Giant Christmas trees loomed as far as the eye could see below, as I marvelled
at the extraordinary engineering it must take to make a gondola a reality.
After the thirty-minute ride to the top we were immediately greeted by a
stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside which was beautiful beyond words.
So pristine and so serene.
Well, serene if you can discount the hundreds if not
thousands of other skiers and snowboarders that were in the vicinity,
lapping both the sun and the snow up in equal measures.
Remember: the application of sun-lotion in high altitudes is a must.
Even at this height there were easy-going nursery slopes to play about on.
If you fall on these, the only thing that usually hurts is one's pride.
Head down a Black Run (suitable for experts only), and you could literally
return home 'broken' to the core.
So, Day Three and Four were spent perfecting our turns and 'snowplough' stops
on a few different slopes.
Ironically, it's the lifts back up to the top that can sometimes prove
to be the most persistent pain.
The drag-lifts (aka button-lifts) are designed in a way that you shove
a pole with a small seat between your legs which then allows you to
be dragged up to the top of the mountain, but if your skis aren't
kept parallel and managed to get crossed, then you'll no doubt soon know about it.
You'll probably fall off in a thoroughly spectacular fashion, as I know from
bitter personal experience when I fell off one some 200-yards from the summit.
Once you're off the lift, you're off it.
You either head back down to join
the back of the queue, or walk onwards and upwards - which can be a
soul-destroying act given the fact that ski boots aren't conducive to
Every morning we had to be up early (if you can call actually getting out of bed at
7.45am early, even if I didn't actually have a bed to get out of...
I simply picked myself off the floor), so big-nights-out were off the
agenda in favour of a few beers over dinner.
The staple Bulgarian beers seem to be Kamenitza and Zagorka, both of which
taste like Amstel, if you happen to be familiar with such a drink.
By 10pm we were all usually exhausted, despite the temptation that the
Borovets pubs and clubs did wield. We realised that hangovers would just
make the next day's skiing a sickening nightmare, and none of us was
thrilled by the prospect of potentially throwing up in front of our group as a result.
When it all comes down, we do have standards.
Day Five heralded something else for us to look forward to as well as the day's skiing.
We'd booked some time on ski-doos after our session, for an hour between 5pm and 6pm,
just as darkness was beginning to invade the forest through which we were led.
We'd been reliably informed that ski-doos are like motorbikes, and somebody else
had said that you actually require a motorbike license to use one. But you don't.
I've never been on a motorbike.
Places to Visit - Walking The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path - Part One By Steve Rudd
Get out of the city and into the country, sooner rather than later.
A great many people genuinely have no idea how scenically diverse and breathtaking some
swathes of countryside are in the UK, and such a fact is a great shame,
because while they might be spending all their spare time in dirty and cramped
urban environments, there's often fresh air and inspirational
Places to Visit - Thailand By Rich Mills
Expressing the experience of being here in Thailand is difficult to put into words.
The sensorial experience is so mind blowing that you begin to feel overloaded.
However it is the smallest of things that grab your attention, and stick in the mind.
We are waiting for a taxi to take us down to the ferry, so that we can go
over to the small island of Koh Maak.
This is where we will get the full
Places to Visit - Ostend Weekend By John Allbones
I needed a break. Well, you just do sometimes don't you?
The constant day to day drudge of the nine to five erodes your spirit until a
change of scene is all you crave. Nothing fancy, just a few days will do.
Preferably abroad, it just seems more of a break when you're on foreign soil.
I managed to grab a late deal on a long weekend in Ostend.
So desperate was I to get away,
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part 2 by Steve Rudd
One of the best ways of exploring the huge island of Crete is by car: in your own time, at
your own speed and in your own style.
Without the stress and cost of embarking on guided tours.
Head into any of Crete's major cities such as
Hania, Rethymno or Iraklion and you'll be bombarded by rent-a-vehicle establishments, all
of which are fiercely trying to
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part One by Steve Rudd
While I might be a massive fan of Michael Palin's epic travels, and while I do aspire to
follow him in many of his footsteps, up until now I've only ever been abroad three times.
The first time was in 2000, when I was lucky enough to accompany a work colleague for a month in Nepal.
The second time was for a holiday with some friends, last year, to the gorgeous
Places to Visit - Greetings From Amsterdam Part One By Steve Rudd
As the blazing red sunset slowly but surely cast Hull into shadow, the P&O ferry was ready,
and so were the passengers.
I'd never travelled by ferry across to the Netherlands, and thus was naturally overwhelmed
by the sheer scale of the ferry and the wealth of entertainment on board, what with
two cinemas, a kids play area, a restaurant and casino
Places to Visit - On The Pennine Way Part Two By Steve Rudd
After surviving the nightmare of Kinder Scout's mountainous bulk and getting back on track,
the next 'hill' of worth en-route along the Pennine Way is called Bleaklow.
Just like its predecessor, it could quite potentially be the death of you if
you're not careful in negotiating the peaty wastes as you go up and over and
onwards towards the tiny hamlet of
Places to Visit - On The Pennine Way Part One By Steve Rudd
Why on earth would anyone want to go walking on their week off work? That's the question that most people would routinely ask anybody who would do exactly that, as though walking - and long distance walking in particular - is something simply not to be indulged in.
I always argue that there is very little more
Places to Visit - Down South By Steve Rudd
Brighton has always been one hell of a popular place, but until one freezing cold
day in February of this year I had never before spent anytime whatsoever there
in my twenty-four years in this forever-overwhelming world.
I thought it was high time I paid the place a visit, and seeing as though
I was down in London anyway - and a return National Express coach ticket
Places to Visit - Up North By Steve Rudd
So, you look forward all week - at work - to your one or two days off... right? And what do you do on such days off? Housework, no doubt. Do you ever think you should do something more worthwhile with your sacred time off? Like travel, for instance.
County Durham isn't that far a trip from East Yorkshire, and if
Places to Visit - To Hampstead Heath and Beyond ... By Steve Rudd
So, you live in London and wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the inner city scene.
Where can you turn to? Why, the plethora of beautiful parks of course - and there are few
places nicer than Hampstead Heath, in North London, for some quality peace and quiet.
Places to Visit - On the Moors By Steve Rudd
So much for me confiding to people that I thought we were collectively out of the woods
and that Spring was just around the corner.
Clearly I spoke too soon and paid for such a misdemeanour yesterday
(13th February 2005) when I ventured up onto the
Places to Visit - Dinostar - THIS IS HISTORY By Daniel Laney
In the last two months Hull has welcomed a new addition to its ever growing tourist trade.
Dinostar, which opened on Easter Sunday of this year, should hopefully
be welcomed with open arms by families and budding historians alike and with it
being a quick
Places to Visit - Our Samhain Visit to Avebury by Janie Spencer
Before we start on our journey, let me give you a bit of background on Avebury.
It is a beautiful stone circle, so big that you can in fact fit a village inside it, as you can see from this overhead map!
As well as being a tourist spot, it is both a home and a gathering
Places to Visit - Burton Constable Hall.
Burton Constable Hall has collected several ghosts and stories from its 450 year history, the most frequently seen ghost being that of Nurse Dowdall, a much loved nanny to the children of the household during the 19th century.
Places to Visit - A day by the beach - Bridlington Harbour.
This Sunday I was spoilt for choice - either to visit a Buddhist centre in "Kilham"
or attend a strawberries and cream party. Opted to go and find Zen so duly arrived
with my offspring (Katie and Oliver) at my friend's house (Cilla) punctually (for
a change) at 11.30.