Sep 16

BANSKO – THE TOP OF THE TOPS WHEN IT COMES TO BULGARIAN SKI RESORTS (БАНСКО)

Bulgarian town of Bansko is located near the Glazane River at the foot of the Pirin Mountains on the eastern side where you can admire the most beautiful, and highest peaks, only 160 km from Sofia and 6 kilometers from Razlog and is considered the highest quality resort ski in Bulgaria. The town of Bansko is located at 925 meters above sea level; the slopes are situated at an altitude of 2000-2600 meters. The Pirin Mountains are very similar to the Alps and Vihren is the highest peak of 2914 m. The name Bansko derives from the word “ban” which means “master” in Bulgarian. Bansko has become a favorite resort in terms of skiing and snowboarding, mainly due to the exceptional conditions of the slopes, and the particular historical architecture perfectly combined with modernity.

Despite the fact that the resort itself is not older than a decade, it has a lot to offer its visitors. The 44 Technoalpine snow cannons covering most slopes make the ski season last longer. The variety of ski slopes offers opportunities for both beginners and advanced. Also, snowboard lovers can enjoy the first Balkan fun park, where they meet all sorts of crazed fans of extreme sports. For them, but also for the skiers, there are daily racing organized on the new slope at Shiligarnika.

Regarding facilities, the Bansko locals took special care of the comfort and safety of skiers and snowboard lovers. Thus, in Bansko there is a gondola with 8 seats, 3-seater chairlifts, 7 ski lifts and 10 facilities for children. The total length of installations around the resort is 26 km. At Bansko you can find slopes for slalom, giant slalom and ski trails of a length of 5 kilometers.

The perfect mixture between a modern resort and a city with a living history, makes Bansko an elegant and exciting place to spend a pleasant skiing season. Each house has its own history that can transform a simple vacation into a trip to the traditional world of Bulgaria. Bansko taverns, called “Mehana” provide a welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy Bulgarian traditional food and exceptional wines. Most taverns have live music performed by orchestras during the quiet and romantic evenings and for those who are trully energetic, there are plenty of clubs and discos that close once with the sunrise.

Of course there are many things to see in Bansko, such as the 120 cultural and historic monuments, around which there are numerous souvenir shops. Besides the wonders of Pirin Mountains, the city possesses other tourist attractions such as the ancient ruins from Staroto Gradishte and Pirin National Park, which is protected by UNESCO. In the park there are waterfalls, lakes, caves and a specific flora and fauna. Bansko together with Dobrinishte is known for its mineral waters.

Bansko is one of the largest resorts in Bulgaria, offers countless opportunities for accommodation, from luxury hotels, apartments and hotels for all tastes near the slopes.

Photo source:

Picture 1: radiocraiova.ro; Picture 2: gamatravel.net; Picture 3: holidaybrokers.ro; Picture 4: adventureflair.com; Picture 5: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 6: whitechaletsbansko.com; Picture 7: olimpia-turism.ro
Sep 16

THE CAVE AT VADU CRIŞULUI, A PLACE LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE (VADU CRIŞULUI, ROMANIA)

Vadu Crişului Cave was discovered in 1903 by Gyula Czárán after dynamiting the slope and arranging the wooden stairs and bridges soon after. In 1969, the underground facilities are upgraded and the cave is electrified, becoming the second cave in Romania where the electric lighting was introduced.

Vadu Crişului Cave is located in the Criş Gorge, in Padurea Craiului Mountains (the Princes’ Forest), between the towns of Vadu Cris and Şuncuiuş.

The cave has a length of 1 kilometer, of which 680 meters are allowed to be visited by tourists who are not speologists. It has three main large galleries (besides others that are narrower and more difficult to access), and one of them is used only for paleontological research, which is also famous for having been extensively researched by the famous Romanian explorer, biologist and scientist,  Emil Racoviţă.

Vadu Crişului Cave has a more special status because it is crossed by a stream which originates in the karst plateau Zece Hotare (Ten Borders) – Old Man’s Cave, so basically the water forming  inside the cave is the same that creates the Vadu Crişului Waterfall.

We enter the cave through the left side of the underground creek, we pass by the three galleries going upward, which open on the left, we traverse the Suspended Bridge over the lake and arrive at a party spherical high (globe of Earth), above which a limestone canopy has been formed during the ages.

Then two separate ways are splitting: one lower, along the underground stream and the other way that forms the upper floor. Upstairs hallway after completing a small climb in an upper room, where shall descend into the Balcony Hall with the fallen blocks. Underneath these blocks, we go to the Hell gallery and get reacquainted the creek in the Great Hall of the cave.

