Who's The Guy On The Other Square?
Favorite thing: This is another of Bansko and Bulgaria's favourite sons, Nikola Vaptsarov, a latter-day Levski. Vapstarov was a naval machinist and part-time poet who was actively involved in the communist partisan movement against Boris III and the Germans during the Second World War. He was executed in Sofia by the Germans in 1942.
One of his most famous poems is the poignant -
Above you Pirin
her granite peaks raises
hazily seen through the mists and the rain.
Over poor villages
eagles soar high,
and the wind whistles over the plain.
But there was a time
when, simple and candid,
my day-dreams would bear me along...
Life then was so bright
and free handed,
life then was so light,
and you were a song.
And now -
privation, the yoke -
wherever they struggle
And something broke
in my heart.
I groaned with the smart,
but found no release.
So then I looked back
and bitterly spat,
both on you
and on life itself too.
Today you are near,
much nearer by far than my mother,
but today I am red with the smear
of blood that is needlessly shed;
I lie choking at night
with the blood of the fight
of your heroes
on foreigners' pay...
It hurts me, my country,
so terribly, cruelly hurts,
that blood which so spurts,
and I want to know:
did all that
have to be
All around me
And in the gloom - toil and prostration.
You've lagged for hundreds of years.
And somewhere the pulse of life throbs,
propellers are whizzing...
But my people
as in the old days
of the bronze age.
But I love you again,
the country of Gotse and Dahme,
because I was bred
because I was hardened by you.
And in my young heart I uphold
the turbulent banner,
the strenuous purpose
of all without shelter and bread.
In 1952 he was postumously awarded the International Prize for Peace. For more info and poetry click Nikola Vaptsarov
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Who's The Guy On The Main Square?
Favorite thing: This is the Bulgarian Saint Paisii Hilendarski who was reputedly born here in Bansko in 1722. He is generally regarded as having laid the foundations for the Bulgarian National Revival with his publication of the Bulgarian/Slavic history "Istoriya Slavyanbolgarskaya" in 1762, the opening line of which reads: "Why are you ashamed to call yourself Bulgarian?"
The book is a sort of "call-to-arms" for the Bulgarian National consciousness during thje height of Ottoman rule.
He is not only commemorated here in Bansko but is also featured on the 2 leva banknote.
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A Bansko Freebie
Favorite thing: Whilst most things in Bansko tend to be more expensive than the rest of Bulgaria at least the water is free. The shops, restaurants and bars will all try to sell you overpriced spring water in plastic bottles but all you need is the bottle. The spring pictured is in the middle of the main Pirin Street and there's also a couple of others around the town, including at the railway station.
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A Sunset over Bansko
Favorite thing: Bansko has been declared a unique town of international importance to commercial tourism (1979). Apart from the beautiful Pirin and the numerous spots of natural beauty the town also boasts its many historic sites. Remains of ancient fortresses have been preserved in the Staroto Gradishte (Stankale) locality about 4 km southwest of the town and also in the Yulen locality (downstream Demyanitsa river). Thracian tumuli have been uncovered in the vicinity of Staroto Gradishte. Archaeological works have unearthed a 2nd century B.C. burial site containing a set of bronze surgical instruments, remains of medicinal preparations etc. in the centuries-old Dobrokyovitsa locality (west of Bansko). Scientists assume that a medieval settlement used to exist in the Sveta Troitsa (Holy Trinity) locality (northeast of town). Southeast of Bansko are remains of the late-medieval single-nave churches "St George" and "St Elijah".
Fondest memory: Bansko is famous for its well-preserved traditions and culture, its original Revival-period architecture and its local culinary specialities (Banski shashlik, Banska kapama). Visitors to this mountain town have always left it captivated by the spirit of Banskalii (Bansko residents) wishing they could once again return to the heart of Pirin; to one with nature is something everyone craves for in their hurried everyday lives.
Typical tourist activities
Favorite thing: As now, for some typical tourist activities you might like to do: the tourist office: it is not always open as it should be, however I am only speaking of an experience of a two days visit to Bansko, maybe the rest of the year, when I am not in Bansko, its open on regular times. They can help you however to with hotel bookings, if you have problems with finding a hotel, and with info’s on hiking. The office is situated at the Nikola Vaptsarov square. As for money-matters: you can change money at the KSV and the foreign-exchange office next to the supermarket in the Tsar Simeon street (where the KSV is also) The post-office is in the same street and there is also a bank, with an ATM (which sometimes can be not in function, at least when I tried to get money out of the machine!
If you want to find the busstation: its on the Patriarh Evtimii street (west side), near the trainstation.
Favorite thing: For contacting your folks and friends back in your homeland, you find the internet agency next to the Pirin street. From place Nikola Vaptsarov, just follow the pirin street southward in the direction of the Mountains, and at some 400 or 500 meters there is the internet agency on your right hand
Favorite thing: Allthough i see that you must have very good eyes to detect the street names at the map, this map may give you some feeling of orientation of the Bansko neo-communatarian steet planning skills...(The north is above etc, the main crosspoint of streets is the mainstreet in the heart of the map)
Pirin mountains: hiking (2)
Favorite thing: In Bansko you can at least consider the following things to do before you go hiking in the mountains: if you are planning to come back after your hiking in the mountains, why not leaving your heavy backpack in Bansko? Leave your backpack at the Pirin national office; they put it in some room and it will be safe there. Going to the national park: you can walk the whole road to the first mountainhut (which is not very exciting, since they are constructing ski-lifts around that area) or, better, take a minibus up to the first mountainhuts (Hizha Vihren or Hizha banderitsa); though the minibus stops at the end of the road, right in the middle of both huts so that you have to walk some 1 km to the hut. Contact the office mentioned above for the departure times of the minibuses (departing from the trainstation). Then: buy some extra food at the supermarket at the pedestrian mall next to the Nicola Vaptsarov square; at least cigarettes, you wont get them easily at the hizha’s.
Pirin mountains: hiking (1)
Favorite thing: When you are planning to hike in the Pirin mountains, and didn’t want to make any preparations at home for it as it comes to maps etc, you can go to the Pirin National Park office in Bansko. This office is situated next to the railroadstation: if you leave the station at the Yordan Ivanov street and go to the east you find the first street at your left hand leading to the office. (street name: Bulevard Bulgaria). This office is not a tourist office nor it’s a hiking office or equipment store, it can be very helpful to anyone who wants to undertake a trek (long or short) in the mountains. They can speak French and you can get maps for free
eating and drinking
Favorite thing: Bansko has a dozen of taverns (mehana) offering regional delicacies such as karvavitsa (sausage) and Kapama (meat and sauerkraut in a pot) Also the local wines are worth trying: try Plonk Since there are not so many foreigners visiting Bansko, expect to receive a menu cart in Cyrilic Bulgarian. Yet, the places I ate had often younger staff, who also speak English, so probably they will translate it for you.
Favorite thing: It might be a good idea to book ahead your hotel when you arrive in summer during the festivals or in winter during the peak season. In normal periods its not necessary to do so. Hotels I have stayed had rooms with a private bathroom, so quite relax for a change. I herd that all hotel in town have this. In stead of staying at a hotel you can also go wild-camping, which is allowed, nearby the Pirin national park. Before you go checking the available hotels its definitely worth paying a visit to the KSV, which is situated at the Tsar Simeon street. This office has contacts with locals offering private rooms in private homes, which are commonly cheaper (around 20 lv per person).
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