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Messages - tUt

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1
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Albania - Macedonia - Greece
« on: February 07, 2018, 02:37:59 am »
This way if said buses aren't running or don't have enough people, I still will have my hotel there and can just do other trips as I see when I'm there or whatever.  Seems a lot less stressful with these Albanian buses.
Reasonable ;) Imho, it will just make sense to "feel the local spirit" ))) And then decide on whether (and where) to go on a day trip
Then I can just go back to Corfu, stay a night or two and then either fly or take a bus to Thessaloniki via Green Buses or fly back to Athens.  Both options are in my price range and flights are only about 50€-65€ and the Green Buses is only around 40€.
Well, with the overland option it might be possible to fit Ioannina as well or make a small cruise => go back to Athens via Patras/Peloponnese region. Anyhow, it's already more like secondary question that can be solved based on the deal you get on the overseas flight

Just seems a lot less stress free and less chances of being stranded with hotel bookings if a bus doesn't run, etc, plus is more straight forward that I'm not dealing with many connections transiting and spending a night here or there just to take another bus the next day for a connection.
Maybe it's a bit easier when travelling out of EU, but usually in such cases I just go with the option of reserving without paying. It might be slightly more expensive compared to the deals where guest needs to pay the full booking right away, but at the same time it gives certain flexibility (cancel/change without losing money). If it's not a high season, it's usually possible to book a decent room even a day or two in advance, so "sold out" isn't an issue either.

So I think I'll take your suggestion and just stick to Greece and Albania then this time.  You're a great help as usual (7 years in a row, minus the one year I went to Korea and China and wasn't on here)...
Thanks :) Maybe not always reply right away, but always try to suggest something to consider & think about )))

2
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Albania - Macedonia - Greece
« on: January 31, 2018, 02:14:03 am »
The other issue is that the buses from Skopje to Prizen (all 2 of them) both get there in the afternoon or evening, so that really doesn't make it possible for a day trip and I would end up having to spend the night.  Prizen to Tirana looks like they have direct buses though, but that would mean skipping Ohrid for Prizen. The only other option would be to just take a day trip to Pristina as they have many buses throughout the day or do the thing I hate the most and take an organized tour which does both cities from Skopje.
What about option Skopje-Pristina-Prizren with the early morning bus from Skopje? Making change in Pristina isn't super convenient, but it will still give you a decent half a day in Prizren. Another approach here is to get off the same Skopje-Pristina bus in Kacanik or Ferizaj (Uroshevac) and change there, meaning don't do the unnecessary deroute to Pristina at all. However here it makes sense to research local Kacanik/Ferizaj connections to Prizren.
Would be nice to get flights out near Sarande, but looking like Skopje & Tirana are the only cheap options that I'm seeing.
Hmm... did you consider option of simply flying out directly from Corfu with some low-cost airline? With something like Ryanair you should be able to catch Corfu-major mainland airport flight for the price of the ferry & domestic Albanian bus to Tirana. Meaning you just get your flight back with the start in Budapest, Rome, Frankfurt, etc. instead of Skopje or Tirana.

I just looked this all over again and found maybe this trip might be a little jammed with trying to do Kosovo as well.  Flights into Pristina are good and maybe it might be better to just do my 2 weeks in Kosovo (Pristina, Prizen), Macedonia (Skopje so I can do some hiking and any other day trips, Ohrid, Bitol maybe or somewhere else in the country) and then flying out of Thessaloniki, Greece instead (found a great airfare)?
Well, to me Albania seem to be more worthy than Macedonia, so I would probably do it like Kosovo-Albania-maybe quick trip to Ohrid from Albania and then finish with Corfu and mainland Greece

Any other suggestions in Macedonia for towns/cities I should stay or see if I do that?
To be honest, didn't travel much in Macedonia (only Skopje, Ohrid, Kicevo and the whole route along the Vardar river to Greece), never went to Bitola, Prilep or western part of the country. Just decided to spend more time in Albania & Greece instead, maybe it was a mistake, but at least then search for places to visit in Macedonia wasn't very impressive.

