Upcoming road-trip 2011, Central/East Europe

I have a semi-adventurous soul and mostly enjoy traveling, but at some point along the way I started to hate airports. I love the experience of flying and is ever so slightly envious of Tim’s chosen career path, but I loathe airports and refuse to eat nuts.

Additionally, my wife Anna hails from the fair country of Georgia. That means..:

Yes. The ultimate road-trip! (*) Nearly 4800 kilometers I reckon and approximately the same distance back.

The route carefully avoids Serbia as I am too cheap to fork out 65 Euros for my wife’s visa application. Serbia: I do not mind paying 65 euros for a visa, but I’ve grown weary of paying various fees for turning in applications that could just as easily be denied as approved. I am not a gambler by nature.

But I digress. Our route will take us through Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. As soon as we cross the border into Georgia we will have reached our final destination. At that point I will spend two weeks on the beach reading several silly books and maybe take a dip in the water.

I have updated my GPS with the latest map and used the accompanying software to draw up the route using my PC. In addition I have fetched an updated list of E85-capable gas stations from etanol.nu.

We will leave in two weeks’ time. I have driven to Beograd once, so I am good until Hungary. I know about the road taxes in Austria and Hungary. Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey on the other hand is new territory and all input is welcome. Feel free to chime in using the comments section!

(*) I may have referred to a recent road-trip as the “ultimate” road-trip, but I did not realize at the time that the place we were going was still below the arctic circle so it turned into more of a penultimate road-trip. Lots of fun was still had though, despite the geographical anomaly.

Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Rune, you absolutely NEED to include Poland on your way back! You can take a nice ferry from the coast to a variety of ports in Sweden and Denmark, whichever fits your route.

ivo 71
Member
5 years 2 months ago

And you really must include the Czech republic in your itinerary instead of just powering fast past over the Autobahn. Prague is probably the most beautiful city in the world and cannot be missed if you are in the vicinity. And… they have the best beer in the world!

Ivo

peeceepeh
Member
5 years 2 months ago

And by going via Prague you will be passing Dresden as well… Highly recommended, too.

Radu
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Howdy Rune! Will have a glimpse as to your thoughts about the route in RO and come back!
Cheers! Radu

marq101
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Jelger, the editor in chief from our clubmagazine Saabberichten did that trip in 2009 from Holland with his Saab 99. His girlfriend is Georgian too. It was quite an adventure. We made a story of it in the club magazine. I’m sure he can give you some pointers

zippy
Member
5 years 2 months ago

That’s one heckuva road trip but I couldn’t think of a nicer car to be akin it in. πŸ™‚

i. ant. kal.
Member
5 years 2 months ago
Hey there! I am traveling every year Berlin – Sofia. I wouldn”t take Romania. I would take Serbia because te boarder Romania Bulgaria is… well not the best one… and the roads in Romania are not the best… The Problem is that in the south of Romania the infrastructure is poor. And the part from Vidin to Sofia is also not the best choise. I am really sad to say this but corruption is a big problem in Serbia.. Romania and Bulgaria. I am from Sofia… Bulgaria is a really stunning country… beatiful mountains… and the black sea… but its… Read more »
Angel-off
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Also I don’t think in Bulgaria there is E85 gaz station, so don’t count on that one. Keep in mind also that as closer you get to the Balkans and after Serbian-Hungarian border (Horgos) it’s getting darker and darker, so better pass at daytime. And finally – not all signs are written in Latin, most of them are still only in Cyrillic. Despite that I bet you gonna enjoy it especially after boring road in Austria and Hungary. Don’t forget to buy yourself a Vignette – for a week it costs about 5 Euro πŸ˜‰

martinsaab
Member
5 years 2 months ago

What about a meet and greet in Germany? Looks like you are coming close to Wuerzburg along your way…
I’m sure some Saabisti would join me and see you there!

Martin

900 classic cab
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Nice. Were talking about a 4 days trip ? That’s a lot ! Don’t forget to update the Saab dealer locations, so that you feel more confident if some mechanic problem shows up. Good luck.

ValS
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Wow!!

do you take the same route to get back?

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago

hey aloha…

Here’s the dude that marq101 talked about.

Rune,
If you need any advice on routes, borders, visa’s or other travel related things-to-know for preparation to there, drop me a message (I think you can read my email address connected with my wordpress account as editor/admin).
In the meantime, here is my website with extensive photo section.
http://www.khachapuriexpress.org/

I am planning to drive there again in a year or 2, and possibly extend the journey.

rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

LOL, I spent hours writing my comment below (was distracted by other stuff whilst typing).

