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Travelling from England to Bulgaria by road (route)

Hi everyone, This coming Thursday I will finally be bringing my first load across Europe to my little house in Vraca, via Dover/Calais!  I'm travelling in my LWB Sprinter. It's only days away and I'm still struggling with the best route to take which will get me there steadily at 65 mph in a reasonable time!  Not knowing much about the various Tolls, I would much rather put money in the fuel tank than a toll machine!  I'm looking for ease of driving all that way and not too mountainous, due to load! If anyone has done the route and could share its pro's/con's it would be very much appreciated by myself!
Thanks
Bruce

Hi Bruce

We took a loaded Tranny and the route we took, which did involve Vignettes (road tax) for most of the countries but it was minimal.  Route DFDS Dover Calais.  Calais - Belgium - Germany - Austria - Hungary - Romania - Bulgaria.  If you want a further breakdown let me know.  Don't leave buying vignettes till  the last opportunity before the borders - there are queues.  Some place they can be bought at petrol stations and at some places in shanty town vignette kiosks before or on the border.  Euros are best but we did have to buy some Hungarian and Romanian money.  Also euros are not much accepted in BG.  Romanian borders are best crossed during the day.  They seem to have a bay for looking at the passports etc then another for the van - or maybe they just didn't like us!  Have all your paperwork to hand at all times, they like to see all the van paperwork.  Have your Bulgarian address to hand.

Buy water in supermarkets and have money for the toilet facilities - anywhere between 70 cents and 1 euro a pop.  The base roads around Austria/Hungary/Romania  can be steep and the traffic gets slowed by rumbling lorries which is a godsend at times.  They are also stunningly beautiful.  Budapest and Bucharest are the hairiest of capitals to drive through simply because once you hit them the signage is local only, the trams. traffic and pedestrians make it hairy.  We didn't have the EU city upgrade to the sat nav which would have been the only place it would have been useful! We came in via both Nikopolis and Ruse but I think that's too far across for you.  The mountains around Sofia are busy, steep with passable roads and terrible roads so not a midnight run.  We did it at 2am and it was a tough drive in impenetrable dark and rain.

Best of British

Hi Bruce
France, Belgium,Germany,Austria,Solvenia,
Croatia, Serbia then Bulgaria


its is the way I have been to many times now and would say is the best route for you but others will say different most of the truck drivers use it, yes you will pay tolls in Austria, Serbia, not sure if the new toll system is working in Germany yet,going at your speed it will take you 3-4 days if stopping over nite, Not sure what the boarder crossing are like at the moment? Make your if your taking any machinery, tools just make sure you have some sort of paper work for it going into Serbia as they may try and tax you! Watch your speed as they will pull you over and try and fine you too, Keep 25ltrs of spare fuel, water food as you can get held up at the boarders for hours not moving. Also I would suggest that you never leave your van unattended

Have a map and sat nav that covers east Europe and enjoy the trip as there are some wonderful views when driving
Ps if you have a dash cam use it!!!!and get stopped make sure you point the cam at them

Bruce
Forgot to ask how much kit do you have to move? Are you driving back to the UK is this the first of many trips?

Hi

the "tool tax" in Serbia is the reason we chose Romania.

Thank you  for the two versions of feedback! I don't have any tools on this trip, it's just furniture! I've allowed myself two 4/5hr stints  driving each day, then a 10/14 hr rest each night if needed! I will have a few days on my property and then get back to U.K on the 18th for my birthday on the 19th! I've just bought the latest Europe update for Tom-Tom, and have a map book as well and good old PC and smartphone with google maps, as  last resort's! I don't like carrying cash abroad so will be using a charge card filled with Euro's. The short hop from Calais up into Germany should be Toll-free as I remember. It's the first of possibly three trips spread out of the next month or two. I hadn't thought of a dash cam, but that's more expense out of the fuel pot. :-( The journey back empty should be a lot easier/quicker! Last time I drove through the night it was to get to Ruse, I was co-driver and first time driving in Europe, I copped for the night driving stint. It took us 40hrs straight at 60 mph in a Volvo with a 1-ton trailer, with no rest stops! The guy hadn't got a clue and we ended up doing 2,500 miles to get to Ruse! I was driving up the Zig Zag roads in Romania, in the black of night as Juggernauts were coming down. That was hairy! My biggest enemies, this time, will be loneliness and boredom I feel! I'll be living on soup going out but have full access to my cooking and comfort on the way back and a hammock, oh what luxury! :-)

