expat explore balkans: sofia, bulgaria

Bosnia-Herzegovina / Slovenia / Hungary / Serbia / Bulgaria

Bulgaria. We spent two nights here, maybe to have a bit of a slow down as the tour was ending, but there are not much things nor do here. The extra night here I think was better spent in Montenegro or Slovenia. We had an orientation tour in the afternoon followed by a musical dinner. One interesting thing actually is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It's the first time I saw a church without benches. And then our guide said the level of one's faith is measured by how long one can stand or kneel inside the church while praying--thus no chairs. Adorned in gold plates on the outside and other expensive things, I found it to be one of the saddest places I've ever been to.

But! It didn't mean it can't be remedied. Good thing I spent the half day with the beautiful Anna and we spent the day together taking photos around Sofia.

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. :)