Monthly Archives: October 2016

Borovets resort that suitable on your trip

Borovets, a small town with buildings clustered together in the surrounding pine forests, is Bulgaria’s first winter resort. Established in 1896 by the then Bulgarian royal family, the resort is home to the highest peak in the Balkans, Mount Musala.

The resort base is mostly wedged between the huge Rila and Samokov hotels, while the skiing takes place in the Yastrebetz and Markudjik ski areas, around half an hour away by cable car, and in the local Sitnyakovo area, which has runs leading back down to the resort base. The resort has a strong reputation with beginner and early intermediate skiers, but locals know there’s plenty of testing terrain here too.

Though relatively small, Borovets has big expansion plans and development work has already begun – old chairlifts have been replaced by fast new quad chairs and a state-of-the-art snowmaking system has been installed.

This shining new equipment, along with a good variety of runs and a price tag lower than competing resorts in Western Europe, means Bulgaria’s oldest resort is likely to keep drawing skiers for years to come.


Borovets is situated on the northern slopes of the Rila Mountains, in the west of Bulgaria, 72km (45 miles) south of the capital Sofia. Borovets is the country’s oldest ski resort and is the initial point for climbing 2,925m-high (9,596ft) Mount Musala.


Slope Elevation
On the slopes

The majority of the runs in Borovets ski resort are rated easy to moderate, with its marked pistes totalling 58km (36 miles) split between three areas: Yastrebetz, Markudjik and Sitnyakovo.

Accomplished intermediates and experts are likely to head to Yastrebetz, which has a concentration of fairly steep red runs up to 2,369m (7,772ft) in altitude.

Mid-level skiers will aim for Markudjik, which, like Yastrebetz, is around 30 minutes away from the town via the gondola. This area is home to Borovets’ longest run, the 12km-long (7.5-mile) blue Musala Pathway that winds its way through the forest all the way back down to the resort base. There is also a green run here along the top of the ridge, as well as a couple of black runs for experts.

Beginners and early intermediates can make use of the Sitnyakovo ski area near the resort base, which is home to the Borosport ski school. Beginners who are ready for the slopes can use the chairlift to access the long and winding Sitnyakovo Residence green run. Expert skiers, meanwhile, have a couple more black runs to explore in this area.

There are also 35km (22 miles) of cross-country ski runs, plus biathlon and ski-jumping facilities. Four well-lit runs operate from 1,350m (4,429ft) to 1,648m (5,407ft) for night skiing.

The ski season in Borovets runs from mid-December to early April, with the most reliable snow in February and March.

Gorgeous Island In Autralia

Basking near Australia’s continental shelf, Marie Barbieri loses herself among marine creatures of all colours and contours on Lady Elliot Island.

I sharply inhale and halt dead still – or as still as one can hover atop a swaying reef. A majestic four-metre beauty arcs up and we clock eyes. It’s love at first snorkel with a manta ray.

He’s enjoying a body scrub, courtesy of a bluestreak cleaner wrasse that nibbles the attached parasites. This giant black and white kite tangos with the swell, its implausibly placed eyes holding the stare. We share a magical 10 minutes together, until he breaks off the affair.

Lady Elliot Island, located between Fraser Island and Lady Musgrave Island off the east coast of Australia, is the resident home of the Manta alfredi. Due to its isolation (80km/49 miles northeast of Bundaberg), it claims some of the most limpid waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

The glorious, paradisiacal island was actually built by poo (guano, to be precise), courtesy of excreting seabirds that fertilised and seeded the isolated cay.

In 1863, however, it was almost stripped of its vegetative richness. Around 30 Asian miners arrived to pillage Lady Elliot for her guano. Settlers deforested the island, sparing just eight pisonia trees. They dug the topsoil and sold 20,000 tonnes of guano as gunpowder and fertilizer to Sydney and London.

Roll on 1969, when visionary pilot Don Adams arrived, bringing with him native shrubs and seeds for re-vegetation. Planting sheoaks to naturally fertilise the depleted soil, he regenerated the topsoil and reintroduced pisonia trees.

They flourished into the feather-flapping forest here today, reunited with the eight, now 400-year-old, pisonia trees. Adams earned himself a conservation award for his work in 1994.

Today, the Eco Resort upon the island looks to preserve the natural environment of the cay as well as the Great Barrier Reef.

Visibility in the water here reaches up to 30m (98ft), so it’s a pelagic banquet for the snorkeler. I spot the sexy sway of a blacktip reef shark as a green sea turtle periscopes for air before I almost brush scales with a school of big-eye trevally.

All is calm as ecotourism guide Ben shows us yellow trumpetfish needling past striking Picasso triggerfish, where blue-spotted rays, blue linckia sea-stars and giant sea cucumbers crazy-pave the sandy bed.

The larynxes of my group shriek when Ben points to a manta train whooshing by at breakneck speed. It’s a rarely seen courtship act, where males pursue the female, copying her moves while following her lead. She purposely derails the carriages, and the male that best keeps up, gets to mate with her. Our overexcited group, half strangled by camera straps, isn’t quick enough to snap the phenomenal sight.

Visit in Singapore and all about the destination guide

The city-state of Singapore has grown into a hot destination, blending a heady mix of Asian cultures with a constant drive for progress.

Remnants of the British colonial era can still be found in some fine 19th-century architecture, and there’s plenty in the way of malls and corporate towers, but Singapore’s reputation as somewhere rather dull has been consigned (like most things here) to the bin.

Clean? Yes. Safe? Yes. Boring? Hardly. Today’s Singapore is a high-tech metropolis with a goodtime spirit. The necktie has been well and truly loosened.

Although earlier settlements had existed on the island, Singapore’s development was kick-started by mass immigration from across Asia in the 19th century. As a result, it still plays home to an ethnic mix of Chinese, Malays and Indians, as well as expats from across the world.

The gleaming skyscrapers that tower over Singapore shield a plethora of older buildings, including the temples and mosques that stud this multicultural city. And helpfully for foreign visitors, these different groups tend to use English as their common language.

Changi Airport continues to top polls for its service and facilities, and in many ways exemplifies Singapore’s quest for efficiency, but today’s city is also somewhere with exciting nightlife and some truly exceptional places to eat.

Dining well is a local obsession and you’ll find outstanding examples of everything from Chinese street food to classic French cuisine. And while there are high-end eateries by the dozen, you don’t need to spend big to eat well. Pot-steaming hawker stalls are just as much a part of the Singaporean experience as the palm pots and white gloves of Raffles.

Gone are the days when Singapore was valued mainly as a stopover, and perhaps for its enormous malls. Today, the buoyancy of its tourist industry is reflected in major developments such as Marina Bay Sands, whose three linked towers now loom over the centre of the city. Add to this a constant flow of life in the ethnic quarters of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam, and the result is one of Asia’s most compelling cities.