My dreams will be forever haunted by the dulcet tones of our ski instructor Daffy shrieking “now put your skis wiiiiiiiider”, “snow plough snow plough snow plough” and “now put your skis parallel” up the mountain to me.
I was quite proud of myself on the first couple of days of our ski holiday in Bulgaria – no tears, and not too much falling over either. I did shout quite a lot of abuse at a ski school of around twenty under 5 year olds who cut me up halfway down a green run, but I felt that this was a perfectly measured reaction to what had, after all, been a bit of a nasty shock.
It was only as we started to try out some of the slightly more challenging routes that I suddenly found myself hurtling into deep banks of snow at great speed, clutching at my instructor’s arm and begging for a piggyback ride down off the big scary mountain, and sitting in the snow wailing like said 5 year olds because I couldn’t manage to get myself upright again.
A ski holiday is most definitely character building if nothing else. Yet in a way it’s curiously relaxing, because the constant fear of plummeting to one’s death or getting run over by a snow plough at least means that there is little time left to fret about the everyday trivia that usually unsettles the mind.
I went from feeling as if I was about to sit an impossible exam at the start of each day to walking into The Happy Duck at its end with a big grin on my face. The terror that I endured each morning never entirely dissipated, but it was good terror, terror that kept me on my toes. You might even say it was character-building terror.
Bulgaria comes highly recommended – cheap, high quality ski instruction, tasty food and beautiful mountain scenery. Besides the mysterious vomiting that came over many of us halfway through the trip, the woodsmoke tinged mountain air did wonders for my stress levels and general well-being. And, in the words of Jifko, the man who drove us to and from the ski resort each day, “Bulgarian men are very, very excellent.”
Actually, the ones I saw weren’t, but never mind.
We spent our last day having a posh day of lunching and afternoon tea in Sofia, which was a welcome reprise for the muscles in my legs, bum, stomach, arms, shoulders, feet, back, hands etc. etc. And despite my slightly tongue-in-cheek account of the week and moments of childlike stompiness and fear, I did genuinely love the sensation of racing down a mountain, the wind rushing against my face, the soft swoosh swoosh of my skis moving over the powdery snow.
Beautiful, powerful, overwhelming, emotional, terrifying. I want to go again!
Lots more pictures here