3
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Albania - Macedonia - Greece
« on: January 29, 2018, 07:18:07 pm »
Sorry for delay with the reply, it's not always easy to do so on the road :)

Fly into Skopje - for a few days
Macedonia is a nice country, however Skopje aren't it's most interesting place, thus my advice - don't plan more than 2 days for it. It's convenient as transport hub, but one day should be totally enough to see everything around, imho.
Day trip to Prizen via SAS (www.sas.com.mk)
SAS is just an abbreviation of Skopje bus station, while the actual carriers are various bus companies (e.g. Galeb as one of the biggest players on the market)
(using SAS again I hope, or Galeb if they are operating there in May)
Skopje-Ohrid is one of the popular domestic routes, so you wouldn't have to wait for more than an hour for the next bus, Galeb buses will definitely be there, but you can just take the nearest one and don't wait for this specific company ;) Also pay attention to the fact that in Macedonia r/t bus tickets are considerably cheaper than two one-way tickets. With Skopje-Ohrid it won't matter, since you will be going one-way only, but for Skoje-Prizren-Skopje it can save you a bit
I would consider actually staying over night in Prizen and then taking a bus to Ohrid as well if it's possible
Hmm... Kosovo is a bit black forest in terms of transport info, Tetovo & Gostivar areas are very Albanian populated, so one would expect some international connection there from Prizren, but haven't found any direct one to Ohrid. Maybe it can be Prizren-Tetovo and then Tetovo-Ohrid, though not necessarily it will be cheaper/faster then going via Skopje

Getting a taxi from the hotel to Struga (since it's easier to get the hotel to order a taxi so I don't get ripped off)
Good idea, but still check rough prices beforehand, since there is no guarantees that hotel desk don't have their own "pocket" overpriced taxis
Saranda - 4 or more nights
 - Ferry to Corfu for the day
 - Bus or Furgon to Ksamil for the day
 - Maybe Gjirokaster for the day
Good choice, plus flexibility of "4 or more nights" gives you an opportunity to change the plans a bit in case you get bored (adding some nearby destination) or not feeling like going anywhere
Back to Tirana
 - Probably using the Ioannina to Tirana bus (or the same one I came on)
You want to visit the mainland Greece (Ioannina) as well?

So does that look like a doable trip then with transit.
Yep, looks very reasonable and totally doable ;) 
That's my biggest thing is getting the right buses as Galeb contacted me saying they didn't operate any buses to a lot of places until the summer.  Just wanted to avoid using furgons for the longer trips.
Weird, maybe there was some misunderstanding. Just checking the bus station website for tomorrow and it clearly shows plenty of buses almost every hour -

For the FYR context Ohrid is a pretty big place, so shortage of bus connection with the capital is very unlikely. Maybe Galeb ment summer time international routes, but not year round domestic? Been there twice during the off-season and never had any trouble catching nearest bus

4
Wow, very cool video! Especially since it's a totally different region of the world. Thankx for sharing :)

5
I would probably be going from Belgrade to Ulcinj  then to Budva and flying out of Podgorcia (skipping Bar).
Bar is for sure not the most interesting place out there (unless you want to see major port and some military ships). Budva is for the beach, right? Then would suggest to spare half a day for a side trip to Kotor (it's only 20 km away) + there is always mentioned earlier Sveti Stefan, which is even closer. So in case you get bored at the beach, just hop on the bus and make a couple hour trip.
So with what you stated about really nothing big in between, I'd probably just opt for the day train if possible.
Well, it's not really nothing, but perhaps more suitable for second-third visit to the region.
How safe is it to leave your bag while you go to the toilet?  I've never gone on a train more than a few hours so I've never had to carry luggage that long of a distance before.
In case of backpack or some small bag with the most valuable belongings (passport, wallet, cellphone, etc.) you definitely need to carry it with you, while with the suitcases and other big luggage you can just put it on the baggage shelf above the seats and most likely there will be somebody else (e.g. other tourists) in your compartment, so it will kind of ensure that nobody from outside will mess with your luggage.
What about eating/drinking cars, what does one do with their luggage so that it's safe on the train? 
It's kind of the same story as with the toilet, at least never seen anybody take the big luggage with them when going to eat. Imho, just see what kind of neighbors you have and then decide on whether to ask them to watch your things while you're gone or better not to risk it. Plus, I wouldn't be 100% sure that there will be a dining car on the train. It suppose to be present, but it's Serbia, thus you can't be totally certain, so anyway it's better to have some snack & water with you (just in case).

