summer trip - 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 02-06-2006, 12:33 PM   #1
TPunk Recognized
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Cologne/Köln, Germany
Posts: 214
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Send a message via MSN to freakypete
Default

Hi

Me and a friend are travelling round E.E. in the summer, would be grateful of any advice you could give us.

We have got a month (possibly 6 weeks) and the plan is 3 days (give or take) in each of the following cities:

Prague
Krakow
Kiev
Moscow
St Petersburg
Tallinn (possible a night or 2 in Helsinki)
Riga
Vilnius
Warsaw

We first planned to go in the opposite direction (start in Warsaw) but then decided to go this way as we wanted fewer cities before Russia with needing a visa there, and then the way back through the Baltics and Poland we don’t have to rush so much. The only disadvantage of this that I found was that if we have a lot of time (or rather money!) when we are near the end of the trip, there are fewer opportunities (we thought of maybe including Budapest and Bratislava and Vienna if we had time going the other way). But I think Poland is big enough to make up for that, and we would go up to the coast and maybe to Poznan if we had time.

The great thing I have found is that its possible to get all the way to St Petersburg using night trains, so we aren’t wasting precious daylight on the train, and saving on accommodation. But a few of the trains I found were arriving in the early hours of the morning. Is that a problem do you think? My sister once travelled to Prague by coach and arrived at around 4am only to be stuck with nowhere to go for a few hours before anywhere opened.

We obviously can’t get a rail card as most of the countries we are visiting aren’t valid on any of them, and we would probably still have to pay an extra charge as we will be mostly using night trains. Would it be much cheaper to book the trains in advance, or will the difference be minimal? We don’t really want to be restricted by having already made reservations, but if the prices were a lot cheaper we might consider it. If so how do you go about booking them from abroad?

Helsinki we are a bit unsure about…we know its just been ranked the 10th most expensive city in the world, but it seems a waste to visit Tallinn and only be a couple of hours away by boat and not visit for a couple of days. But is it easier to get the train to Helsinki direct from St P or go straight to Tallinn then get a boat there and back? I also heard that its possible to get the boat from St P to Tallinn or Helsinki, is that true? We thought it might be nice to have a break from the trains for a bit!

We haven’t had any luck yet finding out about trains between the Baltic states, and I have read that coaches might be a bit easier. I think that might also be the case for travelling from Vilnius to Warsaw. We did find an Estonian website, but it was only available in Estonian or Russian! Eurolines is an option as well, but was it me or can you only find out timetables and prices on the website in the language of the country you are travelling from!?

We are also unsure about Belarus…my sister in law studied Russian in Minsk a couple of years ago and put me off travelling there, and there’s the hassle of applying for another visa. But I want to know if you think we should get a visa for Belarus anyway, in case we have to travel through there at some point, maybe getting to Warsaw?

any experience of applying for a russian visa would be appreciated as well!

Theres loads more i wanna know but cant think of it at the moment!

pete
__________________
"For once you have tasted Absinthe you will walk the earth with your eyes turned towards the gutter, for there you have been and there you will long to return."

Pete
freakypete is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2006, 01:23 PM   #2
Members
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: school in CT..but home will always be JERSEY
Posts: 470
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Send a message via AIM to nemesis331
Default

this summer i will be in poland, slovakia, hungary, and czech. thats a rough itinerary now and i will be coming from 3 weeks in western europe so i'm sure i'll widdle that list down and drop probably slovakia and maybe poland. who knows
__________________
--Bates-- </span>
nemesis331 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2006, 03:01 PM   #3
Members
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: near Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 1,240
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Send a message via MSN to chelseafc05
Default

Quote:
My sister once travelled to Prague by coach and arrived at around 4am only to be stuck with nowhere to go for a few hours before anywhere opened.

its not all that bad.. can be priddy priddy amusing if ya find somewhere good to sit for a while ..when i got the overnight train from sapa to hanoi in vietnam. it got in at hanoi at 4am so we just went to the lake and found a seat and watched all the early risers go for there run.... and of course there were 3 drunk aussies on there motorbikes ridin around doin burn outs and shit...filled in the time

