ARTICLES 
Vitosha: slippery slopes
Article by Marlene Smits, The Sofia Echo, 18-26 Feb 2005


Its pure luxury, after a 10 km drive from Sofia you are in winter wonderland, a.k.a. Vitosha Mountain.
On one cold Sunday afternoon I decided to make my way up, and see for myself. Slowly but surely the car made its way through Dragalevtsi, up the mountain. The road going up was covered in a mixture of snow and sand. Now and again I had to bite my lip, when the car decided to slip a little now and again in the curves. Just when I thought that the only convenient and probably secure way to make it up the mountain is in a Jeep-like vehicle, I saw an old Moskvich happily passing us by. Maybe I was wrong. The higher we went, the rougher the weather got. It was extremely windy, which caused snow hazes to whirl around.
On the way I saw a stray snowboarder coming out of the bushes. Maybe he got lost somehow. There were few hotels scattered around, but they didnt seem very impressive to me. I was heading for Aleko, almost the top of the Vitosha Mountain. When I finally arrived, the place looked somewhat deserted. There were only a couple of snowboarders standing around, looking a bit confused. A couple of ski-instructors telling these people that the weather conditions were not good and that it was dangerous to continue boarding. They were very disappointed. But honestly the wind made it impossible to see anything.



One of the instructors, who didnt want to be mentioned by name, said: The mountain is beautiful. I spent more time during my childhood on Vitosha then with my family at home. But to tell you the truth, I am very disappointed. The facilities are really not up to standard. Some of the lifts are not working. And there is no real good quality accommodation available. Just opposite the lift is a huge hotel thats deserted.
It was build during socialist times, and after the changes it was closed. Now it just sits there. I cant understand why nobody invests a bit of money here. Its good that ski-resorts like Pamporovo, Bansko and Bororvets are doing fine. But how can you disregard the ski-resort closest to Bulgarias capital?
The young snowboarders were not as harsh in their opinions. I love boarding here, says XXX. Its so beautiful and the snow and the slopes are excellent! Her somewhat frozen French boyfriend agrees. Further up, I found a cute Spanish couple, seeking for shelter. Its our first time ever that we went snowboarding, but as far as we can tell its very nice and beautiful, says Paolo. But of course were not experts. In any case I can say that we like Bulgaria very much! It was high time for something hot, since I was beginning to feel a bit frozen myself. And considering that there was not much activity on the slopes, I thought people would be hiding out either at the restaurant or the ski school.



After some heavy searching I found a block hut, which was the alleged restaurant. Sadly enough there was not much going on. After some hot tea, I decided to head back to town. Because except for a frozen poodle, there really wasnt anybody left.

Night Skiing

Want to experience the thrill of night skiing? The Zaeka run, which starts at Aleko, is a 400 meter illuminated slope.

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