Well, obviously not Central Europe, but the part of Europe known as "The Balkans."
In our previous post (18 Days Africa & Europe Under 2.2k SGD Nett!) we included the cost of the air ticket. This time round, we shall post like how most other bloggers do it and exclude the cost of the SIN-Europe MultiCity Ticket. Sounds a lot cooler this way! The lesser the cooler right? Singaporean style!
But jokes aside, we didn't get a reasonable price this time round as we booked the tickets just two weeks before our trip. (you could do it for far less if you plan ahead)
"We", this time refers to "The Girl", who decided to join me at the last minute. My trip was more or less free as I was on an incentive trip with my company to Poland. The budget for this trip was based on "The Girl " rather than "The Bald Guy" as it would not be fair to gauge my expenses based on a semi paid trip.
Total Airfare ($2.1k) [doesnt have to be this expensive for you if you book early enough]
Air Serbia, Belgrade-Prague One Way,$250
I'm pretty sure that we could have gotten a more reasonable pricing had we booked the main return tickets around 10-12 weeks in advance. (A Multi City Lufthansa Air ticket should cost around $1,100 usually) Also, as we had already been to Hungary in our previous trip, we paid more for the Air Serbia ticket in order to bypass it.
19 Days Accomodation: ($95)
Yes. Your're reading it correctly. It's 95 SGD for our ENTIRE trips accomodation. No couchsurfing or sleeping at train stations too. Well, it's not exactly fair considering that we had 5 free nights living it up in a 5 Star hotel in Poland. (company trip for "The Bald Guy" remember?) If you're doing this route without free accomodation from your company, just add in an extra 9 Euros a night to be safe. (thats the average cost of a hostel in Poland)
(Above) Loft hostel dorm, Sofia
We also spent another 4 nights on either a night bus or a night train, saving us quite a bit on acomodation.
(Above) Sleeping in a Couchette on the night train from Skojpe to Belgrade.
(Below) Waiting by our train at the Romanian/Bulgarain border crossing.
The cost of hostel accomodation in this part of Europe is anywhere from 4 Euros to 10 Euros for reasonable comfort. If a little more privacy is important to you, a private room would probably set you back 25 Euros (for two people, making it 11 Euros each).
(Above) Making a couple of Russian friends while staying in Hostel Jasmin; Serbia
I actually find the hostels in the Balkans/Eastern Europe of a higher standard than those in even Australia (and they have great hostels). There are a few kinds of Singaporeans who would have a problem staying in one of these. The "Picky/Privacy crazy/Anti-Social" Singaporeans, and the "spoilt" ones of course.
If you don't fall into any of these categories; Congratulations. You can look forward to alot more European holidays than your spendtrift friends.
Food/ Drink & "Happy Spending" ($300)
10 Euros a day each. That's the amount We usually set aside for lunch and dinner in the more "affordable" European countries.(We allocate an extra 5 Euros a day for "Happy Spending") This budget turned out to be comfortable enough in Romania.
I remember having a traditional Romanian dinner in a popular local restaurant; a fully meat dish. It cost 11 Euros for the BOTH of us inclusive of drinks!
(Above) An example of "Happy Spending"; The Girl having Romanian style donuts with chocolate at a food fair in Brasov. (like our Pasar Malam)
Our next stop was Bulgaria; and boy, were we in for a surprise. The 10 Euros a day we set aside was way too much for one person. We dined in local restaurants for dinner and ordered sides, drinks, a main and a desert. Just to give you an idea; A 700g Stewed Pork Knuckle cost us 3.5 Euros! When we felt we could eat no more, the waiter presented us with the bill. 9.6 Euros for the both of us. Perfect.
A lot of travellers remarked that the cost of living in Macedonia was even cheaper than that of Bulgaria's. We didn't find that to be entirely true; or maybe we just didn't discover the right places. You know,we're Singaporeans; and we Singaporeans get complacent when everything seems so cheap. We didn't even bother looking for local restaurants anymore and just willingly walked into tourist traps because it was too cheap for us to bother.
The result? A seafood dinner of freshwater fish right on Lake Ohrid itself for just 8 Euros each! With drinks and tips added? 10 Euros each! Perhaps if we had gone to a local restaurant it might have been cheaper.
(Below) Cevapcici for lunch in Macedonia. Not as authentic as those in Bosnia or Serbia though!
We were happy to be in Belgrade; for the food at least. I love Cevapcici(some kind of sausage), a national dish of Bosnia and Serbia.I remember having it for almost every meal last year when we were in Bosnia.
(Above) Typical meat shop in Belgrade where you choose the meat and the chef prepares it for you.
(Below) The meat of our choice sizzling on the grill. Yummy!
We were pleasantly surprised to find that traditional Czech food was different from what we had been having so far. At this point, we were both a little sick of meat. Fortunately we made a couple of Czech friends who treated us to authentic Czech food.(With the locals seal of approval on both the taste and the price)
(Below) Traditional Czech Dumplings with Beef Goulash and Jam
Oh, did I forget to mention? The Czech Repulic has the cheapest beers ever. (Yes, even cheaper than those in Macedonia and Bulgaria, and brewed in a way unique to the Czech Republic.) The beer is the main thing thats cheap though. As for the food, even where the locals eat, prices creep up to between 3-5 Euros for a dish. Still cheap, but no longer on a "Macedonian level" thanks to the tourists.
(Above) Our Czech home brew beers for 0.40c Euros each!
In Poland, The Girl had to settle her own meals. She spent around 6-8 Euros for a main dish, exceeding our usual 10 Euro a day budget.
(Above) Poland's version of our "Pasar Malam" The Girl's source of meals
Still, decent pricing considering that she ate on the main square of Krakow for most days. The Bald Guy was having his dinner in Michelin Star restaurants, boats and at most tourist traps. Thus ,only "The Girl's" food pricing is relevant.
(Above) Yummy Polish style Mushrooms as "Happy Spending"
Transport, Local Tours & Attractions ($370)
In Romania, Transylvania is supposed to be THE region to visit. In Bucharest, it probably has one of Europes most boring capitals, BUT it does have a beautiful old town in Brasov that truely looks like the vampire villages you see at the movies.
(Below)The Girl in the town of Brasov
We did find the whole vampire thing overhyped though. If we didn't go there expecting so much, we probably would have enjoyed it a little more.
(Below) Having fun in the village of Bran with a friend we made in the hostel.
I think we paid 10 Euros for the entrance to the "Worlds Most Boring Castle" aka Bran Castle, or Draculas's Castle; which has nothing to do with Dracula anyway. Peles Castle just 1.5 hours a way from Bran is much more impressive and costs less too.