Borovets’ summer face
Borovets’ summer faceBOROVETS is home to the first and most famous Bulgarian mountain resorts. Only 73km, and less than 50 minutes away from Sofia, the village sits at an altitude of 1350 metres at the base of Mt Moussala (2925m), the highest peak on the Balkan peninsula. Established at the end of the 19th century as a hunting village for the Bulgarian kings, Borovets is now renowned for skiing and winter sports. However, in the summer the Rila Mountain village transforms from a high-velocity, action-packed winter holiday location into a quiet, peaceful summer holiday location. The name Rila descends from the Slavic word “rula” which means “full of water”. The mountains are filled with more than 200 lakes and surrounded by wild mountainous terrain containing more than 2000 different species of flora. Local hotel and restaurant owner Ivan, a 26-year veteran of Borovets, said that he encourages nature-loving holidaymakers who are looking for clean and fresh air, long walks and a peaceful alternative to a Black Sea vacation. “Borovets in the summer is a totally different place to the winter. We get a lot of pensioners or couples who come to appreciate the beauty and the Bulgarian culture. Quite different to the young, back-packing, hard-drinking British tourists during the winter.” In true Bulgarian style, my colleague and I were invited to sit down and sample some of Ivan’s homemade drink of choice. A fresh carafe of Rakia containing 14 herbs and spices (three more than the Kentucky Colonel’s – it had to be good) was brought to the table, along with a quick shot of advice, “those who drink alone, drink twice”, and in turn dismissing the foreign culture of some winter visitors, explaining drinking is about the experience and not about how fast huge quantities can be consumed. Borovets is an experience of beauty, nature and Old Bulgarian culture. More than half of the village’s numerous restaurants are closed in the summer, but do not despair there is still plenty to choose from to sample some local culinary delights. It’s worth taking a short reconnaissance walk around the streets before sitting down in one of the more high- profile restaurants. The choices are plenty and most offer time-honoured delights from salads to lamb on the spit. If the latter makes your mouth water, just make sure you ask for it directly off the spit or else you might not get what you expected. Taking a walk on the Rila Mountain is considered the number one summer activity. The signature hiking route to Chernata Skala, commonly known as Black Rock, takes visitors through century-old pine forests, passing flower-covered green meadows and across small picturesque streams. After the leisurely two-hour trek, you will find there are plenty of places to picnic while admiring the wonderful view. If the four-hour walk sounds like a bit much then adventurers can go on horseback or by horse drawn carriage. The hiking enthusiast can find a wide range of trails from easy to difficult and all generally well sign posted. Some of the more famous walks are to Mt. Moussala – six hours, and from the upper station of the Gondola – three hours, to Sitnyakovo Palace – 1.5 hours, to Chakur Voyvoda Chalet – 2.5 hours, to Saragyol Palace – three hours, to the Maritsa Chalet – 4.5 hours, to the Zavrachitsa Chalet – six hours. Gondola* and chair lift will take you up for a cost of seven leva one way or 13 leva return. Borovets at this time of year doesn’t cater for the extreme sports tourist just yet, but with some imagination and a mountain bike, there is plenty of challenging terrain to satisfy. Or if you are feeling a little more physical, the Alpine & Mountaineering School is a close 40-minute drive, located in the Maljovitsa Ridge of the Rila Mountains. It is fully equipped, including an indoor artificial climbing wall. The instructors are expert climbers and most of them are lecturers at the National Sports Academy. But all that said Borovetz in the summer is all about relaxation and taking time out to enjoy a little slice of nature’s paradise. How to get there By bus: Every 30 minutes, a bus/minibus departs for Samokov from the South Bus Station (Avtogara Yug). Approximately an hour later the bus arrives at Samоkov Bus Station where a shuttle van leaves for Borovets every 15 minutes. In Borovets, the van stops in front of Hotel Samokov. For the return journey the shuttle van departs from in front of Hotel Ela. By car: If you choose to travel by car you have to take the following route: Sofia – Gorublyane – Pancharevo – Samokov – Borovets. The resort offers ample parking with the largest guarded car park situated by the entrance to the resort. The Rila and Samokov hotels also provide 24-hour guarded parking facilities.
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