I think I've just heard the usual horror stories and wasn't quite sure how this would be for a long train trip?
Yep, but nowadays one should be careful pretty much anywhere, even in presumably safe Western Europe, so general precautions are the best choice here.

6
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Albania - Macedonia - Greece
« on: January 07, 2018, 07:49:56 pm »
As you can probably guess by looking at the rail network map of the region, rail option is almost entirely unavailable in this case. Trains in Albania are very slow and with foreigners it's mainly for hardcore rail fans ))) However buses & minibuses (so-called "furgons") entirely make up for absence of the proper rail transport. On the major routes buses/furgons are frequent and relatively cheap, the later will depart without strict timetable, but during the day (morning/afternoon) you won't wait for long, especially since you will be traveling rather touristic routes

Tirana-Ohrid: personally done this trip using Tirana-Pogradec-Tushemisht-Sveti Naum-Ohrid route (from Pogradec to the border in Tushemisht it was taxi, while on the Macedonia side bus). Probably you can take a taxi all the way from Pogradec to Ohrid, but it will cost at least 30 euro vs. 5 with taxi+bus option). Heard that there is also a ferry line during the season, but it will make sense to check whether it's actually running closer to the start of the season. Totally alternative option is to use travel agency & shuttle bus (directly from Tirana)
Ohrid-Sarandë: probably the trickiest journey. Option a) would be to come back to Elbasan/Tirana and travel the usual way with bus/furgon, while option b) would be to go Pogradec-Korçë-Sarandë (it seems there are some buses available)
Sarandë-Corfu: not as cheap as transport elsewhere in Albania, however very easy & simple, e.g. see https://ionianseaways.com/timetable
Sarandë-Shkallnur: again, super easy journey using bus/furgon going to Durres (it would be 5 or so hours trip), but if you have time you can also take a train from Vlore

Another option if flight prices allow it would maybe having Corfu - Sarandë - Ohrid - Shkallnur - Tirana or something if I can fly out of there with a good deal.
Imho, not a much of a difference, so you can easily just book cheaper flight option and then simply reverse your journeys     

7
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Venice to Zermatt by Train
« on: October 26, 2017, 12:48:58 pm »
... and are going with the risky move of making the 8:23am train from Milano Centrale, arriving at 10:16am in Brig.
Just for informational purposes make sure you take a look at Milan Central station plan - http://admin.grandistazioni.eu/assets/milano/images/floors/mi_-_piano_binari.jpg . This way you will save some transfer time when in Milan, since you'll already have some idea which direction to go. Also, in case you didn't purchase the Milan-Brig ticket yet, there is a legal trick to make it roughly 1/3 cheaper. TrenItalia's 32 euro Smart2 offer for the needed train on the 24th is more or less ok price for this part of Europe, however why not to save when you have a chance to use the same train for less money?

