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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev - Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-?

Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev - Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-?

Postby UKGlobetrotter » 09 Jan 2012 - 22:57

Hey hey folks,

So, I'm thinking of doing this following route over Easter, but not sure where to go first after Bucharest between Sofia or Istanbul, or if I should go on further to say, Athens (albeit not by rail...) or onwards to somewhere like Tirana or Belgrade.

Ideas? And if anyone has used any of the trains between these places, let me know?! :)
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby flow » 10 Jan 2012 - 04:13

Hej!

Have you already figured out the Vilnius to Bucharest part? Would love to hear more about getting tickets, reservations etc... :)

If I have a look at the map I could think of a trip like this:
Bucuresti - Sofia - Nis - Skopje - Albania - Montenegro and then either along the coast to Croatia or back to Belgrade

I have been in Belgrade in December (finally!) but seeing all those trains going to Skopje, Sofia, Istanbul, Bar,... I think I have to come back soon and explore that area further. :)

At the moment there are severe strikes in Bulgaria affecting many routes however most international services should run as "normal" (BDZ being in a quite bad situation anyway)...so always calculate with some delay.
In Belgrade, there were quite some trains delayed however often "only" for some 15-20 minutes or so, which shouldnt be a problem.

Oh, almost forgot, you should definitely include Istanbul as well... :)


Flo 8)
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby UKGlobetrotter » 10 Jan 2012 - 15:56

Well, this is what I've found:
Vilnius-Minsk - 6 trains a day, some starting from Kalingrad:

06:05 10:09
16:00 21:40
16:46 22:01
18:05 22:09
21:37 02:58
22:59 04:23

about 10-15USD single, check http://www.litrail.lt for information, available in Lithuanian, English and Russian

Minsk-Kiev - 2 direct trains at 1231-0003 (journey planners will indicate a connection as well using this train, but will save only 1 minute for the journey time) and 2125-0743, 1 connection - 00:50-04:27 connect via Jlobin 06:25-13:42, about 12USD single

Kiev-Chisinau - 2 trains a day direct 0755-2259 and 0355-1700, 1 connection 1331-0552 via Shmerinka, approx 30GBP

Chisinau-Bucharest - 1 connection overnight 1730-0657 approx £22, buses may be faster and more frequent. This train also comes up as a connecting service that will arrive into Bucharest about 20 minutes earlier.

From what I understand, it would be cheaper to book these tickets when you get there, although you can book most through RealRussia, or possibly DB? Buses may also be more frequent, and cheaper. Check http://hafas.bene-system.com/bin/query.exe/en?L=b-rail& for timetables!
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby Peter » 10 Jan 2012 - 16:31

Hi.
Just as information. RealRussia is also partner of Raildude. See here: http://russia.raildude.com
Prices are the same - of course often a bit cheaper directly at a railway station there.
If you purchase via the given link above we get a small commission which we invest in our Raildude project. :)
Peter :)
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby Head » 12 Jan 2012 - 00:28

UKGlobetrotter wrote:Vilnius-Minsk - 6 trains a day, some starting from Kalingrad:

06:05 10:09
16:00 21:40
16:46 22:01
18:05 22:09
21:37 02:58
22:59 04:23

I would suggest using 6.05 or 18.05 departures, since these are Vilnius - Minsk expresses with seating cars. Quick and cheap.
All other trains take much longer, and normally consist of expensive sleeper or very unpleasant and still not cheap platzkart cars. Well, 22.59 departure can be used to save on accommodation costs, but this train runs once in 4 days only. And there will be border and customs checks almost all night long.
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby Head » 12 Jan 2012 - 00:58

UKGlobetrotter wrote:Kiev-Chisinau - 2 trains a day direct 0755-2259 and 0355-1700, 1 connection 1331-0552 via Shmerinka, approx 30GBP

it's probably better to take one of the night express trains from Kiev to Odessa - amazing city on a Black Sea. These should be several times cheaper than train to Chisinau, since it's not an international trip. After spending some time in Odessa, you can take a cheap bus to Chisinau (200 km, about 5 hours, dozen departures a day).

one more thing - direct trains to Chisinau originate in Moscow, and this means that tickets might be hard to obtain.
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby UKGlobetrotter » 16 Jan 2012 - 12:36

Thanks for the advice Head! I was actually going to aim for the 0605 from Vilnius purely on the basis of using a transit visa rather than a tourist visa. :) Interesting point about Odessa actually, I guess I could put up with a bus for 5 hours ;P although the aim of the game is to try and save on accommodation costs :P though I did consider Lviv...
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev-Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-???

Postby Head » 16 Jan 2012 - 18:56

UKGlobetrotter wrote:Interesting point about Odessa actually, I guess I could put up with a bus for 5 hours ;P although the aim of the game is to try and save on accommodation costs :P

that's exactly what you get - you can travel with a night train Kiev - Odessa (normally there are 3-4 of them), and then with a night bus to Chisinau. And it's overall cheaper than direct train from Kiev to Moldova.
UKGlobetrotter wrote:though I did consider Lviv...

I would say Odessa is more interesting, and it's probably better to cover Odessa in this trip, since you are anyway going to be in the middle of Ukraine. Lviv is easily accessible anytime later from Poland or Germany )
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev - Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-?

Postby nltrainer » 17 Jan 2012 - 13:47

UKGlobetrotter wrote: I guess I could put up with a bus for 5 hours ;P although the aim of the game is to try and save on accommodation costs :P though I did consider Lviv...

puh-most likely you do not now how spartan the local platskart trains look like over there-even worse as a Bus (mostly 2nd hd from germany).
There is also a train-1 daily Od_Chisinau, takes even longer as the bus,
NOTE: there are 2 different buslines Od-Chis: 1 goes via Transdnjistr-you may be in for the experience, others say its only a big scam from intimidating border''officials'' to get as much as poss money from you- ignorant and always way too anxious westerners, as anyone knows how f..thy rrich they are. 1 leaves from right beside the big Voksal in Od, the other from the real autovoksal (=bus station, yes) some 10-15 mins away by tram.
Now Lviv-Chis would be an interesting ride for you: a bus taking nearly 24 hrs via utmost rural roads and full with smugglers.
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev - Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-?

Postby Head » 18 Jan 2012 - 03:14

nltrainer wrote:
puh-most likely you do not now how spartan the local platskart trains look like over there

Platzkart cars, 3rd class, you mean? Right, they are not worth saving of several euros.
In/to/from Ukraine, it's definitely makes sense using 2nd class, kupe. It's about 1,3-1,5 times more expensive (but still very cheap on internal routes in Ukraine), it's a decent accommodation, 4-berth sleeper.
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Vilnius - Minsk - Kiev - Chisinau-Bucharest-Sofia/Istanbul-?

Postby Head » 21 Jan 2012 - 00:43

One more thing
For buying internal tickets in Ukraine for local price, UZ online booking engine should be used - www.e-kvytok.com.ua
It's a very confused and illogical mixed Ukrainian-Russian language service, but it works, with the help of someone knowing either language ) Tickets can be bought 45 days in advance and must be then obtained in paper form in any ticket office.
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