Category: BULGARIA

WHY CHOOSE CUSTOMTRIP.ORG–PERSONALIZED TRIP PLANNING SERVICES?

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customized itineraries, custom trips

There are so many tour agencies and trip planning services out there that it is easy to get confused. We decided to point out the differences between some of the companies who specialize in Customized Itineraries/Custom Trips.  It might sound strange to you, in the greedy world we live in today, but we do want our clients to feel sure about their choice of travel planning company. Yes, we need you–the client–to do business, but we want you to be happy and choose what’s best for you. Planning and going on a trip is exciting and requires some work in the same time. We hope that our comparison list below will be helpful!

1. BREKKE TOURS&TRAVELS

Brekke Tours & Travels offers some packaged tours to exotic destinations, such as Australia, Belize, Southern Caribbean. Prices are anywhere up to $2500-$3000 a person and they work with Princess Cruise Line as their partner. Their other tours are to Russia, Europe, North America and the Scandinavian countries. When it comes down to their Customized Itineraries their fill-out form is quite detailed. They even ask for your passport number and their questions about dates of travel could be a bit confusing. They charge $100 non-refundable fee that must be paid upon submission of your travel request. The fee is deducted from your customized itinerary ONLY if the total cost of your trip is more than $1500. You can choose between paying by credit card, debit card or check. Located in North Dakota, Brekke Tours & Travel‘s specialty are their Scandinavian trips.

customized itineraries

Copy rights reserved to Brekke Tours & Travel

We believe that websites are the #1 tool for success within the Travel Industry, so here is a screen shot of Brekke Tours & Travel website:

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ Our total price for planning a customized trip are based depending on your request for countries to visit, cities, venues, etc. Everything is tailored, discounts are available, and we usually give FREE “cities” and/or “venues”, which are again tailored to the specific request. You can see our cost here.

√ Our contact form is user friendly and we never ask for your passport number or other confidential details. Our Privacy Policy is in full compliance with the GDPR /General Data Protection Regulation/ that the European Union has passed and we only ask for the basic of basics in terms of data.

√ At the moment we only accept payment via PayPal. Whether you choose to purchase one of our pre-made customized trips or to receive an invoice, our payment is secured and your payment protection, and/or refund if necessary, is guaranteed. Our site is also SSL certified.

√ Although we are capable and knowledgeable to plan trips to any destination in the world, our specialties are Europe and the United States.

2. OLD SOD TRAVEL

Old Sod Travel is another travel service company that comes up when you request a search about “custom trips”. Their specialty is the U.K, but primarily focused on Ireland, Scotland and England.

custom trips

Copy rights and credits to Old Sod Travel

They offer group travels, short visits, chauffeured trips, or study abroad programs. You can easily fill-out a Customized Itinerary form request as it is located on every page at the right sidebar, but prices or business physical address are not listed anywhere on the site. Old Sod Travel is a great company to use if you are interested in visiting the U.K. in particular.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ We offer Custom Trips to any destination in the world and not only to the U.K.

√ Our costs are calculated and estimated to the penny. The total costs posted on our website are the maximum.

√ Our contact form asks for few more details, which will help us to plan your trip faster and better.

3. JOURNY

Journy is one of the best designed websites for Customized Itineraries. Their team comes from wide backgrounds, but primarily from the food and restaurant industry. They are listed in some of the most popular travel news sites, such as Travel+Leisure, TechCrunch, WSJ and Cool Hunting. Their prices range from $25-$50 p/day of travel charged to you depending on your request and they offer 15-20 min free chat with a travel consultant. Usually, the faces behind Custom Trips operations/services are travel lovers who are either travel bloggers too or they just like to share their experiences with fellow travel enthusiasts and charge a minimum fee for their services.

customized itineraries

Copy rights and credits to Journy

Journy has had the financial back-up that most Custom Trips planners don’t, which also allows them to have an OK app you can download on your iPhone /not optimized for Android/. In order to request your customized itinerary you need to register on their site.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ We charge p/city, p/country or p/venue/interest. Our total price is almost half less than what a customized itinerary with Journy might cost you.

√ We don’t ask for our clients to register on our site because that requires giving out personal detail and exposing themselves to unwanted mail spam. We respect our clients’privacy and make sure their personal information is kept strictly confidential and used ONLY to plan a trip.

√ We are more flexible when we create the customized itineraries.

