Wednesday, 26 November 2014

5 Brilliant Places To Eat Out In Bansko

As Bulgaria’s number one winter resort, Bansko offers a wide selection of restaurants and bars for you to enjoy during your stay. Finding something special amongst such a huge choice can sometimes be a daunting task, so we’ve put together this short list of what we consider some of the best places to eat out in Bansko and help make choosing where to eat out just a little easier...

The Irish Harp
Cuisine: Irish

Joining the Bansko restaurant and bar scene in 2012, Brian and the crew at the Irish Harp have stormed onto the Bansko pub scene and quickly established the Irish Harp as one of the places to try. Serving up a superb choice of value for money dishes including fine pork steak with mash and fresh salad as well as real Irish beef steaks and stews. All topped off with excellent service and a friendly welcome it's impossible not to be impressed by this TripAdvisor "Certificate Of Excellence 2014" winning restaurant.

Amvrosia Restaurant
Cuisine: International

Often described as "simply amazing" the Amvrosia is the gastronomic beacon of Bansko. With service standards that are amongst the best to be found in Bansko including a welcoming smile, the Amvrosia is the perfect choice if you’ve got a special occasion to celebrate. Find yourself tapping your feet to the live background music and humming a tune as you decide which dish to enjoy from the restaurants mouth-watering menu in the spacious and cosy Amvrosia dining room.

Come Prima Restaurant
Cuisine: Mediterranean

Although a little more expensive than most restaurants in Bansko, it is worth every penny eating at the Come Prima. This fine dining restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine and a 5-star service with Italian flair. Live cooking in the open kitchen creates an amazing experience for every visitor. Your meal will be accompanied by a rich selection of wines from every corner of the world served up in a romantic and cozy ambience.

Steak House Lazur
Cuisine: International

"Don't judge a book by its cover" has never been truer than with the Steak House Lazur, although it doesn't look like much from the outside, inside you will find a warm, cosy and friendly atmosphere that is hard to beat anywhere else in Bansko with friendly staff ready to offer you fast and attentive service. Offering a range of delicious, melt in the mouth dishes including Barbeque, Steaks, Pizzas, Pastas and Mexican, the Steak House Lazur is a must for any holidaymaker to Bansko.

Mehana Momini Dvori
Cuisine: Contemporary

Mehana Momini Dvori opened doors for the first time on 1 May, 1970 . It was the first of its kind in Bansko and the region, and since the very beginning of its existence until today it has always had a power of attraction for true connoisseurs, people of exquisite taste. Serving up fantastic traditional Bulgarian meals (with a twist) in a wonderfully decorated restaurant, the Mehana Momini Dvori will be the cherry on the top of any holidaymakers visit to Bansko. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

When to go? Your Bansko 2014/15 Event Guide

With the new ski season fast approaching, there’s a good chance you’ve already brought down your ski gear from the loft and dusted off your boots ready to hit the slopes, the only problem now is deciding when to go. Besides the obvious snowfall, another important factor to consider when choosing your ski dates is what events may be going on in resort which could further enhance your holiday experience while you are there. With this in mind we have listed the full Bansko ski calendar below to help you choose a time to go skiing that is right for you…

