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Questions for those who have already been on the Bulgaria tour this year

I'm on the early September departure -- only one month away! If you went on one of the earlier departures, I've got some questions for you.

  1. Was there a good place around midpoint in the tour for doing laundry?

  2. Did you find a good map of Sofia? The only ones I can find with any amount of detail have all of Bulgaria, and I don't want that. Or maybe you were fine without a map?

  3. I'm trying to learn the polite Bulgarian words, but it's difficult. Did you use mainly English, and was that okay?

  4. Did you find the walking/climbing parts of the tour to be more strenuous than you expected?

  5. I know women must cover their heads in mosques. To what extent? I.e., just top of head, only face showing, etc.

  6. Did you drink the water? (Lonely Planet says it's fine but smells funny, then advises only using bottled water.)

  7. The electrical adapter that you've used in other European countries (e.g., France, Italy), did it work in Bulgaria? There's a drawing of the correct adapter in Lonely Planet, but quite frankly it's confusing me.

  8. Did you find Bulgaria to be affordable? Or, in spite of the favorable exchange rate, is it actually a pretty expensive place?

Thanks for taking the time to answer any questions you can.

Posted by
2788 posts

I took the RS Bulgaria Tour in June/July of this year. Answers to your questions:

1) We have been going to Europe for 13 of the last 14 years and only take 3 pairs of clothing which are sink washable and quick drying. Most are ExOfficio. We do laundry in our room sink every 5 day or so, hang it in our bathroom and it is dry in the AM. We do not use laundromats.

2) The best map we found of Sofia was at the front desk of the first tour hotel where we arrive a couple of days prior to the beginning of the tour.

3) I use English exclusively but my wife learned some basic local terms. I had no problem communicating with locals.

4) The walking was average for our other 12 RS tours. More steps on this tour that previous 12 RS Tours. Our luggage was transported by local vehicles to our hotels at several stops, something we had not experienced before.

5) My wife used a scarf to cover her hair whenever we go into a mosque.

6) We drank bottled water during our stay in Bulgaria. Readily available and inexpensive.

7) We used the same electrical adapter that we have use in central Europe. I see that RS now sells a universal adapter.

8) We found Bulgaria relatively inexpensive compared to central European countries. The exchange rate went from 136 lv to the US dollar up to 174 lv to the dollar not long before we went making the trip less expensive than when we were first planning our trip. I see that the Euro is now trading at 108 where not long ago they cost 136 US. We stayed in Paris before and after our RS tour and that exchange rate certainly made a very expensive Paris just expensive.

I will try to write up my tour report to post elsewhere on this web site this week, or early next week at the latest.

Posted by
230 posts

Teresa, the RS Bulgaria tour was terrific - you'll have a great time. Stefan, Lyuba's protege was super, as was the itinerary; and, our fellow Rick-niks travelers made every meal feeling like a moving party with old time friends.

  1. Was there a good place around midpoint in the tour for doing laundry? SURE, OUR SINK ANY NIGHT . SEVERAL HOTELS OFFER LAUNDRY SERVICE AND STEFAN SHOULD BE ABLE TO DIRECT YOU TO A LAUNDROMAT.
  2. Did you find a good map of Sofia? The only ones I can find with any amount of detail have all of Bulgaria, and I don't want that. Or maybe you were fine without a map? THE HOTEL DESK HAD EXCELLENT POCKET MAPS AVAILABLE; A VERY MANAGEABLE CAPITAL TO WALK ABOUT AND LOT'S OF INEXPENSIVE CABS SHOULD YOU TIRE.
  3. I'm trying to learn the polite Bulgarian words, but it's difficult. Did you use mainly English, and was that okay? I'M LINGUISTICALLY CHALLENGED AND FLOPPED WITH THE RS PROVIDED LIST OF GREETINGS, ETC. HOWEVER, ENGLISH IS WIDELY SPOKEN ...
  4. Did you find the walking/climbing parts of the tour to be more strenuous than you expected? NO. WALKING WAS EASY; HOWEVER, THERE IS LOT'S OF STANDING SO DON'T HESITATE TO FIND A BENCH, ETC.
  5. I know women must cover their heads in mosques. To what extent? I.e., just top of head, only face showing, etc. A SIMPLE SCARF IS FINE.
  6. Did you drink the water? (Lonely Planet says it's fine but smells funny, then advises only using bottled water.) WE ONLY USED BOTTLED WATER IN NESEBAR AND VARNA - TAP WATER EVERYWHERE ELSE; BOTTLED WATER IS INEXPENSIVE.
  7. The electrical adapter that you've used in other European countries (e.g., France, Italy), did it work in Bulgaria? There's a drawing of the correct adapter in Lonely Planet, but quite frankly it's confusing me. NOTHING SPECIAL HERE; USED THE SAME ADAPTER WE'VE TRAVELED WITH IN FRANCE, ITALY, CZECH REP., CROATIA, ETC.
  8. Did you find Bulgaria to be affordable? Or, in spite of the favorable exchange rate, is it actually a pretty expensive place? THE MOST AFFORDABLE COUNTRY I'VE BEEN TO - EVER!
Posted by
865 posts

Thanks for the all the responses. I'm feeling a bit calmer now. ;) Glad to know hotel has decent maps (did you start the tour at the Hotel Crystal Palace?), as my iPhone is staying put at home.

Anything else you can think of ... tips, stories, good eateries or whatever ... please share!

Posted by
6758 posts

My Lonely Planet (LP) Romania and Bulgaria book has a decent map of Sofia, as well as other cities. Also, did you check out LP's Bulgarian Phrasebook & Dictionary or the Bradt Travel Guide to Bulgaria?

Posted by
865 posts

Thanks for the reminder about the map in the LP book, Agnes. I know I looked at it when I got the book out of the library this past winter and thinking that the map just didn't do it for me. I'll have to re-check that.

Posted by
865 posts

The phone is staying home because I'll be on holiday, and I barely use it in my regular life anyway. It's just one more thing to look after, to charge, to misplace. We'll both be happier if we go our separate ways for a couple of weeks. :)

Posted by
12574 posts

Never taken the RS tour but have spent several weeks in Bulgaria over the years. Its a lovely country full of lovely people. Take a deep breath and relax. If you enjoy the rural, the obscure and the clash of cultures you will love Bulgaria. We will be going back again in the next 18 months or so.