3 Dec 2018

Brexit & Your Holiday - Important Information

December 03, 2018
Many people are already booking their travel plans for 2019, and have questions about what might happen after 29 March 2019 when the UK leaves the European Union (EU). While the political situation remains uncertain, ABTA has identified actions travellers may wish to take in advance to help avoid unnecessary future disruption.

The information only covers areas where people can take reasonable action or put plans into place now. Areas where the situation is still unclear are not included, but the information will be updated once clarified.



Passports
Check the date your passport expires. When travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019, the UK government recommends that you have six months left on your passport on the date of your arrival to an EU country.

You should also check when your passport was renewed. If you renewed a 10 year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These extra months over 10 years will not count towards the 6 months that must be remaining. The UK Government has published a website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules.

You can renew your passport online or by going to a Post Office with a Check and Send service. You may wish to renew your passport sooner rather than later, in order to make sure you have it in time for your holiday or travel plans. Full details on renewing your passport can be found here.

European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK registered EHICs will no longer be valid.

ABTA has always advised holidaymakers and business travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.

When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure. Advice on travel insurance can be found here.

Driving licences
As long as you have a full UK driving licence, you don’t currently need an additional licence to drive in the EU. This is likely to change in a no-deal scenario. UK travellers looking to drive in the EU on or after 29 March 2019 may need to apply for the relevant International Driving Permit.

These cost £5.50 and are available directly from the AA, the RAC or the Post Office. The Government is working to extend the network of Post Offices where you can apply for an International Driving Permit, and has plans to roll these out in more branches across the UK from 1 February 2019.

Check carefully which permit is required for each country you intend to drive within, as you may need more than one permit to comply with the law. More information is available here.

Green cards for car insurance
If the UK leaves without a deal, UK citizens driving their vehicle within the EU would be required to obtain and carry a physical Green Card in order for your UK car insurance to be applicable in the EU. These cards would be issued by insurers and you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs. Speak with your insurer for more information on obtaining a Green Card for any trip on or after 29 March 2019.

Taking pets abroad
In the event of a no-deal, pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would change. If you wish to take your pet to the EU on or after 29 March 2019 pet owners would need to discuss preparations for their pet’s travel with an Official Veterinarian at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel. Pet owners should keep an eye out for any further instructions issued by the UK Government. More information is available here.

Data roaming
Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK. If the UK leaves without a deal these rules will no longer apply – however, some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider about the costs of using your phone in the EU.


Frequently asked questions

Will flights still operate?
If a deal is agreed then we will be in a transition period, meaning everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020. Even if we are in a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said that UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU.

Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?
The European Commission announced in November that, even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers can still visit the EU without a visa, providing the same is offered to European citizens visiting the UK.

What happens if I book to travel after 29 March 2019 and my holiday cannot go ahead due to Brexit?
In a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said flights to and from the UK will still be able to operate. In any event, customers who book a package holiday with a UK travel company will be protected under the Package Travel Regulations, meaning they have a right to a full refund if the holiday can no longer be provided.

21 Nov 2018

Borovets Welcomes New Six-Seater Chairlift

November 21, 2018
With Borovets resort in Bulgaria putting the final touches on what is expected to be a busy opening next month, the resort is delighted to announce the completion of its new six-seater high speed lift the "Martinovi Baraki Express".

 
The new lift replaces the old 4-seater on the existing line with new technology, significant increase in capacity and speed. The new lift will be taking up to 3,000 people per hour, over three times what was previously possible with riding time now only taking 3.5 minutes, that's more than two times faster than previously.


Along with better speed and capacity, one of the major advantages of the new Martinovi Baraki Express is the innovative Direct Drive technology. The system offers increased reliability, lowered noise and vibration levels, environmental sustainability and lowered maintenance costs. Unbeatable comfort is another benefit of the new lift. The seats have individual support for the feet, that will increase child safety. The new seats are also very wide with high, comfortable, stylish backrests.


The Martinovi Baraki Express lift is one of the key lifts in Borovets and during the winter season will carry thousands of people every day. The lift connects the learning center in front of the Hotel Rila with the blue ski run “Martinovi baraki 1”, the red runs “Martinovi baraki 2 & 3” and the black runs “Martinovi baraka 4” and “Cherveno zname” as well as the Borosport Snow Park. The lift will also operate for the ever popular night skiing in Borovets.



This investment has cost 12m Bulgarian Levs and is part of the long-term plan of “Borosport” JSC to improve the ski area in Borovets and demonstrates the resort's ambition to develop Bulgarian winter sports to a world class standard. The project is part of the resort’s 5 year strategy that includes the upcoming reconstruction of the gondola lift “Yastrebets” and the technical snow area enlargement to 85% of the ski runs.

Enjoy riding the new lift this winter by securing your Borovets ski holiday today with a £70pp deposit and save!

31 Oct 2018

Top 3 Spooky Attractions In Bulgaria

October 31, 2018
Being so rich in history, it is hardly surprising that Bulgaria is also a hub for hauntings and scary activities. We have put together our top 3 of the spookiest locations in Bulgaria to visit if you're brave enough... Happy Halloween!

Devil's Bridge, Ardino


Devil's Bridge towering shape makes the dark a little unsettling...
 
Constructed between 1515 and 1518, the Devil’s Bridge is the most stunning of the humpbacked bridges that cross the Arda River in Bulgaria. It was built over a demolished Roman bridge and cuts from the steep slopes of the Rhodope Mountains along an ancient road linking the Aegean Sea and the Northern Thracian Valley.


