Thursday, 20 March 2014

On the Slopes of Bansko

A couple months ago my housemate suggested that we get our first taste of snow by joining a skiing/music festival in the resort town of Bansko, Bulgaria. 
Good thing we chose to go because England has been severely lacking in bringing forth a proper Northern Hemisphere winter.

The festival we did was called Horizon Festival. The festival is in it's second year. For around £200each we got a self-catered, one bedroom apartment. The price also included our ski pass and festival wristband.

The first night, after registration, the four of us Aussies found a great little taverna called Salt and Pepper. Between the four us we ordered a plate of cheese, a 'bansko banquet' - 3 skewers of meat and veg, and a plate of wedges, with a glass of wine/beer each for the low price of 100Lev - works out to be around £13 each - or $24 AUD.

As a first time skier I was a wee bit apprehensive about hitting the slopes, but we booked a lesson to learn the basics.

Getting our moves on.

Our ski instructor taught us how to walk, move up hills sideways - think crab walk - snow plow and how to turn left and right.

The snow plow - or 'pizza' as I called it - was very hard to get a handle on and I definitely needed about a twenty metre radius so I don't crash into anyone.

The days were full of skiing, and every night the festival put on acts at one of their many venues. The venues ranged from standard clubs to outside stages on the slopes of the mountain. There were also a few discounts and specials on for the guests of the festival. 50% off drinks at one bar, another had free drinks for females before 12 and unlimited spirits with mixers for 10Lev (£5, $7AUD) another night.

The second and third day of our 7 day trip we had some fresh snow fall. It made skiing a bit more heavy but it turned the town of Bansko and the mountain into a beautiful snow covered oasis. 

Unfortunately, the trip wasn't all smiles. 

On the third day the four of us decided to ski down the mountain to the bottom - after much reassurance from other skiers and instructors that beginners who can conquer the bunny slope can conquer the ski road. 

I was minding my own business, skiing down the road - okay, I was going at speed screaming 'snow plow' to myself, right before I crashed into Nico, who was waiting on a bridge for me. One leg went one way, and the other leg went the other. 

I had to be rescued from the side of the mountain by the Bulgarian Red Cross mountain ski-doo. Luckily, rescue insurance is included in your lift pass. 

We drove on down to the medical centre at the base of the gondola and I had xrays taken of my knee.

Turns out I have a fractured tibia. The doc supplied me with a knee brace and some crutches so I could still get around. 

 On the plus side, my insurance company set me up with a British Airways flight home, 3 seats to myself. 


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Brighton Up Your Day

On Tuesday, a friend and I headed down to the English coastal town of Brighton.
Brighton has got to be one of the most visited tourist beach destinations in the Summer - luckily we went at the beginning of March so it wasn't all that busy. 

The seaside resort town became more popular during the 1700s as some bloke decided to push the idea of drinking and bathing in seawater as a general remedy to illness. 

King George IV liked this idea so much he built a royal residence in Brighton - the Royal Pavilion.  Unfortunately i didn't have time to check out George's digs, although it is constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style that is popular in India. Bit of a contrast to the traditional English buildings Brighton sports!

One attraction we did get down to is Brighton Pier.

We headed down around dusk - an ideal time to snap some great sunset shots!

The pier has an amusement arcade full of different games - car racing, Dance, Dance Revolution, 'shoot the bad guys' - as well as 2p games. 
The 2p game was something new to me as we don't have anything like it in Australia.
 You put your 2 pence in a slot up the top and it slides down and tries to push the other coins out of the way. if you're lucky the coins fall over the edge and you get an influx of 2p coins to continue playing!

No arcade visit is complete without trying some of the rides. Here are the two I got on:

After our Pier fun, we checked out another side of Brighton.

Kelly's Brighton Murder and Mayhem Tour was all about the murders and mysteries of Brighton's dark past.
There was even a possible link between a Brighton man and Jack the Ripper! Kelly was very enthusiastic about the subject and was great to talk to. 

It's £8 per person and the walk goes for around 2 hours.

A train from London Bridge or London Victoria stations will take anywhere from 1 hour to 90 minutes, and will set you back around £16.

Or you can do what I did and invest in a personal chaffeur (make friends with locals with cars). Parking in Brighton can get quite expensive - 3 quid for 1 hour on the foreshore or £10 for a 24 hour parking permit from a hotel if you're staying down. 

It was a lovely day out with much to see and enjoy.