This travelogue describes my trip to Europe in August 2004. The major purpose of the trip was to go to the Athens Olympics and that was the starting point of my planning. To make life simpler, I purchased a hotel and tickets package from Cosport. The specific package I bought allowed me to choose which four events I wanted tickets to. It would have been a lot cheaper to have made my own hotel arrangements and to have seen what tickets I could get on the spot, but that would also have taken a lot more research. And it wasn't obvious back in January that the tickets would sell so poorly. I'm busy enough that it was worth paying a premium for convenience.
The next step was flight arrangements. I wanted to use frequent flyer miles and there was nothing available going into Athens. A bit of thinking (and studying maps) led me to tickets flying into Venice, Italy and returning from Sofia, Bulgaria. I'd wanted to go to Venice for a long time and I knew there were ferries from there to Greece. As it turned out, though, it's nearly as cheap - and much faster - to fly from Milan to Athens. Why Bulgaria, though? Well, Italy and Greece are too normal and I needed to throw in somewhere offbeat to make it a real Miriam vacation.
I did buy the ticket from Italy to Greece (on Aegean Air) before leaving, but I didn't attempt to buy train tickets in advance. It would probably not even have possible to buy the tickets to Bulgaria in advance even if I'd wanted to. In fact, it was hard enough even to obtain schedules. Perusing guidebooks suggested that there was also bus service, but information about that was even sketchier. Everything worked out fine, but was more stressful than it might have been. I concluded that the Bulgarians treat their transportation schedules as if they were a state secret. Keep reading and I'll expose that secret.
Italy - Flooded Streets and Scaffolding
Greece - Oh, Look, They're Building Another Ruin!
Bulgaria -Thrace is the Place
last updated 5 September 2004