13 December 2014
Bansko Ski Season Opening
This traditional celebration of winter sports annually attracts numerous ski fans, as well as former champions and legends of the white sport. The event always features fun and games for the crowd, plus great prizes and star presence. This year special guests include ski greats Petar Popangelov, Stephan Eberharter and Marc Girardelli!
22-23 December 2014
Ulen Cup, FIS races, 2 x SL
An official FIS calendar race which is also one of the most interesting in Bulgaria.
24-26 December 2014
Christmas Season
The preserved authentic spirit of many Bansko taverns, combined with the wonderful skiing conditions, turn the resort into a favourite spot for Christmas celebrations for many Bulgarians and foreign guests. Special promotions are always in place, plus cultural events and other attractions, so don't forget to book early!
31 December 2014
New Years Eve
New Year's Eve at any of the hotels, bars and nightclubs in Bansko is guaranteed to be a loud, joyful, often unforgettable party! Special music guests, DJs, numerous celebrities turn the resort into a pulsating place of smiles, snow and plenty of music. Here the warning is also in place – book well in advance.
18 January 2015
World Snow Day
World Snow Day, the wonderful FIS initiative, launched in 2009, is already a regular annual event in Bansko and becomes a true celebration of snow and winter sports, targeted mostly toward the kids and young skiers. The ceremony usually has a special guest – a ski legend and in the past here were names as Marc Girardelli and Alberto Tomba.
26-27 January 2015
KAPPY Cup, FIS races with GS, SL races
A popular, traditional race from the local calendar.
28 January 2015
“Bobby Mavrikov” Cup I
FIS children’s races.
18 February 2015
“Bobby Mavrikov” Cup II
FIS children’s races plus two more local challenges for the young ski enthusiasts.
28 Feb –1 March 2015
Bansko Ski World Cup 2015
Already a traditional and successful host of World Cup events, Bansko will welcome the best skiers on the planet for a fourth time. This time here will embark the ladies, who will compete in Super G and Super Combined in front of a packed grand stand with noisy and colourful fans.  Will Tina Weirather, Mikaela Shiffrin, Lara Gut or the Olympic champion Ana Fenniger grab the trophy this time in Bansko?
4-5 March 2015
National Alpine Ski Races , SC, SG, GS
The biggest event for all Bulgarian alpine skiers.
19-22 March 2015
Bankers’ Ski Race
They might be good in finance matters, but don't underestimate them on the ski run! The bankers' race also has its tradition, fans and... Always motivated and ambitious competitors!
28 March 2015
Bansko Closing Party
One more traditional show and fun party, which bids an official goodbye to winter and opens the doors to numerous spring and summer attractions in a year-round resort like Bansko. Special musician guests and prizes included.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Doctor’s Orders…Take a Holiday!

Research conducted last year by leading experts at a Finnish University and presented to the congress at ITB Berlin 2013 proved that those who take holidays are not only healthier but also happier.

Doctor Jessica de Blum conducted the research to determine to what extent holidays have a positive impact on people’s health and well-being. Doctor de Blum discovered in her conclusions that not only do holidays have a beneficial impact on our health, but they also make us happier. According to the results, related to the experiences and personal happiness of groups monitored over a period of time, those who spent their money on concerts, family holidays and short breaks seemed to live their daily lives significantly more happily than those who preoccupied themselves with jewels, clothes and expensive gadgets.

The holiday itself which differs from the daily routine was also found to have a positive impact on health. Scientists and doctors involved in the Framingham Heart Study, discovered that people who tend to postpone their holidays are exposed to a higher risk of heart disease and could possibly die earlier than those who make sure that they take short, regular breaks. Short break holidays were shown to have a strong impact on our health with Doctor de Blum comparing the condition to the effect of our sleep. 
Doctor de Blum said “It’s not possible to postpone our need for some good sleep. Likewise, a long summer holiday cannot compensate for a year, full of work and stress. To remain healthy, we should regularly grant ourselves holiday leave.

Whether the holiday is a relaxing and happy one will also depend on a number of other factors. According to Doctor De Blum, 17% of people don’t feel completely happy during their holiday because of things such as stress or illness. The research also showed that some work during the holiday does not have a negative impact on the overall experience as long as work is a result of holidaymaker’s own choice.

The services and product offered by Balkan Holidays have been put in place to ensure a more satisfactory experience for holidaymakers with the positive aspects of a summer holiday and ways to reduce stress levels both carefully considered when assembling our summer programme. Secure your summer 2015 holiday to Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia or Montenegro today with the leading UK tour operator to Eastern Europe and enjoy a relaxing and memorable summer holiday.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Welcome to the Spookiest Building in Bulgaria...

The House of the Bulgarian Communist Party is the largest monument in Bulgaria and is without doubt one of the most bizarre abandoned buildings in the world. This huge concrete saucer is just one of many forgotten communist monuments scattered across Bulgaria and is located on the Buzludzha peak of the Central Balkan Mountains.

Erected for the 90th anniversary of the Buzludzha congress, where the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Workers' Party, the predecessor of the Bulgarian Communist Party, was founded, it took military construction units almost seven years to complete the monument. Altogether more than 6000 workers and experts took part in the construction work while more than 20 leading Bulgarian artists, worked for 18 months in order to complete the interior decoration. Verses of "The International" and "The Worker's March" were inscribed on the entrance of the memorial. The staircases were decorated with red cathedral glass. In the 15m high main hall of the memorial, a large fresco housed portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov.

