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…

Mamacitas
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!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Balkan Holidays Launches Summer 2015 2nd Edition Brochure

New with the second edition of our Summer 2015 brochure - 21 new hotels and apartments in Bulgaria, Croatia and Montenegro, plus three new seven-day Croatian Island Hopping Tours.


Our NEW Summer 2015 2nd Edition brochure is packed with great savings and offers including:

- Package prices from £259pp.
- Special Low Deposit £49pp (for a limited time only)
- FREE child places, child prices from £99.
- FREE child insurance.
- Early Bookings Discounts - up to £487 per couple.
- Special Offers - save up to £276 per couple.
- Over 60 All Inclusive Properties.
- 5% Loyalty Discount (for a limited time only)
- 20kg free luggage on all charter flights - for Premier Hotels 30kg.
- Zero Single supplements.
- Fantastic Group Discounts.

 


Balkan Holidays are delighted to announce a selection of new flights for Croatia Summer 2015 package holidays, giving you more choice and flexibility...

- Edinburgh to Split (Sundays)
- Birmingham to Pula (Tuesdays & Saturdays)
- Bristol to Pula (Saturdays)
- Edinburgh to Pula (Saturdays)
- Leeds Bradford to Pula (Sundays)
- Manchester to Pula (Thursdays & Sundays)
- London Gatwick to Pula (Tuesdays & Saturdays)

 


We have also added 21 more properties in the countries of Bulgaria, Croatia & Montenengro...

Bulgaria:

Golden Sands

St Konstantin
Sozopol
St Vlas
Sunny Beach
Croatia:
Montenegro:

Petrovac


Also new for 2015, is our exclusive dine around concept in Baska Voda, Central Dalmatia. Guests booking Half Board (HB) at the 4* Hotel Horizont, which features a stunning spa and is set 50 metres from the beach; can upgrade to enjoy different restaurants and meal times.

And finally.... we have added three stunning new Island hopping tours of Croatia departing from Dubrovnik and Split.


For more information on our range of Summer 2015 holidays request our brochure, search and book online on our website: www.balkanholidays.co.uk or call our friendly reservations team on 0845 130 1114/0207 543 5555.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Get Skiing In Slovenia This Winter

If you don't think of Slovenia as a skiing destination now, you will by the end of this article. The country is home to three fantastic resorts - Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Kranjska Gora - that demonstrate that it deserves its place among the top locations for the sport in the world.

Excellent facilities, incredible views and of course, great pistes, Slovenia has everything you'd expect from a winter sports destination. Check out our guide below and you won't want to go anywhere else for all your skiing and snowboarding requirements.

Stunning Views

Like the pieces of a giant toblerone, Slovenia's mountains rear beautifully against the azure sky, forcing their way out of the Earth like enormous needles. Their picture perfect snowfall is great not only for skiing down, but also for photo shots of you and your family against the unique landscapes. Lake Bled is particularly incredible for the aesthetics, with a 360-degree panorama of breathtaking views.

Lake Bled is famous for its island in the middle of the lake with its baroque church

Unique Apres Ski Culture

Part of the necessary ski holiday experience is the nightlife. After a day on the slopes, sportsmen love to hit the bars and the clubs for a spot of partying. Slovenia is no exception - between them, the resorts offer three fantastic apres ski experiences that will prove unforgettable. Bled is generally relaxed and informal, Bohinj more low-key, while Kranjska Gora is more party-atmosphere with a good selection of discos.

The beautiful Kranjska Gora resort comes alive at night with a good selection of discos

Facilities

The facilities on offer in Slovenia are so varied that you may find yourself struggling to choose between resorts. Rest assured they are all modern and of very high quality, and they also offer excellent teaching services for those taking their first steps on the snow. What's more, Slovenia's ski scene is excellent value for money, meaning you are likely to get more bang out of your budget if you come to this fantastic destination.

Slovenia provides skiers with modern, high quality facilities

History and Adventure in Nessebar

Nessebar is one of those destinations that feels like the complete package. Luxurious hotels and villas are complimented by a vibrant local life and fascinating Old Town. And we haven't even started on the the resort's coastline, which is among the best and most charismatic in Bulgaria.

If there's one thing Nessebar is known for, however, it's history. The town contains a great many links to the past and it's well worth exploring these during your time here. Take a look at our some of our favourites below.

The Church of Saint Sofia

Located in Old Mitropolia, this place of worship was once the centre of an ancient city. A three-naved unvaulted basilica, it is an architectural beauty. The building's role and appearance has changed on many occasions throughout history, and a visit allows you to explore its beautiful intricate passageways through time as well as space.


The Old Windmill

A link to a time where things were simpler and the world hadn't heard of Facebook. Venture to The Old Windmill on the passageway between New Nessebar and Old Nessebar. This well-preserved eastern Europe-style windmill, which is considered a symbol of the town, was constructed is a rather rough, basic style. The design is meant to harness the sometimes fierce power of the wind at the Black Sea coast, and transfer the wind power down to the milling area inside the windmill. A fascinating visit indeed.


The Old Town

Thanks to Nessebar's location, the Greeks, Romans and countless other societies have had an impact on its history. This is evident from a stroll through the streets of the Old Town, which contains authentic medieval streets that have been constructed at varying points in the resort's history. This district also contains a plethora of churches - Nessebar once boasted the highest concentration of holy buildings in Bulgaria.


Fortress Walls

Great blocks of stone, and a well-preserved gate. This is all that remains of the old fortress that guarded the medieval Nessebar. Walk around these fantastic structures and imagine how hard it would have been to put a battering ram through them in times of old.