Budapest to Dubrovnik via

Preamble

This year we decided to take a tour again and the Balkans were to be our area to explore. As with our previous tours some parts were organised by us and part was an organised tour. We decided that the organised portion would be the "Eastern Europe Experience" offered by Tucan Travel, a trip using public transport that starts in Sofia, Bulgaria and ends in Dubrovnik, Croatia. We decided to extend the trip at the beginning by visiting Budapest, Hungary for a few days and then taking the train through Serbia to join the organised tour in Sofia. We hadn't visited Dubrovnik before and decided to add a few more days there after the end of the Tucan trip.

We flew out of London Heathrow so that we could visit our daughter in London where she had just started work. The only wrinkle in the arrangements were that the train to Clapham Junction was stopped due to rioting, in the end the delay was minimal and nothing transpired.

We passed a pleasant couple of hours in the BA Lounge at Heathrow T5 followed by an uneventful flight to Budapest arriving at 17:40CEST. We arrive on time but, not for the first time, one of our bags did not make it. We follow the usual procedure at the airport to register the fact and then we're of to Budapest by Airport Shuttle. The bag is delivered overnight, good, 'cos it is Lynn's!

On previous trips I have written up my experiences inline but for this trip I'm using my blog. The different segments appear in separate posts:

- :: Budapest, Hungary

Before we join the Tucan trip starting in Sofia we have scheduled ourselves a few days exploring Budapest.

- :: Budapest » Sofia

To travel from Budapest to Sofia we booked a train journey that goes via Serbia and once formed sections of the Orient Express.

View a map of the route.


- :: Macedonia

From Sofia we head west to spend a couple of days exploring Macedonia. This choice of name after independence from the former Yugoslavia led to difficulties with Greece and when it joined the United Nations (UN) was accepted with the provisional name of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

- :: Albania

From Ohrid we make a flying visit to the small [28,748km2] country of Albania that is still struggling to shrug off the effects of their isolationism.

- :: Montenegro

After crossing the border from Albania in the south of the country we have a few days to explore Montenegro, a small country half the size of Albania [13,812 km2].

- :: Bosnia and Herzegovina

After leaving Bogetici in Montenegro and heading noth we cross the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina and then on to Sarajevo and Mostar.

- :: Croatia

The final part of our trip takes us to the isolated enclave of Croatia that includes the city of Dubrovnik. Here we spend our last few days before returning home.


Balkans Album

Afterword

We travelled ~750km (450miles) by train and a further ~1,300km (800miles) by bus. The terrain and scenery was attractive and varied including the relatively flat areas early on followed by mountains and finally the coast. The duration of the train journey was much longer than anticipated but the travelling as part of the Tucan tour did not include long days of travel and was generally unhurried. We visited eight countries in a little under three weeks and they were more varied than I had expected given that seven of them had been part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until its breakup in 1992.

The Good

I enjoyed almost all of the trip. Introducing Lynn to Budapest was a joy and for me the train journey, particularly the second day, was memorable. We met a few people while travelling that we will keep in contact with and I would recommend the Balkans as a region to visit.

The Bad

Nothing particularly bad comes to mind though constantly changing currency was a pain with every country having its own. While not bad per se, I was very disappointed with Dubrovnik, it was the only place we visited that did not live up to expectations.

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