Does anyone have suggestions on which travel books to buy?
Again, Lonely Planet, additionally, Bradt.
Lonely Planet is a good option. And if you're ever in the LA area, stop by Distant Lands in Old Town Pasadena. It's an amazing travel store - you'll find maps and books there you won't find in most bookstores. http://www.distantlands.com/
I guess I am the odd man out. I prefer the Eyewitness Travel Guides and of course the Rick Steves guides. I know some really excellent guides in Bulgaria and Romania. In Romania it is http://www.covinnus.com/testimonials/testimonials.html and in Bulgaria it is http://www.easytouristguides.com/ I have used them both and have sent several others to them. The others came back with the same impression that I have. Why a guide? In Romania and Bulgaria the cost of a guide is so reasonable it's almost hard to justify not hiring one. Each of these guides will cross borders so changing from one to the other is easy. I love both Romania and Bulgaria, and Georgia is on my list in the next 18 months or so. Bulgaria I am returning to in the late spring (together with Budapest). Romania possibly again in the Fall along with Budapest and Istanbul.
I would start with the 'in your pocket' free guidebooks that are written by locals and updated every few months (inyourpocket.com) If these are not available for the areas you are going to, then I'd say Lonely Planet (especially for transportation options/connections for those doing it on their own). For indepth descriptions of the sites/tourist areas, Bradt is good.
Hi, My recommendation is The Rough Guide. I've read/used them for Central Europe and for Poland.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I ordered Loney Planet from Amazon before getting these responses. I leave in September 2014, so I'll take a peek at some of the other suggestions too. Hopefully Rick will do new books on Romania & Bulgaria someday BEFORE they adopt the Euro so we can play for cheap!
I used Lonely Planet for my trip to Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania. I went to the library and to local book stores to look at all the books and then chose the one with the clearest info.
It was Lonely Planet for me. Great trip and lots of interesting things to see. It was a Gate 1 tour and we spent most of our time in Romania - but I enjoyed all of it.