The taxi ride into the city amazes me… ancient cathedrals, donkey carts and modern architecture all blur into the city skyline. Sofia itself is a bustling metropolis, which combines sophisticated euro chic with traditional heritage. My first night on the town begins with a lavish dinner at a local restaurant complete with Balkan madness music (called Chalga) and waiters doing the ‘horo’ and ‘narodni tanzi’ dances. Participation is a must, and I certainly did not pass up the opportunity to groove with some really good-looking girls, something the country is famously known for.
The Bulgarians absolutely love house music, blasted from speakers in hair salons, cafes and nightclubs across the city. Club Yalta is one of the more popular evening hotspots and attracts excellent local and international DJ’s. Make sure you dress to impress. Jeans and sneakers will not make the cut with the uber-trendy, fashionably late crowd, who are decked out in the latest designer gear.
A popular mountain resort on the northern slopes of Mt Rila, Borovets is only 73kms from the capital, and where I am next headed. The drive is a little scary and takes you through breathtaking scenery; past lakes, temperate forests and through deep mountain valleys. Do make sure you take the trip with a guide or local friends (as I did), as the countryside drivers are ruthless. Bulgarians drive on the right (or wrong) side of the road, depending on how you see it!
Dating back to 1896, Borovets was originally a hunting base for Bulgarian kings since the Serbo-Bulgarian war. Today the town bustles in the winter with sports enthusiasts from all across Europe looking for fresh powder. Since gaining access to the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria, and ski resorts like Borovets have gained popularity as inexpensive alternatives to the more traditional ski destinations of Western Europe.
With around ten ski lifts in the area, Borovets is well equipped to handle the ever-increasing winter demands of discerning skiers and snowboarders alike. A six-man gondola at Yastrabetz Peak takes you up to 2,363m above sea level and gives you admission to around 4,827m of uncrowded piste. The quality and high standard of instruction has been one of the main features attracting newcomers to the sport to Bulgaria. A variety of tailored courses can be suited to fit your experience, even if you are a novice like myself. It makes a perfect family destination, as there is literally s