I’ll send you an e-mail.

rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago
Last question first: ValS, that was the original plan (same route), but Bravada, ivo and the others got me rethinking that. Then RedJ and Till both sent me e-mails which made me reconsider my rethinking, so there is some flux at this point. πŸ™‚ martinsaab, that would be very cool, but… We will be in Germany around 16th/17th as it looks now, and that is when a lot of other people are vacationing as well! πŸ™‚ We will start our return around August 15th, so maybe a couple of days after that..? dave, good idea! I will make sure my… Read more »
jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago

The ferry across the Black Sea that carries cars is from Ukrferry, and it makes a whole tour of the Black Sea, stopping in Turkey as well. On top of that it is rather expensive. So yea, you’re better of skipping that one.

i. ant. kal.
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Hey Rune.

well look…. i just wanted to help!

Let’s make a simple test.

1. Berlin – Dresden- Praque- Brno – Bratislava – Budapest- Belgrad – Sofia – Istanbul
is. 2200 km. And most of the time its an autobahn.

2. Berlin- MΓΌnchen – Budapest – Szeged- Bucharest – Rousse – Istanbul
is 2750 km. And the road rousse – Istanbul is…. you have to cross Stara planina… (a mountain that divides the country in south and north.)

Of course you can choose…

cheers

ivan

rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Thanks ivan! Your input is most helpful and I am grateful. I just need time to digest all the alternative routes. πŸ™‚

i. ant. kal.
Member
5 years 2 months ago

viamichelin.de could help you!

B 125 AAB
Member
5 years 2 months ago
No need to get nervous about Romania. No policeman will stop you without reason. Pity you only travel a short portion in the country, and not the most spectacular of it. A one week vignette will cost a few Euro. I would recommend you travel from Budapest – Szeged (H) – Nadlac (RO) – Arad – Deva – Sibiu – Rimnicu Vilcea – Pitesti – Bucharest – Giurgiu (RO) – Russe (BG). The border crossing at Giurgiu/Russe is on a bridge over the Danube, and definitely much better than the ferryboat you would have to use according to your current… Read more »
rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Whoops! You have a good eye there, I had not zoomed in sufficiently and merely assumed the presence of a bridge! πŸ™‚

Sibiu to Russe incorporated into the route!

4675 km is now the route total. I had been a bit sloppy with my waypoints and not zoomed in sufficiently when placing them. The mapping software happily selected various side roads as a result. πŸ™‚

jelger: That ferry sounds enticing. Do they require people to vacate their cars, or are you allowed access to it while crossing?

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago
No, the car deck is closed during the passage as far as I can remember. I think there is a deck for campers and caravans, and they are allowed to enter (and sleep? not sure about that, best check their website). I can’t remember the prices for the cabins, but we travelled low budget, so I cut that out… πŸ˜‰ There is a swimming pool on the outside deck, and for the rest plenty of places to hang around, even 220V connections to play around with your laptop etc. What I liked is that it is a piece of relaxation,… Read more »
rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Yes, that looks like a very nice pool! (http://www.minoan.gr/en/on-board-services/swimming-pool)

The price for the cabins is a bit steep. But the ship looks fantastic and ending up in Venice would be quite helpful. Time to consult the budget. πŸ˜›

When I first read your suggestion I thought you meant there were no cabins at all, but I see now that the standard looks extremely good. It certainly is a good idea to relax a bit on the way home. Besides, Venice lands me closer to a place I’d like to swing by on the way home…

i. ant. kal.
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Plus you will see better places in ROmania and avoid the police in Bulgaria by shortening the distance in this country.

πŸ™‚

it’s not that hard to say that you’re from Bucharest. Romania.

anna
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Is it possible to avoid ferry and still have short distance to reach our final destination ? :))))

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago
I can recommend for anyone on a north-europe – turkey (and farther) trip to take the Minoan line car ferry Venice – Igoumenitsa (Greece, near Albania). Minoan has very good rates outside of August (Italian peak season). We paid about 165 euro car+passengers passage one way. This does not include cabin accomodation, which is optional. We just rolled out our sleeping bags somewhere, just like other backpackers. It felt like going back to those good old student days. πŸ˜€ The crossing takes 24 hours, and when you arrive in Venice it is just an awesome cruise-ship entrance, passing the centre,… Read more »
B 125 AAB
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I am glad you ammended your route accordingly. Also, on what dates do you plan to travel? I have not planned my holiday yet, but, if you take the Sibiu (RO) – Russe (BG) route, you will pass through Bucharest, which means you would be more than welcome to stay overnight with us and save the hotel money.

