Hey all! Some question's if you don't mind - TravelPUNK Backpacker College Student Budget Travel Message Boards!



Go Back   TravelPUNK Backpacker College Student Budget Travel Message Boards! > Backpacker College Student Travel Message Boards > Where ya going? & Specific country info! > Europe: Eastern

Europe: Eastern From Russia to Croatia, the Danube, Iron Curtain era vestiges, Pilzner beer, Czech it out!

Raileurope.com: See Europe by train
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-08-2003, 07:04 AM   #1
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 29
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Well, I figured that this would be the best forum for these questions. First of I am currently in St. Petersburg, Russia, and have lived in Russia for over 4 months now, so if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. A useful site is (can't get the link thing to work, so i guess copy and paste ) :

http://www.waytorussia.net

Which I found to be truthful over aspects of food, travel, visiting the cities, what to expect, and most importantly culture. It's not my site- but I found it helpful to plan for a future trip to Novgorod.

But now for some basic, naive questions (with some info about myself):

Once I finish with my stint in Russia, I am hoping to see Eastern Europe (cheap, nearby, why not?). It is not like I can afford to travel to Europe again for a long time anyways. This will be my first back packing trip (except for a 6 day stay to get a different Russian visa in Helsinki). I will be traveling alone from November 21st to just before Christmas and hopefully be back to see the family in the States. Budget will be about 1000 US and the cheaper I live , the farther I go. My goal of course is to see as much as possible in a month. My other goals- to try each country's alcoholic beverage of choice and to take a lot of pictures for my family.

Well beyond the Baltic countries I am not sure what direction is next (do I hit Berlin or no? Prague? Vienna?) No clue, I'll play it by ear, but I am curious whether it is possible or is this wishful thinking to be this unplanned. I honestly can't book hostels yet until I get a feel for the traveling experience. I will be going dorm style- I did it before.

I am thinking that bus seems to be the best option; apparently they are cheap, and reliable. About Eastern European international buses, is there anybody who knows more about these, such as prices? I tried finding info on the web but there was little help concerning prices, schedules and stuff. Maybe trains for longer distances?

I will also need to return to Russia to pick up my Luggage, it is a must. Don't know yet from what city I will depart to return to Russia, but has anybody arrived in Russia from somewhere south of the Czech Rep. or Slovakia? How do stand-by tickets at airports work, are they cheap(er) or are they even a good option (a ridiculous question)? If you leave the airport- do they become invalid? Failing that, I might go by land or sea...

Well, I would like to thank you for your help in advanced . All this info I need.....

Take care
npabga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2003, 05:01 AM   #2
Admin
 
travelpunk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: spiznain
Posts: 6,568
Thanks: 41
Thanked 13 Times in 11 Posts
Default

npabga, Welcome to the boards!

Thats a tight budget for a month, but then again, you'll be going dorm style so that will save you money. Tranportation will be the biggest chunk out of you budget, could be wise to plan ahead on some of your reservations. Berlin and Vienna may be expensive, but not if you're a frugal person.

Buses, not sure about, but if you're curious about trains, check out this guys website on train traveling Man in Seat 61. It's pretty detailed with his photos, prices, and info on just about every country in Europe.
It could be a nice starting point for you, in terms of info.

You also might need some visas for entry in certain countries, so don't forget to look into that. Are you a US citizen in Russia? If so, go here for info on that http://usembassy.state.gov/

Try alcohol from every country- indeed !
Take tons of pics and show us too!

Hostel reservations may not be necessary at that time of year, unless the is a holiday in the city that you'll be visiting or some sort of special event. Then, you may want to for peace of mind.

You are not issued a ticket on stand by. Your name is on a waiting list (you could be the only person on the list) and if there is space available about 20 minutes or so before the flight (like if someone didn't show up that previously made a reservation), they call your name, you go over to the counter and pay then you'll receive a boarding pass.
Well, thats how they do (did) it in the US, but not so sure there. I can't imagine it being any different.

