Friday, November 18, 2011

Last train from Italy to Slovenia

Rail connections between Italy and neighbouring Slovenia have been progressively reduced over the last few years. The only remaining direct link is the EN440/441 overnight train on the Venice-Ljubljana-Zagreb-Budapest route, which is inconveniently timed for anyone wanting to do the short hop between Venice and Ljubljana.

Now The Main in Seat 61 reports that even this imperfect connection is to disappear. The last Venice-Budapest night train will apparently run on December 10, 2011.

Many travellers are likely to give up on rail transport completely as a means of transport between Italy and Slovenia and take a direct bus instead. For those who would still like to do part of the trip by train, the Italy page on the Slovenian Railways lists some of the options (by bus from Trieste to Sežana; on foot or by taxi from Gorizia to Nova Gorica; and by bus from Triest to Koper).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flights from Belgrade to Dubrovnik in 2011

After a gap of 20 years, it will be possible to fly directly from Belgrade to Dubrovnik in summer 2011. There will be four flights weekly on from mid June to mid September. JAT Airways will fly on Friday and Sunday, while Croatia Airlines will fly on Monday and Wednesday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kosovo for Beginners - new page

Anna Wiman, a journalist living in Prishtina, has kindly contributed some practical advice for first-time travellers to Kosovo: see Kosovo for Beginners. You can find more photos, and commentary about life in Kosovo, on Anna's own website.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Greece suspends international train services (this time they really mean it)

At the end of last year I posted about cost-cutting plans by the Greek train operator OSE. Among other things, the plans involved the suspension of all international train services into Greece from the start of January.

As it turned out, these trains were given a temporary reprieve and continued running until February. But it appears that from February 12 the suspension did really go ahead, and according to all reports I can find, the Greek rail system is now isolated from the rest of Europe.

This is my understanding of the specific changes:
- The two daily Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki services will now run between Belgrade and Skopje only. It will still be possible to reach the border station at Gevgelija on domestic Macedonian trains.
- The two daily Sofia-Thessaloniki trains are cancelled. It will still be possible to reach the border station at Kulata on domestic Bulgarian trains.
- The Bucharest-Sofia-Thessaloniki train ("Romania") will run between Bucharest and Sofia only.
- The Istanbul-Thessaloniki "Dostluk/Filia Express" is suspended.

Although the websites of the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian rail operators carry news items confirming the suspension, at the time of writing the changes don't seem to have filtered through to the European rail timetables database used by German Railways (DB) among others. All online timetables relating to Greece should be treated with caution for the time being.

Wizzair flies from London to Skopje

Skopje is currently one of very few European capital cities with no direct scheduled flights to the United Kingdom. That's about to change, as Wizzair has announced that they will fly from Skopje to London Luton starting on June 20th. There will be three return flights weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) until the end of September. It also appears that the route will continue into the winter, with the Wizzair site currently showing flights scheduled on Thursdays and Sundays from October.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More about Montenegro in the travel pages

Several UK newspapers have published articles about Montenegro in the last few weeks.

The Mail describes a family driving holiday based mainly on the Adriatic coast, with an excursion inland to Durmitor National Park.

The Telegraph's writer also spent a few days on the Adriatic before heading inland, in this case to hike in the relatively little-known Komovi Mountains.

Finally, the Independent's correspondent also combined the coast and the interior on an eventful family holiday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Belle Air flies from London Stansted to Tirana

The Albanian low-cost airline Belle Air has recently started operating direct flights from London Stansted to Tirana twice weekly (Thursdays and Sundays). There are now three airlines offering flights from London to Tirana - Albanian Airlines already flies from Stansted, while British Airways flies from Gatwick.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Albania and Bulgaria feature in top destinations for 2011

Two Balkan countries, Albania and Bulgaria, appear in CNN's list of "the World's top destinations for 2011". The same two countries features in Lonely Planet's "top 10 countries for 2011". (This is not as much of a coincidence as it might appear - a Lonely Planet editor is among the contributors to the CNN list). I am a little bit sceptical about these annual lists - the format normally requires a completely fresh list each year, which means that pretty much every country in the world is likely to get a mention eventually. Even so, it's nice to see the merits of two Balkan destinations being recognised.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Snowboarding in the Balkans

A recent article in The Guardian, "Boarding the Balkan Bloc", looks at the snowboarding opportunities on offer in a number of ski resorts in the Western Balkans. Among the destinations covered are Kapaonik (Serbia), Popova Shapka (Macedonia), Kolašin (Montenegro), and Jahorina (Bosnia). The writer's overall impression of snowboarding in the region: "rugged mountains; masses of deep, powdery, snow; tree runs from heaven; zero lift queues; friendly locals; low prices; and great food (albeit heavy on the meat)".

Sam Baldwin, the writer of the article, is the editor of the winter sports travelzine, and the website includes further coverage of the resorts mentioned above, as well as others in Bulgaria and Slovenia.