Future Destinations

list of Future Travel Destinations

Planning a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland…

Hello traveling guys and girls! Its now time to get down to brass tacks again and look at my travel planning and ill tell you what I plan on doing, when, and how, and by what modes of transport. This is for me just my personal travel plan to eastern Europe. It should be exciting and perhaps for you somewhat informative.

Now you may have heard the news that travel this summer in Europe is really going through the roof, with a lot of Americans now visiting Europe because the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted. This has caused the price of accommodation to rise if you are looking for something in a major tourist destination like Paris. So the plan for me is to stay in eastern Europe most of the time because its significantly cheaper than western locations.

So on with the plan, I did some research on the country of North Macedonia, here. It’ll be my first destination via bus. The bus will cost 20 euro/$22 USD and the good news about going by bus is that usually a traveler can get a seat on the bus the same day, so i dont plan to have to take it way ahead of time like a flight, and there is no security. Now the bad news about bus travel is that its significantly slower than airline travel. Why am I taking a bus? Because I would like to enjoy the scenery out the windows and enjoy the ride. The ride to Skopje will be 8 hours, that’s quite long for only traveling for 289 km. I figure I can cover a few major sites in North Mac in 3 to 5 days time, in fact I will probably only do Skopje and then exit the country via another bus trip.

Now let me check the prices for the second bus fare. The good news here is that the cost of the second trip to Sofia, Bulgaria will be $21 and takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. So far I’ve heard a few bad things about Sofia as a tourist destination. The city is supposedly heavily disorganized but I’m fine with this. There are a few seriously instagrammable sites including the cathedral that I mentioned in my research here. Over in Bulgaria I’ll definitely be spending a bit more time in the country and cover perhaps 3 or 4 cities and locations. I want to see Varna and perhaps Sunny beach, Plovdiv, and Ruse near the border. So we can give this country 1 to 2 weeks worth of time. So this puts me exiting Bulgaria around July 25th to August 1.

*** Note that with bus travel, I wont be planning any hard and fast flight dates, as I think its more convenient to just play it by ear. If i like a country perhaps ill stay a touch longer, and if not, then leave a bit sooner, train will also be considered as a mode of transport ***

The next country after this will be Romania. I’ve actually heard some cool things about the coast, a place called Vama Veche, which is a hippy hang out along the Black Sea in Romania that is not a very far distance from the country of Bulgaria. I would like to stay here at least a few nights and possibly longer and may use my tent, to save a few bucks, we will see. I also definitely want to check out the region of Transylvania although its not Halloween yet! I always thought the myth of Dracula was interesting. So thats 1 to 2 weeks in Romania then ill be switching to Hungary via bus, i just recently checked some prices on Flixbus, and this company is more than reasonable. I was looking at Flixbus between Bucharest and Budapest and the price is 30 euro, about $33 USD.

Future destinations… I do plan on continuing to move around Europe after Hungary, I’ll go to Slovakia then Poland. In Poland the prices are more than reasonable for hostels. After this I may head to a place like Sweden or Finland, then at the conclusion of my north tour, I’m going to head for Italy! Stay tuned, thanks. Map for reference:

backpacking tour ro Romania and Bulgaria

Planning a trip to Skopje, north Macedonia, backpacking summer of 2022

Hello traveling girls and guys! This week I plan on doing a little bit more research on the country of North Macedonia since that’s my first stop away from Albania later this summer.

Let us look at the cost. Not unlike its neighbors, North Macedonia is really cheap as compared to the USA. I see on booking.com that there is a youth hostel that has shared rooms in Skopje for only $5 US. That’s really appetizing for me as a budget traveler, and while shared rooms might not be the most comfortable place to sleep for a 40s something non-partying male the savings is good enough for me for the short term.

I walked over to the international bus station in Tirana, behind Ring Center shopping mall where ill be catching the bus when the time comes. Prices are in the range of $21 from Tirana to Skopje, really not close to the $4 local buses to places like Vlore and Durres, but still not too bad.

So, let’s take a look at a few other things, just to make sure it’s a good location. A few things I look at are geography, crime, transportation, weather, then after that the fun stuff I can do while there.

Crime in North Macedonia … Is it a safe place to visit?  Let’s check North Macedonia like we did for Bulgaria. The homicide rate for North Macedonia on Wikipedia is listed at 1.2 and on Nation Master, 1.94, whereas the US is at 5. Next, we take a look at total crimes per 1000 on Nation Master, North Macedonia is at 9.55 whereas the USA is at 41.29. North Mac is lower than Bulgaria and the USA, so that’s perfectly fine, next….