Hope this helps you somewhat B) !

Again, WELCOME!
travelpunk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2003, 06:51 AM   #3
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 29
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Thanks for the help!

Overall this message board has been very informative. I need to get something to get at those bedbugs, especially since I sleep deep. I was thinking Permethrin, and have been trying to find out more about this:

This was balanced:
http://ace.ace.orst.edu/info/extoxnet/pips...ps/permethr.htm

This scared me when I first saw it:
http://www.safe2use.com/poisons-pesticides...-report/cox.htm

This is a product page, apparently there are types you spray on and it works for 6 weeks through multiple washings (helpful for the backpacker):
http://www.permethrin-repellent.com/products.htm

Overall, I can say with certainty, that I am confused . I should have invested in a bio-chemical background <_< . I guess the summary is that there is a risk of skin and eye irritation and it doesn't work on your skin since it biodegrades. But it looks promising, since spraying your body is unneeded anyways. Well I still got time and I don't know if I can buy some in Russia anyways.

The link for the trains you provided has been helpful. I haven't come across anything like that at all. A land route is for me. A cheap alternative to return to Russia instead of a plane. I was foolishly thinking that there would be a Black Sea ferry to Russia from the Balkans, but most depart from Turkey, and the visa fees are a bit much for me. There goes that option. Train by Ukraine tentatively, pay the visa fee and see Kiev and Lviv as an excuse. Can't complain if it works .

The trips to Vienna and Berlin I was a bit leary about. I have already thrown out Sweden because of the costs. My plan was to stay within the old Warsaw Pact states, but Berlin and Austria are so close...Just over the border...I can almost see them... I am thinking just a day trip, arrive early in the morning and leave late at night. I don't plan on going much further west (but we'll see where the urge takes me).

Thanks for the info about standby tickets. If they are cheaper, why not try it once, especially if I misjudge distances or something comes up? The main thing I want to pin down is the start and end of my trip, the rest I'll play it as it comes.

Everything so far has been a help. Thank you and take care.
npabga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2003, 07:49 AM   #4
Members
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 26
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

I'm kind of doing the same thing heading to Europe tomorrow. I'll be starting in Vienna, Austria and meeting the friend who I'll be travelling with. We'll be winging it too. No plans. Who knows where we'll end up. Should be an experience though.

As for the bed bugs, I'm a little paranoid about them. But the only permethrin stuff I could find involved washing the sheets in it and then drying them which is kind of not practical when you're travelling though plenty of hostels. I've got insect repelent but who knows if they'll work or not... we'll see.

Hope you have a great time, maybe our paths will cross!
Glacier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2003, 03:33 AM   #5
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 29
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Though I won't know how often you will check this message board (you may already be in Europe now), I hope you'll enjoy your trip too, and things work out well. How long will you be travelling for, or is this one of those trips that end when the money runs dry?

If we run into each other that would be great. We could compare notes and tell stories over a beer (or a suitable substitute). Once I hit Poland after travelling through the baltics, I have no clue where I'll be. I do hope I'll still have some money though . Again best of luck and enjoy yourself.
npabga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2003, 11:55 AM   #6
french touch
 
Esterina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Québec
Posts: 3,251
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Hi npabga !

I thought I'd leave you some infos based on my experience of last year in Eastern Europe. Hope it helps some somehow...

Your $1000 budget should be more than enough, depending on your lifestyle of course. I stayed 6 weeks and spent 1200 CAN$, so about what? US$ 900-1000. I always went for the cheapest hostel/hotel/private room (and got bitten by bed bugs in one of them...) and ate one or two meals of my own a day. But you can eat really well for 2-5 $ a meal in restaurants, or have you meals included in the private room prices. In some place, for example, I rented a room for 10 Euros a night, and the three meals (wonderfully delicious) were included. I was a happy girl !!!