4. TRIPIT

Tripit is the best app to create your own customized itinerary. It is free to download and the basic features you can use for FREE. If you travel more than three times a year, it is worth paying the $50 p/year fee for more advanced features. TRIPIT combines all of your travel details into one so you can access it at any time. However, you do need to e-mail all of

customized itineraries

Copy rights and credits to TRIPIT

those details to a general TRIPIT e-mail. Featured in Forbes, WSJ, New York Times.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ We only operate through our website or social media channels. No app yet.

√ We have real people sitting and working on your customized itinerary while with TRIPIT it’s all computerized.

5. THE TRIP TROTTER

The Trip Trotter offers packaged tours and customized itineraries. Their prices are not clearly stated on the website, but they specialize in European trips. The Trip Trotter is a member of the U.S. Travel Association, Member of Signature Travel Network and Tzell Travel Group. Physical address of the company is not listed on the site, but they do offer affiliate links for hotel, flights, rental cars bookings. The Trip Trotter’s website is easy to navigate and very user friendly.

customized itineraries

Copy rights and credits to The Trip Trotter

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE WITH CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ Our prices are clearly stated

√ We create customized itineraries to any and all destinations

√ Our blog posts vary in thematics

√  Our contact info is complete and clear

 

If you need some TIPSforTRIPS or travel advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us at mytrip@customtrip.org or via our on-site chat! We’d love to share our knowledge and expertise with you and help you out with your trip brainstorming ideas or making it all possible by proper budgeting. Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

CUSTOM TRIP: THE ONLINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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How it works! Custom Trip

CUSTOM TRIP: THE ONLINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Custom Trip is the newest way of travel planning, trip organizing, and travel booking. Custom travel has been becoming more and more popular within the past 5 years and it will only get better. Searching for a specific, already put-up together, travel arrangements and tours are becoming less popular and soon will be overtaken by the Customized Trip industry.

Our Custom Trip is one of the first businesses to specialize in Customized Travel Itineraries only!

“THE ONLINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE”

Custom Trip is truly your go-to Online Chamber of Commerce. Have you ever contacted a physical Chamber of Commerce? What did you ask them? What were you looking for? It is our guess that you were looking for ideas of where to go, what to see, how to get there, correct? This is what custom travel services do nowadays. Someone has already collected all that information, stored it, organized it and now it is easily accessible. There is no need to collect brochures from all the places you have been to or you want to visit because Custom Trip can give you all that information with a click of a “send” button.

The world is pretty big and it could be overwhelming to keep track of all events and arising in popularity touristy destinations, but that’s why so many traveling nomads, travel bloggers and Custom Trip, regularly post fresh content that covers these subjects, plus many more wonderful ideas of where to go, what to see, when to visit, and for how much. This is free information and easily accessible to you, as well as weekly newsletters. And we do like to call ourselves “ the online chamber of commerce” because with few clicks on the web we promote many local businesses from all over the world by sending them, tourists and curious visitors.

WHAT DO WE DO?

We have compiled a rich database of what we like to call “travel network”. In this travel network, we have the personal connections (on site people) who are available to provide us with any information we need in regards to current local events, best restaurants, best places to visit, etc. We have also compiled separate sections with hotels, hostels, restaurants, venues, activities, etc., that we use when we customize travel itineraries. We follow the client’s request and strictly keep things according to (in this exact order) his interests, budget, and timetable.

Our website, https://www.customtrip.org/ is simple and easy to navigate. We use it to gather clients’ trip requests under ‘plan here’. Our contact form is quite long, but also detailed. We try to get to know our New Custom Trip Traveler from step 1. We want to be as familiar as possible with his availability, points of departure and return, preferred activities, available budget for this particular trip so that we can create the best and most suitable customized trip plan for him. Once we have this information on an average, it takes about 10-15 min for a client to complete our contact form-we have 48 hours to prepare the travel itinerary including all travel logistics from the airport of departure to the return destination. Depending on the length of trip requested, we may plan it all in 24 hours. After payment is submitted (we use a secure payment system) we send the trip itinerary, i.e., customized trip plan.

We specifically customize all travel requests so no two trip plans will be the same and the final cost will differ too, again, based on customer’s preferences. 

