The Longest Waterside in Europe is HOW Long?
Brent and I aren’t exactly known for our daredevil antics, but when we heard our current home of Bansko, Bulgaria, has the longest water slide in all of Europe, we said, “Hell, yeah!”
Okay, that’s what Brent said. I might have said, “Are you out of your freaking mind, you death-courting lunatic?”
Did I mention the slide is located in a ski resort and goes down the side of a mountain at a zillion kilometers an hour? We also heard from friends that you have a fifty/fifty chance of dying during the ride.
Or maybe that’s only what I heard. But still.
A number of our friends definitely said it was scary. One said it felt like being waterboarded (you can’t breathe the whole ride down so much water is flying into your face). Another said you flew down so fast, you got, uh, a colonic along with ride.
Um, yeah, maybe not so much.
Finally, we talked to our friend Casey, who is very sensible. She said: Sure, it goes fast, but it isn’t like you’re taking your life in your hands. So based on that, I threw caution to the wind and agreed to go.
Or to put it another way, Brent dragged me there kicking and screaming.
To reach the slide to death, you first take a thirty minute gondola ride to the middle of the Pirin Mountains. (Brent has a small fear of heights, so to get even, I might have made the gondola cab rock wildly back and forth while screaming, “IT’S A LONG WAY DOWN, INNIT IT?”)
Once at the top, you pay someone $8, then change into the outfit you want to be buried in, and hike in bare feet up to the top. Sure, they put down a thin piece of AstroTurf over the rocky ground, but you’re still hiking 400 meters (or 1300 feet) up a flipping mountain.
I imagine it’s a lot what an inmate on death row feels taking that final walk. Except at least they get a meal first.
The slide itself is a little bit like a really long Slip’n-Slide with inflated bumpers on each side made of orange plastic. I’m sure they chose orange so the blood-stains would be less visible.
Now a word about Bulgarian safety standards.
Bwa ha ha! There are no Bulgarian safety standards! That’s specifically why a lot of European businessmen move here.
Once at the top of the ride, and after the Bulgarian operator lackadaisically pantomimed the steps I needed to take to avoid dying, I didn’t have a lot of confidence the slide wouldn’t disintegrate underneath me, flinging me over a cliff where I’d plunge 3,000 meters to my death. (The fact that our elevation was only 1,650 meters and the closest cliff wasn’t even within sight is totally irrelevant. It’s the emotional truth that counts here.)
Passing on the operator’s suggestion I get a running start and fling myself onto the slide like a drunk otter, I climbed onboard the Bulgarian death trap. Cold water washing around my legs and bum, I laid back, tightly cupped my hands over my nose and mouth (because who doesn’t love a ride where you have to worry about breathing?), and pushed off.
Since I’m writing this post, I obviously survived this Bulgarian horror show. So what was the experience like? Rather like being blasted in the face with a fire hose while you bounce up and down on top of a pile of rocks. Let’s just say, it wasn’t the highlight of my time in Europe.
BTW, if you’re a guy and you decide to go, make sure all of your important bits are snugly put away, because while you’re going one direction, your swim suit is going the other way. Alas, the operator won’t share this tidbit with you.
Now pardon me while I go risk my life the proper way: by stuffing my face with bar after bar of chocolate.
(Parts of this story may have been exaggerated for comedic effect.)