Kosaka, I have a 4mtr x 6mtr wooden shed to empty of my belongings, that is a few trips but as I have no income its a case of when the money is available! Back-loads and removals companies were simply too expensive at over £3500-£4000

Hi,,,,,i took,,Calais,,,Germany,,,Austria,,,Hungary,,,Romania,,,Ruse  route,,,,,,my friend who travels regular to BG gave me this route,,,,,,,sailed thro in a fully loaded 4x4,,,with power tools etc,,,,,did,nt have any custom checks,,,,Sat Nav a must & maps,,,,,,kettle & plenty of food & rest,,,,,,,,slept over in Germany,,Hungary & Romania,,,,31/2 days,,,,,Austria was amazing,,,,Good Luck,,,,,,,,,,ps,,many F1 drivers in germany,,haha

Just found a 7.5 tonne truck UK - BG £1800.  Is insured, has a carrier license also ££700 for lwb 3.5 tonne UK-BG.  Found him on The Pavlkeni Post on Facebook.  He makes 2 trips a month.  I believe he has a trailer for car transport too

Hi I don not want to be the voice of doom here, so don't shoot me down, the items you are bringing with you from the UK will be then left in your new place in BG? You may draw some attention unloading items from your van a new face in a small village you'll be noticed, make sure you secure your house to the best of your ability as you might find on your next trip your furniture you left behind has got up and walked! (but also they may not?? just fair warning mate)
Just air on the side of caution a little, not trying to put the mockers on your trip, just had a few things robbed in the past myself! Secure anything you can, also yeah I'd avoid night time driving where possible, the pot holes you see in the day will soon put you off, regards being lonely or bored, well you've a great road trip and new adventures to encounter, a few cafe bars along the way don't sound too bad, plenty of music in your van and a steady drive ahead. Good luck I hope you achieve the goal. (and Happy Birthday too)  :top:

Thank's Eddie, I will be crossing into Bulgaria using the new flyover just above Vidin, then down to Lom and across to Furen! The last time I went was in 2012 and it hadn't been disturbed in 3 years. Though that was 4 years ago, how time flies! What will be will be and if you don't try you never succeed, I say! I've decided to avoid Serbia at the expense of a few miles, and will be pretty much following the Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Vidin route, I reckon. A Tom-Tom can have its own ideas, but it's not doing the driving! Well done Corter, good spot, but beyond my meagre budget! Stepool1970, I know it's a foreign country tarred with a lousy reputation for gangsters and thieves but, if I return and all my stuff has gone I will just have to sell up, come back to U.K and have to live on the streets! I have very little left to lose now, except maybe my life, so thank you for your input!  :-(

BruceLeeTheHealer :

Thank's Eddie, I will be crossing into Bulgaria using the new flyover just above Vidin, then down to Lom and across to Furen! The last time I went was in 2012 and it hadn't been disturbed in 3 years. Though that was 4 years ago, how time flies! What will be will be and if you don't try you never succeed, I say! I've decided to avoid Serbia at the expense of a few miles, and will be pretty much following the Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Vidin route, I reckon. A Tom-Tom can have its own ideas, but it's not doing the driving! Well done Corter, good spot, but beyond my meagre budget! Stepool1970, I know it's a foreign country tarred with a lousy reputation for gangsters and thieves but, if I return and all my stuff has gone I will just have to sell up, come back to U.K and have to live on the streets! I have very little left to lose now, except maybe my life, so thank you for your input!  :-(

(I don't want to be negative mate, I'm just saying it as it can be, through personal experience that's all, I reckon if I stood in the sun long enough someone would have my shadow off! I'm wishing you well, not putting a black cloud over your venture)

I just love the way people say things like that," I don't want to sound negative ...but!" Mate its okay, to be negative, it's also okay to be positive about a negative outlook. I'm sorry you've had a negative experience with some people over there! However if I thought that way I wouldn't even start the engine, would I? We will and do meet all sorts of people on our road through life, some will give and some will take! If someone has a greater need than I , I will happily give of my last! If I see a man with no shoes, he can have mine, kind of thing, but that's me! Greed of others  brings out a different me, but we won't go there!  As a Healer, I work with all makes of men and women and animals, who are all a part of the same universe and made of the same dust. Whatever you look for in others you will see, so I look for love, not good or bad! However, I'm not here to give counselling but seek advice! So cheer up and all will be perfect! My stuff WILL be safe as houses (thinking positive)  and we can all get together for a massive BBQ in the summer! Tents welcome..