We are not a travel agency, so we don’t do any of the booking or reservations. We suggest our top 3, based on your interests, budget, and timetable, and let you book it yourself. We do all the hard work to organize your trip, perform a detailed research and explore all possibilities, and all you have to do is say: “Yes, I love it! Then, book it!” The total time our clients spend on planning a trip with us is no more than 30 min.

premade customied itineraries

premade customized itineraries

LOGISTICS AND TRAVEL GUIDES

Custom Travel is not an easy job neither for the traveler nor for the business. If you want to travel, but have no idea where you’re going then, chances are you are already lost. It is difficult to plan the logistics on how to get from point A to point B when visiting a foreign country. Unfortunately, cell phone data is still not available at all corners of the world, plus international data could be quite expensive.

This is what we specialize in: travel logistics for tourists. Custom Travel requires customized travel logistics and we provide you with those from the moment you leave your home to the day you return. No more confusion, no more “I asked, but they didn’t understand me because I don’t speak the language”;”I got lost”; “I missed my train or the taxi driver overcharged me because I am a foreigner.”-those you can completely forget about!

It takes time and specific skills to be a travel logistics planner and we have mastered those. 

Our travel guides and suggestions could be general and mentioned in an article or specifically designed as an online travel guide. Either way, the information is 100% accurate, verified and great to use when brainstorming your next trip.

Custom travel will be becoming more and more popular. It will take time, trust and adjustment to this type of travel planning and travel, but it will be way more rewarding at the end. You can still visit the classics such as Paris, London, Dubai, New York City, but now you can experience more than the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for the same amount of time and less money. Customized trips give you the freedom and independence to create your own travel itinerary from A to Z. You are in charge of it all! The people who offer custom trip plans are there to simply guide you and give you a hand.

BRIEF BIO: Silviya is the founder and managing director of https://www.customtrip.org/ Silviya’s natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge has always pushed her to explore the beautiful world we live in. She likes to visit new places, discover new things, and meet people with different backgrounds and to study foreign languages. Silviya’s most favorite travel destination is Greece and her specialty. She adores the Mediterranean cuisine, music, culture, and lifestyle. Silviya created Custom Trip because she believes that the best trips are the “spontaneous” ones. She is a firm believer that travel agencies overcharge for what they offer and rarely give you the opportunity to really dive into the local culture and places as you could have independently. Silviya supports “travel and learns” instead of “travel and shop”. She likes to have fun when traveling but also puts a great importance on visiting enriching cultural, architectural, culinary and artistic venues and museums.

 

A WALK THROUGH ETARA, BULGARIA

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Etara, Bulgaria. Photo credit: D.Stafford

A walk through Etara, Bulgaria

Etara is the first museum under the open sky in Bulgaria, established in 1964. It takes the visitor back to the 18th and 19th centuries when the Revival was in its apogee. I, personally, don’t like fantasy movies, but going back in time is very real while walking through Etara. It catches my breath from the entrance with the smell of old wood, aging moss on the stone slit roofs, the bright colors of stucco and planters, and the calming sound of running water from the river. There are about 50 houses with workshops where skillful masters demonstrate how things were done 200 years ago. There are not many craftsmen who can use old-fashioned and primitive fools and their own hands. It is a miracle to me to see the wooden bowls, the leather shoes, the carved knives, copperware, and much more coming out of their hands. Then all stored on a shelf behind the window, inviting the tourists to be touched, admired, purchased.

Etara, Bulgaria. Photo credit: D.Stafford

Etara, Bulgaria. Photo credit: D.Stafford

The people from that area apparently expressed their dreams, feelings, and hopes through colors and shapes. I could see it in the hand-woven rugs, in the elegant and unique silver jewelry, in the pottery products, and the folk clothes.

Most fascinating and authentic experience to me was the visit to the coffee shop. Upon the second floor, we were sitting on the “minder” ( a wooden bench under the window, covered with a colorful rug and offering comfort with many pillows). The traditional Turkish coffee is made in a copper pot with long handle. The strongly smelling precious brown powder is mixed with some water and brought to a boil over hot sand. Right after the coffee starts boiling. (turning over), the pot must be removed. The coffee doesn’t cook or boil. It has to “turn over” three times. Then it is strained and poured into a small coffee bowl/cup ( no more than 50 grams). If it doesn’t have a handle, the cup needs to be held in the palm. The coffee is served with a glass of water and the authentic homemade white jam. Everything then is being consumed slowly, with an expression of pleasure and thanksgiving to the shop owner. Traditionally in the 18th and 19th century, the client will be sitting criss-cross on the ‘minder’ as in those times only men were allowed to visit public coffee shops. Women visited each other in their homes and enjoyed the same style of coffee and white jam.