I didn't travel in the Baltics so I don't know the cost of living over there. I did Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and three days in Bulgaria. My favorite country is definitely Romania (I'm going back for three months ! - can't wait to go -). I found that doing those countries in 6 weeks was quite a race ! You're leaving for a month... hopefully you're pace is faster than mine and you can enjoy seeing much in a short period ! You'll see for yourself anyway, once you get started.

Regarding transportation, buses are good and cheap, it's true, but usually packed and either very cold or hot, depending on the weather. There is no climatisation, so... I personally prefered to travel by train, as they are almost as cheap and more comfortable (but you'll have to adjust your views on that concept "comfort" !). Train and buses schedules, I always found out on place, I can't help you there. There is an universal time schedule you can buy (I think it's only for train though) sold by Thomas Cook. I think it's called "Thomas Cook timetable".

The prices depend on the country you're in. National bus ride in Slovakia : $2 per 100 km ; in Bulgaria : a few cents ! Train ride (second class, but first class is really cheap as well) in Hungary : almost $3 per 100 km ; in Romania : about $0,75 per 100 km ! International trains cost a little more. Eastern Europe Lonely Planet was helpful on that subject.

Make sure you know the regulations regarding each country transport system... so you avoid paying fines ! In Poland, you have to buy a ticket in city buses for you luggage ! I know someone who didn't and had to learn the hard way... she paid ! And always think of punching your ticket, there are frequent inspections...

Regarding the hostels, you sure won't need to reserve in advance since you're travelling out of the summer season. And you'll be in good position to bargain a private room, if such lodging interests you.

Have a great time !
__________________

people are people


Esterina is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2003, 07:38 AM   #7
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 29
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

atchoum,

Thanks for the response! This is all very helpful- It is much better to travel knowing what I am getting into. However, when I travel around the US on a couple month road trip, I won't plan at all

Just out of curiosity, what place did you have to share your bed with those unwanted guests? When I went to Novgorod I couldn't sleep well because I kept thinking I was getting bit by those buggers. Also, the neighbors were quite loud.

I generally prefer to go the whole supermarket and cooking route but 3 hot squares a day...It has been forever!

I know that Eastern Europe is huge- but if you felt rushed in 6 weeks, then I will definitely need to forget a few cities. Forget a daytrip to Berlin just to see the Reichstag and the Brandenburg gate, or to see what a real mountain range looks like by seeing the Alps. But this will allow me to focus on some interesting cities and countries, without needing to be trying to learn and soak up as much possible in a dead run. If anything I prefer the random stroll around a city, you'll never know what you'll come across. I would also like to see the Carpathian Mountains. If you don't mind, do you have any recommendations of a nice, historical town located there?

Thanks for all the info and the time it took to write it. I am looking forward to this trip, though it seems a shame to have so little time. I have a lot more questions but I need to study more first. Take care.
npabga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2003, 10:32 AM   #8
TPunk Emeritus
 
worldwidemike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Columbus, Ohio USA
Posts: 3,405
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Hi,

My recommendation for a month's travel would be to start (as you said) in the Baltics. I've been to Talinn, Estonia, and it seemed pretty cosmopolitan (and gorgeous, too). I spent a little less than a week in Lithuania, which is quite inexpensive. It's going to be cold, too, most likely, so pack the appropriate warm clothes! Russian seemed useful for getting around in Lithuania -- much more so than English. Then, I'd dip down into Poland, which I think is great. Krakow is an enjoyable city. If you like castles, when you're in Warsaw, take a day (train) trip to Malbork for a huge brick one built by the Teutonic Knights.

I would also recommend the Czech Republic, as Prague has one of the best "Old Towns" in Europe. Beer is the cheapest I've paid for it anywhere in the world. It's a great city to kick back, relax, and enjoy the "scene."

