travel around the Black Sea

Jan 19th, 2008, 02:35 PM
  #1  
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travel around the Black Sea

Hi, I'm thinking of taking a trip around the Black Sea area, starting in Istanbul and ending in Odessa. I don't want to take a tour or a cruise, I like to travel on my own. I have a feeling though, that particular travel route might be kind of difficult. Has anybody got any experience with winging it along the Black Sea coast? Taking trains, etc? Finding hotels on the fly? Safety issues? Thanks!
lynnielegend is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 03:37 PM
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Which way round were you thinking of going? I spent some time in the Crimea, taking a train to Odessa and then a bus on to Moldova in '06, trip report at www.wilhelmswords.com/eur2006.
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Jan 19th, 2008, 04:48 PM
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Well, for no particular reason I thought I'd probably start in Istanbul and work my way north. The thing I'm most concerned about is the bus/train service in each country and how easy or otherwise it will be when I get to each destination to get to the next! I can't seem to find any real info on the web.
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Jan 19th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Might I suggest a tour guide-not necessarily to go with you but to help with the route and accomodations. We used him when we were in Turkey Sept 06. He answered all my E-mails [email protected]
We stayed at the Dersaadet Hotel in Istanbul and liked it very much-great location
www.hoteldersaadet.com
Turkey is a wonderful country to visit-enjoy-Chris
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Jan 19th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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I think you're going to find it really tough. I'd start with guidebooks to Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine from Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and/or Bradt. I'd also get hold of the Thomas Cook railway map - you'll see that most of the way there's no through railway line near the coast at all, and where there is it's secondary lines not actually along the coast.

Looks like by train you'd need to go Istanbul - Dimitrovgrad - Stara Zagora - Razdelna - Megdidia - Tulcea, then you'd need a bus to cross the Ukraine border to Izmail for the last leg to Odessa. If you can't do that by bus or taxi you'd have to loop inland through Moldova. Suggest plugging those names into bahn.de and seeing what comes up. (But my copy of the map is a few years old, and some of those lines may have closed.)

I suspect the area is short on main roads as well, and on tourist infrastructure, other than some resorts.
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Jan 19th, 2008, 06:32 PM
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I've been looking at a trip like this also. There are ferries in the Black Sea which I am considering, i.e., Istanbul to Varna or Constanta then Odesa. From there the train up to L'viv. Has anybody done this?
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Jan 19th, 2008, 07:13 PM
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I went from Odessa to Lviv, but by way of Moldova and Romania. I really liked Lviv - highly recommended, and don't miss the cemetery. I also enjoyed Kolomiya, on the way in Ukraine, and can recommend the small museum there, and the On the Corner B&B.
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Jan 19th, 2008, 09:53 PM
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I did check to see if there were any ferries from Constanta to Istanbul while planning a Romanian trip 2 summers ago. Did not find any!
MilenaM is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 11:45 PM
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It seems there is a ferry from Istanbul to Odessa, with some stops along the way. And apparently you can use the ferry as your hotel and have meals too, if desired. That might be the way to go. I'll find the info again and post it.
lynnielegend is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 11:47 PM
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Here's a link to one of the sites with info on the ferry, I'd like to find out if it stops in other ports and if you can get off and board another on another day....

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/t..._istanbul.html
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Jan 20th, 2008, 05:53 AM
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Lynnie - suggest asking over on Lonely Planet's thorntree - but do come back and let us know what you decide.
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Jan 20th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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If you want to see the Black Sea coast line then you should plan on multiple bus trips. There are buses going all along the Bulgaria section of the Black Sea coast -- so you can cover the main towns like Sozopol, Burgas, Nessebar, Sunny Beach, Obzor, Varna, Golden Sands, Baltchik via bus trips. Then go slightly back to Varna, get on a train or plane and head over to Rumania...
You can check out my blog http://travel.chinafinds.com -- yes, I have information there from several trips we have taken to Bulgaria including the Black Sea coast...
guenovnd is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 10:25 AM
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There are travel agencies in Bucharest that offer bus travel to and from destinations on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. I travelled from Bucharest to Balchik and back as part of a package, and it seemed that if they had any space left in the bus they could have taken other people on board for the return. They stopped in Balchik, Albena, Varna, up to Golden Sands. This would be a way to get as far north as Constanta without having to go through Bucharest. Do let us now if you find options from that onwards.
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Jan 20th, 2008, 12:15 PM
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I drove up from Instanbul to Constanta about 15 years ago, and then shot across Romania. That was just a few years after the Wall and the kommie system imploded. No problems.

I did find hotels on the fly in June, and even found unleaded gas which I was told was not available in those parts.

I am planning another trip using trains, buses, and ferries. I also want to get back to the Ukraine.

What safety issues?

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Jan 20th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Ukrferry (www.ukrferry.com) run ferries between Istanbul and Odessa.
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Jan 20th, 2008, 02:18 PM
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Thanks, everyone for the tips and the links. I'll research further and post anything I find. As to the safety issues that I asked about, I may be doing this alone, and I'm female. I travel alone all the time, but this would be unknown territory for me. Another question, how prevalent is English spoken in that area, is it non-existent?
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Jan 20th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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In the Crimea it was close to non-existent, plus it turned out that the locals spoke Russian not Ukrainian, which was all my Lonely Planet guidebook had!! I would expect you to find English in the resort towns in the other countries, but not so much elsewhere.
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Jan 20th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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If I was a woman I would definitely have a phone/GPS for this region. I saw women traveling alone in Bulgaria and Romania but I would be concerned if my 20 yo daughter was doing that.

Speaking the language is not so important. There is always someone around who speaks English, except in emergencies. I had that problem in Dresden and my weak German ability was shushed off by several people.

For Bulgaria you really need to know the alphabet. It is sort of Cyrillic, but not totally. Some dictionaries call it Russian. Not exactly. It is something like Greek so once you learn the alphabet you can understand a lot of things on the street. It's amazing that pharmacy sounds pretty much like pharmacy after you get the letters right.

hopscotch is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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At least I'm no one's 20 year old daughter, I'm 51. Plus, I try not to look like a 'tourist' when I travel and just kind of blend into the scenery. And thanks for the tips about the alphabet, I'll start doing some cramming while I'm planning the trip. I
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Jan 20th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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lynnie:

Be assured that no matter what you do (clothes, mannerisms, ect.) you'll still be wearing a sweatshirt, T-shirt, jacket, etc. that spells "Tourist" in six regional languages therein...so just forget about it.

In fact, after decades of travel in Romania, Bulgaria and the former USSR. I can tell you that it's more helpful to be spotted as tourist.
Go for the bus...most of the busses are very modern (Mercedes, Volvos, etc.)and comfortable...the entire stretch of Black sea sand is beautiful and relatively unspoiled, Varna is alovely old Bulgarian city and all of the towns along the Black Sea Coast in Bulgaria are pleasantl situated with great sea views. The Marina Seaside Park in Varna is second to none.

Take a bus from Varna to Tulcea in the Romanian marshlands, through the string of beautiful sandy beaches (Eforie Sud, Jupiter, Saturn, etc.)...Constantsa (proper pronunciation)is a lovely old city with Roman ruins in full view, a casino, a sea coast to be admired...from Tulcea, there are busses to Odessa and points north and east.
You'll be safe as long as you remain aware.

Enjoy it...you will...I admire you for wanting to do it.

Stu T.
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