Many Bulgarian villages back then had granite basins with running spring water on the streets. Gabarevo is one, known as the village with the hundred spring waters. Etara shows that well. Visitors don’t need to buy bottled water. There is mountain spring water running nonstop, and it is cold and tasty.

It can take a whole day to visit, observe, and learn from each workshop. The information on the internet doesn’t do it justice. The true experience is when a hand can touch, the eye can see, and the nose can smell.

Author: D.Stafford, MI, USA

 

HOW TO GET TO PLOVDIV, BULGARIA?

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how to get to Plovdiv? Custom Trip

HOW TO GET TO PLOVDIV?

If you are planning on visiting Bulgaria you will most likely want to see Plovdiv too. But HOW DO YOU GET TO PLOVDIV? Let us tell you few things about Plovdiv first. Plovdiv is the second largest city in the country and proudly defending its title as such against the city of Varna. However, at the end, Plovdiv still wins!

How to Get To Plovdiv? Custom Trip

View of Plovdiv from Nebet Hill

The city has been continuously inhabited for 7000-8000 years. When you walk on the streets of Plovdiv you should know that you are simply walking on top of one of its many city layers, because Plovdiv is a city that combines history and modern day life, and sweetly blends them in one! Plovdiv is famous for its seven hills (six today) and you can easily recognize it as you are arriving from Sofia (usual start of the trip).

LOGISTICS FROM SOFIA AIRPORT TO PLOVDIV

If you decide that you want to go to Plovdiv directly from Sofia airport, then the following steps/tips will show you HOW TO GET TO PLOVDIV? You have few options + alternative way!

  • Option 1: Upon landing at SOF you can take the subway/Sofia Metro to the central bus station. The metro gate is just on the left from the main Terminal and easily found by following the markings on the Terminal’s floor. The ticket you buy from a ‘ticket machine’ or cashier. It costs 1.60lv ($1) and it is valid for both lines: blue and red. Typically, you don’t need to pay extra for carrying luggage with you on the subway, but depending on the number of bags and size you carry, you might need an additional ticket. If you follow basic airline luggage policies: 1 checked bag up to 50lbs (23kg) and 1 carry on, you will be fine. You will take the Blue line and transfer to Red line at Serdika station /you can download a map of subway lines from Sofia Metro site/. The Bus Depot is two stops away from Serdika.
    Sofia Metro Map.

    Sofia Metro Map. Photo Credit: Sofia Metro

  • Option 2: Upon landing at SOF you can exit from the right door and wait in queue for a Taxi. Tell the driver “bus station” and within 15-20 min for the price of 15lv ($10), you will be in front of the bus depot. Most drivers don’t speak good English, but the taxi company serving the airport is decent and reliable. You can even order a taxi ahead of time at the OK Taxi Site. They also offer rides to Plovdiv, at times, for the price of 100-150lv ($70-$100) with prior reservation.
  • Option 3: order a private van to take you to Plovdiv. You can reserve on Sofia Airport Transfer site.

AT THE BUS DEPOT

As you enter the Bus Depot, turn right and you will see few windows labeled “24 hours of ticket sales”. Ask for a ticket for the next bus to Plovdiv and go to sector 6  (the very left side as you exit the building). The direct buses from Sofia to Plovdiv (operated by Vitosha or Hebros Express) always leave from sector 6, and there is a bus on every hour BUT not exactly ON the hour! Infobus offers bus schedules. One ticket to Plovdiv costs 14lv ($8). Luggage is free. The driver will check your ticket and put the one half-of-al-luggage sticker on the back of your ticket, and the other half on top of your suitcase. Passengers have assigned seats, written on tickets, and it is the respectful thing to do and keep your seat assignments. Buses to Plovdiv are usually full.

LOGISTICS FROM OTHER LOCATIONS IN SOFIA TO PLOVDIV

Subway is the easiest way to get around Sofia and reach the airport or bus station. Both lines meet at Serdika station, so regardless of your ‘permanent’ location in Sofia, you can easily get to the bus depot. Bus lines 213, 404, 11 and many others all go to the Main Train Station and Bus Station (they are next to each other). You can plan your trip by using Eway.bg.

