Hi guys, just wanted to update you all on our experience with Bikes on trains/buses and ferries in Eastern and Central Europe (specifically the Balkans)
August 2015 - Chisinau (Moldova) to Iias (Romania) - Ticket sellers told us there would be no problems and didn't need to buy any special tickets. When we tried to load them the conductors told us we couldn't. We persisited and managed to get the bikes in the compartment with us. Very cramped but we got there. I wouldn't try this on a full train! In hindsight the conductors were probably holding out for a bribe which might have smoothed the process. Not really sure.
August 2015 - Bus from Bacau to Brasov (Romania) - Trans Contineau took them in the luggage compartment. We bought tickets for them at the office. They were the equivalent of a few Euros each I think.
August 2015-Train from Brasove to Bucarest - No problems. Bought a ticket for each of the bikes from the office.
September 2015 - Sofia to Belgrade - night train. The ticket sellers told us no problem. No ticket required. Pay a fee on the train. The conductor wasn't overjoyed but let them on in the back of the carriage (last one - there were only 2! One seating and ours which had sleepers). We payed a couple of Euros in Bulgarian money that side and 1 Euro each on the Serbian side as we had no Dinar at the time)
September 2015 - Belgrade to Bar (Montenegro) - No problems said the ticket seller. No problems from the conductor although we were separated by two carriages from the bikes (We locked them with a cable to the train) - 100 Dinar each on the Serbian side. 4 Euro each on the Montenegran side.
It's 4 Euro per bike on all trains it appears, even domestic ones. We took them up to Podgorica.
October 2015 - By the time we reached the Croatian Islands many of the ferry's had stopped. No problems in getting the bikes on the car ferries but had a Mexican stand off with the crew on the Catamaran from Vella Luka (Korcula) to Hvar. We checked with one of the crew the day before and before we booked the tickets. He said fine. When we turned up the next morning they were adamant we couldn't get on despite the same guy being there and helping to argue our case, They already had 2 bikes on board but they were in bike bags. They ended up letting us on but it was close....
November 2015 - Split to Zagreb - It was all fine, although the conductor on the morning train would not allow our bikes on if they couldn't be folded. The conductor on the afternoon train had no problems. The ladies in the ticket office rang each of them to clarify before they sold us the ticket the day before.
November 2015 - Zagreb to Belgrade - No problems in getting them on the train from Zagreb to Belgrade. The conductor was very amiable. There were two other touring cyclists at the time but he still let us all on. We paid 30 Kruna for each bike on the train which is about 4 Euro. They didn't charge us on the Serbian side because the conductor didn't speak any English and got frustrated and went away. From experrience on other Serbian trains it would be 100 Dinar (less than 1 Euro)
November 2015 - Belgrade to Budapest - No problems getting them on on the Serbain side. Instructed to put them in the last carriage and we were allowed to sit in the reserved seats despite only having second class non-reserved tickets. The usual 100 Dinar ticket per bike. When we got to the Hungarian side we had to transfer the bikes and all of our luggage to the bike carriage at the opposite end of the train.....about eight carriages. A tough gig but the train waited while we did it. I think the cost on the Hungarian side should have been 5 Euro but she just forgot to charge us.
Not sure how easy it would be for some of these journeys in the high season. Some I suggest would be easier, others more difficult.
Despite all this we did actually RIDE the bikes ...We were just running out of time and a bit wary of our fitness on sime of the really big mountains with thin windy roads and lots of traffic. We'll have all the details on our blog (catchourtravelbug.com) over the next few months.
Hope this helps