I guess I'd sum up my advice by saying you'll enjoy it more if you narrow your destinations down. Try to see MORE of less of the world, and I think you'll have better memories. Would you rather think back of long days spent on trains or buses (pubic transportation can be slow in E. Europe)? Or the "weekend" you spent in Talinn, or the three days in Krakow, etc. I try to -- at least every other stop on my trip -- stay somewhere for three nights. Gives you a chance to unpack, do laundry, get familiar with the area, kind of feel like a local for a couple days. Pick a place that you can do a day trip or two out from and see some of the countryside.

For example, I'd recommend the following cities for 3 days:
* Vilnius (lots of old churches, a castle, and a day trip to Trakei and its lake castles)
* Prague (heck, you could just kick back here and drink beer for 3 days even without the cool sights)
* Krakow (Old Town, Monasteries, etc.)

Feel free to check out my website below, and fire off any questions you may have...

Have fun!

worldwidemike
__________________
Check out my travel web page at:
Worldwidemike.com
"Life is not measured in the number of breaths we take, but by the places that take our breath away..."
worldwidemike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2003, 02:48 AM   #9
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 29
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

worldwidemike,

Thanks for the info- reading what you wrote about Bulgaria makes me wish I could go this time around... ( do I really have to be home by Christmas? )

I have been getting a clearer and clearer outline of what I would like to do. Prices to Tallinn are cheap from St. Petes $9 American, R290. the nice thing is that it I will arrive at 6am- however it also means I will be woken up several times as I approach and cross the border. A couple days in Tallinn will be good.

My concern is Latvia, since I need proof of insurance to cross the border. How have people in the past dealt with this? This is the only state that demands it that I want to visit, so something that will be cheap and will allow me in for a couple days.

Also, how to deal with tickets and documents for onward travel? Finland had this requirement- but I got over the border fine without them.

My stay in Lithuania will be the highlight for personal reasons. I am planning to spend a couple days in both Kaunus (deemed by many as more Lithuanian, and I believe the old capital), and Vilnius, and a day in Trakai (another old capital) and Klaipeda, were I hope to catch a ferry to Gdansk (I came across one during my research). However, concerning bus travel in the Baltics: I have experienced it a couple times- so what's one more?

For Poland, I may not stay more than a day maybe in Warsaw- since it was rebuilt in the Soviet style, but the old-town should be worth the look. Krakow and Auschwitz are definites.

Any cheep places in Prague I could stay?

At minimum, once a week, will be my kick back and do nothing day- find a nice place to sit and people watch. ^_^

Thanks for everyone's help! I am feeling more and more solid in what to do and expect. Take care.
npabga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2003, 02:32 PM   #10
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Lithuania
Posts: 2
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Send a message via ICQ to augustas Send a message via MSN to augustas
Default

npabga,

In the discussions about Russian Visas you asked me whether I know something about Big Rock in Lithuania. Actually i do not know known object which would be called Big Rock. Maybe your grandma had inmind some big stone which was in her region. Which region of Lithuania she is comming from? If she is from somewhere around Anyksciai (Utena county) she mind have in mind the biggest stone (265 tons) of Lithuania -- Puntukas Stone. Picture of it you may see here:
http://www.randburg.com/li/utenaco.html

In Lithuania it is worth visiting Vilnius, the capital. Since this summer the main avenue is renovated (constructions were held for the whole 12 months). Sure, you should go to Trakai city, where you will find a castle in the island which is kind of symbol of my country (picture of this castle is always on the books about Lithuania).

Please, contact me (i also refer to other TravelPunk travelers comming to Lithuania) before your come to Lithuania and I will show you around Vilnius and maybe more, also will introduce Lithuanian beers ;-)

Augustas
www.kligys.com
augustas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2003, 07:07 PM   #11
french touch
 
Esterina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Québec
Posts: 3,251
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Hi npabga ! Sorry I took so long to answer...