We also need to go from Zermatt to Geneva on December 26th, but once again, I think I need to wait until it's 30 days or less to book that trip, and we are (thankfully!) not on a time crunch with that one.
Probably your best option here is SBB (Swiss Railways) offer called SuperSaver ticket - https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/supersaver-tickets.html (=basically a limited number of discounted tickets sold for the specific connection, unlike the standard price ticket valid for the route, meaning not tied to the particular departure). It's quite easy to catch SuperSaver tickets on the SBB website, especially if don't need to travel on the exact connection, but can move your departure +/-

I just need to wait to book the 10:27am train to Zermatt (as it's not open for booking on the SBB site yet), and then done!
Btw, SuperSaver tickets are also available on Brig-Zermatt connection, however here it's a bit trickier to catch, but if you have time for the "hunt" 30 days before the journey, then why not to save money here as well? Swiss railways are expensive, so saving those 50% is a good deal

8
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Venice to Zermatt by Train
« on: October 25, 2017, 06:55:35 am »
However, underneath the timetables it says "runs not every day, 25. Oct until 9. Dec 2017" so I'm not sure if it's going to be running on the day we need.
That's a usual note regarding trains in the time period around schedule change. Actually you can already see & book for Dec.24 your first leg, i.e. Venice-Milan, since it's a high-speed train (unlike local/regional trains, e.g. one to Domodossola, for which timetable usually appears later, especially in countries like Italy) ---> http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en



That's the official website of the Italian railways (TrenItalia) and as you can see yourself, there still a chance to book relatively cheap discounted tickets starting from 19,9 euro


It also looks like there's an 11:27am train from Brig to Zermatt, putting us in Zermatt at 12:51pm. Perfect! One final question, though - is 10 minutes enough time to get from the platform we're dropped off at in Brig to the other train to Zermatt? I'm not sure how large the station is, so I don't know if that's a feasible turnaround time, even if we run.
Totally enough, the station in Brig isn't very big + Switzerland is one of those countries, where most of trains are "connected", meaning that if one is a bit late, then the other is waiting, so that transit passengers can safely make their change.

As an additional note, it seems like when starting from Venice with 5:40am train you have a chance to be in Brig already 10:16 (which means in Zermatt at 11:51am). It can be done if you don't wait in Milan for regional 2144 to Domodossola (departs 8:29), but catch faster Eurocity #32 Milan-Geneva (via Brig) departing 8:23. It's a bit risky time wise, since Milan central station is rather big one, however winning a entire hour is also a lucrative option.

9
Travel plans, routes and timetables / Re: Venice to Zermatt by Train
« on: October 18, 2017, 06:04:58 pm »
Is there an overnight option from Venice to Zermatt?
Not really and can't even remember whether there was one over the last 10-15 years. Venice rather traditionally has an overnight connection to Austria, Munich & France, thus basically avoiding Switzerland from west & east. However with your preference it's not really necessary to spend the night on the train, see below why.
I've read tons of information about the Venice > Milan > Brig > Zermatt route, as well as the Venice > Bologna > Visp > Zermatt route, but when I actually search for the trains, I can't seem to find what I'm looking for.
Do you search for Dec.23/24? The story here is that in most of the European countries occurs train timetable change around mid December, thus as of now not all the rail companies yet have the full schedule, which means that ticket sale might not have started yet (epecially in case your journey includes slower regional non high-speed trains). However at the moment you can simply choose a closer date and just roughly see what will be available after the new timetable, it will give a general idea what to expect. Rather user friendly website to see the train schedules in Europe is German Railways website - https://www.bahn.de/en/view/index.shtml (it will show you what you need)

We don't mind spending the night on the train at all, but I would like to arrive in Zermatt no later than 2 or 3pm on Christmas Eve, and even earlier if at all possible.
Well, you can start from Venice around 6am and be in Zermatt around 1pm (or start at 8am and be there at 3 pm). It will be the obvious route via Milan & Brig. Or, in case you don't want to overpay for extra night in Venice (with it's rather pricey accommodation), you can for instance leave Venice in the evening, then spend a cheaper night somewhere in between and then on early morning continue your journey (most obvious choice for an overnight stopover here would be Milan, this way you can e.g leave Venice around 8pm and be in Zermatt already around 11am while spending good 7 hours in a hotel bed, but if you want you can make the stopover elsewhere in the region as well)

