Romania or Bulgaria ?

Aug 4th, 2009, 06:31 AM
  #1  
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Romania or Bulgaria ?

Hi everyone,

I have the possibility of spending 3 days in either of these two countries in October this year. Never having visited either, but having friends who have, one or the other, I'm excited to go but can't decide on which.
Since its only for 3 days, I'm thinking of staying in Bucharest or Sophia, assuming there'd be enough to do for 3 days there, and possibly venturing outside for 1 of those days.
I will likely be getting there by train from Budapest.

This is a recent developmen in my itinerary and I haven't had a chance to research much as yet, but I will.
Has anyone been lately ? Any recommendations and preferences on which of the 2 to visit and places of interest in or around each city ? Also any hotel and restaurant recommendations ?

Thanks very much.

M.
Mathieu is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 07:37 AM
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We have been to both countries. We have visited Bucharest, but we have not been to Sophia. Of the two countries, Romania is far and away the more prosperous. Bucharest is quite large and bears the scars of the Ceaucescu regime, including his monstrous parliamentary palace. We found the central park's collection of homes and other buildings from around Romania -- really, an outdoor museum -- to be a fascinating way to spend the day.

A good out-of-town trip would be to Sinaia where you can visit the castle built by Carol I, King of Romania, around 1885. It's up in the mountains of Transylvania, which are much like America's Appalachians. The nearby city of Brasov makes an interesting contrast -- almost medieval compared to modern Bucharest.

If you want to travel back in time, see what neglect and communist rule can do a people, visit Bulgaria. Go to Velikey Tarnovo. It seems almost a century behind today's world. Everyone we spoke with wanted to get out. Rather forlorn, but friendly.
USNR is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 05:02 AM
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Thank you for your comments, USNR.
You know, for a change of pace - and also because I am genuinely interested in it - I would like to see what life might have been like under the communist regime, and perhaps visiting Bulgaria which is slowily emerging from that way of life might be the place to do so.
I know that Bucharest and Romania has more to offer but, again, this would be different.

I've looked at hotels in Sofia and and it would appear that the core of the city is better developed and modernised but and but there is a greater contrast soon to be found nearby. The countryside also looks beautiful, but I don't know if I'd have time to get to it, or even the Black Sea coast. Varna seems especially nice.

Thanks again.

Any other suggestions / recommendations ?
Mathieu is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 01:33 PM
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If you are interested, I have a good friend who lives in Sofia Bulgaria. She visited with me in the USA two years ago. She has a small travel agency and does guide people to wherever they want to do. Her website is www.christravelbg.com and you could contact her there.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 01:35 PM
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Sorry that was "wherever they want to go". Let me know if you would like anymore info.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 05:27 AM
  #6  
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Thank you Brats. Thats very kind of you.
I could certainly use your friend's help in pointing me in the right direction and possibly even making some reservations for me. I will contact her through her site. Could I mention that I was referred to her by you ? If so, how would you like me to refer to you ?

Thaks again.

M.
Mathieu is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Yes, you can say that I suggested you contact her - brats. I will email and let her know that Mathieu will be contacting her.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 10:51 AM
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My sister and I were planning on going to Sofia last year and found flights from Vienna to Sofia. You may want to check that out if you cannot make good train connections.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 12:47 PM
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Thats terrific Brats, thanks again.

Budapest will be my departure point to Sofia so I am looking at flights from there. I have a 7 day period within which to sandwich 3 days in Sofia so scheduling is tricky. I've managed to find well priced direct flights online with good (not great) departure and arrival times that allow me to make best use of the day in both cities. I'd have liked to make a train journey for the experience and the scenery, but a 17 hour journey (from what I've been told and read) really isn't in the cards this time round.

Once I'm able to confirm my plans, I may even ask your friend to see if she might know of better BUD/SOF flights. I've found some good discounted rates with Malev which I've flown many times before but I know that not everything thats available can be found on the net. It also kills me that the taxes exceed the air fare (!) even though the all-in rate is still pretty low.

(Just FYI, this leg of the trip comes inbetween 5 days in St. Petersberg and 5 more in London at the end, with about 2 days total flying time connecting between Toronto and all these cities - so its a lot of planning).
Mathieu is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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The long train ride from Budapest to Sofia is why I mentioned checking flights instead. We were thinking of going from Budapest to Bucharest and then on to Sofia but it was just too much traveling on poor trains.

We were in Budapest last fall - be sure you have the proper ticket when riding on the city bus or metro. They do have agents coming around to check your ticket/pass and you never know when they will show up. We had ours checked - we purchased a 3 day pass right away so we wouldn't have a problem. We did see people taken off the bus for lack of a pass.

We were lucky to have a friend in Budapest who is high up in the Health Dept in Budapest. She informed us that the tap water is safer than bottled water in Budapest.

We stayed at the Hotel Pest and liked the locations - it is just off Andrassay Ave about one block from the opera house. There are many different buses and also the subway on Andrassay. Hero Square is right down Andrassay Ave. Also the famous Széchenyi Bath
http://www.budapest-tourist-guide.co...est-baths.html

Be sure to try the Hungarian Goulash Soup. It is wonderful!

I have been in St Petersburg one time about 6 years ago. It was quite interesting. We went via train from Helsinki. I would rather spend only 4 days in SP and more time in Budapest. Did you get your Visa for Russia already?

We enjoyed visiting London and other parts of England, Wales, Northern IReland and Ireland. We rented a car and drove in those countries. It was hard at first with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car plus driving on the "wrong side of the road". We managed and we loved being in all of those countries.

You have a great trip planned - enjoy it.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 05:30 AM
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Thanks Brats.

St. Petersburg and Sofia will be new for me but this will be my 4th visit to Budapest and probably my 10th to London.

I love Budapest and am very familiar with it. With each visit comes new discoveries and I am familiar and comfortable taking the trains, trams and buses all over the city and beyond, as well as walking all over. One of my favourite running routes is along the Danube, from Gellert Hill towards the Elizabeth bridge then over it and across the river and back down again. And yes, all the food there is superbe. Ever tried thei open faced sandwiches ? Drooling just to look at.
Same goes for London and the surrounds.
However I don't plan to drive in any of these countries but I have driven before (easily) in Turkey.

I'll keep you posted.
Mathieu is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 06:36 AM
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My friend in Sofia emailed that she will be looking for your email if you decide to contact her. Beside guiding in Bulgaria she takes groups from Sofia to Greece, Turkey, Italy, Albania etc.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 06:37 AM
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My favorite was being at the Freedom Statue at night looking over the city of Budapest. Beautiful!!!

Least favorite - Kletti Train Station
bratsandbeer is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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There's much to see in both cities. However, you have the nice spots in between a lotta grey stuff.
toppertje29 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 01:23 PM
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Thanks Topper. I've had to save Romania and Bulgaria for another trip.

Bratsandbeer : I'm in Budapest right now and loving it. It is my favourite city in Central Europe.
I am living right beside the citadel and freedom stautue and as I'm writing this, I can see the statue all lit up from my balcony door. Once outside on the balcony, The freedom bridge is right in front of me, also all lit up. I was photographing both earlier this evening. Vety beautiful.

I've started another thread called "Hello from Russia, Czech Rep. etc.." on the Europe board in case you want to follow current updates of my trip.

M.
Mathieu is offline  

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