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19 replies
Eastern European countries
whenimondamic
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I would like some info about traveling Eastern Europe. Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia. Anyone share experiences there and or tips about the places? More towards Kiev, Odessa, L´viv (Ukraine).. Sofia, Varna, Burgas (Bulgaria).. Sighisoara, Bucharest, Timisoara, Transylvania (Romania). I am considering going there this summer and am interested in what people have to say.

whenimondamic
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Turkey, or well, just Istanbul is also an option.

luv_the_beach
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Whenimondamic,

At the risk of getting yelled at :

You question is far too broad, that;s why no one has answered yet. It sounds like you seriously just need to sit down and ponder where you want to go. Of course this is a place to help you with your planning, but you’re planning to visit all these different places within a 30-day time span which….believe me ain’t much time for all the places you want to see. You mentioned 6 countries in hyour post. In your signature, you’re planning to cover this wide geographical area from the Netherlands to Kazakhstan (and it says “summer 2010” which we are rapidly approaching. Have you already set this trip in stone and booked your flights/transportation?)

Let’s start here:

The countries you mentioned, why are you interested in them? Which ones do you think you want to prioritize on this trip?


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat

whenimondamic
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Sorry about the vagueness..
I already have my ticket to Amsterdam, and right now I´m waiting for my visa to arrive for Kazakhstan. So I will be going to KZ, unless they deny me a visa for some reason. It will leave me around a week, week and a half or so I guess to travel in Europe, I just wanted some general suggestions and tips about Eastern European ones like Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, so that I can get a general view and then consider these suggestions and mark it in stone where I want to go. Because my main problem right now is I can´t decide hahaha. I would fly to one of the said places then take the train around to a decided city and then fly back to AMS.

I´m interested in Romania because the countryside looks very beautiful and I would like to see Transylvania and all the castles etc. Bulgaria likewise it looks very beautiful in the countryside and I wouldn´t mind going to Varna either to stay on the black sea for a day or two. Ukraine ahh.. well again Kiev looks like a beautiful place and I would like to try out my Russian there as well. (plus some beautiful girls hahaha )

Morocco is kind of a wild card for me I´ve always wanted to go there.

I would really just like to hear what others have to say then formulate something based off of good reviews, y´know?

Oh and of course I won´t make it to every spot on my signature listed heh.. there just the options for now. Once I really decide where I´m going I´ll change it..

I´m sorry again if I´m just being too vague but from suggestions and tips etc I´ll be able to narrow it down a bit more I guess.

whenimondamic
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Little update,

my KZ visa came in today so for sure I am heading to Kazakhstan for a week and a half-two weeks. So my total travel time available for traveling around Europe will be roughly a week or a bit more than a week. Now it´s just deciding where to go.

Any suggestions or recommendations ? lol..

Whats the best option/route or combination for these destinations; Budapest, Belgrade, Zaghreb, Romania, Bulgaria, Istanbul, Kiev, Innsbruck/Tirol

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It’s still pretty hard to recommend because I can’t really tell “what” you’re looking for from the odd combination of cities and countries you’ve listed. I’ve been to some of these places, so here’s the quicko review…

Kiev: gorgeous and there certainly are beautiful women although I’d say Kharkiv, on the Russian border, is a much better choice for beautiful women. You may have a fair amount of time involved in getting to Ukraine then getting to KZ. You might end up with an overnight in Vienna (or somewhere) on one or both ends of your journey. I would try to get to Crimea (Yalta) or L’viv in addition to Kiev, although travel time to/from either may be a killer.

Zagreb: a nice city, but not, IMO, the reason to go to Croatia. I’d head for the coast instead of the capital.

Romania: I liked Transylvania (doable as a day trip from Bucharest, but a couple of days would be better) and I liked the area near Sighiosara (wasn’t specifically in that city). I did not particularly care for Bucharest.

Innsbruk/Tirol: I’d head for Ljubljana, Lake Bled and the Julian Alps in Slovenia instead — you could combine that with Croatia for a nice week or 1 1/2 weeks.

Istanbul — loved the place and it would be a great 3 or 4 days. Perhaps you could add some time on the coast, a visit to Ancient Ephesus, or if you have 1 1/2 weeks a ferry to a Greek island.

whenimondamic
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Well to get to Kiev isn´t too bad, the bus from Holland to Weeze/Dortmund then fly into Kiev. By the way I will fly to KZ and back of course, definitely not taking the train there haha.

What exactly I´m looking for I´m not sure, just something different I guess and different cultures. I´ve been to everywhere in Western Europe besides Portugal so now I would like to venture east. Go to some places a little less touristy, or where less western tourists are going. Right now I´m really trying to gather opinions from other people to help me decide.
I don´t think I can get both Kiev and Istanbul in same trip unless I´m flying around. I want to fly to one destination, take the train up to others and then fly back from final city, so something like, fly to Istanbul, take train through Bulgaria-Romania- then fly from Cluj Napoca. Or fly to Belgrade, take train via Romania-Hungary then fly back from Budapest.. that type of idea. Just don´t know what the best way or idea is..

What didn´t you like about Bucharest?

