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Getting There Getting Around
Bulgaria's Balkan Airlines has flights to most European capitals, the major Asian hubs and some cities in North America, but it's a notoriously unreliable airline. Before buying a return air ticket to Bulgaria from Western Europe or North America, check the price of the cheapest package tour to the Black Sea resorts. This could be cheaper and you can just throw away the hotel vouchers and set your own itinerary from there. Travellers from Australasia will usually have to connect through more popular European destinations. Buses and trains are the easiest way to get to Bulgaria from Europe and Turkey, with frequent services from Greece, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Albania, Istanbul, Prague and Western Europe. There are no buses to Romania, and the train from Greece is usually a hassle (take the bus).
When you enter Bulgaria by car you must state which border crossing you'll be using when you leave and pay a road tax accordingly. Route restrictions apply if you're only in transit through Bulgaria. A regular car ferry crosses the Danube from Vidin to Calafat in Romania. Crossing the 'Friendship Bridge' from Romania to Ruse in Bulgaria is painfully slow, though outbound travellers are not usually delayed.
Bulgaria's bus and train networks are extensive and pretty cheap, although plagued by illogical timetabling, mysterious cancellations and office staff with very important crosswords. Private buses compete with government transport over major routes, often making up for a slight price hike by including extras such as shock absorbers. You're unlikely to avoid a soundtrack composed of pop music you hoped you'd forgotten, and one hopes there is no connection between the filthy seats and the soft-porn wallpaper.
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