Monday, February 14, 2011

Day one of learning to become a snow queen

Today was my first day on the slopes at Bansko in Bulgaria, and I am definitely not at queen status yet!

But, let's start at the very beginning - I've heard it's a very good place to start. My dance husband and I were up before dawn yesterday to get ourselves to Heathrow for our flight to Sofia. Half asleep, we clumsily made our way from bus to bus, to the airport, and after a speedy check in (it seems not that many people are at the world's busiest airport at six in the morning) we settled ourselves down into the British Airways Executive Club and proceeded with a tasty breakfast of pan au chocolat and cognac - that's how we roll.

Dance Husband on the bus to the airport

The flight itself was uneventful - I managed to score us emergency aisle seats (huzzah!)... the ones that *don't* recline (un-huzzah)... Upon arriving at Sofia we then saw a sign being held by a guy for Bansko, and jumped eagerly into the van. It wasn't until the party of 12 joining us couldn't fit all of their people in that we realised we were in the wrong van and had to pull all of the luggage out again to get to ours... Who knew there'd be more than one van going to a popular ski village? Back in the airport, we managed to find our correct driver, and settled in with our fellow Mila-ites - Di, RJ, Kev, and Nick. I chose to make friends by buying them all beer; Having now spent the entire day with them, the ploy seems to have worked!

First clear view of the snow-capped mountains

The drive from Sofia to Blansko took a few hours, and we were greeted upon arrival with white chocolate chip cookies and mulled wine - oh sweet heavens yes! After afternoon tea, we sat and chatted the hours away until dinner, which was a delectable feast of spinach and stilton soup, sausage pie with peas and carrots, and black forest cake for dessert. I went to bed so full last night, I could not sleep on my stomach!

This morning we were up for breakfast at half seven, and were on our way to the ski hire shop by half eight. Snowboards in hand and snowboard boots on feet, we bought our ski passes and headed up the mountain. Dance Husband, having decided that having two feet stuck to a plank of wood is somewhat similar to dancing, headed off on his own to teach himself to snowboard. A few others were already proficient and went off to do their own thing, leaving the complete newbies - Nick, RJ, Kev, and I - to our first two hour lesson for the day.

For the first half of our lesson we learned how to gently turn and come to a stop (theoretically), first using our heels, then using our toes, with the lead foot strapped in whilst the following foot was left loose in order to save yourself (if you could) from falling over. After that, the natural progression was to have both feet strapped in - I was mildly panicked by this idea at first, but gradually managed to suffer only minute levels of panic at not being able to save myself from falling onto the ice cleverly disguised as snow.

After lunch, we headed back for our second two hour lesson, this time on the beginners slope, where we had to go down the slope face forwards on our heels, the board parallel to the slope rather than perpendicular to it. This is pretty much where my advancements in the art of snowboarding plateaued for the day. Whilst I kept working on this skill, Nick and Kev progressed onto doing the same thing backwards, on their toes, and then Nick went further still onto doing the falling leaf. RJ had decided he'd had enough for the day whilst I continued worked on my heel-edge decent, going down several times with the instructor, and once with Di who kindly volunteered to be my counter balance. I gradually worked up to a solo decent and finally, on my last run for the day, nailed the entire slope without falling down!!! Go me! So no broken bones or dislocated shoulders (although I think on one fall I may have come a *little* close to doing that) after day one. So far, so good!

Afternoon tea back at the chalet was a delicious lemon poppy cake and hot chocolate, and now it's rest time, before pate, pork chops, and apple crumble for dessert. I must say - I'm liking the lifestyle so far :-)

Our room at Chalet Mila

The mountains from our balcony at Chalet Mila

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