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-   -   London - Istanbul. Is Bulgaria best avoided? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/europe/london-istanbul-bulgaria-best-avoided-53485)

Arow 29 Oct 2010 21:32

London - Istanbul. Is Bulgaria best avoided?
 
I've read of people having various border hassles there - or is it o'K?

I've done a France - Italy -> Ferry > N Greece route already (which is easy) so fancied a go at a relatively direct Balkan route.

I'll be driving a car.

(I've read the recent "riding in the balkans" thread - :thumbup1:)

markharf 29 Oct 2010 21:39

Bulgaria's nice, not difficult, and no more prone to border hassles than anyplace else...in my limited experience. Besides, what's your alternative route into Turkey? An expensive and not-very-welcoming series of ferries from Athens? I tried that, and much preferred overland through Bulgaria.

Hope that helps.

Mark

mikewestband 30 Oct 2010 17:04

The West Balkans are well worth the trip Arow if you ahven't already - if you have the time for the detour then the Croatian coastline and Montenegro are fantastic!

I'm planning my route to Istanbul next year via Serbia and Bulgaria thought it'll be a flying visit as UK>Istanbul is only a small part of our overland trip. :)

nomadb 30 Oct 2010 20:03

I have crossed from Turkey to Bulgaria twice with a car (well next one hopefully on a bike). No hussles really. This was BEFORE Bulgari Joined to EU.

Maybe Doug who operates a camp for motorcylist has soe more informations for you. He is a traveller and quite a bit of customs he has crossed.
Riding, Fun, Adventures! | MotoSapiense

Regards

Arow 30 Oct 2010 21:00

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look further into it.

Quote:

markharfBesides, what's your alternative route into Turkey? An expensive and not-very-welcoming series of ferries from Athens? I tried that, and much preferred overland through Bulgaria.

Break up driving by getting overnight ferry from Venice or Ancona to Igoumenitsa (nw Greece), then it's an easy and relatively scenic drive in one day to Turkish border on the (virtually empty when we did it) new N Greece motorway. (Minoan lines threw in a free overnight cabin upgrade for nothing last May - when we booked the same day at a port ticket agent)

markharf 31 Oct 2010 01:36

Sorry, I'm confused. If you want a tour of Italy and Greece, by all means.....and I forgot that Greece extends all the way to the Turkish border via Thessalonika.

But the answer to your original question is by all means go to Bulgaria.

Mark

colebatch 31 Oct 2010 09:34

Bulgaria is now EU ... so if you come via EU countries there are minimal border facilites until the Turkish border. You should face the same border issues at the Turkish border whether you come from Greece or Bulgaria.

Greece is in Schengen (Bulgaria is not) so a trip via Italy and Igoumenitsa allows you to take a completely border free ride and use the very impressive (and as yet no tolls) Via Egnatia ... a 7 billion euro motorway from Igoumenitsa all the way to the Turkish border (they have finished the motorway but not the toll booths yet).

In the last 18 months I have crossed borders from Turkey to Greece, Macedonia to Bulgaria, Bulgaria to Romania, and not had any problems at any of them.

There will always be queues of trucks at any Turkish border with the EU ... which means either Greece or Bulgaria. So you will need to just skirt around the mile long queue of trucks and get your car to the front. If you dont, and decided to sit in line behind the trucks, then bring a cut lunch or 3

Knight of the Holy Graal 4 Nov 2010 08:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by colebatch (Post 310937)
Bulgaria is now EU ... so if you come via EU countries there are minimal border facilites until the Turkish border.


I echo Colebatch at 100%.

This summer I and my girlfriend passed thru Bulgaria twice while going and returning from the Caucasus republics (we went there by motorcycle).
It took us about 2 minutes to enter the Country each time (we are Italian citizen, so we hold EU passports).

We rode the route that passes through Serbia, but I don't think that the border formatilies are much different from Greece...