Cost of ticket is 1.60lv, but if you have lots of luggage or larger size suitcases, you will have to buy tickets for them too. Yes, it doesn’t make any sense, but ticket checkers love to catch out-of-towners or foreigners on bus lines specifically going to train and main bus stations. The fine is about 50lv ($35), but the argument will cost you enough time to miss your bus/train. You can purchase tickets in advance from a ticket boot or from the driver. If you purchase from the driver, make sure you have exact change.

How to Get To Plovdiv? Custom Trip

Ethnographic Museum, Plovdiv Old Town, Photo Credit: Custom Trip

ALTERNATIVE WAY TO GET TO PLOVDIV

Some people prefer to take the train from Sofia to Plovdiv and go on an adventure because that’s what Bulgarian trains are. Although a bit cheaper than bus tickets, train travel takes longer and Bulgarian trains are not the cleanest. There are three types of trains: regular passenger, fast, express. If you plan on taking the train your best bet is to take the Express train. You can check schedules and purchase your tickets online from the BDZ official website /Bulgarian Railroad/.

Note: it is typical for Bulgarian websites to have outdated info, so keep in mind that schedules and prices might not be accurate.

So now that you know how to get to Plovdiv it’s time to learn “How to Get Lost in Plovdiv?” and enjoy it to the fullest!

 

Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex: A Journey Through History

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Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex, Photo Credit to Custom Trip Team

WHAT IS ETAR, BULGARIA?

Etar, Bulgaria is an architectural-ethnographic complex which is located a few kilometers from Bulgaria’s city of Gabrovo. The place is uniquely preserved and situated nicely on the banks of the Yantra river. The houses now turned into numberless workshops date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. It is considered to be one of the few ‘open air museums’ in the world and thousands of visitors come from all corners of the world to see and experience an “old lifestyle” unknown to many that still inspires and recharges with its eternal atmosphere still preserved in Etar.

WHAT’S IN FOR YOU AT ETAR? 

Etar, Bulgaria, Photo Credit to Custom Trip Team

Etar, Bulgaria, Photo Credit to Custom Trip Team

At Bulgaria’s Etar Architectural-Ethnographic complex there is something for everyone. As you approach the entrance of the open-air museum the fresh and charming sense of boxwood will greet you seconds after you’ve stepped through the door. The welcoming smell, typical for Bulgaria’s 18-19th villages and/or house yards, will help you transfer two-three centuries back. The sounds of typical Bulgarian folk music coming from the restaurant at the beginning of the complex will increase the feel of Reviving Bulgaria, especially if you have already visited Plovdiv. All home made style and delicious meals, most cooked on outside stove with coals, will keep you at the restaurant for hours. Comfort is not the main goal, but authenticity as you will most likely be sitting on a log instead of a regular chair. 

Once full with shopska salata [typical Bulgarian salad made out of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, red papers and feta cheese], kebabcheta [Bulgarian type of sausage usually made out of pork] and shischeta [Bulgarian meat on a stick], you are ready to walk down of 18th century Bulgaria presented in the face of Etar.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHILE AT ETAR?

Etar, Bulgaria, Photo Credit to Custom Trip Team

Etar, Bulgaria, Photo Credit to Custom Trip Team

As you make your stroll through the complex you will be able to participate, or simply watch, in shoe making, belt making, whistle making, wood carving, baking homemade dough or sweets, and many more activities typical for the daily life of 19th century Bulgarians. Craftsmen will gladly share their talents with you and carve items just for you. As you are walking between the stores and browsing don’t forget to look up at the different architecture of the houses, colors and their unique situation because they are built following the curve of the street below them–makes for a great picture! Be sure to stop by the “whistle shop” and buy a handmade whistle for you, your children, a friend or just for a souvenier. The family has been carving wooden whistles and other musical instruments for generations and the works skills and knowledge have been passed generation to generation. They will even carve your name on your item of choice.The sugar cocks are traditional for Etar, Bulgaria complex and favorites among children.

Although small in size Etar, Bulgaria will give you an experience of a lifetime. The gently flowing river in the center of the town contributes to its unique atmosphere, spirit, and message. Located in the mountains, this historically preserved town is peaceful, quiet, beautiful and awaits you to share its story. Your journey through history awaits you!

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