Now on with the tour de North Mac, Geography, population, GDP, weather, anyone? – In terms of area Macedonia is 9900 square miles so we can assume something like 90 miles wide by 100 miles tall, basically shaped like a blob, with no coastline. Two major features are that it is landlocked and that its very mountainous. Now I’ve got to check the weather to make sure its not too cold for my summer wardrobe… the average high in Skopje in July is 90 and the average low is 71 degrees; however, some mountain peaks might be significantly colder. I’ll bring a light jacket as well as a hat (I mostly need these for Sweden) for when I hike these peaks.

The population is 2 million, so smaller than Albania, and a bit larger than its tiny neighbor, Montenegro at 620,000 people. Now the GDP of North Mac is $5,880 versus $5,215 for Albania and $7,666 for Serbia. We can make the assumption, it’s a bit of a low-income country as compared to the good ole USA. In my experience GDP per capita is roughly related to cost of living, but I like to do a bit more research just to make sure on expenses, on with this in a bit.

The fun stuff, tourist attractions in North MacedoniaI like to mix it up, so ill probably be choosing some outdoor locations first, like mountains, some historical sites like old ruins or castles, perhaps some shopping and some city life here … now here’s the list of top attractions…

  1. Lake Ohrid – looks interesting and scenic and not within the city of Skopje. There’s a cool looking monastery nearby.
  2. The old Bazaar, Skopje – this looks like my top city attraction in Skopje since I like to window shop and wander streets
  3. Vodno Cable Car – this cable car is actually similar to the one near Tirana, its close to Skopje so this would be a cool place to wander to.
  4. Kale Fortress – a fortress/castle that overseas the entire city of Skopje, another easy one to see and take some photos.
  5. Monastery of Travesic – this looks more like some of the monasteries I saw over in Montenegro. Scenic views are nice, then we head on over to Bulgaria next.

Trip to Bulgaria, Trip Planning and initial research on travel

bulgaria stone bridge

Hello traveling girls and guys! Its time to get down to brass tacks on my interest in visiting Bulgaria. I personally have never been but on the map its close to my current location in Tirana, so I’m going to do some research and see what I can find out. I start by first looking at the cost, but I discussed this in another blog post related to travel expenses here, so the next few things I look at are geography, crime, and transportation, then after that the fun stuff we can do while there.

Is it a safe place to visit? Too much violence esp. if anything is directed against tourists like over in Cancun this is a no go for me. Lets check Bulgaria. The homicide rate for Bulgaria on Wikipedia is listed at 1.9 and on Nationmaster, 2.3, whereas the US is at 5. This gives me some idea of the level of violence in a country. Next we take a look at total crimes per 1000, Bulgaria is at 18.93 whereas the USA is at 41.29. Research over, this is low enough for me….

See my note at the bottom related to crime against tourists…

Now on with the tour of Bulgaria, crime is good, next I took a look at local bus prices. I’m fine spending a few hours on a local bus without AC if gets me from A to B. Prices on these $15 to $33 as of June 2022. They just reinstated the international bus lines between Skopje, Macedonia and Sophia, Bulgaria. Check with en.kaleiatravel.com or makedonijasoobrakaj.com.

Geography, population, GDP of Bulgaria – In terms of area Bulgaria 42,500 square miles so we can assume something like 235 miles wide by 180 miles tall, basically shaped like a rectangle. That’s about the same size as Tennessee. From what I’m told Bulgaria is greener than the surrounding countries so that means many forests, its somewhat mountainous like other countries in the Balkans. The population is 7.15 million, so about twice as large as Albania and roughly the same size as Serbia. Now the GDP of Bulgaria is $21,800 versus $12,500 for Albania and $15,100. In my experience GDP per capita is roughly related to cost of living.

The fun stuff, tourist attractions in BulgariaI like to mix it up, so i might choose some architectural sites, a city marketplace, museums, beach relaxation, mountain hikes, or historic ruins, exercise or some of each, here’s the list for Bulgaria, but subject to change …

  • #1. Boyana Church, Sofia,
  • #2. Alexander Neevsky Cathedral, Sophia,, green and gold plated dome, most famous in Bulgaria,
  • #3. Veliko Tarnovo, city with old architecture,
  • #4. Nesebar, ancient ruins, along the coast near Varna,
  • #5. Sunny Beach, north of Bergas, beach town/resort area,
  • #6. Krushuna Waterfalls, town of Krushuna, 183 km east of Sophia
  • #7. Plovdiv, Ancient ruins, amphitheater
  • #8. Ruse, small town along the Danube, 19th century architecture,
  • #9. The stone desert, near Varna
  • #10. Belogradchik, near mountains, castles.

Crime against tourists… Here’s one thing I’ve learned as a traveler, petty crime like pickpocketing or stealing low priced items is something that can go on wherever, whenever; check out my tips for onebag travel safety in another post here.