28 Feb 2009 - Bansko (Zehtingievata Mexana), Bulgaria
Being an owner of an apartment in a complex in a foreign country it helps to know the other owners and if possible to form some kind of owners group. In the months before this visit I helped to set up such a group and the exchange of experiences and ideas has proven invaluable. Derek, one of the other very active members of this group visited at the same time so it was good to be able to support each other whilst thrashing out the issues with the management company. Although nothing was achieved we at least learned just exactly what our position was.
In the evening I shared a few meals with Derek and his son and on some occasions I went out alone. I love the traditional feel of the Bulgarian Mexanas and the roaring fire which greets you when you step in from the snow lined, cold streets. My particular favourite tavern had nightly Macedonian songs and live music to add to the atmosphere and feeling of being somewhere deeply removed from my usual surroundings.
Bansko - An evening in the Zehtingievata Mexana
This dates from 1869 and provides great atmosphere. It is located some way outside of the centre of Bansko, a little way off the beaten track and is frequented by Bulgarians which is a good sign. Money goes a long way in Bulgaria although the prices are inflated in Bansko compared to other parts of Bulgaria. Still, I ate well - good quality and quantity as well. This meal is the 'Pork knuckle' which surprisingly is pork, with potatoes. I had a salad starter and washed it all down with a bottle of red.
Bansko - Time for some gluttony
One of the aspects of Bulgaria I don't like is that smoking is permitted indoors. It will only be a matter of time before laws preventing this are drafted to bring Bulgaria in line with the other EU countries.
The pork knuckle is one of my favourites. The meat is very tender and flavoursome. And there is lots of it. I'll worry about bowel cancer later.
Bansko - How much can you eat for in Bansko?
Bankso is considered expensive by Bulgarians but to a westerner it still presents good value. The pork knuckle cost 25 lev which at today's recession rate exchange is about £11.20. This is fairly pricey but good value for what it is. The other meals such as chicken fillet is only 11 lev, £4.90 which in a restaurant is on the low side compared to the UK but would have been much cheaper before the pound slid in value against the Euro (which the Lev is pegged to).