People make such a fuss over skiing. I did try to ski a couple of times, which was enough to realise that it’s not for me. So without much further ado, here are

7 reasons why I don’t like skiing holidays

1. The crowds

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I explained to the Bulgarian crowd control operator, as suggested by the girl who had sold me the tickets to get on the ‘Gondola’, that we were not going up the Gondola to ski but just to see the view, and “maybe if he’s in a good mood he will let you pass without waiting in the queue”.

“Outside,” was his curt reply. Which meant a 30 minute wait until we were able to get into a cable car.

This reason alone, i.e. crowds, would of course put skiing on a par with other vacation activities like amusement parks, music concerts, the popular beaches in summer or even my beloved (alas, no more, at least for now) long distance running events. If you go skiing, however, you will also need to contend with…

2. Even more waiting

… to get into the shuttle bus from the hotel to the slopes, to get your ski boots (more on this later), to hire skis, to get on a chair lift, all the while as you are…

3. Carrying half a ton of cumbersome stuff

Apart from the already heavy winter clothing, scarf, thick gloves and hat you have to hobble everywhere inside extremely uncomfortable and walking-unfriendly astronaut boots, all of this while, in addition to your backpack, you have to carry around two ski sticks and two skis that keep sliding down to the ground.

4. Dirty slush everywhere

Snow looks so pretty in pictures, which are always taken when the snow is fresh and white. People often forget or omit to mention that snow is not really white – it’s black and slushy, and overnight it turns into hard, slippery ice.

5. And then your socks get wet

… with snow that made its way into the astronaut boots. More snow gets onto the car floorboard and the floor of your hotel room in spite of all the stamping of boots on the side of the car, on the ground and on the wall, or unless you take off your shoes when you go inside. But then your socks become wet again.

6. Ah yes, I almost forgot the skiing itself

… which you do eventually get to do after hiring and carrying the ski equipment, waiting, etc. It’s the whole point of all the above trouble, of course, except that I have an additional problem. I can’t ski properly. Recently not even improperly due to problems in hip joints and such boring details, but that’s another story.

7. The dinner buffet at the hotel

Totally in character with the culture of waiting at popular ski resorts, dinner also involves standing in line, plate in hand, to help yourself from a buffet table with myriads of children milling around coughing into the food.

 

Let’s be honest. I’m a Mediterranean old boy and Alpine skiing is not for people who never saw a snowflake in real life before they became adults. Nevertheless, against my better judgement, I do find myself occasionally in the midst of a skiing holiday. I try to make the best of it by hiring a car, hoping it doesn’t snow very heavily, and going sightseeing.

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The Gondola mentioned above takes you on a 25 minute lift from Borovets (Bulgaria) half way up the highest peak in the Balkans – Mount Musala. There, you can have lunch (prices, as everywhere else, proportional to the altitude) while enjoying a spectacular view of the mountain and its surroundings. Most users of the Gondola ski all the way down back to Borovets, 5 km with more than 1000 metre drop. I can understand why many skiers were prepared to wait so long to take the cable car. They could even go further up ski lifts for a longer slide down. Alternatively, it is said, you could hike up for two hours to the peak of Musala. But the path was nowhere to be seen at this time of year. You either ski or take the Gondola back down. Still, as I said, the views were pretty.

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