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Of those on your list, I’ve only been to Romania and Hungary, and the difference was stark. Hungary still felt like “Europe.” Romania felt like a time warp back 60 years. This wasn’t bad—I actually liked it. People in the country were friendly and warm, not used to seeing foreigners. Prices are low (Romanian large pizza 2 Euros equivalent, for example). But roads are bad—you have to swerve to miss big potholes on most roads, thus slowing progress greatly. Rivers are filthy, clogged with trash. Romania is still a bit “wild west” so be careful, but it’s a lot of fun. The opening scene of the Borat movie was actually shot in a village in Romania, not KZ, and it was not made up—that is real life in rural Romania.

On my list to return in eastern Europe: Slovenia! I’ve also been to the Lake Ohrid region of Macedonia, but with limited time and funds, want to spend some real time back in Slovenia. Bavarians I know call it “cheap Austria.”

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I was in Bucharest in 2004 and, as you probably know, things change very rapidly in Eastern Europe, so it may not be like this at all, now although it does not appear from anything I’ve read that Romania is on the fast track to “westernization” when compared to the rest of Eastern Europe. It was very poor with lots of street people, beggars, what seemed like thousands of stray dogs, etc. and fairly dirty. It had an “edgy” feel. It felt like anything not glued to your body was going to be snatched at any time. It obviously was a gorgeous city at some time in the past, with lots of parks and gardens, but it was very shabby when we were there. While the actual trains were great, the rail system was an archaic set-up where you had to buy advance purchase tickets at a fairly remotely located office (packed, not air-conditioned, hours long lines, cash only, no English speakers) and last-minute tickets at the station — I assume this has all been upgraded and computerized since 2004 as Romania is now part of the Eurail system, which would not have accepted the previous mess.

I wouldn’t say “don’t go there” but it is not on my list of places to visit again. As with Don, Slovenia/Croatia very definitely make my list of places to get back to.

whenimondamic
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Where do you think I´m most likely to have the best time? Culture, nightlife, beautiful places? Bucharest isn´t so much what interests me but Transylvania more so, but would go via Bucharest probably..

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The best time in the East can be had in Balkans (any country of former Yugoslavia, preferably Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro. Culture? Yes, three or four of them on the same spot, actually, plus a great lesson in history. Nightlife? Yes, every town above 10000 inhabitants lives past midnight. Beautiful places? Yes, before breakup it was the most beautiful country in Europe and the breathtaking sceneries are still there.

And there are still parts that have not undergone a massive westernization and show lots of local native culture. For example, there’s not a single McDonald restaurant (or any other brand like that) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If that’s too far-fetched for you, then Bulgaria or Romania are also a good choice.

If you have any questions about Prague or Czech and Slovak republics, ask me.
If you only want to search train or bus connection within Czech&Slovakia and/or to neighboring countries, use www.cp.sk or www.idos.cz search engines. For domestic transport, they also show prices.

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I agree. Belgrade and Zagreb are worth seeing. The odl town of Zagreb is one of my most favorite city places. Slovenia is expensive. The mountains are lovely, though. In summer, you would not believe how many tourists are again visiting Croatia and Montenegro.

whenimondamic
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Alrght I guess I will go Belgrade-Zagreb-Budapest. If it all goes to plan. Unless I´m able to find some last minute deals or prices via Kiev. So.. anything highly recommended for these destinations?

oldlady
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Zagreb is a very nice city, but, IMO, you don’t go to Croatia to see big cities. Try to get to the coast.

whenimondamic
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I realize Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar are all beautiful places but I´m not really a beach type of person, of course theres lots more to do, but I imagine them being loaded with tourists during August. Plus I´m not 100% sure if I´m even going to Zagreb yet.

antimon
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oldlady wrote:
Zagreb is a very nice city, but, IMO, you don’t go to Croatia to see big cities. Try to get to the coast.

Yep, and try to visit Croatian islands. You won’t regret !

whenimondamic
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I wont make it to the islands this summer, almost positive. So it will be Belgrade-Zagreb-Budapest, or Belgrade-Budapest depending on the timing like I said..

So… any tips ?? Only thing I´m 100% sure on is I´ll go to the Belgrade Zoo after seeing some really funny pictures from a fellow traveler last year.

MWorth
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How about Slovenia? Portorož, Piran, and the Karst region are beautiful.

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Well, as the questions about what to visit in Romania are pretty frequent, I compiled some ideas into few posts here.
I first thought of the most interesting places in Romania, than I focused a little on the things to do in Romania

If you are interested in history, there is plenty of castles and fortified churches to see.
If you need any help/some more info, please do not hesitate to ask

All best,
Radu

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papyr – Bosnia was probably my favorite destination on my 35 night trip this summer!
OP – If you can make it to Bosnia from Belgrade (shouldn’t be too hard), I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Mostar and Sarajevo were breathtaking. The food, beer, and (sigh) cigarettes were all some of the best I had ever had in my life. The country is teeming with culture and (unfortunately) recent history. Really worth a go (and really cheap too)!

I am leaving from Atlanta, GA with $3000 for 36 days
Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Mostar, Sarajevo, Bol, Makarska, Florence, Málaga, Seville, Barcelona, Ibiza Town