It is the time of the year again when hordes of British families with school children take to the snowy mountain slopes.
After missing last year – it was more important to focus on paying off the debt completely rather than spending on a visit to the mountains – we are in Bansko (Bulgaria) again.
This year though our visit is slightly different – it wasn’t only a holiday, it was also planned as an investment scoping visit.
We arrived yesterday and the investment part of the mission has already been decided: we are not doing it.
At first, buying an apartment here as an investment property sounds attractive – it is a good resort and the property prices have, I reckon, reached rock bottom. Another attraction is that mountains offer all year tourism; in other words, a property here is not seasonal.
Why did we decide against?
In a nutshell: too many empty apartments, too many semi-finished buildings, too long queues for the lifts and the drains stink. It is a great place but it is over-exploited at the moment.
Well, we’ll keep looking for opportunities.
Now let me tell you about the skiing part.
This is not too hot (pun intended) either. I am writing this with my foot on the table and frozen peas on it. Managed to hurt it somehow – today there wasn’t any skiing for me.
This, of course, gave me some time to walk around (carefully) and think about the changes that have come about since I hit fifty. All this changes potentially save me a fortune and annoy the living h*ll out of me.
Here are the four things on which you can save in a skiing resort when you are over fifty:
Saving 1: Clothes
I passed some great shops selling casual clothes. All were clearly designed for stick insects in their twenties. I did like a casual two piece and then I realised I need XXXXXXXXL. No way! I’ve already bought the biggest skinny jeans in a shop in Cape Town once.
This is how I saved myself about £40 ($70); and who knows how much I’ll save before the week is over.
Saving 2: Entertainment
While roaming the streets of Bansko I realised that most entertainment is either inappropriate or I am not drawn to it; or both.
This place is full of casinos, gambling clubs and more adult entertainment establishments. For me, gambling is out of the question (compulsion, you see) and the naughty clubs hold no attraction at all.
Night clubs are a different matter; unfortunately, these open after my bed time.
In terms of entertainment this leaves simple pleasures like a light dinner and a beer with John.
And this is relative inexpensive and very enjoyable.
Saving 3: No one is trying to entice you
You know how in resorts there are people paid to stand at the entrance of restaurants and nightclubs and entice you inside?
Last night I had to walk through the main street to find an ATM machine. I was on my own – John stayed at the hotel.
There was this guy, standing in front of a night club, telling every passer-by:
“Come in! Party all night!”
Everyone but me!
He just looked through me and smiled at the people coming behind me. That was that.
I suppose this can be considered liberating; I still would have liked it if he made even a half-hearted attempt to entice me in.
Saving 4: No ice-skating
One thing I spend quite a bit when on holiday is trying new things. Here, the thing I’d like to try is ice-skating; and there is no way I am doing that.
When you are fifty, you really should look after your body parts and after your dignity. Falling on cold, hard ice and crawling on your hands and knees to get out of the ring is not the way to achieve either.
Tonight, we watched the ice-skaters for a bit and I realised that I’ll be saving about £70 (over $100) by not trying it and insisting on learning.
These are the savings I’ve been thinking about to make myself feel better that I missed all the fun today. As to the rest…well, nothing comes cheap here.