The place where I had this unfortunate encounter with the infinite small was in Romania, in a city you will never go to... I had to stop there for a night because I was too tired after a whole day of travelling per train, and had had a bad experience with drunk men in the train, so I wanted out of there. It's an ugly city with no attractions what so ever, called Beclean. And one night out of two... no water at all in the whole town !

But I ended up spending... 4 days !

That's the Romanian experience ! The hotel employee invited me to dinner to her place, introduced me to the french teacher (my mother tongue is french) who took charge of showing me the city (attended his class, went to the theater, the market, etc.), then to his turn introduced me to the orphenage psychologist, so I went there two days in a row, and so on, and so on... Among the best memories of the trip ! So don't be afraid of bugs, just bring yourself bed sheets in case !
__________________

people are people


Esterina is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-21-2003, 01:54 AM   #12
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 29
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Well, I got busy- but I am a bit free again myself (finally ). I also have a good Idea for my final and first week of my travels…now to let the middle 2 weeks fall as they may…

Hello augustus,

I will hopefully know soon, what my grandma meant. Unfortunately, she remembers little of what her father told her about the home country. So I hope to find a bit more about this soon. With what little information I know already, I think it would be difficult to do a more expansive search for my family’s past. I know I have distant relatives some where in Lithuania, but were they are only God knows. My great grandfather lost contact with them a long time ago. That and he has been dead for decades.

May the weather be pleasant- I imagine there will be snow on the ground in late November? I realize I will never be able to set enough time aside to see the country; I have been able to allotted 5 days at minimum. Thanks for the offer for your help. I am concerned that this may cause you unnecessary work or stress…

….Lithuanian beers… My family would be very jealous. If we do meet, I’ll buy of course , and I am always open for recommendations of what to see in Vilnius. This trip has been rather spur of the moment- it has only after living in Russia for a while that I decided to see Eastern Europe, so I don’t have any Lonely Planet books or even proper shoes or a good backpack (I have tried to hunt some down, with no luck). Despite these issues that must be dealt with, I wish you the best.

Greetings atchoum,

I am not planning to see that city (helped by the fact that I have never heard of it), but your story is an interesting example of how things work out. Unfortunately, my stay in Romania is really up in the air. I have little time so Bucharest is struck off completely, a real pity. I’ll see if I can go another time. However, Cluj-Napoca is a real possibility. The train schedules fit well with my over all plan and sets me up well for my return to Russia via Budapest. If this plan sounds reasonable, please let me know. There are trains that arrive early one morning. I find a place to spend the night and buy a ticket to leave late the next day- so pretty much 2 full days and 1 night. Seems possible, but definitely rushed.

I may be able to take on another day…. Well honestly this whole section of my trip is really nebulous- the way I like it. Just in case I decided to stop a long while at Krakow or plan to get to Lviv immediately in order to kick back. So I am not sure if and for how long in Romania I am going, though I think Cluj-Napoca would be a good place to see a bit of what Romania is.

Actually on a different note- maybe it would be better to hit the second largest cities of these countries. They say if you have been to Moscow, you have never been to Russia. I have heard from somebody I met that if you go to Finland, go to a smaller city first- because it is the real Finland. If you go to Helsinki first it will give you the wrong impression of the country. Instead of Tallinn, go to Tartu; instead of Riga, Daugavpils. The capitals are too cosmopolitan and touristy and don’t give as good of an accurate representation of what a country and people are. Any recommendations? Has anybody traveled to these more "authentic cities", or does it really matter?


Oh, as an aside: I had hair like this 2 years ago:
npabga is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply






Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
do you have a dirty mind wong name Bored? Links/Jokes 10 01-23-2006 11:32 AM
Make up my mind Scabbybones Australia/NZ/S Pac. 11 11-18-2005 06:20 AM
Don't really have a question chandy General Travel Tips and Advice 4 01-18-2005 05:20 PM
voyd, i had you in mind joanofarc Bored? Links/Jokes 2 03-15-2004 03:30 PM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:51 PM.



 

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.2.0

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121