General Travel Information.
Bulgaria is pretty easy place to travel around – there is a good train network although the trains do tend to be a bit basic and rather slow but the stations are interesting and this picture is the buffet car on the Sofia/Varna train. Buses between cities are frequent and much quicker than the train but they don’t serve smaller towns quite so well; i.e. there are express buses that whiz past little towns. Large cities have their own transport systems – a main variation being whether you have to buy your ticket on the bus or from some mysterious kiosk.
All of the travel options are very cheap and usually reliable. A thought about the journey from Sofia to Voditsa - by car it will cost around 50 or 60 lev in petrol plus car hire and it will take around 5 hours. The train or the bus will cost around 18 lev and will also take about 5 hours.
bus timetable from Sofia www.centralnaavtogara.bg4
The main airport is Sofia with flights and links to most places. Whiz Air and Easy Jet are the main cheap airlines. There are numerous scheduled flights (BA, Air France, Lufthansa etc) and Air Bulgaria are usually good with offers plus they fly to Varna. Bucharest is also worth considering - BlueAir go from Luton but getting from there to Voditsa is a bit of a hassle unless there are 4 or 5 of you and you get a taxi - about €150.
Wizz now have a daily flight from Luton to Varna.
There is a company called OK who run mini buses from Sofia airport to the train or bus station for €6 or you get bus no84 to the city centre but not near the stations. The bus and train stations are right next to each other. >
Getting to Voditsa From Sofia, either train or bus to Popovo. The train is a bit longer but both journeys are quite peaceful and pass through beautiful scenery. If you take the train to Popovo, call me with your ETA and I will arrange a taxi to meet you. taxi fare to Voditsa is around 18lev. If you take the bus from from Sofia, via Veliko Turnovo, it passes the end the road to the village - about 2k.Go to the main ticket desk at Sofia bus station and ask for a ticket to Popovo - when you get on the bus, ask the driver to let you off at Voditsa ‘Iskam Voditsa molya’. Driving from Popovo or from V.T. - the turning is well signposted and there is a very strange and quite ugly ‘art structure’ at the turn which you really cant miss!
Note that there is no point looking for someone to speak English at either the bus or train station - they dont! But you only need one word - Popovo, or if you want to be polite ‘billet za Popovo molya’
Please also note that the train stops at Popovo for about 1 minute (not a joke!) The previous stop is Strazitsa -when you pass there, get up and get your stuff ready or pay attention to the arrival time of the train and get it together 10 minutes before that. Try not to add yourself to the list of people who have missed the stop!
Directions through the village:
From the turning at the main road, head straight up the road towards the village. Pass the mineral water factory on the left and round the bend to the right at the mural. Keep going to the village square. Please try not to ask for directions at the bar in the centre - its becoming a problem for them …but you dont need to ask - just carry on. Walk on past the square and the shops. The road then goes over two little bridges and bears left. Keep going for about 500 meters and you’ll see a spring on the right with a yellow house behind. The next house past the spring is derelict and we are the next house after that - a yellow gate and probably an old Mosckovitch outside.
Varna and Borgas both have airports which up to now have dealt mainly with charters for summer holiday makers. Both are beginning major redevelopment and are beginning to take flights from the cheap airlines. Wizz from Luton to Varna eg. Trains are quite regular between Varna and Popovo.
Future possibilities There are currently very tiny airports at both Rousse and Veliko Turnovo. Both are scheduled for development and both are within an hour drive from Voditsa. A motorway is (slowly) being built between Varna and Sofia and it will run about 20k from here. this will reduce travel time between Vodtsa and Varna to under an hour.
Of course, flying is not very environmentally friendly. It is possible to cross Europe quite easily by train or by coach, or you could also try hitch-hiking! Eurolines run many coach services across Europe, and you can find more information about rail-travel at the Bulgarian State Railways website or you could even incorporate Bulgaria in an Interrail trip!
If you have any problems, call me -00359888638130
You pre-book a car (called “rent-a-car” here) via the Internet in the usual way – to be collected at any major city. Tourist guides and Information centres will direct you to local car hire. In Sofia and Varna the prices appear to be around 35€ a day but in Veliko Turnovo and other smaller towns it tends to be 30leva a day (15€) but be sure to test drive it before you agree to take it! We can arrange local car hire for you. contact me
If you are from the British Isles then of course you have the immediate problem that driving here is on the right. That’s not too hard to get used to (I have to keep telling myself “I do not have the right of way when I turn left”!) but there is an element of mystery about road signs in Bulgaria – there are not a lot of them and especially in cities it often isn’t apparent who has the right of way. Following the car in front usually works.
People do tend to drive very fast on country roads and have a completely weird perceptionof what is safe when it comes to overtaking. But the very positive thing is that there is very little traffic on the roads. I have generally found driving here to be a good experience. Note that some cars run on Gas – not the American term for petrol but Liquid Propane Gas that goes into a cylinder in the trunk of the car.
I haven’t seen a cycle lane in Bulgaria and there is little awareness of the needs of cyclists but that’s the same in many countries, including the UK! Again, the lack of traffic is a bonus but every motorist tends to sound their horn when they pass a cyclist. I plan to have cycles for hire at the campsite which you can book in advance.
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