Health and Leisure in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a sunshine haven for fresh, mountain or sea air, open spaces and mineral spa treatments. For many, it is ideal location for a relaxed and healthy lifestyle.

It is no wonder that Bulgaria’s tourism figures are increasing at a level never seen before (50% in the past 4 years). Bulgaria’s recent government initiatives have invested heavily in its leisure industries and in turn they are creating some highly desirable tourist resorts.

Black Sea Resorts

Bulgaria is best known for its budget holiday resorts on the Black Sea. Here you can enjoy great health and leisure activities at a fraction of the cost of most other tourist destinations.

Warm sunshine with pleasant temperatures (around 26°C in summer) comfortable hotels, white, non-tidal beaches, water sports are but some of the attractions to the area. There is also plenty of entertainment laid on by the hotels, including night life at all the resorts. In addition, within minutes you can find yourself in picturesque mountains, ski resorts and golf courses.

The major seaside resorts are located at: Albena, Golden Sands (the largest seaside resort where 22 brand new hotels are currently under construction), St. Konstantin, Varna (known as the sea capital and Bulgaria’s third largest city), Elenite, Sunny Beach (the third largest resort) and Bourgas.
For extra entertainment, modern aqua parks can be found in Golden Sands and Sunny Beach.

There are several nudist beaches in Bulgaria. They are located

– between Albena and Kranevo – after Gergana Hotel in Albena
– Golden Sands resort – past the yacht port, in front of Glarus Hotel
– Kamchia – the widest nudist beach on the Bulgarian Black sea coast and a famous nudist
– Destination.
– Bourgass – north of the town after the Burgas Hotel, direction Nessebur (new town) near the saltpans of Bourgas.
– Sozopol – south of Harmanite beach

Skiing

Today Bulgaria is a highly desirable ski location, with some of the best value skiing and après-ski available in Europe.

The main ski centres are at: Bansko, the most developed of all the resorts but also retaining a rich history and culture, Borovets, the largest, with 40 km of piste, Pomparovo, the highest point is 1,926 m), Chepelare, picturesque and near to the longest Bulgarian ski run, “Mechi Chal (5,200 m) and Vitosha, set in a National Park and overlooking the capital city of Sofia.

The rugged heights of the Rila and Pirin mountains form a spectacular setting for the ski resorts.
The highest peak is Rila with its Musala peak(2925m).

The season is from mid-December, extending through to April in many locations.

The average temperatures in the main ski resorts are:
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
oC -1 1 5 9 15 19 22 23 16 12 6 1
oF 30 33 41 48 59 65 71 74 61 54 42 33

Trekking and Local Culture

To truly experience the character of Bulgaria, you must venture away from the resorts to where the locals live.

The Balkan Range, a 435-mile (700km) chain, crosses the entire country and offers some of the best hiking in Europe.

Rodopi for easy trekking amid green forests

Jeravna or Kotel for more strenuous trekking in the Eastern Balkan mountains

National Parks for various levels of trekking, at Pirin, Central Balkan or Rila

The six very different mountain ranges vary from high, snow-covered peaks to gentle green slopes and forests. They harbour thermal springs and mineral spas. The valleys are rich with Balkan flora and fauna.

The mountain dwellers have their own distinctive customs, crafts, colourful folklore, religious beliefs and speech. They welcome guests with typical Bulgarian warm-hearted hospitality, and are delighted to share age-old traditions and cooking.

Rural Bulgaria is particularly poor and many people here live under the poverty line. The villagers mainly live off self-sufficiency and preserve almost everything they produce, even meat.

Mineral Spas & treatments

People travel from far and wide to discover the health benefits to be gained from the Balkan mountain mineral spas. The main ones are located at:

– Hissarya – 22 mineral springs for the treatment of urological and liver diseases

– Touzlate – for bone diseases

– Sandanski – for bronchial asthma

– Velingrad – for conditions of the respiratory tract and disturbances of the locomotory system, neurological disorders, gynaecological complaints, mild forms of diabetes and obesity

– Kystendil – for conditions of the bones, joints and tendons, disorders of the nervous system, cardiovascular diseases, disturbances of the reproductive system and sterility

Healing Mud

The Black Sea resorts at Sveti Constantine, Pomorie and Albena are famous for their mud treatments.
The best known Black-Sea spa centers are at:
Dobroudja Hotel at Albena resort, Ambassador Hotel at Golden Sand resort, Riviera Holiday Club, Sunny Day and Grand Hotel Varna at St.Constantine resort and Pomorie Hotel in the coastal town of Pomorie.

The boost in tourist amenities has led to many of the luxury 4 and 5 star hotels offering spa centres, including pools, saunas, jacuzzis, solariums and fitness centres. Some of the best can be found in: Castle Hrankov Hotel in Sofia, Grand Hotel Veliko in Lovech, Plovdiv Novotel in Plovdiv and Kempinski Hotel in Zografski, Sofia.

