Saturday, December 8, 2018

Up into the Mountains of Bulgaria

Handy Quick Links to our Blog Highlights

Our destination today was Pamporovo Ski Resort high in the mountains between Bulgaria and Greese.  We took the metro to the airport and then rented a car.  We drove back to the apartment, loaded our luggage and headed out of town.  It was near 0^C and cloudy.  The traffic dissipated after a few miles and it was wide open driving on a really nice intrastate highway for an hour.  We stopped at a traditional rest area for coffee,  

Our drive was planned at about 5 hours in total and once we left the freeway the country roads slowed us down quite a bit.  The countryside was quite green still and there was very little snow.  We passed through one sleepy village after another.  At one point the road turned into a one lane, heavily potholed mess and we were sure we have gotten lost...but the GPS said to push on and we did.

 Eventurally we found ourselves high up in the mountains, still no snow, and following a river that had a series of at least three dams with huge reservoirs.  The first was full to capacaity.  As we continued to climb, they became less and less full.  And still no snow.

 It literally was not until we were within 15 miles of the resort that we began to experience snow...and then as if magically, there was a lot covering the ground.  We passed by three ski lift stations and unfortunately they all were closed.
 Upon reaching the hotel there was only one car in the lot besides ours.  The place looked closed.  At reception we learned that there were only eight guests checked in for the night and that even though there was plenty of snow, the ski season was still a few weeks from officially opening.
With our new status as Platinum members, our reward was a lovely suite with mountain views.  The suite with both breakfast and dinner was free due to the number of bookings we have done in the last year and we only had to pay the taxes oft $24 USD.
We settled in for what would be three very quiet days of resting and a few walks.  The staff was great, us being only one of two guests in the dining room.  The food was delicious.  Our dinners were three courses and enough to feed four hungry people.  Shamefully we left food on the plate.  Breakfasts were lovely as well.  On our first night, through the dining room window, we saw a Bulgarian fox walking down the street as if he owned it.  He was huge, the size of an average dog.  When he saw us looking at him, he literally stopped and stared back at us for moment, then continued on his way.
We took a long walk down the mountain road on our first day, were out for about two hours.  It was sunny and cold.  Cedar trees cover the area and we passed dozens of huge resort hotels, most of them still closed and awaiting the opening of the season.  

On our second day we opted to get in the car and drive around a bit.  The ski area is huge, but quite compact.  There is a ski village of sorts, more of a local mountain town, and we stopped in at a local cafe and then took a bit of a walk around.  Again, we were one of few folks in the area.  The day was sunny and the mountain views were amazing.  The snowline was near the top and everything else was still green and beautiful.

On our third night several bus loads of twenty-somethings showed up for a weekend holiday.  Two hundred of them to be exact and the place was a lot busier and a LOT LESS QUIET...LOL  We departed the following morning for our drive out of the mountains and on to Plovdiv, our next destination in Bulgaria.

No comments: