28 Sep 2008 - Bansko, Bulgaria
The ski season in Bansko runs from December to April and during this period the resort is very busy. There is also an active summer season as which lasts from June to August. Outside of these times however Bansko is a quiet mountain town and if you want to enjoy the great outdoors plus have some lively evenings then this isn't the best time to visit though that is not to say you won't have a good time here.
Bansko isn't just a tourist resort but is also a town so this ensures that a still considerable number of bars and restaurants stay open though this is in no way comparable to when the tourist season is in full swing.
When I arrived at my apartment to inspect it I came across a furious English buyer. Furious because the apartment was not complete and buyers were led to believe that completion would be the end of 2007. Whilst this delay is annoying and seems to be another Bulgarian tradition - tradition being what I am fond of - the remaining spa, gymnasium and swimming pool areas are not too far away from being completed.
Bansko - Entrance to the grounds of Sveta Troitsa Church
The beautifully constuctucted stone walls and roads typical of Bansko. Through this gateway is the church that I have described in earlier blogs.
Much of Bansko is a maze of winding and often cobbled alleys flanked by high walled compounds and wandering the streets can often throw up a surprise of two.
Bansko - On the grounds of Sveta Troitsa Church
Behind the walls and inside the grounds of Sveta Troitsa.
Bansko - Rural Bansko
I stayed in a hotel away from the new tourist hotels and in the 'real' Bansko. From one of the windows of my hotel could be seen this view from what should be from another age. It appears to be the 1st floor of a barn and has vegetables hanging outside. Beneath it were animals. This traditional aspect of Bansko is a large part of the appeal.
Bansko - Another view from my hotel
This is another typical view of Bansko away from the well trampled tourist areas.
Bansko - Feeding time
Outside of the house pictured above was also this horse being fed what looked to be corn.
Bansko - Vapcarov Square
There are two closely located squares in Bansko. This is the largest and main one. Nearby is Vazrazdane Square which has Sveta Troitsa Church, mehanas and a number of clubs.
Bansko - Pretty street in Bansko
This street is typical of many in the old town.
Bansko - Overbuild in Bansko
Standing behind by the Glazne river looking South West, I was amazed by the level of new development compared to when I was here in March 2007. Back then this area was just a building site and foundations although that tag still applies as much work is still going on.
Bansko - Authentic 19th century build mehana
Bansko's signature feature is its many mehanas that offer regional delicacies. Many of them occupy authentic 19th century stone and timber buildings such as this one.
Bansko - Charming Bankso
Pirin Street can be seen at the far end of this road.
Bansko - Attractive Bankso
Imagine the place covered in snow with the smell of wood burners on a cold night. Dinner, raki and wine after a day on the slopes - I can't wait!
Bansko - Looking up the mountain and at the Kempinski
This road leads up the mountain and I took a short walk up there on my last day. I wish that I had a number of days free after the business of completing my purchase was complete to enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
Bansko - The Victoria from the Kempinski
I took a photo of my apartment complex from the same spot in March 2007. See the photo below 'Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 20th March 2007'.
Bansko - Lack of roads around the Victoria
Whilst the complexes in Bansko are going up the infrastructure and in particular the roads still need to be laid. This understandable whilst the buildings are completed as they would only need to be dug up again - which I saw happen on some stretches of road.
Bansko - Close up of the Victoria
I nearly bought the corner, middle right apartment. I chose not to in the end because it was slightly smaller than what I bought, had an unusual internal shape and being exposed on two sides rather than just one meant that it would be colder and more expensive to heat. On the plus side, the views would have been nicer though having said that, the area in front is going to be busy road.
Bansko - Stocked firewood
As you walk around Bansko, particularly in the evening, burning wood in the woodburners of houses or mehanas can be smelled. This smell of wood smoke is most comforting especially in winter when cold and hungry, you step into a mehana and are seated close to a roaring fireplace for an evening of good food and good drink.
Bansko - The ski road
I might have mentioned elsewhere that instead of coming down the mountain into the town by gondala a ski road exists that offers a long and gentle ski back. Before I left for Sofia I spent an hour or so walking up the mountain road and enjoyed the smell and feel of autumn. At one point I left the road and slipped through the trees onto the ski road which can be seen here.
Bansko - Autumn forest fruits
My macro photography has room for much improvement.
Bansko - Mountain stream
Bansko is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the mountain is a protected national park. For this reason, Bansko has a summer appeal and hiking, mountain biking and horse riding are popular activities. Plus there is also an annual summer music festival. The temperature in the summer is often in the high 20's and is known to reach 30 degrees Celsius.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 26th May 2006
The following pictures show my apartment in its stages of development. In May 2006 it is just a hole in the ground but at least I can see the Kempinski in the background which proved that the work was actually happening!
Just behind the Kempinski are the ski lifts but everything behind the hotel is shrouded in mist which gives a strange impression as the mountain should be in full view.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 28th February 2007
Almost a year later and the building is recognisable as the ones in the plans and artists impressions. The complex is in a V shape and this is the 'inside' of the V. However, I discovered in September 2008 that there is going to be an extra wing to make it a Y shape. Thankfully, this will not affect my view. Compare this photo to the one taken on 31st January 2008.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 20th March 2007
I went to Bansko in March 2007 to check out the progress of the building and to make sure that the building was in the location specified. After all, if I'm paying top dollar because of its prime location I want to make sure that it is where it is supposed to be. This photo is taken from the 5 star Kempinski hotel. Compare it to 'Bansko - The Victoria from the Kempinski' above.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 28th May 2007
Bansko has plenty of summer activities and I look forward to visiting in summer for some mountain biking and to enjoy the town in very different conditions to what I have been used to.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 31st January 2008 I
I think that my apartment is the centre balcony on the right wing of the complex. Even when the apartments are built, the resort has still much left to do as the connecting roads still need to be laid down.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 31st January 2008 II
The latest photos from the solicitors show the complex looking nearly finished - at least from the outside. I imagine that the inside is still a bit of a bomb site. This is the inside of the 'V' again.
Victoria Apartments, Bansko - 18th July 2008
I must say that I'm happy with how this is looking now and it is certainly in in the final stage. It's actually looking better than a number of developments I've seen in Bansko. The development has been delayed for a number of reasons namely a lack of power and water supply. In Bulgaria, buildings have to pass a number of stages, the last of which is Act 16 and power and water is closely related to this. Act 16 has now been reached and it's time to pay up the final installment.
Bansko - Bus station map
In response to a request for the location of Bansko bus station...here is a map. The bus station is on the outskirts of the town, about 10-15 miutes walk from the main square which I've labelled 'A'. The bus station is on the other side of the road behind some trees so be careful you don't miss it.
BlogAndGo - 10 Nov 2008, 10:58:01 PM
Feedback is that they will but it will depend on whether the communal areas are finished such as the pool and spa areas. Drop me message with your email address in the 'Contact Blog And Go' page.
Derek Peppard - 9 Nov 2008, 11:38:05 PM
I have co-ordinated a group buying 14 apartments. Have you any feedback as to whether the apartments will be rented in 2009?