Dec 7th, 2018
Some tips to travel around Europe/the Balkans by yours truly :
☑️Flight : Ryanair – efficient, on-time, not that strict with hand-carry, 10 kg cabin bag allowance (please check on Ryanair website; policy might have changed beginning 1st Nov).
☑️Bus : Flixbus – best & cheapest bus to and from major European cities, free WiFi (150MB), clean toilet inside bus, socket, free luggage in the hold, rarely have delays, clean interior.
☑️Website : trainline.eu – can search & buy either bus or train tickets with prices & duration.
☑️Train – if you’re taking the train from one country to another, compare the prices in both countries because the prices may vary. Check the local train website of that country. Buy tickets early to get cheap prices otherwise prepare to pay triple or even quadruple.
☑️Research (transport) – check out seat61.com for ways to travel by train, bus & ferry around Europe. Plenty of good info on that website.
☑️Research (travel spots) – wikitravel or wikivoyage. Just Google “(city/country) wikitravel”. Good info on the history, what to see, what to do, what to eat, how to get around, how to stay safe etc.
☑️Accommodation – I personally prefer booking.com because it’s so easy to book. You can sort by prices, stars etc. Don’t just book the cheapest hostel/hotel you can find. Always always always read the review first! In the reviews, look out for keywords like “bed bugs”, “location”, “train/metro/bus”. Check the location, the facilities, whether there are additional costs like city tax, bed linen cost or luggage storage cost. If you arrive too early (before 11am) or arrive late (after 5pm), make sure the hostel/hotel reception is open (or has 24h reception).
☑️Groceries – cheap groceries can be found in two German giants around Europe: Aldi & Lidl. Of course cheap means lower quality compared to local grocery shops. I personally prefer Lidl – more variety compared to Aldi. If buying mineral water, check carefully is it’s still water or sparkling water. Use Google translate to be sure.
☑️Train – best to buy on the spot or the day before your travel at the local train station.
☑️Bus – check prices & time at busticket4.me or getbybus.com. Can even buy from both websites but during low season, just show up at the local bus station & buy on the spot. Sometimes the time shown on the website is different from the actual schedule. Tickets will not sell out & you’ll probably be the only one in the bus (experienced this many times on different journeys). When taking the local bus around Balkans, there is no free luggage in the hold. You have to pay to store your luggage in the hold, usually €1 or €2 per bag. There is no WiFi, no socket & no toilet on the bus (there is toilet but they don’t let you use it), inside bus might not be so clean. The bus will make stops along the way, so don’t worry about toilet breaks. Always bring food & water for bus journeys more than 4 hours.
🔵For the Muslims:
☑️Food – the only halal foods you’ll get are kebabs & Indian which can be found in most major cities. I’ve travelled to over 20 countries & more than 40 cities, so far no problem with food (unless you’re really picky, wanting halal certs as proof of the halal-ness). Certain cities do not have any halal shops at all so best you cook yourself or eat whatever you can find; i.e vegetarian. And yes, even in halal shops you’ll find that they serve alcohol.
☑️Mosques – Again, major cities they have mosques but the location might be too far from city centre. Most mosques I’ve been to, only open during prayer times. Outside of prayer times, the mosques are usually locked. For the Muslim women, most mosques do not let women enter/pray freely. Women are only allowed during certain days. And no seperate section for women, no telekung.