February 14, 2024

Travel Journal: Unexpected Adventures in Bansko, Bulgaria

Hi, how are you holding up? This is Marta.

I thought I’d drop you a message from a little place called Bansko in Bulgaria. Never heard of it? No worries, I was in the same boat three months ago. But here I am now; a digital nomad, a surfer girl travelling wherever is hot ended up in a cold, small town in Bulgaria.

Picture this: me, wrapped in a cozy blanket, a cup of mint tea warming my hands, and a crackling fireplace. Ready for a story? Let's dive in.

When I arrived alone late in the evening, I was nervous. I had to pick up my apartment keys from the landlord, with whom I had only been in touch via Facebook. It turned out to be a couple with an adorable kid who welcomed me with a glass of wine and dinner! We ended up chatting for an hour. It was the kind of warm hospitality my mom always spoke about, something from past times. You know, the kind where a guest can never leave hungry because you've laid out everything from the fridge. Bulgarians are just like that - open-hearted, humorous, fantastic hosts, always ready to lend a hand.

After grabbing the keys, I had a solid two-hour drive to get from Sofia to Bansko. Now let’s get to the question that’s surely on your mind: why Bansko?

You know how some people enjoy discovering places that aren't crowded with tourists? Yeah, that's me. When a Brit friend of mine mentioned that Bansko was a hotspot for digital nomads - a place that had somehow escaped my radar - it felt like striking gold. I thought, I found a place like Bali was 30 years ago, or Sri Lanka a decade ago. So, I packed my bags and was off for a month and a half. How is it? Cold, that’s for sure.

The first minutes when you arrive to Bansko is … Wow, the buildings look like in any other mountain city in France or Italy, it is beautiful. Plus, you're surrounded by mountains wherever you turn. But step into the tourist centre, and you're hit with a different kind of charm - thumping 80's music, an abundance of kebab places, and a surprising number of go-go clubs. That's the Bulgarian rhythm for you.

I've got to admit, the rumor of Bansko being a budget-friendly spot totally drew me in. I mean, who could resist the attraction of affordable snowboarding, right? While I can vouch that the food and accommodation won't break the bank, let me set the record straight - the ski passes and gear rentals are a whole different story. Definitely not as light on the wallet as you'd think.

Most of digital nomads here are British, using Bansko as a pitstop before returning to Europe. So the evening life is about partying and drinking (my Brit friend said that’s the British culture, it wasn’t me!). It feels like bar-hopping while gliding down the slopes on your snowboard or skis. There's a DJ spinning tunes on the mountainside, even a bar at the very end of the slope called “happy end” and it is literally the happy place when your snowboard’s day ends. That is Bansko.

So, why not drop by while I'm still here?