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wandaschnecke
Traveller
4 comments

Posted 3 weeks ago

Hey, I'm planning to travel from Istanbul to Germany and stumbled upon the Balkan Flexipass. Now I am not sure if certain routes are included:
- Sofia - Bucharest (Romanian trains are only included if they are CFR Catalori, not sure if that is the case here)
- Brasov - Arad - Timisoara (IR 77, R 2608 same reason as above: How do I find out the operator of romanian trains?)
- Belgrade - Bar (Is Montenegro included? Many - but not all - sources say yes but on their own site it seems like it might not be the case http://www.zcg-prevoz.me/travel-concessions-international.html)
I would appreciate it if anyone could share some insights :)

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MisterSteve
Traveller
910 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

To begin the page you give is clearly dated for summer 2021 and therefore not reliable. It's never a good idea to use something clearly so old in an area so unpredictable - for instance Serbia currently has almost no connection outside of ex-Yugoslavia so even if the pass is valid how would you get there?

This page is currently valid but may change before summer, and is only really useful for the prices but does confirm which countries it is valid in and the "Regio Călători" rule. https://www.bdz.bg/en/a/balkan-flexipass By the way, that's the rule I remember seeing in previous years and not the same company as "CFR Călători"

The search phrase "Balkan Flexipass" in Google (restricted to the last year) gives a lot of results, mostly of two types.
1, sites which suggest using it but don't really tell you how to buy it or what the rules are,
2, people asking in forums about buying it and what the rules are.

I've never found an official Balkan Flexipass website, we complain about confusion with Interrail passes but at least they did create an offical website!

Your question says that you are planning to travel from Istanbul to Germany. Immediately that gives two problems. The pass is definately NOT valid for a large part of the journey, and that part is the most expensive. The second is that there is only one train per day from Turkey to Bulgaria, it doesn't start in central Istanbul and it's very difficult to reserve on. If you go to Sofia you will find it hard to go further, you need to head for Bucuresti.

For Romanian trains there are two websites
https://www.cfrcalatori.ro
https://regiocalatori.ro

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wandaschnecke
Traveller
4 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

Sorry, I left out most of my planning because I was only looking for advice on this specific issue. I will go a little more into detail below. As to the link I sent, I realise it's pretty old but it is very straightforward to find on zcg prevoz (International Transport -> Travel Concessions) which from what I gathered is the Montenegrian Railway Company so I thought it would be reasonable to assume it is still viable information esp. since I was trying to find out if Montenegro is (still?) included.

My plans are:
Istanbul -(Night train)-> Sofia -(train)-> Bucharest -(train)-> Brasov -(train)-> Timisoara -(bus transfer with geatours)-> Belgrade -(night train)-> Kotor -(bus)-> Mostar -(bus)-> Split -(bus)-> Plitvice Lakes -(bus)-> Zagreb -(train)-> Germany

You're right about the Catalori rule. Any idea on how to find out which trains are included in that? I've been looking at trains on the CFR Catalori site but can't seem to find the operator.

I am planning to take the Istanbul - Sofia train. I have 3 or 4 nights in Istanbul and I'm hoping it will be enough time to reserve a seat. Most of my information about that train is from https://www.seat61.com/trains-and-routes/bucharest-and-sofia-to-istanbul-by-train.htm

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wandaschnecke
Traveller
4 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

I forgot to mention: I am planning the whole trip in September/October (~30 days total)

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MisterSteve
Traveller
910 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

I said the Regio Călători and CFR Călători are different companies and gave both websites.....

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wandaschnecke
Traveller
4 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

I don't know how I missed that. Yeah Regio Călători seems useless on the Brasov - Timisoara leg and Sofia - Bucharest seems questionable (same as Belgrade - Bar). So maybe the Flexipass isn't the way to go - what a shame.

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MisterSteve
Traveller
910 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

it's also worth thinking about how much BUS travel there is in your plan, which won't be included either.

Even the Zagreb-Germany section has got harder this year because the Austrians gave up on Croatian delays and the daytime direct cars from Zagreb are now only go to Villach - and the connection won't wait!

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wandaschnecke
Traveller
4 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

Yes, I am aware. I was only considering the pass for the journeys mentioned in my original post (plus Istanbul - Sofia) but even for those it doesn't seem worth it.
They don't wait? That sucks! I might have to plan an overnight stay in Villach then. Or just book it, hope for the best and be prepared for a late return.
Thank you so much for the insights, it really helps alot! I've done quite a bit of interrail traveling in central/western europe but the unreliable and (online) unbookable trains are giving me a headache.

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nltrainer
Traveller
1335 comments

replied 3 weeks ago

Over there you simply cannot (hekt nicht!)( plan that much nor is your holy fone that much useful. You have to take what there is at that time, savings are minimal to nil if no senior anyway abd this Balkan Pass has been severly restricted in what it once was valid on, so is hardly of any value-maybe you save with shrewd planning+luck 5€. In most cases you do as you dad/urgrossvater once did: go to the bhf/gara/vokzal and ask what you want and get a ticket for that. Trains are only for the very few ones that like to be married with trains-anyone else with some brains uses a different form

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traiveller
Traveller
26 comments

replied 2 weeks ago

Anyone else with some brains : don't train travellers have some brain??

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MisterSteve
Traveller
910 comments

replied 2 weeks ago

it's often hard to tell what he meant, but in this case I think it was that because the trains in that part of Europe are so bad nobody with brains would use them - but that assumes everyone knows how bad they are.