TurboCharger 4 Nov 2010 14:58

Inland from the Black sea Bulgaria has some of the least visit parts of all of the region. The only thing is that even though Bulgaria is part of the EU the roads aren't so crash hot. Once you're off the main roads (near the capital Sofia, or near the boarders) then there are a lot of potholes and the signage if unreliable and illegible because of the cyrillic alphabet.:helpsmilie:

We enjoyed Bulgaria, Sofia for it's ecelectic mix of people with very bizarre fashion to the small villages where no one spoke a word of English, French or Norwegian (those are our languages). Not since Asia did we feel like we had no idea where we were or where we were going. We got hopelessly lost a couple of times but it was all good fun. Just mind the bears.:taz: Aparently there are still bears in Bulgaria, not that we saw any.

Arguably with the exception of the Rila Monastery (simply amazing) the most touristy areas are Sofia and the Black sea coast. Avoiding these and you're sure to have an authentic experience.

Enjoy!
:funmeteryes:

AnjinSan 4 Nov 2010 17:01

Hi I am from Romania and I can also say that crossing Bulgaria is not difficult nor dangerous if you use common sense and avoid doing things that could get you in trouble.

Last time I was there I did encountered quite a lot of Police hunting for speeding (but I was driving a well used road by foreigners).

markharf 4 Nov 2010 17:17

The Cyrillic alphabet is neither unreliable nor illegible. You just need to get used to substituting certain letters for others--Our S becomes their C, our R becomes their P, etc. Crucial words become instantly recognizable (bank, hotel), and signs for cities or attractions become less bizarre once you get over the "I can't understand anything" hurdle.

Nice country, full of interest and contradiction and difficulty--just like mine, the USA.

Mark

Edit to add: oh yeh, lots of radar speed traps. Go slow.

Bobduro 4 Nov 2010 17:56

+1 for Bulgaria
 
Just want to put in another good word for Bulgaria. My wife and I rode from the UK down to Istanbul as part of our RTW in May this year. We didn't have the slightest hint of a problem and found the Bulgarians to be really friendly. Certainly nothing to give a second thought to.

We missed out on Serbia as didn't have a green card and didn't really fancy paying 150 Euros each for insurance and ended up going down through Albania which we some had advised against but again, had an absolutley brilliant time and found the people to be incredibly friendly.

The only problems within Europe we've heard about from other travellers (if at all) we've bumped into since have been regarding Serbia.

Either way, Bulgaria's a great country and you've nothing to worry about.

Knight of the Holy Graal 4 Nov 2010 19:05

Quote:

Originally Posted by markharf (Post 311459)
The Cyrillic alphabet is neither unreliable nor illegible. You just need to get used to substituting certain letters for others--Our S becomes their C, our R becomes their P, etc. Crucial words become instantly recognizable (bank, hotel), and signs for cities or attractions become less bizarre once you get over the "I can't understand anything" hurdle.


Right, this is also my experience!

Once you get used to replace some letters, every word is much easier to understand.

ilian 5 Nov 2010 11:17

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arow (Post 310760)
I've read of people having various border hassles there - or is it o'K?

I've done a France - Italy -> Ferry > N Greece route already (which is easy) so fancied a go at a relatively direct Balkan route.

I'll be driving a car.

(I've read the recent "riding in the balkans" thread - :thumbup1:)

Well, I really don't have anything to add about the safety in Bulgaria. I live in Sofia and if you need any help my cell is +359 884 696 642. When do you plan on traveling? How much time do you have for BG? If you have any general idea what kind of places you want to see PM me, I'll make a quick list of places...

Best,
ilian

bluewinger 5 Nov 2010 16:27

ok to drive
 
I rode from Lincolnshire to Kusadasy end of march this year the trip is in europe so no hassle i went via Rumnia Bulgaria al very good for any more info emai me on mike_scorpio@msn.com mike
Quote:

Originally Posted by Arow (Post 310760)
I've read of people having various border hassles there - or is it o'K?

I've done a France - Italy -> Ferry > N Greece route already (which is easy) so fancied a go at a relatively direct Balkan route.

I'll be driving a car.

(I've read the recent "riding in the balkans" thread - :thumbup1:)



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