The dome of the structure was covered with 30 tons of copper. Two 12m stars of ruby glass were built in to the top of the 70m high pylon of the monument that symbolizes a waving communist flag. These Buzludzha stars were made in the Soviet Union and were three times bigger than those found in the Kremlin. The monument was inaugurated by Todor Zhivkov himself where in a hole left deliberately in the building's walls, he laid a glass bottle that contained a message to the future generations, explaining the historical significance of Buzludzha. On 10th of November 1989 Zhivkov stepped down after 35 years in power. Immediately afterwards, Bulgaria's Politburo ordered the removal of his portrait from the memorial. In 1991 the monument, which still belonged to the ex-communist party, was ceded to the state and was abandoned, looted and left to self-destruct.

More than 150 communist monuments appeared across Bulgaria during the communist years, overlooking mountain lakes or rising in the hearts of cities. They stood in forests, cemeteries, parks or on the coastlines. Rich in symbolism, these structures were designed to represent ancient heroes, or to glorify the icons of Soviet ideology. One feature they all seem to share however, is their stark, brutal style and nowadays, many of Bulgaria’s communist ghosts have finally been put to rest. Of all the remains of this dead regime however, few present quite such a striking image as the spooky Mount Buzludzha monument.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Bansko – Where The World Cup Feels At Home

Bansko, often referred to as the “Winter capital of the Balkans”, has already hosted many starts in different ski disciplines from the FIS World Cup calendar and has proven itself to be a reliable, competent host, capable of turning each event into a real winter sports celebration.

Dedicated support and sponsorship from the Municipality of Bansko and the Bulgarian Ministry of Physical Education and Sport are also amongst the reasons why every FIS Ski World Cup event in Bansko inevitably turns into a resounding success.

The next big competition is right around the corner – The FIS World Cup Ladies’ Super G and combination running from the 28th February to 1st March 2015.

The resort has also already been included in the World Cup 2015/2016 FIS calendar, when it will host slalom and super giant slalom for women during the 20-22 February 2016. The resort also holds a high chance to host starts for men, during the season 2016/2017. 

With modern lifts serving the ski area which can be completely covered by snowmaking and caters excellently for all levels of skier and rider, it’s easy to see why Bansko is the most popular resort and choice for FIS World Cup organisers.

Although rich in history, Bansko is one of the fasting developing resorts of the moment and is constantly improving with 100’s of bars and restaurants making Bansko also one of Bulgaria’s liveliest resorts when it comes to apr├Ęs ski.

Join the famous names of skiing this winter by experiencing the unique and enchanting feeling that only a ski holiday to Bansko can give you.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

5 Great Places To Eat Out In Sunny Beach

As Bulgaria’s number one summer resort, Sunny Beach offers a wide selection of restaurants and bars for you to enjoy during your stay. Finding something special amongst such a huge choice can sometimes be a daunting task, so we’ve put together this short list of what we consider some of the best places to eat out in Sunny Beach and help make choosing where to eat out just a little easier…

Price range: £5 - £10
Cuisines: Mexican

Mamacitas is the one and only authentic Mexican restaurant in Sunny Beach with many considering the restaurant a “not to be missed” during any stay in Sunny Beach, and we agree! Renowned for its pleasant atmosphere and excellent live entertainment, Mamacitas offers a wide choice of the best Mexican recipes including Envisage nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, taco de pollo and chilli con carne. Mamacitas is located at the heart of Flower Street, next to the hotel Kuban and McDonalds.

La Bamba Restaurant and Beach bar
Price range: £5 - £10
Cuisines: Barbecue, Pizza, Seafood

Situated on the promenade itself, left of the central beach entrance, is the equisite La Bamba Restaurant and Beach bar offering amazing views of the Sea, casual elegance, soft colours and an intimate ambience. Here you will find delicious cocktails and fine global cuisine cooked to perfection with an Argentinean touch. Diners can choose from a mouth-watering selection of seafood and South American specialities, all made from the finest quality ingredients as well as the famous Argentinean BBQ which is the number one reason why the La Bamba Restaurant and Beach bar is one of our firm favourites.