N.B. after you make a decision regarding the travel option you'd prefer we can also recommend what will be the most affordable combination of tickets to cover your journey 

10
Train fares and tariffs / Re: Brno to Budapest
« on: September 24, 2017, 09:23:14 pm »
Probably cheapest (and easiest) option is to purchase so called "Včasná jízdenka Evropa" (= First Minute Europe) offer tickets. Brno-Budapest one-way ticket under this offer is 12 euro (app. 320 CZK) or twice that return. It can be purchased online via Czech Railways (CD) e-shop - https://www.cd.cz/eshop. The only important nuance here is that number of such discounted tickets is limited per each departure, thus in order to get this price you should buy your tickets in advance. In case you can't do it, then it's possible to look into other options (incl. use of City Star ticket, but perhaps CZ-SK and not CZ-HU)

I've heard there are group tickets and also something called City Star tickets but I haven't been able to find much information about those, especially concerning prices.
Group ticket and City Star ticket are basically the same thing in this case, however in case of CZ-HU connection it's not the best option, since will cost you twice more than the combination of "First Minute Europe" tickets.

PS: So far the cheapest return ticket I found is 30€/person, is that a decent price for this trip?
Well, it's not bad, especially taking into consideration that when buying before departure straight forward Brno-Bud.-Brno ticket would cost you 56,6 EUR per person

11
Train fares and tariffs / Re: train discounts for seniors
« on: August 15, 2017, 11:21:26 am »
But will not there be problems with ticket controllers?
In this case I'm afraid the only way to be 100% sure is to ask Turkish railways (TCDD) directly (you can find the contacts on the same website). Simple reference to the website might not be enough, especially in the situation when ticket conductor probably won't speak English and will not have experience with non-Turkish senior passengers.

12
To be honest, never had an actual experience of buying BDZ ticket on board, however BDZ rules in this context state only that: "1. Когато пътуването е започнало без билет от необслужвана спирка, от междугарие или по вина на билетния касиер /билетопродавача/ и пътникът се качи в първия вагон на влака или в друг, посочен от кондуктора. Ако пътникът се намира в друг вагон, заплаща цените по Таблица №4." (i.e. passengers won't need to pay extra supplement/fine when boarding the train on a station without ticket counter only if they board the first carriage of the train or other carriage which was designated by the conductor, apparently meaning during the time of the stop when conductors get out of train and whistle the departure). So no specific instruction to search for a ticket condutor

13
Train fares and tariffs / Re: train discounts for seniors
« on: August 11, 2017, 08:40:43 pm »
Well, if we aren't mistaken before there was a note regarding "Türk uyruklu" (i.e. Turkish nationals) in this case, now it's not there, so you can definitely try to get the discount. Why not? However, knowing the TCDD ticket counters (especially not on major stations), don't be surprised if the cashier will refuse to issue a senior ticket (either knowingly or just due to lack of knowledge)

14
Is there any rhyme or reason behind the Spanish train prices?  I’ve spent days producing a spread sheet, taking screen grabs to track all the variables but now, when the tickets are on sale they are considerably more expensive (especially when buying more than one), or I don’t know if a train that runs in all previous weeks is unavailable, sold out or just not posted yet.  I’m beginning to think I’ll hire a car just to avoid the frustration!  I can't find any festivals for the dates I'm travelling and I can't believe it's like hiring a car when the price goes up just because you've researched the dates one too many times.
I can never remember having this problem in other european countries.
Hmm... it's a long story and a guessing gaming, but indeed Renfe is very badly organized when it comes to the ticket sale logic, but sometimes you just keep wondering maybe it's intentionally done like this, so that potential tourist-passengers would just buy a Spanish pass or expensive ticket?
What concerns "researched the dates one too many times", you can check it easily by cleaning renfe cookies from your browser or using other pc ;)

