Feeling quite alien to the world of a ski resort, it was with some trepidation that I entered the realm of the Bansko gondola and ski slopes amongst the crowds of people swathed in trendy ski gear and expensive looking accessories. We arrive in the middle of the afternoon so are able to haggle outside the ski life station for a discounted ski pass from the few who’d finished for the day and got a bargain for the five of us.
Armed with three kids, we wrestle with sledges onto the moving gondola, sit back, and begin the process of going uphill through the sugar-coated fir forests for over 6 km to the top of the piste. And I try to ignore the feelings of vertigo.
There’s not a great deal of snow this year so the slopes are quite crowded with novices and professionals zooming past from the few higher pistes that are open. I decide to have some Dutch courage in the shape of an alcoholic drink but I’m not allowed to delay it any longer: the kids are all shouting for me to hurry up and there’s nothing else for it but to get on my sledge and hit those slopes.
It’s unfortunate, for me, that the first gradients are quite steep and are therefore mildly terrifying (although I keep this information from the kids!) for an someone on a under-sized sledge! The kids whiz past me, and I only catch the gist of their shouts as I navigate around the skiers and snowboarders weaving ahead of me and try to avoid careering into the novices falling over. I soon realise the handbrake is completely ineffectual; either that or I haven’t got knack of it as all it seems to do is making very loud grinding noises, which, as it happens, comes in handy to warn the people in front of me I’m coming close.
There are some 65 km of ski runs in Bankso, some of which are light up at night. Although I did start to enjoy it once I’d mastered the art of steering on ice, the 6 km run was enough and was glad to finally get my drink back at base!