Djanny Bar and Restaurant
Price range: £3 - £7
Cuisines: European

Situated in Flower Street just a short distance from the hotel Kuban, Djanny’s is a favourite amongst both locals and Sunny Beach visitors alike looking to dine out on a budget. With a huge summer garden and finger licking good steaks, kebabs, barbeque specialties, huge salads and a assorted menu, it will no doubt become one of your favourite restaurants in Sunny Beach.

Forest Hut
Price range: £5 - £10
Cuisines: Traditional Bulgarian

When it comes to traditionally cooked Bulgarian cuisine, there are very few places that can match the menu found at the Forest Hut in Sunny Beach. Serving Bulgarian dishes cooked with only the freshest ingredients, the Forest Hut’s friendly staff will take your dining experience to another level with their fast, efficient service with a smile. Offering great value for money, Forest Hut is one restaurant you don’t want to miss on your next holiday to Sunny Beach!

Stella de Mare
Price range: £7 - £15
Cuisines: Italian

Nestled right on the beach, there really is no better way to watch the sun go down in Sunny Beach than by enjoying beautifully cooked Italian dishes, served with a quality glass of wine, on the restaurant’s sea facing terrace. With a comprehensive choice of Pizzas, Pastas and Seafood, the romantic setting of Stella de Mare coupled with its excellent service is a superb choice for any couples and families looking for a special night out together in resort.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Stay Safe On The Slopes This Winter

Judging by the way most Bulgarians are known to drive, you may be forgiven for being a little cautious before hitting the slopes for the very first time in Bulgaria. However whilst it is true to say that general disregard for the rules is commonly experienced on the roads, skiing in Bulgaria is nowhere near as hazardous or nerve-racking as the driving.

Evidence over the years has shown that is not necessarily the locals, most of whom are good skiers even if a little reckless, that cause the biggest danger on the slopes. It is commonly known that every skier and snowboarder should follow the International (FIS) code of conduct for skiers; however it seems that very few people are aware of these guidelines. Try skiing in America where they have patrols, who reinforce the rules and will even throw you off a run if they think you are not good enough to be skiing on it.

In Europe we rely on the understanding that these guidelines are there for the safety of all skiers, including you. Some of the simplest rules like "not skiing alone" or "not skiing off-piste" are ignored time and time again putting the offenders own life in danger. All skiers should ski within their ability and with full awareness of those downhill from them, in no way endangering them or restricting their manoeuvres.

As with most of the popular ski resorts, a general lack of courtesy in the lift queues can be found. You will find that some eager skiers will push and barge their way to the front while you wait patiently for your turn. While a few sharp words can usually bring some of these 'bargers' into line, it’s best not to get too annoyed about it, you'll get to the lift eventually.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest hazards on the slopes, is people skiing beyond their abilities. Why so many people feel brave and silly enough to tackle a black run after just a few days of lessons is beyond most people’s understanding, however occasionally some skiers may not have actually realised they were on a black run because they did not see the signs. Unfortunately though, far too many young skiers believe that once they’ve mastered the snow-plough turn they are ready for everything! Be aware of the signs around you and if you do see anyone struggling please let your instructor know.

Both ski guides and ski instructors are plentiful in Bulgaria and it is always advisable to have them show you the best runs for your ability on the first day, and perhaps a few tips on style and technique from them could prove extremely helpful. Some skiers have commented in the past "I had a week of lessons last year; I don't need a ski instructor." This is not the wisest way of thinking and we will always advise you seek the guidance of an instructor first before heading off on your own.

Finally, ensure you are fully prepared for the slopes before heading off for the day by always being properly dressed (jeans are not OK), wear layers, gloves, sunglasses and a hat. It’s also very important you do not forget the sun protection. In previous seasons, we have seen more casualties from sunburn and snow blindness than actual skiing accidents, and nearly all deaths in ski resorts are related to excessive alcohol consumption and not reckless skiing so please do take care when off the slopes as well. If you do happen to run into trouble while off the slopes, be sure to contact your Balkan Holidays representative immediately who will assist you as best they can.

Here’s to a safe skiing season in Bulgaria and plenty of snow!