Have you taken the Bulgaria trip? Any points to consider? I've booked one! Anyone else planning to go?
It's a wonderful trip, and your guide Stefan will be amazing. I took this trip earlier this year and really enjoyed it. You will learn and experience so much. Pack light - not all hotels have elevators and it's a pretty casual country in terms of dress. The people are friendly, the scenery is great, and the depth of history in such a small region is pretty incredible.
There are good shopping opportunities in Bulgaria (for your free time, I mean) for a variety of handmade items at very reasonable prices--especially art, jewelry and ceramics. Pack light so you have room for things you fall in love with. I found the best quality in Veliko Trnovo and Plovdiv, but with persistence you can look past the more touristy merchandise in Nesebar and find things there as well.
LizLynnwood, I took the RS Best of Bulgaria tour in 2016, and thought it was wonderful, one of my favorites of 11 RS tours so far. I knew very little about Bulgaria before the tour, and found the country to be diverse, historic and beautiful, the people to be very friendly and helpful. In general, the number of tourists was much lower than anyplace I have been in Europe. Stefan is a remarkable guide, passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his country, history and religion. He has developed many, many contacts across Bulgaria, and shares these with his tour members. There are more “interactive” experiences with everyday people, who do not work related to serving tourists, in this tour than in any I have taken. I enjoyed every stop, definitely including Sofia, both the group activities and the free time I spent exploring on my own, during and before the tour. Enjoy beautiful Bulgaria and your very special guide Stefan!
I'm even more excited about the trip after reading your replies. Thanks so much.
I did Rick's Bulgaria tour in September 2017. It was a great tour. Stefan was such an interesting guide who made he tour a lot of fun. He is so passionate about his beautiful country. I recommend this one to all of my friends. For people who have traveled to the "must see" places like Rome, Paris, London, Madrid, this is something different. The people were so friendly and the sights were amazing.
I'm not much of a shopper in general, and I don't like adding weight to my suitcase when I'm traveling in Europe, but I found some very reasonably priced handmade articles in Bulgaria, especially in Veliko Trnovo and Ploviv.
We went to Bulgaria mid May in 2019. Stefan is wonderful and the interactions with the people make this trip very memorable.
We were there during the rose harvest and got to see where the rose oil is distilled. Not all the RS tours get to go here but May is the harvest month so you might get lucky. I will echo the pack light caution. When you visit the monastery you will want a small over night bag (we used our RS day packs). all you need is a change of clothing and a toothbrush. Leave the rest packed in the bus. It makes the visit more enjoyable.