Trail Report: The Road to Istanbul

One of the first things that come to mind when you start planning for long-term traveling is “what does it cost?”. Unfortunately there’s no clear answer to that because it highly depends on the destinations you pick, how (fast) you move around and your travel style, to name a few. But when I started researching, the budget reports of other travelers became an important source of information. So, to help out others, I introduce a new category on our blog: the trail reports. In which I cover the road we followed, how we moved around, where we stayed and, most important, how much we actually spent. First in line: The Road to Istanbul.

The Road to Istanbul

The Road to Istanbul

Island hopping

Island hopping

The first two weeks of our trip through Eastern Europe we stayed in Croatia which we chose to unwind. We first spent 2 days in Zagreb but then we definitely needed some serious beach time so we headed for the Dalmatian Islands. This wasn’t the cheapest place, especially in peak season so we already expected we would go over budget (which we have set on €66 a day for the two of us) here. Still we managed to keep the costs down by camping in our own tent and renting an apartment where we could cook our own meals. And we avoided all sorts of expensive day trips, just laying on the beach and some snorkeling was good enough. We found the public transport quite expensive in Croatia.

After Croatia it was time to slowly get to Istanbul from where we had to fly to Kyrgyzstan. We travelled by bus from Split to Mostar where we stayed a couple of days. Next we decided to move on to Plovdiv in Bulgaria so we first took the very scenic train ride to Sarajevo where we hopped on the bus to Belgrade the same day. In Belgrade we tried to get on the night train to Sofia but all sleeper tickets on that one were already sold out so we had to stay in Belgrade for one day. While food, accommodation and public transport in Bosnia and Serbia are much cheaper than in Croatia we still went over budget because we had to travel a long distance in a relatively short period.

Bulgaria was cheap. We only stayed in Plovdiv for a couple of days but we were surprised how cheap things were considering this is an European Union country. A fresh one though so I’m afraid prices might go up in the next few years. A couple of examples on how cheap it was: double room with airco = €27, half a liter of beer = €1, open air cinema = €2,50, dinner for two = €10 (including drinks). After Bulgaria we went to Istanbul which was about the same price level as Croatia. Food was cheap though (specially the döners).

Money Breakdown

Total days = 27
Total spent  = €2248 = €83,25 per day (for 2 persons)

Which can be divided into the following categories:

The average costs per day

The average costs per day

Trips & tours include museum entry fees, bike hire, transportation costs to/from a sight, etc. Miscellaneous means items like presents, clothing, postcards, shampoo and all other stuff that cannot be categorized elsewhere.

Extras

The train tickets to Zagreb = €112 per person. These costs are not included in the above-mentioned breakdown because we had already purchased them beforehand. So the transportation costs concern Zagreb to Istanbul only.

The places we stayed

  • Zagreb: 2 nights in a fancy hotel that was donated by our friends. Thanks guys!
  • Supetar: 1 night in a much too expensive private room (€61) because we arrived late and were out of options.
  • Bol: 3 nights on the lovely family run camping Kito (€20). They have a very nice outdoor restaurant.
  • Jelsa: 4 nights on the very basic camping Mina (€14). The lack of services is highly compensated by the location which is right on top of a beautiful bay.
  • Komiza:  4 nights at Marija’s place, a private room we rented through AirBnb (€40). This was by far the nicest place we stayed. Right at the harbor and we could make use of the private terrace overlooking the harbor to eat our self-made pasta. Best spot in town! And Mar’e and her family were great hosts too. So thank you, Mar’e! 😉
  • Mostar: 3 nights in Pansion Oscar (€34). We chose this place because of the nice communal outside area. But that appeared to belong to the bar next door (also owned by Oscar) and wasn’t even open in daytime. They heavily advertise with this misleading information though (they even call themselves “Pansion Oscar Summer Garden” on booking.com). Nice room and on a good location near the bridge but altogether a bit overpriced.
  • Belgrade: 1 night in a hostel just opposite the train station (€31)
  • Plovdiv: 2 nights in Guest House The Old House (€27), a nice and modern guest house conveniently located between the train/bus station and the old town.
  • Istanbul: 4 nights in Hush Hostel (€34). Good hostel on the Asian side of Istanbul (Kadikoy) with a nice communal garden to have a beer and meet other travelers.

And we spend 3 nights on the trains as well.

(all prices are per room (or camping place) per night)

Transport

We moved around using trains, busses, ferries, catamarans, taxi’s and bicycles. Here’s a list of how much we spent on the legs shown on the map:

  • Night train Arnhem to Munich =  €59
  • Train Munich to Zagreb =  €53
  • Train Zagreb to Split = €28
  • Ferry Split to Supetar (Brac island) = €4,50
  • Bus Supetar to Bol = €5
  • Catamaran Bol to Jelsa (Hvar island) = €7,50
  • Catamaran Jelsa to Split = €7,50
  • Ferry Split to Vis = €7,50
  • Bus Vis to Komiza = €3,50
  • Bus Split to Mostar = €16
  • Train Mostar to Sarajevo = €6
  • Bus Sarajevo to Belgrade = €22
  • Night train Belgrade to Sofia = €33
  • Train Sofia to Plovdiv = €5
  • Night train Plovdiv to Istanbul = €27

(all prices are per person)

Highlights

I really loved the relaxed vibe in Komiza on Vis where we rented a nice apartment  in the old part of town right at the quay. And Kamenica beach was a superb place to hang out during the day. Other places worth mentioning are Plovdiv (go to the open air summer cinema!) and Istanbul’s Kadikoy (I could live there). Oh, and Bosnia is a country I would like to explore some more.

Lowlights

Difficult to find. Supetar is too touristy and so is Bol but then again we visited those places in peak season. I wouldn’t call them exactly lowlights though because they are still beautiful places. A place we didn’t visit but have heard bad stories about is Dubrovnik. Good we skipped that one. And the first bus driver on the bus from Split to Mostar was kind of an idiot, I’m glad we had to switch buses after 20 minutes.

Photo summary

We took tons of pictures but kept around 316 in the end. That’s still a lot of pictures. To give you a quick impression I created a 3:47 minute slide show with a finest selection. If you want to see all pictures I published before then please have a look at one of the photo albums.

This entry was posted in Trail Reports.

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