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SINGAPORE – I have never seen snow, and the prospect of falling headfirst into snow chills me.
So when I walked into Urban Ski at Millenia Walk, I was pleasantly surprised to realise that it was a comfortably cool environment, and no snow  was in sight.
Instead, the adjustable ski slope is covered with a layer of nylon carpet that is sprayed with water to mimic the smoothness of snow.
The slope at Urban Ski, which opened in July 2015, is essentially a giant treadmill that simulate a downhill motion.  I am told it’s easier and better to learn skiing indoors, as feedback can be given immediately.
For a start, I was given tips on how to stand and hold onto the bar in front of me, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the sudden jerk when the slope began to move. Thank goodness I held on to the bar, tight.
In time, I recovered my composure, stayed on my feet and got the hang of skiing on the slope.
The tough part came at the snowboarding segment. Having both legs bound to a board made it extremely difficult to manoeuvre.
At the end of the 30-minute session, I felt like I had just done a full body workout, along with all the aches and pains.

 (Editor’s note: This post is part of our Dispatches Detours continuing series of travel stories about unconventional destinations accessible to Europe-based expatsTerry Boyd also contributed to this post, which has been updated with new information.)


For many American expats, and even Brits and Europeans, Eastern Europe is terra incognito.

cherveno_zname_ski_run1446545745But as Dispatches found out earlier this year, Bulgariaand other countries such as Romania have a lot to offer, especially to adventurous expat travelers in Europe broadening their horizons.

One thing is for certain: Southeastern European ski resorts are well worth checking out for 2017.

For example, Bulgaria offers some of the best skiing in Europe at resorts that are sophisticated yet affordable. And, because they’re so far south, Bulgarian mountains get significant moisture that guarantees snowfalls between sunny days.

For example, right Switzerland is pretty much snow-free as of early January. But starting 6 January, a blizzard swept through Bulgaria and Romania dumping up to 60 centimeters (2 feet) of fresh snow. Yet another reason to check out Bulgarian resorts in 2017.

The largest and most developed ski resorts in Bulgaria are Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo. The resorts draw skiers from all over Europe, but Brits seem to make up the largest single visitor category.

Bulgaria has some of Europe’s sunniest slopes, cheapest prices and friendliest locals.


Borovets is the oldest and biggest international mountain resort in Bulgaria. It’s located at 1,350 meters above sea level (with highest pistes at 2,600 meters), on the Northern slopes of Rila Mountain. The location is famous for the surrounding pine woods at the foot of Mt. Mousala (2,925 meters), the highest mountain on the Balkan peninsula.

Borovets is easily accessible to the main airport in Sofia, the capital and largest city, at about 70 kilometers, and 126 kilometers from second-city Plovdiv, which also has an airport.

From the Borovets website:

The total length of the ski pistes is 58 km. The ski runs vary in difficulty. The pistes are grouped in 3 ski centers: pistes of Sitnyakovo – Martinovi Baraki region; 4 pistes of Markudjik region and 3 pistes of Yastrebets region. The best ski slopes are those of Yastrebets ski center where all winter sports competitions take place.

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madjacks ski boot adapter 1
Skiers and snowboarders have always had a tough time seeing eye to eye on much of anything. Both groups share a love of fresh powder of course, and they each enjoy gliding down the slopes at breakneck speed. But aside from that, there is little else to unite these two competing factions.However, if there is one thing that skiers have always been a bit jealous about, it is how comfortable snowboarding boots are compared to the ones they are forced to wear. Thankfully, a new product that recently launched on Kickstarter promises to ease this pain forever, and give skiers and snowboarders one more thing they can agree on.

MadJacks is a special adapter that has been designed to connect to the bindings that you already have on your skis, giving you the ability to use snowboard boots rather than the more uncomfortable and rigid ski boots. The system reportedly offers the same level of control that skiers have come to expect, but with the improved fit and feel that snowboarders have enjoyed for years.