Well I don't mind a BBQ but I don't need to cheer up, thank's anyway for caring!  :huh:

Hey Corter,
7.5 t  sounds a good deal, you should post details! A 3.5t is what I have, and today after all the messing about, it occurred to me, that I should go and have it weighed. OMG, it weighed in a 4183 kg as opposed to 3500 kg, gvw. Nothing in life is coincidence, and all the green card stuff was a delay I reckon, so I would do just what I have done! It seems 1/3rd of my load must stay behind, but better that, than getting lifted by the boys in blue and a hefty fine. Another lesson learned before I get going. At a £700 charge they are making a loss, as its costing me £265 for the ferry, plus £500 at least in diesel.
The saga continues..:-) I may be there by Christmas at this rate...

Here's the latest update in my green card fiasco, I visited a lot of sites on the web last night and the general consensus seems to be, it makes things a lot easier if by chance there is an incident! As for its being mandatory I still haven't found anything conclusive, but both AA and RAC recommend one! However mine finally arrived today and there was a sigh of relief until I noticed they had written CW instead of CVV as the registration, a small error maybe but the green card doesn't relate to my registration, so I feel a complaint letter coming on! It's a good job I'm in no hurry, now I see why they insisted on two weeks, to allow two attempts at getting it right!

Driving in Bulgaria with a foreign license, there is literally nothing the police can do to you even if you break the law. DO NOT give them bribes, they will demand cash on some trumped up charges. Smile and act dumb, speak in English, be friendly but firm. They can't write you a ticket without a Bulgarian license and registration, they can't arrest you, so just smile and shrug if they pull you over, even if they caught you speeding/running red/whatever.

Hi Stephen

happily we weren't pulled over, had no interaction with the police despite going the wrong way down a one way street in Veliko Tarnovo in rush hour.  The police just shrugged.  None of the advertised speed traps were working and the lorry drivers and cars all flashed us if there was a police car up ahead.  Can't say that the standard of driving in Bulgaria is great but the camaraderie is fantastic.  I'd say the pot holes are what you do have to look out for!

Stephen_T :

Driving in Bulgaria with a foreign license, there is literally nothing the police can do to you even if you break the law. DO NOT give them bribes, they will demand cash on some trumped up charges. Smile and act dumb, speak in English, be friendly but firm. They can't write you a ticket without a Bulgarian license and registration, they can't arrest you, so just smile and shrug if they pull you over, even if they caught you speeding/running red/whatever.

I'd say there's literally zero truth to your statement.  Please do not spread misinformation here.

***
Here's a quick explanation of fines in Bulgaria:

Once you get a Bulgarian driving license, you also receive a little cardboard card called "controlen talon" which is informally called a "blue card". This has the amount of points you are allowed to lose, before you are unfit to drive and have to take a driving course to regain the points. You start with 39 points. The points, along with your name, current address, car(s) registered to your name is kept in the "KAT"  (Traffic police) computer files.

When pulling you over for a non-criminal (i.e you didn't hit a pedestrian, you're not drunk) traffic offense, traffic police have 3 options to use-
1) they ask for a bribe (also known as "what do we do now?") to let you off the hook (10-20 leva)
2) they can write you a "fish", indigo style paper for something less severe which doesn't require the loss of points, which you have 7 days to pay or it turns into an "act".
3) they can write you an "act", which is more severe than a "fish" because they also take your "blue card", give you a written note, and you have to go to "KAT" to pay the fine and get your "blue card" back, which will have points removed, based on your offense.

Now, when you are a FOREIGNER, without a Bulgarian driving license, you do NOT have a blue card, you are NOT registered in the KAT system, and there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING the police can do to you for a non-criminal traffic offense, except ask for a bribe. They CANNOT take your license, they CANNOT write you a ticket because they have nowhere to send it to, they CANNOT mail you a ticket in your home country as this is never done in any case.

****The only way to pay a fine (for Bulgarians) is to pay KAT. It is ILLEGAL for policemen to take money from drivers.

Moderated by Christine 11 months ago
Reason : inappropriate content

I base my statement on common sense, which apparently isn't common enough.  If you think that foreigners are simply exempt from "non-criminal" traffic laws as you put it, you're clearly mistaken.  I'd invite you to visit your local police station and make that claim and see what reaction you receive.  If you're not courageous enough to do that, why don't you quote the article in the Bulgarian Road Traffic act that supports your claims? 

Here's a link dating back from 2007, where it specifically states that Bulgarian police can confiscate EU licenses for violating Bulgarian driving regulations.  I'd say that debunks your claims that "They CANNOT take your license, they CANNOT write you a ticket because they have nowhere to send it to, they CANNOT mail you a ticket in your home country as this is never done in any case."

http://sofiaecho.com/2007/09/04/655672_ … s-licenses

Furthermore, you should be aware that there is a proposal to modify the penal code to include the criminalization of speeding.

