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Your experience with the RS Bulgaria tour (or, perhaps, traveling to Bulgaria in general)

Unless I am mistaken, the "old" RS Tour evaluations are now off-line so I am left to request feedback from RS Bulgarian tour alums WHO also puruse the Travel Forum (looks like my sampling may not be very scientfic ). We've not traveled with a RS Tour before but have organized our 15 plus trips to Europe via RS Guidebooks. Now might a good time to try out a guided tour but we've been to most of destinations offer by ETBD with a few exceptions - Scandinavia, Finland-Estonia-Russia (not right now, thank you), Turkey (too close to Syria for my comfort) and Bulgaria.

So if you've taken the RS Tour to Bulgaria or have comments regarding travel to Bulgaria via other means (other operators or independent travel) please share your thoughts and experiences.
Thanks in advance and safe travels.

Posted by
31294 posts

Craig,

I'd suggest contacting the RS tour office for some review details on that tour. I'm surprised they don't have any tour reviews for Bulgaria? I haven't taken that particular tour yet, but have met the guide and she's wonderful! Like all RS tours, I'm sure you'd have a great time.

Posted by
371 posts

Hi Craig

I did this tour two years ago which I think was the last time it was offered. We had Lyuba as our guide and she was outstanding. I looked at the itinerary and it looks like they have left it the same so I would highly recommend it. It is a busy tour and Lyuba had lots of extras that you could do with her, if you wanted to. There is a lot of interaction with locals on this tour. One day we visited a Roma school where the children put on a play for us and later had lunch at one of the teachers homes. In Sofia, we visited with the Occupy Sofia protesters and listened to their stories about why they were protesting. In another same town, we met with the mayor and talked about the issues he was facing and then had lunch with him at a family home. We learned folk dances with a local dance group, learned to make stuffed grape leaves and dessert with the cook at the hotel we were staying at, visited local craftspeople, slept at the Rila Monastery and attended early morning mass and got up at 4:30 on July 1st to welcome the sun on the beach with all the locals.

If you have more specific questions that you would like answered, let me know. Bulgaria is a beautiful country.

Posted by
16860 posts

I loved traveling with Lyuba the first year that we offered the Bulgaria tour. You could not ask for a more informed, caring, or energetic guide. The well-preserved Byzantine churches, tranquil Rila monastery, home visits, archeology museums, Turkish-style architecture, folk culture, and more all combined to make a great itinerary! However, you may have to make an effort to preserve your free-time freedom, since she loves to offer optional extras.

Posted by
2525 posts

There are no reviews of this tour. Reviews of other tours consist of a handful of comments that are probably cherry-picked...but hey, it's Rick's business, including the website. The former system of presenting reviews by participants offered some worthwhile information. The current system does not.

Posted by
55 posts

For the record, again:

the reviews you see on our tour pages are not cherry picked, and they are not edited (unless there is a tour member's name or an expletive). Every tour member who fills out a tour evaluation has their evaluations published to website if they wish (they can also request it not be published, and we honor their request), and it is automatically uploaded into our site unedited and unfiltered. If your suspicion lies in the fact that there are many 5 star ratings... we can't help that. People actually do like our tours. However, do scroll through and I guarantee you'll see some with less-than 5 stars on most tours.

For this particular tour, we resurrected it again for 2015. Even if it was the pre-redesigned website, you still wouldn't be able to see the "old" reviews of the tour because we discontinued it and then brought it back.

Posted by
2788 posts

I am glad to hear the positive comments about the Bulgaria tour as we are signed up for the tour that begins on June 21. I see that the four tours for Bulgaria are still listed as "Sign Up" so I do hope others will sign up before the discount expires the end of December. (I think).

Posted by
227 posts

Thanks one and all for your responses. It's not unexpected that your comments have been very positive with regard to the unique offerings of Bulgaria and it's people, and, for the tour guide, Lyuba.
Who knows Charlies, with the early enrollment discounts, we may be joining you.

Posted by
350 posts

I took the bulgaria tour in 2012. Lubya was not our guide, but we had a very hard working fellow and an assistant guide from Great Britain. A couple of things:

Our guide had to work very hard because unlike many Western European countries the people who work at museums, etc. usually do not speak English. The fellow had to be an interpreter for just about everything do to this this lack of English speaking citizens. A few exceptions are the hotel in Sofia and the better restaurants. The smaller family restaurants may not speak English. Do learn the names of your favorite Bulgarian foods. :-)

Interestingly towards the end of the trip I finally started to understand the Cyrillic alphabet. That was a good feeling.

On my trip we got to see a ton of old Eastern Orthodox churches. It was a bit of overkill, IMHO. We had two talks from politicians and that was informative but neither spoke english. We also saw, from the bus, many rusty old communist era factories that had been abandoned. But, we also saw signs of a country that is working it's way to a more modern and prosperous future. The visit to the Roma village was great. The visit to the school was interesting. The children sang us several songs that would never be taught in an American school (such as about a farmer beating his nagging wife!). It is a different culture. What can I say.

Personally, I would have loved to spend more time in some smaller towns, but apparently most don't have the facilities to handle a tour group of 26 people. I thought the Black Sea towns were overdone, but I am not a big fan big resort towns anywhere (except Croatia) . The Rila monastery was wonderful, though the rooms are very 'rustic' to say the least. And unheated. But, that was only one night and worth it.

Overall, I enjoyed the tour and am glad I went since it is much different from visiting westernized countries. The people are nice and I never felt unsafe or unwanted. If one has not seen much of Western Europe, it might be better to visit France, Germany or Spain first. Otherwise you will think Europeans are not quite recovered from WW2. :-)

Overall, I would say Bulgaria is an interesting country, but still rough around the edges compared to Western European countries. But then, if you want French food, style and culture, go to France.

Oh, if you order a hamburger, make sure you pay extra for the all beef burger. That burgers that are a mixture of meats and whatever are not as good, IMHO. Like I said, a bit rough around the edges.