expat explore balkans: budapest, hungary i

Hungary. Another country that isn't part of the Balkans but is part of the tour. We went to the capital city of Budapest where we stayed for two nights, arriving in the afternoon. We had an orientation tour around the Buda Castle Hill when we arrived and had a Danube river cruise in the evening.

Buda and Pest were separate settlements before but was unified. In modern times, if you're staying in the city, Buda is the side of the Danube River that is more laid-back, quiet, and residential while Pest is the side that has more action. The Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church are on the Buda side but the grand Parliament is in the Pest side.

Manila-Amsterdam and back is via KLM.

Booked round-trip on Transavia (a budget airline, subsidiary of KLM) from Amsterdam to Athens vv. Kinda expensive cos it was summer but I used a part of my miles so it was okay. :)

The Tour
Booked with Expat Explore. Search for the 16-day Balkan Explorer.

I've always traveled on DIY itineraries before and this is the first time I joined a group tour. I've solo traveled in Western and Central Europe but I wasn't quite comfortable on doing a Balkan tour on my own so I booked this trip.

What I liked about this tour

It's hassle-free. I booked online and paid online--on installments--which was really convenient for my budgeting.

Expat Explore has a very responsive customer service who helped me on guidelines with my Schengen visa. No, they don't process visas but when I wanted to double-check if I can enter certain countries using mine (specifically Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia), they were very helpful to confirm from their end. I also did check of course with our local embassies (who are also very responsive) via email.

So in the end, if you're a Filipino doing the Balkan Explorer and you have a valid Schengen Visa, Type C, Multiple Entry--you're good!

It has some meals included. One of the hardest questions every day is "What do you want to eat?" This helped haha.

The accommodations are decent. Yes, the Balkans is still in Europe but notch it down. Like a lot down from your very modern city hotels (even the 3-star). The Balkans is very laid back and so are their accommodations. :)