Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 11:57:55 AM EST
As promised, a diary of images of the town in Bulgaria where I own a property. The town itself is built along a fairly steep sided valley that runs SW from the Pirin mountains (on the other side of which is Bansko, the ski resort) down to the river Struma and which then flows out towards the Aegean.
These are three shots taken from the same vantage point going from left to right, ie north to south, I apologise for the haze and the lighting, but given the season it's about the best I could do.
The first shows the "lovely" Soviet era high rise development. There is little one can say in favour of these ghastly, inappropriate and now rotting buildings that are hot in summer and cold in winter.
This main picture shows most of the town and the valley behind it. The long white building in the centre is the "Hotel Sandanski", which transformed the fortunes of the town. It was commissioned by a german millionaire after he discovered that his son's health, who is a severe asthmatic, was considerably helped by the health-giving air of the town. It had always been a spa resort since Roman times, and a popular retreat for richer Sofian residents. However the founding of the hotel boosted the international appeal of the town, which until then was a pretty unappealing town reeling from the general economic collapse. Now it has several 4- & 5-star hotels (all over rated imo).
This last picture shows the area of Polynitsa, which is where I often stayed in town. The climb up the hill from town is pretty severe, rising perhaps 120 m in one Km. It's a good walk down, but a punishing return. And on a wet day there are no gutters so you have to watch the traffic.
Another couple of views invovling the Hotel Sandanski. The first shows the fountain with a large amount of ice during February. Just nearby is a hot spring which pours at a steady 82 degrees centigrade and that is hot. The second is up the valley with the Pirin mountains in the background. The object in the foreground is part of the huge collection of public art scattered around the very large town park in Sandanski. A collection that is unique in Bulgaria (and only slightly vandalised).
Anyway, as I explained, the area has long been a resort area for wealthy Sofians and, naturally that included the communist President who had a "Palace of the People" here (from which the people were meticulously excluded of course). As you can see it looks more like a Bond villain's mountain fortress but is now a hotel with a handily placed nuclear bunker underneath. However given its soviet era provenance, the concrete is very obviously decaying and will probably require substantial repair in the near future as it rots. Still it's got a nice (and only slightly dangerous) swimming pool and the gardens and views are pretty spectacular.
And finally : there's a very fine apartment for sale in Sandanski.. any sensible offer considered !!