From the moment the taxi driver had a row with our hotel receptionist about taking us to the mountain (after being booked over the phone) I should of known something was strange: He calmed down when we agreed through brutal interpretation that we’d be willing to be dropped at the chair lifts at the foot off the mountain. Of course on arrival we learned that the lifts aren’t operational to which our taxi driver kindly kicked us out and vaguely pointed at a local saying ‘jeep, take’ so we obligingly got out of the taxi and tried to haggle a journey up the mountain with a non English speaking native. After a lot of grunts and finger gestures we thought we’d negotiated a good price to be taken up the mountain with the option of walking back down. Well that’s what we thought. We walked to the ‘jeep’ (a battered old 30 year old Volkswagen estate) where the Driver began to drive us in the opposite direction of the mountain, what began to feel like a hostage situation became more reassuring when he pulled into a petrol station to fill up for the journey ahead, what quickly became unreassuring was when he asked if we’d like some ‘water? Pepsi? WHISKEY!?!!’ Then burst into tears of laughter to which at the time we laughed until he continued the journey drinking from a promiscuous bottle of ‘water’ which he swigged from sparingly whilst swerving around the bends toward the mountain.
My fears were concurred when he kept pointing out the window towards Sofia whilst not looking at the road. I think his frustration was that we were looking out the front window round each bend rather than looking at the views of the city below. (Because someone had to) we were wrapping the seatbelts round us and holding them against the seats with our hands.
After about 15 minutes we reached the summit. It soon became clear that not a lot was happening so we had to secure a lift back down for 40 lev with this guy. We told him we would be back in around 2 hours.
We began to explore the mountain and searched for the promised panoramic views of Sofia. There was no snow- so no skiing, empty chair lifts and a few strange people walking around. It was a scene from a horror film. A very eiry feel. We saw 3 people and an Alsatian with the Alsatian leading the way towards us. We hid for a bit before walking around for a bit longer. We found refuge in a nearby ‘restaurant’ the best thing about this was the real fire where we sat and drank two cans of Heineken before making our way back to our luxury chauffeur. He kindly dropped us off at the side of the motorway on the way back.
Do not be put off by the photos. We appreciate we MUST have gone at just the Wrong time. We are baffled why no one told us this was the wrong time however. From our hotel, to the taxi driver and to the ‘broken’ ski lift centre at the bottom.