The new ski season in Borovets (29 December 2001)
The new ski season in Borovets (29 December 2001)Saturday 29 December 2002. Good snow cover in Borovets. The sun is shining. It's a perfect day for skiing at the resort. I am approaching Borovets, planning to see how the new season is going and of course to take new pictures for all visitors of BulgariaSki.com It seems that today the resorts is extremely busy, although. A police patrol is stopping all cars of local skiers going to the resort. Only those with reservation for the hotels are allowed to enter. The other people are asked to leave their vehicles at the nearby parking lot and go to the lift stations walking. It's very rare, but this happens sometimes in Borovets, although the resort has enough parking spaces where skiers or snowboarders can leave their cars at hourly charge of around 1 leva (0,50 $). One of the good ones is the parking lot behind Rila hotel where the hourly charge is 0.60 leva (0.30 $). Reaching Rila hotel, where the centre of the resort is, I notice that it's kind of skiing holiday today. As I said, sun is shining, almost no clouds, temperature is -1?C, skiing conditions have been quite good over the last week and it's the same today. In front of Rila it's full of new cafes, take-aways, pubs and small restaurants with benches outside. Tired skiers are resting on tables and chairs put directly on the snow, eating kebabs (think this is the most famous fast food here at the price of 4 leva (2 $) for 1) or drinking tea. It's full of skiers, snowboarders, parents with kids and dogs, small horses (ponies), ski-doos (here they are expensive 50 leva for half hour). Busy small shops are everywhere, offering mostly skiers clothing (sometimes fake) and any gear one might need on the slopes. On the nursery slope instructors are teaching the beginners who will soon take the 100 m long nursery lift to ski for first time. the more advanced are getting on the triple lift going higher in the mountain. This year Borovets has more new shops, small restaurants, bars. And especially currency exchange offices... They are on every corner. Everyone promising the 'best rate' and 'no commission'. Many foreign skiers are worried where and how they can exchange their money for the local currency leva. Well they should not be worried at all. This industry is now very well developed in Borovets. Looking at the rates of exchange (they are very good) I understand that the competition is big, so the rates are competitive. For example I see that they give 3.12 leva for 1 GB Pound. But this morning in Sofia the highest rate was only 3.05! So, all British skiers, don't bring dollars, bring pounds here. I would recommend you just look for the sign with big letters "NO COMMISSION". Then you can compare between the rates of the different exchange offices to find the best one. The busy shopping street in front of Rila hotel is full of small shops for everything - ski gear, cigarettes, food, alcohol, souvenirs, cheap CD's (well the CDs are not that cheap anymore, cost 6 $ each). Waiters from the restaurants around stay on the street and invite people to go inside and be their guests. Later I found some small supermarkets (in the Rila shopping centre) where one can buy any food or drinks on very reasonable price. The shops for skiing and snowboarding gear sell anything from the famous brands (sometimes fake), but in general the prices are higher than those in the capital Sofia. But, I know that the prices in Borovets are lower than those in the countries of Western Europe, so many skiers find it better to buy their gear from Borovets. Last years it is getting more and more difficult for the sellers of cheap (pirate) CD's. Few year sago they were everywhere on the street, but now the police is chasing them, and the penalty is big. However, these shops still offer them 'under the desk'. The price of the CD's is 6 $ for one, or you can buy 5 and get 1 free. Further down I reach the Buzz Bar (now called the London Buzz Bar), which is the favourite place for the British skiers. They now promote watching of live football matches from the English premier league on Sky digital. On the street I meet 3 English guys who I know from before. They say that liked the Buzz Bar, but mostly preferred the White Magic Bar (it's on the same street), owned by famous Bulgarian skier from the past. They liked it there because of the good prices and free drinks. I promise to go there next time. The same guys are staying at Rila hotel studios, so I ask them how they find it. They say that studios are good because they are quite big, have balcony and are very warm (even more than needed). They also liked the food in the hotel. They don't like that the swimming pool is not free to the guests of the hotel, and those who want to swim are asked to pay 12 leva (4 GB Pounds). Hopefully next year this pool will be free to those staying in the hotel, like Samokov hotel pool is. I ask them what they mostly like of Borovets and they say that they like the reasonable prices and the fact that most of the hotels, shops, lifts, ski runs, bars, restaurants and other elements of the resort infrastructure are concentrated one area, so there is no need to use transport inside the resort. So if I have to summarise my impressions of the new season in Borovets, I would say that today this resort is a good example of what the market economy does for the consumers. Good service and reasonable prices.
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