I’m holidaying in Cornwall this year, one of my favourite UK destinations, where I also like to keep my eye out for any summer mushrooms that may be about – when time permits of course.
Hopefully in the not too distant future, I would also like to venture abroad and enjoy a summer/autumn break to take in the sights and go on a little foray or two. As it happens, a recent email from Ian Holbrook & Hazel Ellis who run a hotel in Bulgaria caught my eye, and fuelled my interest. Apart from the usual and interesting holiday excursions, this destination also offers beautiful natural surroundings, with a wealth of mushrooms and fungi as well as other interesting flora and fauna. What better way to combine a holiday with foraging I thought – my kind of relaxation!
It might be a while before I visit there (due to several factors beyond my control – boo!), but I’d thought I’d pass on the information to you, my audience, and see what you think. Holiday season is more or less upon us too. Here’s what Ian had to say…
“By way of introduction, my partner Hazel and I run walking and activity holidays in Bulgaria and as a self obsessed (but beginner) Shroomy, I came across your website whilst rambling the web recently. I saw you mentioned that finding a Jack O’ Lantern would be a good excuse for a holiday in Southern Europe and this gave me the idea to ‘pen’ this note to you (although out of the Chanterelle-like shrooms I couldn’t swear that we have the Jack…but I’m now going to be looking out for it this year!). We have a huge array of fungi growing in the valley, hills and mountains around us and collecting edibles in the season is a major pastime of the villagers life and there is of course, like France, great competition over the collecting of Boletus and Chanterelles! So the reason I write is to make you aware of Pirila Hotel and for your future consideration as a destination for one of your Foreign Forays! The hotel is ideally located between the Pirin and Rila mountains (hence it’s name) in the village of Dolno Draglishte near the ski resort of Bansko (1.5hr from the Greek border). It doesn’t take long to get to either mountain area, however Puff Balls, Field and many other species grow prolifically behind the hotel and the slopes leading into the forest, so you just need to don boots and get walking!
The hotel normally operates as an all inclusive tour, meaning, airport transfers, walk and tour transfers, guides (we also have access to a local fungi expert), translation (very important here!), en-suite twin room accommodation, breakfast, packed lunch, 3 course evening meal – all alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks whilst in the hotel, private pool, internet etc. flights however are not included. The normal rate is £550 per person based on two sharing and for a large group (14 up to 20) you can have sole use and define your own itinerary (eg. include several winery tours etc. – the wine here is excellent and great value Smile emoticon). Of course there would be a significant party leader discount available!!
I have attached some pictures of just a few of the fungi that were around last year (the beginning of September is the normally the height of season, or mid June) and a few pics of the hotel although more info can be found at www.hotelpirila.com. Whilst we are fully booked during August and from 12th Sept to end of season, the week commencing 5th Sept currently has availability (as of 1 May, 2015).
If there is anything further you wish to know then please don’t hesitate to call or message us and please feel free to share this with any friends, associates, or on any forums!”
Thanks for getting in touch Ian & Hazel. Good luck for the main mushroom season. Enjoy the bounty!