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Equinus
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PostSubject: Here we come!   Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:56 pm

Hi

First of all since joining the forum in June last year thank you to everyone for their informative posts and advice given to posts that we ourselves have placed on the forum.

Well as we have now sold our house and have some funds together (not a huge amount) we have booked our tickets for travelling to Bulgaria in March to check out some regions and view some properties.

Unfortunately it is easier for us to travel from Manchester as we are "
up north"
than Gatwick which has meant the tickets were a little more expensive than if flying from the south.

The next stage now is to decide how to get to VT from Sofia. Checking out some estate agents in VT they indicate that they will collect you from the airport if going to view properties on their books, but will this tie our limited time entirely to them? Alternatively if we got a bus to VT we could then select individual properties from various estate agents for viewing, so not putting our eggs all in one baskets.

Any adice for options would be much appreciated.

Mr &
Mrs Eq

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tonyb60
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:57 pm

Try going by train. You can look up the times by using DB Timetables on line. Might be worth a try. There is a train that leaves Sofia at 14.40 gets into VT at 19.14 one change en route. Manchester flights arrive at about 12.30 ish so enough time.

Tony

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Scunnered
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:23 pm

When we came over to look/buy, we were collected at the airport by a chap employed by the estate agent. It wasn't free, but was much easier than trying to find our own way.
In the past, we have collected friends and family from Sofia, but as it's a round trip of more than six hours, a bit of a pain.
However, our son is coming over in 3 weeks time, and is being met at the airport by a Bulgarian lady. She is going to take him to the train station and make sure he gets on the train to Gorna Oryahovitso, where we will meet him. So much easier!
If you are interested in this service, just let me know and I can give you her phone number and email address. s
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Chris
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:37 am

First time in Bulgaria can be quite daunting ... especially surrounded by the cyrillic signs everywhere and a totally 'alien' language being spoken around you!

If you can afford it, get a driver to collect you and take you to VT. Alternatively, get a driver to collect you and take you to Sofia Train station and get you on the train to VT (you can arrange this prior to your arrival).

Alternatively (and a lot cheaper), take Tony's advice: Grab a taxi from Sofia Airport (get one at the taxi rank ... do NOT accept any offers whilst walking through the airport, as most of these drivers are not registered). The taxi ride to Sofia Train Station ("
Centralna Avtogara"
) should take anywhere from 30-50 minutes depending on the traffic (unfortunately, the train station is the direct opposite side of the city from the airport!).

The bus station and the train station are side by side. Both have trains and buses to VT. Surprisingly enough, the buses are extremely modern coaches with TV, etc.

You can check out the bus times (in English) here:
[url:acsbtrhc]http:
//www.
centralnaavtogara.
bg/index.
php[/url:acsbtrhc]

Maybe Tony has a link for the trains?

Good luck with the visit and we look forward to a full report!
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itchyfeet
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:26 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Alternatively (and a lot cheaper), take Tony's advice: Grab a taxi from Sofia Airport (get one at the taxi rank ... do NOT accept any offers whilst walking through the airport, as most of these drivers are not registered). The taxi ride to Sofia Train Station ("
Centralna Avtogara"
) should take anywhere from 30-50 minutes depending on the traffic (unfortunately, the train station is the direct opposite side of the city from the airport!).

Make sure of the price with the Taxi driver before you leave for the train station, usual price 10 to 15 Leva, or make sure he has the meter running. Can be daunting, but if you are careful you shouldn't go wrong. Find an English speaking person at the station, the signs are not very revealing about which platform you need and where the train is going!!

Once you are settled in VT it is best you hire a car, we have found that the Garmin Sat Nav is the best to purchase, but only purchase here in BG, you will have all the surrounding countries on it as well.

:: ::
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:53 pm

When I came on a viewing trip looking at properties the agent (Stara Planina) sent a man to meet me at the airport and I didn't pay anything as this was included in their charges. However, that was back in 2004 and I only dealt with them. Coach is easy although the coach station might be daunting to find the right ticket office. There are many but look straight in front of you as you go through the roundabout doors and see the booth for ETAP or GRUP which are the same company. They run very early morning to late evening regularly. Also, if VT doesn't come up on the electronic board look for Varna as all buses pass through VT. Tickets cost 23 lev each I think and just say Veliko Turnovo. The coach usually goes from station 7 and your luggage will be tagged by the driver when he opens the doors. Double check that its VT you want and he will put your luggage on the correct side of the coach. Your ticket will have a seat number on it which you will see at the base of the seats.
Its a comfy ride and should come into VT outside the ETAP hotel (or sometimes the south coach station). Both will have taxis waiting for any onward journey but make sure one of you sits in the front seat to check the meter is on. Not so many rip-offs nowadays but always be on your guard.
Check out some simple phrases in a guide book to help you. Can I ask if you are staying in a hotel in VT?
Hope some of this helps.
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Chris
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:58 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
When I came on a viewing trip looking at properties the agent (Stara Planina) sent a man to meet me at the airport and I didn't pay anything as this was included in their charges.

