Adam and I have always had holidays that are pretty full on, that involve seeing as much of a place as possible, even if that means getting up at the crack of dawn and being out for 18 hours.
This spring however we came back from Japan and I was a broken woman, I was totally exhausted and feeling very much like I needed a holiday! I originally started to browse beach holidays, despite neither Adam and I have much desire to chill at the beach, but eventually found something that seemed much more ‘us’.
My first package holiday in God knows how long was booked through ‘love holidays’ and was situated in the area of Bankso, in Bulgaria. Usually a popular ski resort the prices during summer were very competitive as it was their off-season. Being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains sounded much more my kinda scene!
We arrived in Sofia where we were picked up by a transfer company (A2B transfers) arranged as part of the package, who then took us the two hour journey deep into the mountains. There was no chance of a nap as the driving was pretty terrifying (overtaking on a corner, oh my!) but it was increasingly getting more scenic as we got closer to our destination.
For a week including flights (with checked in luggage), self catering hotel, return transfers and airport parking for our car it cost us £360 each which I felt was good value for an August trip.
We stayed at the Balkan jewel resort, a 4 star hotel, nestled in the Pirin mountain range. I’d say that Bulgarian 4 star standards are not the same as ours but the hotel room was very nice, with a kitchen and nice sized balcony. We also had beautiful mountain views that I certainly never got bored with.
We also found the staff to be really friendly and attentive so that was great. They were always there to offer advice or call us a taxi and the customer service lady was very handy when it came to telling us how to get around. The hotel had a huge range of excursions and activities on offer so there was certainly no chance of getting bored.
Our original plan of sitting by the pool, me reading books and Adam sketching, were turned on their head when upon checking in we got talking to another couple in reception. Within minutes we’d booked an excursion together and were making dinner plans! It was really nice as our past holidays have never allowed us to meet anyone as we’re moving around so often.
I have to say the change of holiday plan was fortunate because the pools were certainly not the hotels strong points. The outdoor pool was extremely cold and could only really be tolerated for short periods. There was a much warmer indoor pool but it seemed quite dirty, with murky water and grubby mirrors.
The hotel was part of a handful of hotels that sat in a secluded mountain location so the hotel ran a free shuttle bus to the nearest supermarket, which is fantastic when you want to stock your fridge with cheap beer and wine!
The shuttle bus also ran to the town of Bankso during the daytime. Often we would get the free shuttle bus into town and then share a taxi back, which was 20 lev (approximately £9), which divided between the four of us was perfectly affordable.
Going into town to eat was pretty necessary as the food in the hotel restaurant was certainly not up to 4 star standards and the two times we ate there we found the food to be bland and clearly microwaved, sometimes it was just convenient though.
Keep reading for posts on what we got up to in our week in Bulgaria…