Golf

Despite the abundance of open space, golf is in its early stages of development in Bulgaria. It is developing at a steady pace to create world-class facilities that will not only support the growth of golf in Bulgaria but act as a focus for tourism.

However at the moment there are only three golf courses in Bulgaria. Today’s courses are located at Ihtiman, opened in 2000, 40km from Sofia, and at Sliven, opened in 2004, 90km from the Black Sea.

Due to a huge increase in tourism and foreign interest in Bulgaria, several more golf courses are underway. One of these will be located at Razgrad, in the north-east, about 90km from the Black Sea. More are scheduled to open within the next few years: two at Kavarna and one at Primorsko, near Sozopol. Another course is near completion in the ski town of Bansko.

A large golf complex at Dolna Banya, between Kostenets and Borovets, near Ihtiman, now the country’s foremost ski resort is near completion. Its timely opening is scheduled for 2007, the year of Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union. The complex will include 220 apartments around a comprehensive sports complex, with access to the golf course by a short footpath.

Additional outdoor facilities will include: tennis, volleyball, squash, badminton, lawn bowls, boules (boccia), shooting, archery, croquet, mountain biking, and fishing nearby.

Indoor facilities will include: 140-seat main restaurant and cabaret stage,fingerless gloves for arthritis, blood pressure kit, a huge main bar (perhaps the largest in Bulgaria), a sports bar with projection TV, snooker, pool, table football, table tennis, a Chinese restaurant, Indian restaurant, fast food cafeteria, pizzeria, gymnasium, sauna, massage parlour, clinic, chemist, sports shop and mini market.

Real estate prices in all golf resorts are set to rise substantially with increased public recognition and media coverage. Ian Woosnam, the 2006 Ryder Cup Captain, has increased international awareness whilst becoming heavily involved in the development of two of the new golf complexes at Bansko and Balchik, with their accompanying leisure centres and hotels.

 

The Most Luxurious Las Vegas Hotels

There seems to be no end to luxurious hotels in Las Vegas.You can find it using hotel search. They’re a town that sees a tremendous amount of money changing hands at the casinos so naturally the hotels try to top each other in order to attract the most number of gamblers. The winners tend to spend a lot of money and each hotel would like to be the one the gambler spends at. Of course each new hotel that goes up on the strip has to be bigger, more luxurious and innovative than the one before it. Listed below are some of the five star hotels one can find in Las Vegas

The Bellagio – An Italian style hotel that’s renowned for its elegance and beauty. An artificial lake was built to isolate the hotel from the strip and give it an otherworldly feel. The infamous fountains of Bellagio are found here where the water displays are set to music and light. Inside the lobby, one can look up at the ceiling and see where over two thousand glass flowers have been placed for adornment. One can take a stroll through the hotel’s botanical gardens which are maintained to reflect the changing seasons. Several films were filmed at the Bellagio featuring its famous fountains and elegant curved staircase.

Wynn Las Vegas – Considered one of the tallest buildings in Las Vegas by towering a good sixty stories high. It’s a simple design, unlike so many of the others on the strip that boasts fancy décor or flashy attractions. One needs to go inside to see the fascinating features. One of which is the inclusion of a luxury car dealership featuring Ferrari and Maserati cars.  The famous Wynn art collection is displayed all around the hotel.  The Wynn also boasts several nightclubs and shows inside the hotel.

The Venetian – Another hotel built in the Italian style only this time it’s based on Venice. This hotel boasts an actual canal with gondolas that people can ride in. The Casino at the Venetian offers more than a hundred casino games and a variety of highly acclaimed restaurants. The famous Canyon Ranch Spa is located here in the Venetian.

The Mirage – A golden hotel where the windows are all tinted with gold. At the time it was built, it was considered one of the most expensive hotels to be built and the estimation was that it would take years for the loan to be paid off but the hotel was so popular and brought in so many visitors that the loan was paid in mere months. The Mirage was built at a time when Vegas’ popularity was beginning to decline and the Mirage brought a tremendous boost to the lagging tourism. The famous Siegfried & Roy show used The Mirage hotel as their main venue. As the Bellagio, The Mirage was also featured in several films.

The Golden Nugget – This hotel boasts the largest casino in the Las Vegas downtown strip. It’s also one of the oldest. Its name comes from the fact that they have the world’s largest gold nugget on display in the lobby.

Just going to visit the different hotels in Las Vegas is a tourist draw in itself. They each have unique elaborate features that are sure to dazzle the visitor. One could say that each of them is a theme park in themselves.