As far as I remember, this only applied if you bought a property through them? If not, you had to pay for the service?
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Rakiaplease
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:22 pm

If you have a problem finding the right place to buy a ticket at Sofia bus station, there is an information kiosk on the right, just as you go in. They speak English so you should be OK. The advise about agreeing a price with the taxi driver is worth taking. ONLY use A1 taxis from the rank at the airport.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:27 pm

No idea Chris because nothing was mentioned about paying if I didn't buy although I did buy our first house through them.
If you scroll through a search engine looking for transport- Sofia to VT you should find people who do this. Last time I looked it cost between 140lev (our VT taxi driver a couple of years ago) and 199euros! Which reminds me - remember not to pay in euros! That will automatically almost double the charge in lev.
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Trev62
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:04 pm

On our recent house hunting trip we hired a car from Sikon (who were recommended to us by Forum members). Efficient and friendly service when we arrived at Sofia airport, including supplying maps and guiding us out on to the main road to Veliko Tarnovo. Also they were not worried about the few extra dents the car was returned with after encountering the Bulgarian pot holes and the "
just abandon your car here"
parking systems in operation!

Having our own transport allowed us the freedom to go where we wanted and to return to check out villages and talk to people without an Estate Agent on our shoulder steering us away from anything they did not want us to see or hear. We learnt and saw a lot more this way and our sign language came on a treat. We were soon reading the Bulgarian letters and recognizing town / village names and knew most of the Cyrillic alphabet before we left for home.

Driving in Bulgaria is no different to anywhere else, bad roads with many idiots on them, all in all, great fun!!!
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justbazz1
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:06 pm

Wow..199 Euros from Sofia to VT!! I'm in the wrong job!!
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:20 pm

I totally agree bgbazz. That's what I thought when I saw this charge a couple of years ago. The guy was recommended on a forum and promised a very good service. It would have to be! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
In actual fact, because my flight is lunchtime from Sofia which would mean a very early start from my village but could be done by coach or taxi, I prefer to stay in a hotel overnight. It is possible to do this cheaper than a taxi and without worrying about any problems on the journey to Sofia from VT. I also have a good nights sleep instead of worrying if a taxi would arrive at our village house at 5.30am!
If you can afford it hire a driver to meet you or do as Trev mentioned and hire your own car.
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justbazz1
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:39 pm

It almost makes me wish I lived close to Sofia so I could meet these folk and deliver them to the area they want to inspect. For gosh sake, I could drive from Plovdiv to Paris for about the same money..in my big Nissan 7 seater and a heap of luggage!!
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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:10 pm

Many thanks for the advice everyone.

We used to go to Greece for holidays up until 2011 and used to drive when out there so have a bit of experience with driving in rural areas. Many a time we ended up going down good roads to find they then turned into tracks which on occasions were steep and full of potholes.

I am very reluctant to hire a car direct at the airport and then drive to VT as I don't like driving in busy areas and would prefer to get the car delivered to where we are staying once we are settled so that I can then choose where I feel comfortable driving around.

As the Bulgarian alphabet is derived from the Greek cyrillic alphabet many of the letters are the same, just I need to get your head around that a P is an R etc. and when in Greece it only took a couple of days to work out the road signs before you passed them. Mrs Eq can be quite adept at navigation especially if it is only one road without any sideroads. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

So all in all, I think as we would be through customs by 2pm the option will be to travel to VT by coach as the train seems to be a couple of hours longer than the coach trip, but there may be the option that once we have sourced suitable properties to view via estate agent that we may take the collection at airport option that some estate agents provide.

At the moment we have not decided what hotel we will be staying in (ideally in the outskirts of VT) any suggestions gratefully received.

T

Mr &
Mrs Eq

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Chris
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PostSubject: Re: Here we come!   Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:55 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
At the moment we have not decided what hotel we will be staying in (ideally in the outskirts of VT) any suggestions gratefully received.

The wife and I stayed at the Gurko a few years ago. Staff were friendly, rooms were clean and the attached Mehana offers reasonably priced but good quality food and drinks.

It's actually down a quiet 'backwater' of VT, overlooking the river valley, but is actually only about a minute or two from the town centre.
[url:nwrjxstn]http:
//www.
hotel-gurko.
com/index_en.
php[/url:nwrjxstn]

As I say, it's a year or two since we've been there so maybe some of the other forum members can give a more up to date review!
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