Bulgaria, maybe Romania

Old Jan 29th, 2002, 07:02 AM
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Bulgaria, maybe Romania

I've just started researching these countries, not really sure about the itinerary yet or whether we will try to do one, both or Bulgaria and a few days in the Czech Republic (already been to Prague so we'd probably head out to some of the other towns like Cesky Krumlov).

I'm limited to either traveling over Memorial Day or Labor Day, probably for about 10 days max. I'm hoping to use BA frequent flier miles into Sofia or I could also go into Prague. I assume we'd fly between Prague and Sofia if we did that but would probably use a train from Sofia to Bucharest, maybe overnight as it looks like a 10 hour trip. Or maybe it would be easier to fly?

Any thoughts on getting around Bulgaria? Not sure if I want to rent a car but on the other hand it looks like the trains are sort of limited and would obviously slow us down. Is it possible to see Sofia in a day? or two? What other places in Bulgaria would you recommend? I assume at the end of May or beginning of September that most of the resort areas on the Black Sea would be sort of quiet (as was Montenegro at the end of May) but still worth seeing?

Has anyone tried combining a trip to Bulgaria and Romania? Best way to travel between the two?

Any thoughts you'd like to pass my way would be great.
Old Jan 29th, 2002, 07:17 AM
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I would take the train, first class is cheap and confortable,driving in Romania is very difficult if not familiar with the rds. Black See resorts are coming alive firs week of June, in May just a hand full of hotels and restaurants are open in Neptun and Mamaia.
Old Jan 29th, 2002, 07:29 AM
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Koprivshtitsa is a *beautiful* museum-town in the mountains of Bulgaria (and my favorite part of the trip.) We didn't have time to make it to the Rila Monastery, but it looks amazing.
Old Jan 29th, 2002, 09:13 AM
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Julie, one of the guides I've been reading suggested Koprivshtitsa. Can we get there using the train/bus or do we need a car?

Old Jan 30th, 2002, 09:48 AM
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Anyone else?
Old Jan 30th, 2002, 01:55 PM
Ben Haines
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Dear Ms Dabertin,

I'm in Romania yearly, and in Bulgaria about every three years.

In Bulgaria I like the railway history museum in Ruse, the old city of Plovdiv, and the destroyed 13th century capital of Veliko Turnovo. Sofia is worth a day. I think the seaside places (as in Romania) are pretty dull in late May, but lively enough in September. You could cover all this plus Koprivshtitsa and Rila Monastery in ten days. I wouldn't try to pack in Romania too, unless you're sure you'll never be back in the Balkans. Romania has easily ten days' worth of good things, as you're now reading. But if you do combine them you'd take sleepers in either of the night trains between Bucharest and Sofia.

Again, you've not time to throw in Cesky Krumlov, beautiful though it is.

I'm not sure trains would slow you down in Bulgaria. As you say they are few, but run at reasonable speed, and leave you much fresher than driving does. The Lonely Planet guide to East Europe (sorry, Fodors) says at page 175 that trains run every couple of hours in 90 minutes from Sofia to Koprivshtitsa railway station, where a bus meets the train to cover the last 10 kilometers into town. In the Thomas Cook European Timetable, at table 1520, a suitable train is the buffet car service from Sofia at 0715, while the train back reaches Sofia at 2050.

Please write if I can help further. Welcome back to Europe.

Ben Haines, London

Old Apr 22nd, 2002, 11:16 PM
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First I am from Romania, but I traveled quite a lot so I hope to be objective. (Now I am in Singapore)

There is only one train from Sofia to Bucharest (Sofia 19.00 – Bucuresti 7.00), and it will take you 12 hours, but it has sleeping seats, so it is quite comfortable. Although the flight from Sofia to Bucharest will take you one hour getting to and from the airport will take you 5 hours during the day.

Coming from west both Sofia and Bucharest will seem pretty dull. The best way to see these cities is to have a Bulgarian/Romanian friend, because most of the old buildings were destroyed during the communist period. If you decide to go to Romania let me know, so I can recommend you some of my friends, to show you around. Therea are some one-day-trips from Bucharest that you might enjoy, like Curtea de Arges or Mogosoaia. Also you can easily travel by train to Valea Prahovei where are quite nice mountain resorts, and also a palace from XIX century.

Another interesting thing to do is to visit the monasteries in Moldavia. Unfortunately, the best way to visit them is by car, and as I’ve seen that people coming from west having trouble coping with the roads in Romania. Most of them are in good shape, but quite narrow. There is only one highway in Romania.

Also you can decide to go from Sofia to Macedonia. A 3-4 day trip to Skopie and Ohrid it’s quite nice. You can travel only by bus, and the trip from Sofia to Skopie will take you 6 hours, from Skopie to Ohrid 3 hours (you can stay in Skopie and go just during one day to Ohrid).

Another nice place in Bulgaria is Velico Tirnovo.

I traveled in all these places quite recently so if you have any other question do not hesitate to write me. Also I might add that none of these places will pose any security risks, Macedonia included.
Old Apr 22nd, 2002, 11:31 PM
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Hi Kristi, I was in Romania last Sept. We had a car and the only problems that we had watching out for the potholes in the secondary roads. You would need a good map. We liked the Transylvania area better than the southern part of the country. Both are very inexpensive (the avg cost for a nice dinner was about US $3.00). We had a very nice dinner in the house that Dracula was born in Shighasura. We spent 3 nights in Brasov and took day trips from there. You could see out trip report if you search under Romania or Poland.
Old Apr 23rd, 2002, 12:43 PM
Ben Haines
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There are three trains daily from Sofia to Bucharest, 0825 to 1916, 1905 to 0700, and 2200 to 0833. The day train has no catering, and you may need to change at Giurgiu Nord. The 1905 train has 4 berth Russian and Ukrainian sleepers, and you may find that you can book a berth only by going to the train and asking a car conductor to book you. The 2200 train runs to 15 June and has 1, 2 and 3 berth sleepers. It has seats, too, but they make for a bad night.

Sofia and Bucharest both boast splendid museums of archaeology. Neither is as attractive a place for strolling and sightseeing as Plovdiv, Brasov, Sibiu, and Sighisoara, none of which saw destruction in the communist period.

Ben Haines, London
Old Apr 24th, 2002, 12:07 AM
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Sorry for the mistake. Yes there are 3 trains daily. If you want to check any other trains that pass Romania I suggest you go to http://www.cfr.ro/defeng.htm (keep in mind that Bucharest is Bucuresti if you want to use the site . The best way for a foreigner to go to Sibiu, Brasov, Sinaia or Sighisoara I think would be by train, or you can tray renting a car. Trains in Romania are cheap and if you use R and EC-trains are quite comfortable.

It is true that both Bucharest and Sofia are ravaged by communism, but if you are interested in observing o society passing from communism to a free market economy this is the place to go. In Bucharest you can visit the second building in volume in the world (after The Pentagon), witch is one of the most grotesque landmarks left by the communist period. I remind you that best to visit either Bucharest or Sofia would be with someone who lived there during the communism and also the years that followed.

Razvan Rughinis
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