Experience South Africa

Experience South Africa

Cape Town

Located at the top of the Cape Peninsula, Cape Town is probably the most popular destination in South Africa. Overlooking Cape Town is the prominent landmark of Table Mountain. Table Mountain is a level plateau with steep cliffs surrounding it which resembles a table. Frequently covered in clouds, these appear to hang over the edge of the mountain like a table cloth. There are some great beaches around Cape Town. Beaches on the Atlantic Coast have much cooler water than on the Indian Ocean Coast, with up to a 10 degree temperature difference. A short ferry ride away is Robben Island which served as a maximum security prison up until 1991, and is now a museam.

Cape Winelands

Close to Cape Town are The Winelands, popular with wine lovers and a great location for weddings. The Winelands are full of picturesque vineyards that produce some of the worlds best wines. There are six different wine regions, with the most famous being the Stellenbosch Wine region. It is well worth going on one of the many wine tours in the regions.

Garden Route

The Garden Route is a popular and scenic route along the south coast of South Africa, starting at Mossel Bay and finishing at Storms River in the Tsitsikamma National Park. The best way to enjoy the scenic route is to hire a car, to really open up the route to exploration in your own time. For those who would prefer not to drive, Africa’s last remaining passenger steam train runs between Mossel Bay and George.

KwaZulu Natal and The Battlefields

KwaZulu Natal set against the Indian Ocean with a sub tropical climate, is a great all year round holiday destination. The Drakensberg Mountains (which translated means Dragon Mountains) are highest in the KwaZulu Natal region. With spectacular scenery, they are great for hiking or for biking. Zululand is home to the largest concentration of battle sites in South Africa, between the British, Boers and Zulus, and there are tours available of the historic sites. A visit to the region isn’t complete unless you take in the culture and traditions of the hospitable Zulus.

South Africa Safari

South Africa is home to some great malaria free safaris. Sabi Sands Game Reserve situated on the western border of the Kruger National Park has excellent guides, luxury accommodation and fine cuisine. The Madikwe Game Reserve situated on the Botswana border, is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, with many superb lodges to stay in. The Shamwari Game Reserve is located on the Garden Route with many great lodges to stay in. Safari’s in Waterberg have some of the most exceptional scenery as a back drop to your wildlife experience visiting South Africa.

China Work Visa (Z)

A work visa is required for persons wanting to work in China for pay.  It is also issued to aliens who come to China for commercial entertainment performance. It is only granted if you and the employer meet certain requirements.  First, the organisation must be accredited to employ foreigners. You must meet the requirements as a ‘foreign expert’ and the employer must obtain a certificate stating that you comply. The most common employment is teaching English for which the minimum qualifications are stated as having English as a first language and having at least a Bachelors degree and two year teaching experience. The age limit for male applicants is 18 – 60, and 18 – 55 for female applicants. However, there is some flexibility in these requirements so if you can find a willing employer they still have a chance of obtaining approvals for you.

The employer will send you a government issued Employment Permit and Visa Notification Letter which you must submit with a photocopies with your application. Accompanying family members should apply for new S1 or S2 visa submitting invitation letter from the relative with work Z in China and a ‘proof of relationship’  i.e. their marriage certificate for a spouse, or birth certificate for a child.

This Z is valid for only 30 days from the date of arrival during which time you and your employer must seek a Temporary Residence Permit for the duration of your contract, to the minimum of 90 days and the maximum of 5 years.

Requirements
1. Applicant’s valid actual passport with at least six months validity left before expiration and at least one blank page left in it.
2. One accurately and truthfully completed Visa Application Form.
3. One recent passport standard photo affixed on the Application Form.
4. Invitation Letter issued by duly authorized entity or Confirmation Letter of Invitation issued by relevant Chinese entities.
5. Work Permit (one of the following work permits):
a. Foreigners Employment Permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the PRC.
b. Permit for Foreign Experts (Foreign Experts Certificate) issued by the State Bureau of Foreign Experts of the PRC.
c. Registration Certificate of Resident Representative Offices of enterprises of foreign countries(regions) issued by Chinese authorities of industrial and commercial administration.
d. An approval document for commercial performances issued by the Chinese government authorities for cultural affairs.
e. Invitation Letter to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations issued by National Offshore Oil Corporation.

How to Apply
You can go to the Chinese embassy, consulates or other diplomatic missions in person for application. You can also entrust your friends, a travel agency or visa agency to act on your behalf. There is no need to make an appointment. Mailed applications are not acceptable.

Processing Time
It usually takes 4 working days for processing. For example, you submit application on Monday and then you can pick up your visa on Thursday. Additional US$ 30 is charged for 1 working day processing, and US$ 20 for 2-3 working day processing.

Visa Fees
The fee is as same as the fee for other types of Chinese visa. Generally speaking, Chinese embassy or consulate only issue single entry Z to aliens. If you apply for it in the United States of America, US$140 for American citizens, US$30 for other citizens.