one to try first! We enjoyed our first Bulgarian mezze meal and as we didn’t know what to order we ordered a lot… It was so yummy but we were so full!

Now we know all the best dishes to try and when you visit Bansko we can tell you our favourites!