Ski Season in Bansko
Bansko, the largest and newest ski resort in Bulgaria has something to offer everyone. A 16km blue run and an English-speaking ski school attract beginners and intermediates whilst experts amuse themselves on the relatively untracked off-piste runs that the Pirin Mountains have to offer. Improvers can also find easy off-piste close to the slopes.
The locals are improving their park and pipe building skills and they have mastered the technique of building snow cones – huge vertical structures of snow, unique to Bansko.
The Bunderitsa couloirs are excellent for powder and range from wide and fairly easy to steep and narrow with rock drops, so it is advisable to get some advice or a guide before your first run. For the more adventurous, a pair of crampons can help you reach some seriously steep terrain, whilst some more extreme off-piste can be found in the small neighbouring resort of Dobrinishte, where a bargain priced ski-doo can be hired to get you to and from your required run, if you don’t fncy the hike.
For the non-skiers, the UNESCO protected old town of Bansko is nothing like the usual purpose built resort – winding cobbled streets and walled courtyards make fantastic holiday photos. Other activities on offer range from ski-dooing, ice-skating, bowling, horse riding, paint balling, sledging and paragliding.
The nightlife in Bansko is varied. Traditional mehanas (taverns) usually entertain with local musicians wandering between tables until the dancing starts and they are pushed to one side. Many of the new apartments in town have new ‘trendy’ bars on their ground floors; others are an excellent choice for relaxing with a glass of scotch or a rum and hot chocolate. The nightclubs have plenty of dark, smoky corners to hide in and cheerfully encourage dancing on the tabletops, and usually have different music or live bands playing every night.
Initially it can seem difficult to find work in Bansko, however, once the season begins English speaking workers, who are familiar with Western standards become very popular. It is worth bearing in mind that the national Bulgarian wage is very low, so well paying jobs are few and far between unless you are skilled at property sales. The low cost of living however, means that a few Bulgarian Leva go a long way and most seasonaires are here for the snow rather than for the money!
A number of independent English companies have recently opened in Bansko ranging from chalets to estate agents to property management – these are probably your best bet for initial advice and help with finding work in Bansko. The Ulen ski school in Bansko is always looking for English-speaking ski instructors, so if you have your qualifications it could be worth contacting them. The bars, restaurants and nightclubs are numerous but at present it is fairly unusual to see non-Bulgarian staff as the resort is only just starting to appear on the seasonaires’ radar.
The Bulgarian attitude to work is relatively laid back, so if you are relying on a colleague to get something done you do need to be patient. On the plus side you won’t get stressed out, and if you can provide a western standard of service you will rake in the tips!
Every year the number of non-Bulgarian seasonaires in Bansko grows, but it is worth learning some basic vocabulary and getting to know the locals. A little effort goes a long way and can help you to get a discount in your favourite bars.