25 Feb 2009 - Bansko (Up the Vihren), Bulgaria

Back to Bulgaria for a spot of business and skiing. The world recession has been particularly cruel to world property but even worse to those who bought by overextending themselves and now find that they either can't get a mortgage or can't afford it. Fortunately I'm not in that position but the unfortunate ones are panic selling; that and the general reduction in credit, overdevelopment and underdevelopment of the infrastructure has pushed down prices. On the plus side, the infrastructure is catching up and the location is good. The resort is good but the management company are unprofessional, untrustworthy and cannot be worked with. This was the business reason for my visit. This was also my first stay in my apartment.
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Bansko - From the gondala to the mountain

Bansko - From the gondala to the mountain

Beautiful crisp, deep snow in the town means a functioning ski road allowing skiers to a pleasant 16km ski back to the town. Some parts of the route are very steep in places but thankfully there are more gentle routes as well.
Bansko - On gondala to the mountain

Bansko - On gondala to the mountain

The start of the 15 minute journey to the mountain takes the traveller over the ski road heading to the town and gondala. It's going to be a great day of skiing.
Bansko - At the top of Vihren mountain

Bansko - At the top of Vihren mountain

The Vihren is the second highest mountain in Bulgaria, at 2914m, only 11m shy of Musala, the tallest in the Balkan Peninsula - but the Pirin range as a whole is a lot higher than Rila - there are two summits above 2900m, Vihren and Kutelo; seven above 2800m; 17 above 2700m; 32 above 2600m and 40 above 2500m and the highest granite peak in the Balkans is the Banderishki Chukar (2732m).
Bansko - Looking WNW from the top of the Vihren

Bansko - Looking WNW from the top of the Vihren

At the top there is silence only broken by gusts of wind. People talk about the sense of awe and peacefulness of the mountains and standing on top of the Vihren is a humbling experience.
Bansko - The Pirin Mountain Range

Bansko - The Pirin Mountain Range

There is the possiblility of off piste skiing from here or walking across the thin ridge. I saw ski tracks in places I wouldn't dare to go.

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