The reason some locals hesitate to cross over at night is rooted in darkness. One story is that the wife of the head builder died while under construction, so her shadow was encased in the structure. Another tale is that the footprint of the devil can be found somewhere on the rocks. While this is all the folklore myth, its towering shape makes the dark a little unsettling.


Devil's Throat Cave, Yagodina


Nothing carried by the river into the Devil's Mouth Cave ever surfaces on the other side...
 
Said to have inspired the tale of Orpheus descending to Hades to find his lover Eurydice, this exquisite geological wonder is undeniably myth-worthy.


The Devil's Throat Cave is a popular tourist attraction in the western Rhodopes of Bulgaria. Enormous and slightly malevolent, the cave descends straight into the depths of the hell, with the river waters plunging 137 ft. into “The Hall of Thunder”. The country's second largest cavern, The Hall of Thunder houses a funnel through which the water flows 500 more feet before it joins the underground river. This underground river presents the most interesting feature of the cave - nothing carried by the river into the Devil's Mouth Cave ever surfaces on the other side.


The walls are carved by men and demons and lead you up and out of the natural entrance into the impressive flora surrounding the diabolic mouth of the cave.


Buzludzha Monument, Buzludzha


At the Buzludzha Monument, it’s hard to shake the sensation that you’re being watched...
 
The peak itself was a battle site between Bulgarians and Turks in 1868. In 1891, a group of socialists led by Dimitar Blagoev met to plan the socialist future of Bulgaria. To celebrate these events, during the height of the Soviet influence, the government decided to erect a monument to commemorate the socialist communism. 


The site was abandoned after the fall of power in 1989 and left open to vandalism. The main entrance was sealed and thus closed to the public. However, there's still a little way to get into the building on the right side. In the Buzludzha Monument, the majority of the artwork was removed or destroyed, but the concrete structure still stands today against the elements.

17 Oct 2018

Bansko Crowned Cheapest Ski Destination In Europe

October 17, 2018
Once again the Eastern European resort of Bansko, Bulgaria has emerged as the cheapest ski destination in Europe, offering consumers the best value for their money this winter. This welcoming news was announced in the recent Post Office Ski Resort Report which compiles data from leading ski resorts around the continent to put together a comprehensive report detailing which destinations provide the best choice available to clients.


The report found Bansko cheapest when it came to a complete ski package including a six-day ski pass and ski/boot hire for one person, together with ski school (five-six half days) and the cost of one lunch on the slopes plus drinks including coffee, Coca-Cola, wine and beer costing just £405.20. Another Balkan Holidays ski destination, third placed Kranjska Gora in Slovenia came in at £451.86 for the same items, over £60 cheaper than fourth placed Vemdalen.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, said: "There is no denying that Bulgaria is a great destination for cash-conscious skiers. Not only are prices in Bansko at least 10 per cent lower than in its closest competitors, but ski essentials cost less than half those in a third of the European resorts surveyed – including top ones in France, Austria and Switzerland.

Bansko is ideal for beginners but also offers challenging red runs for experienced skiers. With growing pressure on the holiday purse, resort costs should be a key factor in deciding where to ski this season. Sterling is currently stronger against currencies for most European ski resorts compared with last year so it is local prices that will make all the difference.

We found big variations in costs across the eurozone so we urge people to do their homework and check the Ski Resort Report prices before booking.
"


No matter what level of ability you are, you can be assured that a fantastic ski holiday and incredible value for money await you in Bansko and Kranjska Gora this winter.

Click here to see the full report.

25 Sep 2018

Could this be THE best ski resort to visit this winter?

September 25, 2018
Ski holidays to Borovets offer great value for money and are a short transfer of just 1.5hours from Sofia airport. The Bulgarian ski resort of Borovets is surrounded by the highest mountains in the Balkans, the Musala (meaning "near God" or "place for prayer") and sits at an altitude of 1320m.



Balkan Holidays offer a range of hotels & apartments within Borovets to suit all budgets including the popular hotels 4* Rila & Rila Studios, 4* Samokov and the 3 & 4* Iglika Palace. These hotels are not only popular for their excellent services and facilities but are also within easy walking distance of the resort centre, making them an ideal base to kick start your holiday from.



Although primarily recommended for beginners and intermediates, the resort of Borovets has three ski areas which cater for all levels of abilities. From the nursery slopes for the beginners to the World Cup runs for the advanced. Beginners can enjoy showing off their newly found skills at the Sitnyakovo ski centre or by wizzing down the newly built Musala pathway. For the intermediate skiers, the resort provides the Yasrebets and Markoudjik areas, perfect for hours and hours of skiing pleasure. The Borosport Ski School has also been hailed in numerous reviews as one of the best schools for ski and snowboard training in Bulgaria.



Borovets is an ideal location for families with children of all ages. With Balkan Holidays, your children can learn to ski from a very early age. From the age of 4, we offer ski kindergarten for children aged 4-7 in the hotels Rila and Samokov. For 6 days, this includes ski packs (skis, sticks and boots), supervision and tuition. For children younger than 4, these two hotels also offer a nursery.


 
Away from the slopes, Borovets is just as popular and well known for its Apres-ski. There are many bars, clubs, restaurants and caf├ęs which come alive once the sun goes down. There is also an opportunity to experience folk dancing shows with traditional Bulgarian music and sample the local cuisine.

Excursions can also be booked with your local Balkan Holidays representative ranging from a visit to the Rila Monastery to a day trip to either the city of Sofia or Plovdiv.

Book your ski holiday to Borovets today and experience the magic of this first class winter resort for yourself this season!