Remote work is great, but spending time together is awesome. That's why we try to meet twice a year so we can bound and build the team. For our latest team building we wanted to snowboard/ski, that's why we choose Rila lakes as our location.
Friday, 30 January - Getting Together
Working from home means that I can just wake up, brush my teeth and start working. That's why I decided to stay at a friend of mine, who lives a good 30 minute walk from SOHO (co-working place). It was nice putting my headphones and do a morning walk to work for a change.
Having in mind I didn't know where SOHO was, I spent around 5 minutes looking for it until I saw Avi. We actually met just in front the entrance. Ivo was already there and he saw us through the window so he came out to welcome us. The room was not bad, kinda chilly, but we started working, while we were waiting for the others.
After Sve and Zlatan arrived it was already time to have lunch, so Avi recommended a place nearby which we went to. It was nice and the food even nicer. It even had a chair on the ceiling, for those hungry people that don't know what gravity is. In the mean time Balázs arrived, so David was the only one missing.
We went back to SOHO to finish some of the pending things and around 5 o'clock we called it a day. While some of the guys had some things to take care off, some of us (Sve, Balázs and me) were in a mood for a beer. Sve took us to a nice Irish pub and I drank some kind of red beer, which was nice. I really enjoy drinking beer :)
Ivo and Zlatan were going to buy some winter gear, and I needed a ski mask as well, so I joined them. We went to a big sports outlet with Ivo's car. And man, he is driving this small vehicle like a true citizen of Sofia, which means that we actually saved some time.
We had big plans for tomorrow and we wanted to start early so we can use most of the sunlight, that's why nobody was in a party mood. Nobody but me :). So I actually went for a drink with a couple of friends of mine and we managed to get home around 1am, so I had time to rest before the big day.
Saturday, 31 January - Day 1
Our plan was to wake up as early as possible and head to the mountain. And so I did. I woke up around 7, took a shower, packed my bags, took a good shit and while this was happening, Ivo called me and told me that we will postpone the trip and he would probably call me around 9. But I was already excited, and couldn't fall asleep at once. But it eventually happened.
When Ivo called me, it was already 10:30, I was still sleepy and couldn't understand everything that he said, but I understand that they are coming to take me. After we picked up Sve, we met with the rest of the team. It turned out that the weather was shitty and the lift to the hut was not working. But we didn't want to miss on the snow fun and agreed on going to Borovets. The slops were not that great, but still - it was fun. The time flew away super fast and we were late for the hut.
I think everybody, except David, were praying that the lift will be working. We arrived there around 4:30 to discover that there was no way to get to the hut except by foot. We met some people, who were just about to do the same (but without the laptops on their backs) and they said it takes around 2 hours to get to the hut. Which is not a lot. And I really like getting out of my comfort zone, so I was pumped to do it. After a fast break for a meat ball with a slice of bread, our journey began.
It was getting dark and it was snowing. Perfect conditions to visit a place in the mountain located 2100 meters above sea level. Balázs was not excited about the idea (he told me and you could see that he wanted this to be over as soon as possible). He was always ahead of the group, keeping a really good pace. But only after the first couple of hundred meters, he and everybody else realised that this is not going to be easy.
After two hours of walking in the snow, we were still in the woods. And we had to get where there are no trees and then walk "a little bit" more. My shoulders were killing me. At this moment, every step was super hard. The hope that the hut was just over the current hill and the fact it was not there was a nightmare. But we made it! Three hours later we were at the hut, eating hot soup and drinking tea.
It turned out that the hut had some electricity problems and our room was super cold. Good that we brought whiskey with us. After 3 glasses, everything was better, but I continued to enjoy it in my bed under the covers.
Sunday, 1 February - Day 2
Nobody was really eager to wake up on Sunday, except David of course. The fact that we had no hope that the lift will be working helped. But around noun, you were able to see the excitement in the hut when someone told that the lift was working. Four of us decided that we cannot miss this opportunity and went skiing/snowboarding.
I did not start well. My snowboard caught ice and it was stuck on the snow. It was like I was trying to snowboard on rubber. I thought that a bigger hill would help me, so I took a walk, caring my snowboard in a knee-deep snow. But it did not help, so I was forced to clean it.
I was already tired and I haven't snowboarded a bit. But I managed to get my snowboard cleaned from the ice, so I joined the guys, who were waiting me for 20 minutes probably. The snow was kinda heavy and wet, which was taking some of the fun, but I was happy that I did ride even if it was just once. When we reached the end of the slope, I was done! At this point I was praying that the lift will take us back to the hut, and so it did. And I don't know if it was because I was tired already, but getting from the lift to the hut was hell! It was super windy and the snow was super deep. O boy, did I envy the guys with the skis...
After I took a shower, we joined the rest of the group to play some board games and I don't want to brag about it - but I killed them, winning every single game.
David and Avi decided to make another run down and climb the mountain. They have those "ski touring" bindings for their skies, which look really nice. I can say that looking at them got me hooked and I will try skies next season, only so I can do this up-hill thing.
Monday, February 2 - Day 3
Monday was our last chance to ride, because there was a problem with the internet connection and we had to travel back to Sofia to be able to help with the event that we had tomorrow. So we did not waste time. We grabbed something to eat, packed our bags and head out.
The initial idea was to ride down with some of the luggage, come back take some more and then do it again. We were so pleased to find out that we can use the lift to carry our bags for us. Like Avi said "The best 30 leva spent".
After our luggage was out of the picture, we were able to enjoy the rest of the day. And man it was awesome. The snow was perfect. We were taking some tricky paths, finding jumps here and there, riding in the forrest, between the trees. It was as fun as it gets. That's why we didn't want to leave and we rode until they stopped the lift.
Pumped after the awesome powder day, we left for Sofia. And there we decided to do the first ever BP go kart competition. I was super exited as I really like racing and I am a big fan of Formula 1. You cannot compare both, but still - those go-karts were fast and super fun to handle. There was quite a lot of traffic on the track, but I was able to nail the fastest time. "You are either the lightest of all or the most reckless”, my girlfriend replied after I told her.
Having such an active day, called for a nice meal at the end. So we went to a really nice place called Rakia Bar Raketa. Man, those people know how to cook. Everything was super delicious.
Tuesday, February 3 - Goodbye
The following day we met at Betahaus (a co-working place which we visited at our last winter team building). I think that everybody were super happy and we had a slow working morning, managed to finish some tasks and even play darts with Balázs. Avi and Zlatan decided to leave for Varna at noon. The rest of us called it a day and went to have lunch. Ivo took as to a nice place and he order himself the biggest sandwich I have ever seen.
After we drank our coffees, we decided to visit an escape-the-room place in Sofia. We had done this in Hungary, but this place was far better done than it. Spoiler alert - there is a time machine that opens a portal! We escaped in 47 minutes which looks like a really good result.
I had plans to attend a Laravel presentation back in Betahaus, so I said goodbye to the guys and head back. I can say that I was not impressed with the speaker. It was more like a stand up show, instead of something you can benefit from. But still, they had free beer.
It was truly an awesome team building. And it's not like it was super organised, but I think that's what makes it awesome. But it's in the past now. Currently I am thinking about the summer one and meeting again with the guys in couple of more months.
The last photo is taken by an outlaw. :)))