15
Madrid to Girona waiting for advance purchase for the first morning train then TEISA 300 bus to Garrotxa Volcanic Nature Reserve where we’re staying.  Why are the Spanish tickets so random??
For a cheaper journey you might actually try buying separately Madrid to Barcelona and then, not necessarily in advance, Barcelona-Girona (at least check you date)
Nat Park to Valencia.  It seems the TEISA 300 bus to Girona with a 2hr transfer for Girona to Valencia via Barcelona works best. Waiting for cheap tickets to come online.  Should I buy as a through journey in case there’s a holdup on the first leg?
Again, it makes sense to check both options (meaning through ticket and Barcelona-Valencia separately). Doubt there will be any hold up on Girona-Barcelona leg, it's a major route with trains running very often
Valencia to Girona. Ditto
If you know the exact date, you can also try checking Barc.-Valencia-Barcelona return. Two one-way promo tariff ticket will be cheaper, but Renfe also offers return discount.
Girona to Collioure.  Rodalies gencat R11 to Cerbere (buy at station); then I have found the train1euro (online) tickets connecting Cerbere to Collioure.  I think I can buy a standard ticket at Cerbere if I can’t buy the 1euro online.
With the short journeys like this even full fare (3,7 euro in this case) aren't
I can have either a 1hr 10min or 11mins transfer at Cerbere.  What’s the likelihood of a missed connection on these trains?
The departing train should wait for the passengers from the arriving one, so 11 mins should be enough, but if you have time you can always stop in Cerbere for a bit longer
Collioure to Perpignan.  I’ll avail myself of the cheap 1euro fares if possible or the 1euro bus. Otherwise cash on the day.
Yep, nothing to add here
Perpignan to Montpellier.  Again the subsidised fare or do you think it more prudent to book standard fares. I’ll have just landed in HK when the 1euros come on sale for that leg!!  Or is there another way?
Why to pay more, if you can travel cheaper? Especially since Perpignan to Montpellier is already decent distance and paying almost 30 euro doesn't look like a good choice when you have a chance purchase your tickets in advance

I’m also thinking of using the Historical subsidised fares in this region.  From my understanding I can buy these at the local train stations particular to the route i.e. Nimes or Perpignan, 2 of the 5 Historical routes.
The full info is here in French - https://www.train1euro.fr/Content/I18NTempFiles/20170515_1314/fr/FAQ.pdf , but you can also read something in English (e.g. http://www.languedocliving.com/trains-at-one-euro-life-146.html )

Montpellier to Niort (closest station) or La Rochelle Ville or Poitiers. There only seems to be one train per day via Bordeaux, the others go through Paris but there is a selection. These also seem to be online now so I’m running out of cheap fares.
Well, France is often very Pariscentric, meaning that it's faster to travel via Paris, even if geographically Paris is a detour. If you want to look at some option not involving Paris, then would suggest to check the DB website for timetable (it will show you possible options, while then it will be a task to figure out how to buy it from SNCF)

Niort, La Rochelle or Poitiers to London.  I looked at flying but by the time we’ve driven to the airport, hung around and taken the train/tube into London it seems to be just as easy to take the train to Paris & St P.  Trains are more frequent (Sat or Sun) and we could allow a few hours layover in Paris - once we’ve stored the bags.  Your thoughts please if there are any cheap alternative train tips.  If we’re re travelling both ways Paris to Niort (for example) is it cheaper to get a return ticket?
In France return or one-way it usually doesn't matter, more important is to catch promo tickets, however witht Eurostar trains sometimes it might be cheaper to purchase not from Paris, but from some earlier relatively big French station (in your case e.g. Poitiers) + make sure you check both Eurostar website and SNCF website, those might have a different price for the same departure :)

London to Norwich rtn
and possibly London to Chester rtn  or I could combine the two journeys i.e. London - Norwich - Chester - London
On the Nationall Rail website (as aggregator of all the UK rail operators) you can purchase so called "Advance" tickets for very decent money compared to the standard fare (10 vs. 20+), same story is for London-Chester (20 vs 80+)

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