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Why Are We In Bulgaria?

It’s been awhile since the remote team at Happyporch have got together IRL / AFK (in real life / away from keyboard…in person) so I think everyone was excited about the prospect of three whole weeks in a Coworking, Co-living environment. Right?

We decided on Bansko, a small mountain town in Bulgaria for our meet up. This was largely driven by the existence of Coworking Bansko, a great working space with a community feel. Also, Bulgaria is on the way from Australia to Scotland for Barry and Simone, right?

Working and Living

Being in the ‘office’ has made work motivating and efficient. Productivity is high. The community feel has made the social stuff we try to incorporate on these meet ups really easy. There’s lots of advice on life in general in the town so settling into our apartment and the domesticity that goes with it has also been smooth.

the view from our apartment


We’ve got a nice routine going. Every morning some of us get up for a run and a short work out in the park. Simone can now do four pull ups in a row.

Every morning we also have a team meeting. This varies between sharing knowledge, talking about the future of Happyporch, how we all feel in our roles, discussing short, medium and long term goals. We hardly ever get to do this when we’re all in our own spaces busy working so it’s useful to have a chance to talk about the strategic part of the business. Because of the time difference between Bulgaria and the UK we can easily fit this in before client work ramps up for the day.

Stretching as a team. Thanks for the talk on good laptop working posture, Barry.


We head to Coworking Bansko for the bulk of the working day. We get stuff done, chat with other members, lunch, hang out by the water cooler. There’s a pizza place next door. They knock on the wall when our order is ready. There’s a café on the corner that sells us croissants with fake Nutella for less than 50p. There’s a restaurant around the corner which has a lunch menu from €2. We’re making use of the presentation space too.

Ondrej giving a presentation.

Bankso Play Time

It’s not all work and no play though.

Barry and Simone went to a fish restaurant by a dam with the owners of Coworking Bankso. The team go out on the town for dinner. The restaurants in Bansko are cheap. Even the expensive ones seem reasonable for those of us who normally live in expensive countries.

We’ve been to the Izgreva Hot Springs mineral pools in a nearby town. Hours of relaxation in warm water with views of the mountains.

Friday night drinks exist here. Thanks Wine Bar 25 and other Coworking people. We’re pretty sure that Filipe loves The Club too. The rest of us can claim we don’t even know where it is.

Simone went hiking with Dzaja (Jaiya, Ondrej’s girlfriend joined us for a couple of days) in the Pirin Mountains above town. Simone went to work after that, of course.

Pirin Mountains Hike

Bankso Play Time

On our first weekend in Bulgaria we all got up eager for a day in the Rila Mountains (even Filipe, nursing a hangover from The Club). We drove our hire car 2.5 hours to another mountain range, aiming for the 7 Rila Lakes. Usually, there’s a ski chair lift which still runs in the summer, ferrying hikers higher up the mountain. On Saturday, high winds shut that old chair lift down. Enter the four-wheel drive jeep drivers. We thought it was a bit steep but the wild ride high up the mountain made us feel we got our money’s worth. Maybe not Filipe. He almost fell out the back and then landed in Ondrej’s lap. 

We started our hike at about 2100 metres. We didn’t climb long before we hit the snow line. Luckily we were all appropriately dressed…

How'd those shorts work out, Ondrej?

It was a warm day so we ploughed on through the snow drifts, getting higher and higher. The three-hour circuit took us to five of the seven Rila Lakes.

Lake 1/7 - Rila Lakes

We were keen to keep going higher but the snow got deeper and deeper and the weather looked like it was coming in a bit so we took the sensible route back to the chair lift area. We had a great time tramping across the snow, crossing rivers, practically wading through swampy land. Our feet were soaked but we were happy.

Even happier when we found that the chair lift was back up and running by the time we finished hiking. All part of the adventure.

We treated ourselves to a soak in the hot springs on the way back to Bansko.

So far, we feel that this is shaping up to be our most successful meet up. Hard work, followed by hard play.

Oh, yeah. We’re getting massages too.

About the author

Simone Gribble

Simone is controlling, in the best way. She keeps track of our sustainability on all fronts - financial, environmental, and social. The key instigator for the intense collaboration sessions that bring our distributed team together, Simone ensures we are always raising the bar to meet our mission.

If she's not running a finance report, you'll likely find her dancing, cycling, or sprinting across far-flung locations (and occasionally closer to one of her two homebases, Edinburgh and Melbourne).