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Bulgaria Tour

Thinking about signing up for the RS Bulgaria tour. Feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

Posted by
6699 posts

Have you tried reading the reviews (you can see them in the same section as the one where you book the tour)? I researched it quite a bit and it seems like it's a great tour with much respected guides...many people seem to be pleasantly surprised about this country they knew so little about. The Bulgaria country forum has a few relevant threads as well.

This is a great trip report (in three parts) from Teresa from Seattle:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/bulgaria/trip-report-67a54e97-2bd1-4695-abe2-9ef415cec827

Posted by
865 posts

Denverite, it's a great tour. It's very much a Rick Steves tour in its philosophy but it's also a little different in that you will get involved with the Bulgarians. We visited two schools, a Roma community, a mayor, and a family's home. When reading the itinerary initially, I didn't think too much one way or the other about visiting schools but these turned out to be rewarding visits. If you'd like a link to my blog (with photos) so you can see how the day-to-day went, I'd be happy to PM it to you. At any rate, I whole-heartedly recommend the Bulgaria tour.

(Thanks for the compliment, Agnes!)

Posted by
127 posts

Best Rick Steves Tour (of five) I've taken.

Posted by
2263 posts

I will be arriving in Sofia in about three weeks, with four free days before joining the RS Tour, also with Stefan as the guide! Teresa, I went back and re-read your 3-part very interesting tour report, thanks again. You mentioned arriving at Sofia Airport, getting your TSA plastic band cut, and then you were paying 1 lev for the Metro into town. You didn't mention any ATM transaction at the airport. Is there a bank ATM at the airport, or did you get some lev and stotinki before you left the States, if that is even possible?

Posted by
865 posts

Hi, Larry. I did get some leva before leaving Seattle (no stotinki though). I have no memory of how I got the 1 lev for the ticket machine. Perhaps it gave change, or there was a change machine nearby. What I should have done was bought something from the snack stand guy, but I didn't. I obviously wasn't thinking straight. I still feel bad about that!

I believe there are supposed to be desks where you can buy a ticket, as well as the machines, but I don't remember seeing one at the airport. On the other hand, I wasn't looking for one. One thing I definitely remember is that there's no point in buying a second ticket to use on the day you return to the airport because you must validate your ticket within 30 minutes of purchase.

I hope you have a great trip and report back here. :)

Posted by
2525 posts

Lev is available via ATM machines at the airport, which is where I gathered such. As always, when I arrive at an airport where I don't have the local currency from a prior trip, I just find an ATM and pull money for it. A back-up but never used plan...I carry some US currency and could visit a currency exchange booth, gulp and take it on the chip as to rates/fees, escape the airport and get by until finding an ATM with money.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks, Teresa. Yes, I would like the link to your blog. From your comments here, the trip sounds great. Did you travel as a single?

Bruce - I see your posts frequently. You must travel a lot! I don't really have too many specific questions; just curious about the trip in general. I am always interested in hearing about the bus rides (I get car sick sometimes). And the hotels. I would be traveling as a single, and my past experience has been that singles tend to get some of the worst rooms available. I am also considering the Best of Sicily tour; have you taken that one?

Posted by
2525 posts

Bulgaria is a fascinating country with amazing history and the RS Tour itinerary also offered some great glimpses into life there. I would not want to attempt the same itinerary on my own. As for solo travelers on a RS Tour, those veterans may chime in and offer their perspectives. The bus rides were fine for us, but we don't experience motion sickness. Dramamine is effective for some folks. The hotels we stayed at were good to very good, save for one, although quite nice, the stench from cigarette smoke (we're prissy types) was very strong in our room. In short, I highly recommend the tour if you want to visit Bulgaria.

Posted by
1930 posts

For OP-You might want to post Sicily tour questions in another topic but-for what it's worth and since you asked.....I have taken the Sicily tour (winter/off season) twice; I enjoyed it that much! First time was in Feb.2013 and second time just this past March (over Palm Sunday and Easter-a spectacular time to be there)! The tour had a slightly different itinerary the second time so that ever added to the enjoyment. Great part of Italy (most of the local Sicilians we met would disagree with that statement, claiming to be "separate"!), amazing food and wines, fantastic locals and wonderful tour guides both times. I couldn't recommend this tour highly enough. Can't imagine the "regularly scheduled" tours would be any different an experience.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks Andi. Good idea about posting a new topic about Sicily.

What was the bus travel like on this tour? I frequently have a problem with motion sickness. Also, did you extend your stay or arrive early; and if yes, where did you spend your extra days? How were the hotels?

Posted by
2788 posts

I have taken 14 RS tours in the last 15 years while going to Europe every year. I took the Bulgaria tour two years ago and really enjoyed it. A real eye-opener it was. GREAT guide (S). Hotels were fine if you do not need turn-down service. Food was educational. We have had single tour members on almost every RS tour we have taken and they were included into all activities, either tour organized or on our own. As far as room assignments go, I have either seen or asked the single folks on our tours about their rooms and have gotten replies that have varied from small to same as a double. I have not heard one complaint from singles saying that they are getting the worst rooms of the group. If I were to take a RS tour as a single, I would most likely pay for the single-supplement if funds allowed and it were offered due to my physical quirks. Happy travels.