As the temperatures continue to drop and winter solidifies its icy grasp on the hemisphere, my mind always drifts to the same thought: it is long past time that I dust off my snowboard.
Owning all my own gear makes it much easier and cheaper, but I still run in to the issue of expense. Even ignoring the transportation costs of getting from Texas to somewhere with snow, spending a week on the slopes isn’t cheap. When you add up what you’ll be paying for gear rentals, lessons, lift tickets, accommodations, and food in a resort town, it becomes apparent why many consider snow sports to only be accessible to the affluent.
Needless to say, when I heard about some of the ski packages offered in Europe I became extremely jealous. We have always envied the holiday-culture of Europe but when I found out about the incredibly cheap packages in Bulgaria that include everything you need, even food and lessons, I had to learn more.
With a price point like that, I wanted to imagine the perfect up-and-coming resort covered in fresh powder every morning but many skiers have only negative things to say about their skiing trips in Bulgaria. Are their complaints valid or is this just another example of ski snobs trashing a destination that does not meet their lofty standards?
The answer it seems is always changing.
Bulgarian resorts suffered many of the side effects of such quick growth. Everything from the slopes being far too overcrowded and spending most of the day in queue for the lifts to having apartments and businesses sprouting up everywhere they could, filling the horizon with half-finished buildings. Infrastructure always seems to be the furthest thought in developer’s minds and this was certainly the case here.
These issues caused many skiers to head to smaller resorts in the country, such as Pamporovo, and avoid the big resorts like Bansko. Though, heading to smaller towns increases the likelihood of another common complaint: the nightlife is… lacking.
For many people, the time spent off the slopes can be just as important as the time spent carving down the mountain. Unfortunately, Bulgaria does not have a lot to offer in this department. Many evenings are just spent huddled around tables in traditional restaurants. However, that is not to say that it is always boring around these parts. Take, for example, the Horizon Music festival in Bansko.
This week-long music festival fills the resort with electronic music and breathes some much-needed life into the town. But the best part is that you can buy a package that includes a festival pass, accommodations, and lift tickets for $450.
Though, no matter how many (or few) distractions there are, the most crucial piece remains the same- is Bulgaria just one of the cheapest places to go skiing or is there any value there?
Have you ever been skiing in Bulgaria? What are your thoughts?