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Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter travel 2010 - The Balkans (briefing)

For a student like me, the best time for travelling or just lazing around is the semester breaks. I've been travelling around the central and eastern part of europe since 2006, visited about 15 countries in 4 years.

It's the ugly truth that travelling needs a lot of money and time, but it's the experience which is crucial in this case because once you started to work, it's hard to get even a day-off for anything. Undeniably true that going back home to family is better for some of them, but I beg to differ. I just don't think that I should restrict my mind from reaching out the world.

OK, enough with the junk.

So it's my last winter break and I'm most probably not gonna have another winter anymore. I planned my trip, and this time it's the Balkan countries.

The Balkans aka southern-eastern Europe consists of countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Romania, Romania, and Turkey.

So the plan of travel this time is so :

- We started off with Istanbul, Turkey. Not a place that amazed me, but it's a great city with alot of astonishing stuff and cunning people, but less cunning than the egyptians.

- Then we took a turkish train to Plovdiv, Bulgaria. I loved this place because it's peaceful and alot more like a European country. It's a small city that consists of 5 hills which made up the old town (previously was 7, 2 were flattened to be developed). Beautiful houses on the old town and very medieval kinda style. Loved it!

- The next day we rode on a train to Veliko Turnovo(VT),Bulgaria, which we luckily met Desi who helped us alot in our trip from VT to Bucharest. VT's a medieval town which is on 3 hills with big valleys. There's a big medieval fortress called Tsarevets which was really old but beautiful and well-preserved. We spent a day-trip there in VT. VT is still one of our favourite town amongst.

- We spent the night on train to Bucharest, Romania. Bucharest had left nothing but great memories with our hosts - Claudia and Stefan, and the shopping spree in AFI Palace. It's not that Bucharest itself offered nothing but it wasn't as impressive as the other capitals in the southeast Europe. The parliment was gigantic though :-)

- Next destination was Brasov, Romania. This city was impressive, in terms of landscape, natural surrounding and architecture. Then we took a bus ride to Bran to see the infamous Dracula's castle (the Bran's castle).

- Then we caught a train running to Sighisoara, Romania. It's a lovely peaceful town with the most medieval style of building I've ever seen after Tallinn, Estonia.

- We took a 10 hours train from Bucharest to Sofia, Bulgaria. It wasn't a good ride, the train was dreadful as we had to sit for 10 hours in the train, and my toilettries and medical kit got stolen by a gypsy. Luckily there was this good couple who helped out. If it wasn't because of them, my backpack, laptop, all important documents would have been stolen. Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria, wasn't as modern as you could imagine. But the national theatre was beautiful!

- The last stop of our trip was Thessaloniki, Greece. Indeed a nice place for a good rest and I wanna be a greek guy too. They're so goodlooking!!! Wild life, freedom, and open-minded place. Plus, the sea was clean. Too bad it was raining when we went there.\

The Balkans is certainly a good place to travel. Accomodation wise we did couchsurfing. So it really saved up alot of accomodation fee + met alot of nice people along way.

What's couchsurfing? Check it out here!