If you are in Borovets a visit to Tsarska Bistritsa is definitly worth. The lodge is still used by Simen Sax Coburg Gotha (Tsar Simeon) from time to time and operating as a museum most of the time. When he is there it is possible that the museum could be closed, so if you want to make it 100% sure that you will get inside you'd better call in advance on the number listed below.
Tsarska Bistritsa is surrounded by a fance and you have to get through the gate. It is a good idea to have some kind of ID with you because they usually ask you to show it when you get in. At that time you are not supposed to pay anything. You can walk in and have stroll around the park for free.
Tsarska Bistritsa Palace (Dvorets Tsarska Bistritsa): hunting lodge of the Bulgarian tsars situated near Borovets in the Rila Mountains, alongside with chalets Sitniakovo (built for Ferdinand I) and Saragiol (built for Prince Kiril, the second son of Tsar Ferdinand I).
At first it used to be the hunter's lodge of the Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand, father of Tsar Boris III and grand father of Tsar Simeon. The communists confiscated the property for their own use.
After the fall of communism, the property was returned to its lawful owners. In a strange twist of fortunes, Tsar Simeon, whos property was confiscated long time ago and returned recently, is was a prime minister of Bulgaria until several months ago.
The property is being powered by a 170kw Siemens generator, built and installed in the year 1912. No malfunctions to this day!
Some more pictures and comments:
09.00 h - 16.00 h.
About 30 min in the lodge, otherwise you can spens as much time as you like in the park around it.
Bulgarians - BGN 2 (EUR 1)
Foreigners - BGN 4 (EUR 2)
BGN 1 (EUR 0.50)
If you want to get into the lodge you are supposed to pay an entrance fee. And you should join a guided tour, you can not wander around the house on your own :))). The tours usually last 30 min and start imediately one after the other. Pictures are not allowed. In case you decide to be a pain in the neck and they get sick and tired of you they might allow you to take a few in the last hall (as you can see on the picture).
In general the lodge itself is not something very special but gives some idea about buts and pieces from Bulgaria's last century history. What I like the most about the place is the park around the lodge and the cafe behind the lodge.
The Building is an original interpretation of 19th c. Bulgarian architecture with traces of the European romantic style. The same combination of styles is characteristic for the interior decoration.
The furniture, although European-fashion with a hint of folklore patterns, goes well with the wooden ceilings and columns carved in the best Bulgarian tradition. The floors are covered with rugs woven in Kotel and Chiprovtsi - small towns, known for well-developed carpet industry. There is also an authentic ship-cabin, a personal gift for the then Prince Ferdinand from Jean-Louis Maurice, skipper of the "New America" vessel.
The glazed tiles of the stoves are masterpieces of early 20th c. ceramics. Each of the fifty stoves varies in shape and color.
The impressive collection of trophies is well preserved too. Carefully replenished for over half a century, the collection hears evidence of the hunting zeal of King Ferdinand I and King Boris III. Although wood-grouse capercailzies prevail - a real challenge for every hunter, there are also deer, wild goads, wild boars, black cocks and bustards.
09.00 h - 16.00 h.
About 30 min in the lodge.
Bulgarians - BGN 2 (EUR 1)
Foreigners - BGN 4 (EUR 2)
BGN 1 (EUR 0.50)
Borovets is the biggest tourist resort of Bulgaria.
Located in Rila mountain , south of Sofia ,10 km from Samokov town and 70 km from Sofia.
Borovets is a purpose built resort to accomodate large amounts of Package tourists.
If you are into more serious hiking, again, Borovets is just the place for you :)
There are a couple fo marked routes to various sites in Rila:
-- to the Mount of Moussala (6 hours, and from the upper station of the cabin cableway - 3 hours),
-- to Sitnyakovo Palace (1.30 hours),
-- to Chakar Voyvoda Chalet (2.30 hours),
-- to Saragyol Palace (3 hours),
-- to the Maritsa Chalet (4.30 hours),
-- to the Zavrachitsa Chalet (6 hours).
The duration listed above is not from me. I took it from Bulgaria tourist sites, so I am not quite sure if the timing is correct.
I have seen the path signs frequently while I was walking around Borovets area, so you should not get lost that easily. The good news for you is that they are written both in Cyrillic and Latin, so you would be able to read them :)
Although Borovets is mostly known as a ski resort I like to go there during the summer season as well.