Quote:
We obviously can’t get a rail card as most of the countries we are visiting aren’t valid on any of them, and we would probably still have to pay an extra charge as we will be mostly using night trains.* Would it be much cheaper to book the trains in advance, or will the difference be minimal? We don’t really want to be restricted by having already made reservations, but if the prices were a lot cheaper we might consider it. If so how do you go about booking them from abroad?
i think most overnight trains require you to do it in advance...just do it when you arrive in the city and get it over and done with, i dont know whether its possible to do it abroad.. also you might change direction and it would end up being a waist of money

Quote:
Helsinki we are a bit unsure about…we know its just been ranked the 10th most expensive city in the world, but it seems a waste to visit Tallinn and only be a couple of hours away by boat and not visit for a couple of days.* But is it easier to get the train to Helsinki direct from St P or go straight to Tallinn then get a boat there and back? I also heard that its possible to get the boat from St P to Tallinn or Helsinki, is that true? We thought it might be nice to have a break from the trains for a bit!
have a look on eurail website i think they have all the boat crossings and stuff on a map on there, just buy a point to point




__________________
http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Danieljh/ <--- pictures of from eastern europe trip

Where ive been: Cộng Hňa Xă Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt , Preăh Réachéanachâkr Kâmpŭchea, Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Česká republika, Slovenská republika, Magyar Köztársaság, Republika Slovenija, Republika Hrvatska, Bosna i Hercegovina, Republika Srbija, Republika Balgariya, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, România, Rzeczpospolita Polska, Lietuvos Respublika, Latvijas Republika, Eesti Vabariik, Republiken Finland



MY NAME IS
Daniel
chelseafc05 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2006, 04:32 PM   #4
TPunk Recognized
 
ajb3000's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England
Posts: 502
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

If you buy your train/bus tickets from the station the day before you want to depart you shouldn't have any problems, when I travelled in Eastern Europe I bought most of my tickets on the day and always got a seat.

In regards to arriving early in the morning, just take a walk round the city before it fills with people, also you may be lucky and be allowed into the hostel at that time. In Sarajevo I decided to walk from the bus station into town to pass some time, after 10 minutes walking I bumped into a guy who worked for the hostel I was heading too, he took me the rest of the way and let me in at 5am in the morning .

As for Belarus, I was looking at visiting this summer but for anything other than a transit visa (which only entitles you to 48 hours in the country), you have to jump through a lot of hoops, so decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

You will need a letter on invitation for your Russian visa, but a lot of Hostels will provide this for you if you book a bed in advance.
__________________
Where I've been: Albania, Australia, Belguim, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovenia, Somaliland, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Transnistria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, Uruguay Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Vietnam, Yemen

Where I'm going: Cyprus (June 2013)
ajb3000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2006, 03:02 AM   #5
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

You probably won't be able to avoid it, but I would recommend trying to minimize the border crossings by bus. To this date, my most miserable border crossing was the two-plus hour one on a bus from Lithuania to Poland. Drunk, incompetent border guards, missing passports when the bus prepared to leave, ugh.

I can't imagine a train would be worse -- or anything could be worse, actually. So, maybe try to cross the actual border on a train (or even better, an airplane!).

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 02-07-2006, 06:46 AM   #6
TPunk Emeritus
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Leigh On Sea, Essex
Posts: 3,337
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

I went by bus from riga to vilnius and our coach didnt seem to have any problems with the border crossing. The buses seem to be quicker, cleaner and more efficient when travelling through the Baltics...however when travelling from Budapest to Vienna there are very long queues with the Romanian's coming through.
__________________
I have two skins, one to lie on and one to cover myself with; the earth and the sky. (Masai proverb)


FANCY A READ...TPUNK BOOK CLUB CAN BE FOUND HERE



what goes around comes around
beergal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2006, 07:23 AM   #7
TPunk Emeritus
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,115
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

1. Ending your trip in Warsaw gives you lots of options if you have extra money/time. Vilnius is well worth more than three days (we lived there for two years, and didn't have enough time!), and Poland has SOOOO much to offer. Definitely head north to Gdansk, Szczecin is a great little town, Wroclaw is lovely - haven't been to Poznan but it sounds like you've done some research so basically you'll have lots of options at the end of your trip, if you need them.