Valentin (this is my real name – I am logged to the website with my car number plate)

rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

That is a most generous offer Valentin! I’ll keep you posted as we finalize our route. TimR strongly suggested a ferry from Sweden to either Germany or Poland. If I do not go through Poland and get stuck somewhere then I am pretty confident Bravada and TimR will both tell me “we told you so!” for a very long time.

Any road taxes in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece or Turkey I need to be aware of?

Angel-off
Member
5 years 2 months ago

As I mentioned above – there are no toll roads in Bulgaria, instead there is Vignette sticker, for a week (the shortest period you could get for) is 10 Bularian Leva which is 5 Euro. It applies to all roads.

B 125 AAB
Member
5 years 2 months ago
Not too much to spend in this part of Europe for roads (not too many motorways in Romania and Bulgaria either) So, here is what you have to pay: Romania 3 EUR/for a vignette valid for one week Bulgaria5 EUR for a vignette valid for one week When you cross the bridge over the Danube from Giurgiu (RO) to Russe (BG) there is a tax of 25 RON (approx 6 EUR) in Giurgiu and 12 Leva (approx 6 EUR) in Russe Turkey taxes per each portion of motorway, as follows: E80 2.30 EUR Edirne – Istanbul E80/89 3.70 EUR Istanbul… Read more »
63mk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Bridge taxes are 2.50 euro maximum and return is free.

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago

In Turkey beware of laserguns. Especially along the Black Sea coast that you’ll be driving. After a while you will be able to predict where they are awaiting your fast drive around the corner… Haven’t been harassed in either Bulgaria, Greece or Turkey by the road taxing forces. Also not in Georgia (thank you Misha!), but I was in Russia the year before….

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago

As for the toll in Turkey, I bought this electronic card, that had enough credit for up & return trip (the Edirne – Istanbul – Ankara E80 part, plus the bridge)

rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I found some Turkey road toll information here:
http://www.kgm.gov.tr/Sayfalar/KGM/SiteEng/Root/Tolls.aspx

It says “tolls are in Turkish Lira’s only”. Does that mean their online price list is liras only, or that I also have to pay in liras..?

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago
@Rune : Since you will be travelling @ the height of Europe’s summer exodus, keep in mind the bottle necks at some borders on the trunk way to Turkey. You will bypass Serbia, that saves one that I forget to eliminate, the crossing at Szeged (Hungary-Serbia). It took us 3-4 hours, which apparently is even modest. The other notorious one is in the mentioned Edirne road. We bypassed it by taking a northern local crossing: at Lesovo. This was a funny excercise, as local as you can get, we were the only ones in the early evening. The Sarps crossing… Read more »
rune
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Batumi is our final destination. πŸ™‚ So getting to Sarpi will suffice plenty!

jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago

My memory got things mixed up… hahaha. The Lesovo crossing I mentioned above is relaxed and not busy (late afternoon), but not as little as I described. Got it mixed up with the Serbo-Bulgarian crossing at Zajecar(Vrska Cuka). That was really a step away from a Soviet style border with 6 different desks to pass, but than in countryside laid-back style. But that crossing is not applicable to your routing.

mikaik
Member
5 years 2 months ago
Looks like a very long trip. I understand you don’t fancy paying the visa for Serbia, but you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car. I know it’s comfy, but still. Due to the lack of motorways, the trip through Romania will be sloooooow. I imagine it’s the same in Bulgary. There are countless villages you have to cross at 50 km/h. Last time it took me 12h for roughly 600 km. I can’t imagine Bulgary being any better. On the other hand, don’t worry about driving in Romania, I can confirm the cops… Read more »
jelger
Member
5 years 2 months ago
I drove the highway 1 from Vidin (in the northwest corner with Romania) to the autobahn at Botevgrad, and although we met some towns where we had to lower the speed, in general we could move on in good speed (up to 100km/h) . Nothing too bad really. Everybody seems obesessed with police in Bulgaria, but I wonder if all these men opener their eyes really in the countryside of Bulgaria…. loads of girls hanging around (most;y gypsies) for a quicky next to the road. We were passed by a biker, and 30 miles later we found his bike in… Read more »
Marque
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Bon voyage Rune!!!

That’s a huge and adventurous itinerary indeed! Wishing the best for you and your Saab and be safe!

wpDiscuz