I am not a great hiker so I just like to walk around for not more than 2 or 3 hours. Doing this in Borovets is pleasent because you do not need to go far to enjoy stunningly beautiful nature.
Also, the air is so fesh that if you are not used to it, it might even give you a headache :)))
If you tend to take it easy and not walking too much there are two options that I know of. One of the options is to go up the main road. The other option is to take a walk to Chernata skala.
Well, I am not into skiing but I bet it would be tip that would catch the skiers attention :)
Since 2002 two of the ski tracks - 2 and 3 -Martinovi Baraki work nigthtime every day . All lift works as well. If there is not enough snow, snow cannons also works.
The disappointing bit is that they turn off the lights around 22:30.
Sorry for the bad quality of the picture but it was taken with my mobile phone not with the camera.
A total must experience !
Pay 20 Levs for per person and enjoy a wild ride driven by yourself throught the snow covered pine forests. It can be done at night or day, we went at 4pm, because you're having such a great time, time just flies by, and its hard to believe you have had an hrs worth of fun.
If you with someone, you stop halfway and switch drivers, I drove coming back down, its great fun, fast & furious !
This was our host ( as well as her husband and small child ) but she was the only one out of the family dressed in their costume. This was the part of the evening where everyone got up and got " Jiggy With It " ;-)
View of the table, the salad, small drinking vessels, plates and cutlery and if you are wondering what that Genie type pot is in the middle of the table, that is what the hot brandy was poured through !
Again booking this event through your holiday rep you can experience what it was like in a traditional Bulgarian House, how they eat and drink. We were lucky as our Ski Instructor knew where we could go cheaper so he kindly arranged it and by 19.00hrs we were on a mini bus heading towards a Bulgarian Home.
When we arrived we were greeted by a woman in a traditonal Bulgarian dress holding a large plate of home made bread, we were then shown inside and seated, after getting comfortable and admiring the dead fox hanging above the door, we were given a small drinking vessel which was filled with hot brandy whilst the larger vessel was filled with a kind of fizzy orange drink. We each had a small plate of like a coleslaw dish and the idea was to have a sip of brandy, then the orange then the food, but after afew brandies it did'nt really turn out that way !
With the meal well under way we were given a soup followed by a dish of stewed potato's with veal, and a apple turnover with a pot of natural yoghurt, and that was absolutely gorgeous.
After everyone had eaten and all the plates taken out and the band singing away with a microphone that looked like a huge orange on a stick, 2 people from each table were taken into the back and appeared 5mins later dressed in traditional costume where they had to dance around looking like something out of Heidi ! It was a great evening and the hospitality was lovely, the drink was unlimited so as you can imagine there was afew sore heads the following morning....Serves them right !
A recommended night out is at Mamacitas, its a night booked through your holiday rep, although you can pre-book yourself, ( this is advisable as it does get very busy ) the night consists of a BBQ food kebabs, grilled chicken, potato's, salad and more if you want, then the wine tasting event. This is 4 bottles of white and 4 bottles of red wine, were the guy explains every part of bulgaria the wine originates, at the end of the whole tasting they pick 1 person per table to taste a wine ( Each table has the same wine ) they have to pick which they think is the correct one, if right you win a bottle of champagne, even if you don't win you still get a free bottle of your favourite wine you have tasted that night, but the catch is you have to collect it before midday the following day, which is hard if you are ski-ing ! But all in all its a great night out, and the live band are fantastic.
You must have a Sleigh Ride, it is actually 2 or 1 horses with a cart and sleigh bells, and for 10 levs its well worth it. We got one from the gondola station up to the hotel and it makes a lovely refreshing change and better still gives your legs a rest..... 8 legs are better than 2 !
Chair lift ride to top of Martinovi Baraki
lovely view over the tops of the pine forest. We did start a walk up here but we had no map, I couldn't understand the signs so didn't have a clue how long or where the path went!
Take a ride on the main gondola in Borovets
enjoy the views and soak up the atmosphere at a mountain restaurant. When we got itchy feet we started off on the path that leads to the foot of the MUSSALA 2925m, the highest peak in the Rila range. It was a bit dicey as we kept crossing the ski-piste - black runs too - and I daren't look down for fear of slipping - but we made it and the view was wonderful.
Many shops ('alpine chalet' buildings) line the main road leading to the Rila Hotel and great bargins can be found in Ski wear, CD's and wines - Bulgaria has some good ones. I enjoyed a 1993 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Maritsa river region, for only £2.50!