2. If you're not sure about Helsinki, consider taking a day trip from Tallinn one day - it's only about an hour, and the days are so long, you'll have plenty of time to look around. If you decide you like it, stay or come back the next day, and if you don't you've at least had a look. There's a hostel in the Olympic village you could check for room.

3. You should be able to get a ferry back from St. Petersburg to either Tallinn or Helsinki - check out Silja Lines, Viking Lines or google Baltic ferries.

4. Within the Baltics, avoid the trains. Buses are usually quite fine, except on some of the smaller local lines. Between the capitals, Eurolines and Ecolines operate comfortable coaches and are pretty inexpensive. The lithuanian site for Eurolines (www.eurolines.lt) should have a little UK flag in one corner, that should change to an English site, or click "angliskai".

5. The bus from Warsaw to Vilnius is pretty reliable (WWM, you must have got a special deal!) though not necessarily as nice as the ones within the Baltics. We took one to Gdansk (a 12 hour overnight ride) with no toilet. That was pleasant. When you book the bus, ask if there will be a toilet (it's not a guarantee, but there's a chance) and when the driver opens the door, be aggressive. Most of the people crowding around the door DO NOT have tickets, so if you do, you get to get on first and get a seat. If you do not get on first, no one will give up their seat. Push to the doors (don't worry, you'll never see them again, and they'd do the same to you) and wave your ticket in front of the driver - that should be enough to get you on and seated. Once you're seated, don't get up if you want your seat back! It will probably be SRO for most of the journey.

6. The Belarus visa is really pricey, so unless you REALLY want to go, I wouldn't bother. The $$$ you save could be better spent on three days in Gdansk or something.

tumblezweedz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2006, 11:20 AM   #8
TPunk Recognized
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Cologne/Köln, Germany
Posts: 214
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Send a message via MSN to freakypete
Default

Hi,

Thanks for all the advice, tumblezweedz especially

Quote:
Originally posted by tumblezweedz@Feb 8 2006, 05:23 PM
1. Ending your trip in Warsaw gives you lots of options if you have extra money/time.* Vilnius is well worth more than three days (we lived there for two years, and didn't have enough time!), and Poland has SOOOO much to offer.* Definitely head north to Gdansk, Szczecin is a great little town, Wroclaw is lovely - haven't been to Poznan but it sounds like you've done some research so basically you'll have lots of options at the end of your trip, if you need them.
Yeah my brother lives in Poznan and had kind of invited us! its a really nice city as well, i was there 2/3 years ago. plus we have to get back to germany so it breaks up the return journey a bit.

I know what you mean about Poland, i could probably spend the whole trip there, but we wanted to see a bit more of the rest of eastern europe. I once went to a place called Kolobrzeg on the coast which was really nice as well. I was once stuck in Szczecin having missed a connecting train so not got good experiences of there! But i hopefully we will see at least one of Gdansk and Wroclaw, maybe both.

Quote:
2. If you're not sure about Helsinki, consider taking a day trip from Tallinn one day - it's only about an hour, and the days are so long, you'll have plenty of time to look around.* If you decide you like it, stay or come back the next day, and if you don't you've at least had a look.* There's a hostel in the Olympic village you could check for room.

3.* You should be able to get a ferry back from St. Petersburg to either Tallinn or Helsinki - check out Silja Lines, Viking Lines or google Baltic ferries.
I think we are gonna wait til we get to St Pete. if its easier/cheaper to get to Helsinki we will go there first for a day or 2, if not we will go straight to Tallinn then make a day trip or stay a night or two if we like it. Once we are out of Russia we can relax a bit more and take our time with not having to worry about visas. it means we can get out of the cities a bit more as well.