Romaniac

I am basing my knowledge on living in Sofia for over 10 years, and knowing many expats,  most of which drive with their Australian, British or American driving licenses here.
The amount of fines they have received? 0.  The amount of licenses taken from them? 0.
I drive every day with a Bulgarian license, have been pulled over over a hundred times and have gotten away with 3-4 fines.
***

Moderated by Christine 11 months ago
Reason : inappropriate content

Hi Bruce,
I did the route several times, best thing I will suggest you from Calais drive to Belgium then Germany free motor ways then czech republic Prague you sleep in Prague overnight then from there for one day you will reach Bulgaria via Serbia.
In some countries u dont have tolls but u need to pay vignette at the border. In France, Germany & Belgium respect the speed limits on the motorways.
Enjoy the trip

Hello everyone,

I moderated some inappropriate and off topic messages. We are not here to argue, this is a mutual help forum, please share your knowledge and opinion on the initial subject and please avoid giving illegal advice or info on the forum.

Please stay on topic now.
---------------------------------------------------

@Bruce > do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to post them here ;)

Thank you,
Christine
Expat.com

I have no idea why you receive such stick as you do! To me what you say makes perfect sense, coming from a country which is rapidly becoming a police state! It is a need to free myself from oppression which led me to seek out a dwelling in a place such as Bulgaria!

Hey Bruce be mindful of the speed cameras in Bulgaria too, they popped up around 18 month ago in various hot spots.
I also was in a taxi in Romania last year the driver was pretty quick 95% of the route but then slowed down by a bridge where an unmarked car sat with a camera, on the other side of the bridge waited the police cars. It was enough to slow down the taxi driver?
Be wary of the pot holes, but also the road edges as they tend to be uneven, also police sit off by roadsides, passing drivers may flash you to warn you.
Slow right down when passing through villages (Obvious I know?)
Don't be surprised of drivers overtaking you in various vehicles, cars, trucks, coaches they will all try and push there way past, it is just the way. (let them pass mate some guy got beat up few month back for beeping his horn, it was all over Bulgarian t.v)
You'd never be able to introduce Sunday drivers here! 
Apart from all this which is less negative and more fact enjoy the journey and good luck.
Regards Steve.

Steve,
I am very grateful that you took the time to inform me of this! My old sprinter doesn't know how to break speed limits so I'm not going to teach it! A steady eddy 60 mph in English will do me fine and 30 through villages. I actually have a sign on the back which reads, in English, "please pass, I'm saving Deisel" :-)!  So I'm taking my time and a rest break every 4 hrs at least of an hour and then parking up for the night once it gets close to dark! I recall last time I drove over, seeing layby's at various places and one of those will do me fine! I now have the weight of the van down to a respectable 3560kg's which is well within what is legally allowed, and a certificate of proof,  that should help out with fuel economy too! I'm looking on it as an adventure holiday with a bit of work thrown in for good measure! Thank you for your wishes for a safe trip, it's my birthday today so all negatives go over my head. Bless you mate!

Happy Birthday Bruce and happy driving!

Corter :

Just found a 7.5 tonne truck UK - BG £1800.  Is insured, has a carrier license also ££700 for lwb 3.5 tonne UK-BG.  Found him on The Pavlkeni Post on Facebook.  He makes 2 trips a month.  I believe he has a trailer for car transport too

Hi Corter
Is it possible to send me a link for this please? As I can't find it. I am hoping to move to Musina next year.

**

Moderated by Christine 11 months ago
Reason : For your security, please send your contact details through your private message system.
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

Hi there

British-Bulgarian Int'l Transport & Services  it is a Facebook group at the following address
facebook.com/British-Bulgarian-Intl-Transport-Services-980440175377437/

The guys name is Chris Jho and he is very well recommended and properly licensed and legal.  He is very popular so it is essential to book early.  He requests half the payment on booking a date and the remainder on delivery.

Please PM me if you'd like more information and good luck.  We are quite close to you :)

Aww 21 again, Happy Birthday  :one

Hi just a thought, To help out with your cost of the trips you are planning, IF you are planning to come back to the UK with an empty van ,have you thought of asking on the forum if anyone needs to get kit from BG to GB for a fee. I have done this trip several times now and never went the Hungary route as I was warned off by people that had done It and found the border police could be awkward, some even asking for an International driving permit. Though this is not required.

                                           Good luck with your trips

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