Eastern Europe Express

Trip Code: WMSI

Why we love it

Immerse yourself in the communist past and vibrant present of Bucharest, a city often underrated by travellers, Travel through the scenic Rila Mountains in Bulgaria, mingling with monks at the 10th-century Rila Monastery, The village of Gorno Draglishte is home to a rich cultural heritage and a delightful community of welcoming locals. Experience the best of both worlds during a family home-stay (delicious home-cooked dinner included), The ancient Roman theatre in Plovdiv’s city centre was only discovered when a landslide uncovered it in the 1970s. Explore the amphitheatre and Plovdiv's other significant sights on a guided walking tour

Is this trip right for me?

This trip involves some travel by public bus, including a few long journeys. Although this can be a bit tiresome, it's a great way to meet locals and relax while enjoying the passing scenery.

Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

As accommodation on this trip is twin share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. However, if you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details. Hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Please also note that some of our accommodation on this trip offer shared bathrooms rather than en-suite facilities.

As you will have the opportunity to visit several orthodox churches on this trip, please ensure you cover your legs, shoulders and chest and show the appropriate respect. It's a good idea to bring a light scarf to cover your skin as needed.

If you have more time to explore the region you can extend your trip by starting your travels in Budapest, taking in the best of Romania before continuing into Bulgaria. Or start in Vienna to see the best of Central Europe before heading to Romania and then Bulgaria. Check out our trips 'Eastern Europe Explorer' (trip code WMSEC) and 'Journey through Central Europe & Romania' (trip code AMSCC). Most departure dates are designed to create these perfect combination trips.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. Please also note that due to the small properties we use in Europe there is only a limited amount of single supplements available per trip departure. The single supplement excludes Day 7 (Homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. You don't have a lot of time in Bucharest and Sofia at the start and the end of the trip respectively, so if you're keen to explore these underrated cities in depth, we recommend you arrive a day or two before the start of the trip and/or extend your stay at the end.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day., TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light., IMAGES FROM HOME
During our trip, there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos/postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country, etc.

Physical rating

 
2

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Some trips may have individual inclusions that may be of a higher physical rating compared to the overall rating of the trip. Please read the day-to-day itinerary carefully to find out more details on each day's activities, and whether they are suitable for you. Activities can be opted out of if you don't want to participate.

EXPLORING EUROPEAN CITIES
One of the pleasures of travelling in Europe is the ease at which cities can be explored on foot. Your leader will take you on frequent orientation walks, and you will be able to further explore in your own time. We recommend you pack comfortable walking shoes for this trip. Many of our customers are surprised at how much they end up walking, however this is entirely up to you, and public transport to take you back to our accommodation is never far away.

PIRIN MOUNTAINS HIKE
The route and length of the hike taken by our groups depends on the ability of the group. The trail includes gradual hill ascents and descents and gravel and uneven rocky surfaces with some slippery sections. You can choose to opt out of this activity altogether, or just take the chair lift to the terminal and wait for the group to return from the hike.

Joining your group

Hotel Central Bucharest by Zeus International, 13 Brezoianu St, Sector 5, Bucharest, ROMANIA, Phone: +40 21 315 56 35

Hotel Central Bucharest by Zeus benefits from a premier location near Cismigiu Gadens in the centre of Bucharest, less than a 10-minute walk from the Old Town. The modern hotel offers free Wi-Fi access and each of the 62 rooms feature air-conditioning, a minibar, safety deposit box, TV, tea and coffee making facilities and private bathrooms.

Joining instructions

Hotel Central Bucharest by Zeus International is located 20km from Bucharest Henri Coanda Otopeni International Airport (airport code OTP). Take bus 783 from the bus stop underneath the arrivals hall. It departs every 30 to 40 minutes. At Piata Universitatii (University Square) change to any bus towards Cismigiu Gardens. The bus stop is right in front of the hotel. Alternatively it is a 10 min walk from University Square to the hotel. You can also travel by train from the airport to the main railway station Gara de Nord. You will need to take a bus from the airport to the airport train station. Please look out for the Bilete CFR sign in the arrivals hall to purchase tickets. Gara de Nord train station is located a 30 minute walk from the hotel, or you can take bus 85 to Cismigiu Gardens. The closest underground station to the hotel is Izvor, a 5 minute walk away.

Pre booked arrival transfer from Bucharest Airport (OTP): If you have pre booked an arrival transfer, your transfer driver will be waiting in the the arrivals hall, holding a board with the Intrepid Logo or your name. In case of flight cancellations, changes, if you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +4 0721 133 577.

Finishing your trip

Hotel Budapest, Budapeshta Ulica 92A, Sofia, BULGARIA, Phone: +359 29890538

Hotel Budapest is within a 5-minute walk from the Central Train Station and a short walk from the historical centre of Sofia. All rooms feature free Wi-Fi and have en-suite bathrooms.

If you are making your own way to Sofia International Airport (airport code SOF) hotel reception will be able to organise a taxi for you. The drive takes only about 15 minutes. Alternatively it is possible to take the metro from Lavov Most Metro Station to the airport, however it involves a change and it takes about 45 minutes.

If you have pre-booked a departure transfer to Sofia Airport (SOF), you will be collected at the hotel reception 2.5 hours before your flight departure time. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +359 899 898 960.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 6

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 1

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

BREAKFASTS
There are some continental breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).

VEGETARIANS
Vegetarians might find the menu selection in Europe less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.

Climate & seasonal information

SUMMER
Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

SHOULDER SEASON
In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below.

If you have booked an arrival transfer, and you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find to the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly on the number listed in the joining point instructions in the section above.

Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per the gender marker on each of their passports. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

FACILITIES
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.

Transportation

TRANSPORT IN EUROPE
Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a local train, watching the scenery roll by from the window of a long distance bus, arriving on a high speed train in the city centre of your next destination, or navigating each city's public transport system. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.

LONG TRAVEL DAYS
As we cover lots of ground on this trip, expect some long travel days on local trains and buses. This is an opportunity to mix with the locals and enjoy the scenery out the window. Travel schedules are known to change with little notice. Not all transport may have air conditioning.


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