Quote:
4.* Within the Baltics, avoid the trains.* Buses are usually quite fine, except on some of the smaller local lines.* Between the capitals, Eurolines and Ecolines operate comfortable coaches and are pretty inexpensive.* The lithuanian site for Eurolines (www.eurolines.lt) should have a little UK flag in one corner, that should change to an English site, or click "angliskai".
Yeah i think we suspected that this was the case with the trains in the Baltics. it might be nice to have a break from the trains as well.

Quote:
5.* The bus from Warsaw to Vilnius is pretty reliable (WWM, you must have got a special deal!) though not necessarily as nice as the ones within the Baltics.* We took one to Gdansk (a 12 hour overnight ride) with no toilet.* That was pleasant.* When you book the bus, ask if there will be a toilet (it's not a guarantee, but there's a chance) and when the driver opens the door, be aggressive.* Most of the people crowding around the door DO NOT have tickets, so if you do, you get to get on first and get a seat.* If you do not get on first, no one will give up their seat.* Push to the doors (don't worry, you'll never see them again, and they'd do the same to you) and wave your ticket in front of the driver - that should be enough to get you on and seated.* Once you're seated, don't get up if you want your seat back!* It will probably be SRO for most of the journey.
Thanks for the tip! whats does SRO mean? seat reservations only?

Quote:
6.* The Belarus visa is really pricey, so unless you REALLY want to go, I wouldn't bother.* The $$$ you save could be better spent on three days in Gdansk or something.
But does the coach between vilnius and warsaw go through Belarus or not? I think i heard that most trains do? like i said in my original post, my sister in law has put me off visiting Belarus, but dont want to get to Vilnius to find that we have to travel through there and dont have a visa.
__________________
"For once you have tasted Absinthe you will walk the earth with your eyes turned towards the gutter, for there you have been and there you will long to return."

Pete
freakypete is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2006, 04:05 AM   #9
TPunk Emeritus
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,115
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

I'm glad to help, I wish everyone could have the experience of heading east!

If you only can choose one, I'd definitely pick Gdansk over Wroclaw - it's just radically different from anything you'd see inland. I spent 3 days there the first time, and about 3 1/2 the second - could easily have stayed longer, we didn't do any side trips out of town the second time round, and the battle of Grunwald (Zalgiris) took place near Malbork, not far away - the castle is supposed to be pretty cool if you have time to check it out. Definitely check out the Maritime Museum in Gdansk, the old crane is fascinating. There's a beautiful riverwalk now (wasn't there during my first trip) with tons of restaurants and such. Pleasant place to spend a few hours strolling and dining.

SRO is "standing room only", and I'm serious. Our bus was packed.

The bus from Vilnius to Warsaw does not go through Belarus. I've heard conflicting reports about the train - some say it always does, some that there's an alternative route via Kaunas and Suwalki that avoids the Belarus corner (it's only a tiny bit of Belarus that the train goes through, but you still need the visa.) The only time I've travelled by train east of Poland, it was still the USSR, so going through Belarus was not a problem. Personally, I'd take the bus option if you can stand the prospect of 12 hours on board. That's definitely the standard way to go.
tumblezweedz 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
Summer Trip blstp2 Post Your Itinerary 9 08-21-2006 04:54 PM
Summer patchouli Lover Bored? Links/Jokes 12 08-04-2006 07:11 AM
Road trip to Maine this summer ladaz U.S.A. 14 07-24-2006 11:22 AM
My England Trip in Summer of 2003 MolsonGirl Travel Photos & Videos! 20 06-16-2004 06:42 PM
2 week trip, weekend trip, 13 day trip RootBrewskies General Travel Tips and Advice 2 11-17-2003 07:32 AM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:13 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