This week, I went on a ski trip to Bankso in Bulgaria with my fellow members of the Gozo University Group (aka GUG). It is quite hard to give one particular word to describe this trip. Buffoonery is one of them. Others are boisterous and entertaining. We had many inside jokes.
Bulgaria is in the EU, however its currency is not the Euro; it is the Bulgarian Lev. This particular word, “Lev”, was rarely used for a few reasons that I am going to explain. It is funny how some things just stick. One of us called the owner of the villa we rented out to see whether we pay the transport in Euro or Levs. Instead of saying “Levs”, she said “Bansko” and we basically created a new currency. From “Bansko”, the term varied to “banskins”, “banskos”, “banska” and even “banskina”. What is even funnier is that instead of saying “Euro”, we would say, “Jewri”. Let’s not mention the meaning to “lailu”. Yes, we created our own language too.
During the entire trip, all we would sing was “I believe in myself” and “He’s the man, Owen Luellen”. Basically, Hey Now by Ira Losco is now the organization’s song. The best part is that one of us posted a video of us singing the song on Instagram, tagging Ira Losco obviously, and Ira Losco actually responded to the video and shared it!
Another catch phrase of ours was, “Viva l-Madonna”, and many Bulgarians in Bansko recognized us as Maltese because we would shout this out in public just for the fun of it. These are only a few of our jokes. The others are not so appropriate to write about online. I guess you understand now why I used the word “buffoonery”. From all the trips I had ever been on, I must say, this one was the funniest. Personally, I am glad I was comfortable with the others in the group on this trip and that I now have all these memories implanted in my mind. Good memories, memories that I cherish.
Furthermore, the aim of the trip was to do some skiing. We rented our ski equipment from Tsakiris Ski and the workers were really friendly. Most Bulgarians in Bansko were friendly actually which made the trip even better. To ski, one must wear the ugliest, heaviest and weirdest boots. Imagine having something so stiff and strong wrapped around your lower legs and you have to someway, somehow walk. These boots were ridiculous yet necessary to ski. Basically, seeing someone walk in them is extremely funny, especially walk down the stairs.
It was very refreshing being up in the mountains, surrounded by snow and seeing all those trees. Now, I am a City girl and for me, skyscrapers are the norm. However, I have been to Up State New York many times as well as the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Seeing all those trees with mountains of snow in Bansko, reminded me of these parts of America which a lot of people do not really know about. Most people think America is just one big city however America has its own beauty of land, of greenery, of countryside, that I consider almost limitless. The slopes at the ski resort in Bansko were truly inspirational and cleared my mind.
For a beginner, I felt that I was actually quite good at skiing and I really want to do more skiing. I intend to try to go skiing at least once a year when I start to have a decent wage. I took skiing to heart and I want to do more of the sport someday. Skiing requires a lot of body strength and I love that in a sport too.
On our last day in Bulgaria , we decided to visit its capital city, Sofia. I looked up on Google a few places to visit and the one I knew I had to visit was the National Museum of Military History. The history geek inside me started jumping up and down. So, we found the museum and from the outside, we could already see missiles and airplanes. Once we found the entrance, we noticed how there was no one inside the museum. However, the gate was not locked so we just opened it and walked in. There were tanks and aircraft used by the Bulgarian Army during WW2 as well as trucks. Then, a guard came to kick us out of the museum because it was closed for the day. We had to leave and I did not get to see the rest of the museum unfortunately.
Personally, I disagree firmly with war. After having studied Wilfred Owen’s war poems, taking them to heart, and studying WW1 and WW2, I know that war is a horrible thing. However, war fascinates me. I find the causes and results of war fascinating, how war is organized and played out. I find it interesting to study the type of weaponry and artillery used. I believe it is important to keep in mind that not less than a hundred years ago, the world suffered from two major wars and that we must work to preserve the peace because the next war will surely annihilate the entire race.
Getting back to Bulgaria, I found baklava, which is a traditional Turkish and Balkan sweet, in the supermarket whilst we were grocery shopping in Bansko. The majority didn’t like them and I swear they called the sweet anything but baklava. Another inside joke.
Nevertheless, this past week in Bulgaria was a trip I certainly do not regret. It was a trip where we were all constantly laughing and that’s what made it a great trip. It had all the elements a trip requires for it to be entertaining. It was the good company. It was Bansko and the skiing. It was the jokes. I rate it 11/10. Now that I’m back in Malta, I sort of miss Bansko. I miss the trees and the snow and the skiing. That only means I’m certainly going to visit Bansko again.