The motivation behind the design of the MadJacks is three-fold. First, the product addresses issues with pain that many skiers are forced to deal with while wearing their boots. Secondly, the MadJacks system allows them to maintain a high level of performance without sacrificing comfort, and finally it offers a more affordable solution to traditional ski boots as well.

The system costs just $199 and since it utilizes less expensive snowboard boots, MadJacks owners could potentially save hundreds of dollars.

At its most basic level, MadJacks combines elements of a standard snowboard binding and properties from a ski boot, creating a hybrid of both. This results in a binding that accepts snowboard boots, but can — at least in theory — still provide the same level of performance that skiers expect. On top of that, those rare winter athletes who enjoy both sports can use the same boots no matter how they decide to shred the slopes.

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Article by Xavier, for Madame Bulgaria, a french nomad guy passionate of sports of sliding and of travels around the world, based in Sofia, and cofounder of 2 successful companies : Tribway (a concept store of the best gifts of the web) and Tribway Consulting (helping you develop and launch your web projects). Distinctive sign : super cool. 

It has been snowing in Sofia for days, with temperatures between -10 and -20 C°. Fortunately, this Friday the weather finally announces sun and positive temperatures ! I jump at the opportunity to spend the day in Borovets, and enjoy this fresh snow. I leave with my friend Viki who recently won a season ticket to the raffle (which lucky !). Well equipped, we start to assault the pleasantly deserted trails on this weekday. As expected, the sun and the snow are at the rendezvous. We take full advantage of it! It is by bus that we return very tired but satisfied, in Sofia. We can not wait to go back! Situated at 1300 m, on the northern slopes of the mountain of Rila, the station of Borovets has 58 km of alpine ski runs (from 2560 to 1300 m) and 35 km of cross-country ski trails, all levels, grouped in 3 zones : Sitnjakovo (8 slopes); Jastrebec (3 slopes) and Markudžika (4 slopes). Borovets is providing very good conditions for snow sports during the winter : skiing, night-skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ski jumps and biathlon, ski-doo, etc. While skiing, you can enjoy amazing views of the valley, with the Samokov town and the Iskar Lake. In the distance, you can also see the Vitosha mountain, and on the ot her side, you won’t miss the Musala peak, which is the highest peak of the whole Balkan Peninsula, at 2925m ! The resort itself is very pleasant, with many restaurants and bars. On a good day, you can enjoy a tasty lunch on a sunny terrace during your ski break. The fantastic Hotel Rila will make your stay unforgettable (although you won’t forget the price either). If you’re on a budget, you’ll find cheaper accommodation in the town of Samokov, which is only 20 minutes away. In summer, Borovets is also the starting point of many wonderful hikes, such as the ascents of the Musala and Malyovitsa peaks. Have fun !

Practical info : To get to Borovets : First, you have to take a bus from Sofia (station “south”) to Samokov. Travel time : 1h10 early in the morning, rather 1h30 on the return with traffic. Cost : 6 leva per journey. To enjoy the day it is advisable to take the first start at 7:00am. After that, leave every half hour (schedule details). Once in Samokov you have to take another bus to Borovets, which runs every half hour. Do not rely on the schedules displayed at Samokov, which are incorrect! Cost : 1.40 leva per journey. Duration : about 20 minutes. A taxi for the same journey costs about 15 leva. Otherwise by car : 73 km and about 1 hour 20 minutes. Start of the ski lifts : 8:30am/End of the ski lifts : 4:30pm-5:00pm, depending on the lifts. Price of the day package : 55 leva. Prices of equipment rentals : about 25 leva the day for a pair of ski / snowboard + shoes. Lessons: 35 leva / 2 Hours. I like : scenic views, runs for all skill levels, many food options. Could be better : a direct bus from Sofia would be great !

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Last month, six crews went head-to-head for the Intersection film competition, part of the esteemed Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival. The grand prize: $10,000… So what do you do to come out on top? Make this gem: Jerry’s Day—starring Stan Rey as “Jerry.”

ALSO WATCH: Last year’s winning submission by The Big Picture crew

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