The road continues to the point of the Straits, where the corridor is obstructed by fallen boulders where the cave visiting ends.

You can reach the cave:

– By train to Cave Halt on Cluj-Oradea route;

– By train to Vadu Crisului or Şuncuiuş and then walking nearby the railway for about 2 kilometers to the same Cave Halt.

– By car from Vadu Crisului: you can leave your car near the football field in Vadu Crisului and then follow they railway or the new Red Circle tourist route;

– By car from Şuncuiuş: you can leave your car in front of Şuncuiuş station and then walk nearby the railway, again some two kilometers to Cave Halt.

Photo source:

Picture 1: infopensiuni.ro; Picture 2: ciraandreea.blogspot.ro; Picture 3: 99tour.ro; Picture 4: informatii-romania.ro; Picture 5: bihorinimagini.ro; Picture 6: bihorinimagini.ro; Picture 7: tai-tai.net
Sep 16

ISTANBUL: TOP 3 ACTIVITIES IN A ROMANTIC CITY BREAK

The best time to plan a city break in Istanbul is when you need an explosion of life and color – especially in the spring, if you want to open your appetite for Oriental experiences. Istanbul can be explored on a journey of three days and one of the first things you need to do to mingle along the city like a local, not a tourist, and that means using the public transport. Check if the hotel in Istanbul where will you accommodate is near the subway or ant bus lines that pass through the area. It’s good to know that taxis are quite expensive in Turkey.

 

Serve a delicious lunch among the Galleries on Istikal Street

If you like to walk around and observe people, but look for a special place where good things happen and at the same time enjoy the Turkish cuisine at its best, you must go on the pedestrianized Istiklal, where you will find everything you want, from cafes, to restaurants and traditional doner. So you can stay for more in the area for a delicious lunch. Anyway, the place is special in itself for its Art Nouveau architecture and 19th century European air – you will surely love it!

On Rue Francaise you can listen to live music, even in French, and if you want to flee two hours away from the crowds, you can invite your pair in a film, if you are both passionate about movies. You may walk on Istikal Street early morning after taking breakfast at the hotel.

From here you must not miss a ride on the nostalgic tram, where you can get down anywhere you want just to get lost together for a while. The Nostalgic Tram, as locals call it, begins its schedule on Istikal from early morning until late in the evening, at intervals of 15-20 minutes. In addition, the street is one of the liveliest places in Istanbul, so you will always encounter curious and friendly locals and tourists alike in this fascinating and lively area.

 

Buy a magic carpet from the Grand Bazaar

You will not see anywhere such an overwhelming explosion of color and diversity than during your vacation in Istanbul (maybe the Holi festival in India, when everyone is covered in vivid colors, but we will talk about it some other time). And one of the places where you could stop for a magical experience together with your partner is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul itself. If you are lucky, you can find a magic carpet.

What could you buy? If you think about it, you could even purchase the engagement ring, wedding rings or gold jewelry at prices that are more than convenient, if you still choose a city break in Istanbul. And if you cannot find a magic carpet, handmade carpets though are absolutely gorgeous; you could opt for handmade souvenirs such as shoes, carpets and cashmere scarves. Whatever you buy, remember to negotiate for each product in order to preserve the local tradition. If you don’t have this innate talent and don’t know how to do that, you can buy anything at a price that will delight you.

 

Take a romantic walk on aristocratic roads of Princes’ Islands

If you thought that only means Istanbul oriental music and belly dancing, a day trip on the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul will change your opinion. The Princes’ or Princesses’ Islands (as they appear in other sources) will make you feel that you transported yourselves into a place in Europe of the last century, and almost nothing reminds you that you still are at the Gates of the Oriental world, where you arrived at first.

If you choose a city break in Istanbul together with your pair, you could opt for one of the less touristy islands of the nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. The largest and most popular is Buyukada Island, which seems to be a European colony, where moving carriages and Art Nouveau houses rise all over the area, giving the place an air of downright bourgeois. Conversely, if you want to go on a one day trip to enjoy a little more privacy, you can stroll along one of the smaller islands, such as Heybeliada, where you’ll find many restaurants and shops, or on the Burgazada Island. Weekends in Istanbul are quite busy, so you better choose a smaller island if you want to avoid crowds in Buyukada.

Photo source:

Picture 1: lonelyplanet.com; Picture 2: tripadvisor.com; Picture 3: theguardian.com; Picture 4: atbholidays.com; Picture 5: oskartours.com; Picture 6: mayartravel.com; Picture 7: lonelyplanet.com