Bulgaria private guide

By: Neil Johnson
This item appears on page 32 of the January 2018 issue.

When my wife, Kim, and I first started thinking about where to go in Europe in 2017, the idea of Bulgaria and Romania came to mind. After doing some research, we realized that there is so much to do in Bulgaria, it deserved to be our only destination for our trip, Sept. 1-17, 2017.

Based on his multiple excellent reviews, we contacted longtime ITN advertiser Patrick Peneff (bulgaria
privateguide@gmail.com, www.guide-bg.com)
. His website is very thorough, providing multiple itinerary ideas for Bulgaria. It was easy to put together an itinerary, and Patrick was very responsive in answering questions and suggesting options. 

For the two of us, the price for our 16-night tour amounted to 3,935 (near $4,680), which included all hotels, breakfasts and Patrick’s driver/guide services. We paid separately for other meals and entrance fees.

We arrived in Sofia very late our first night and were greeted at the airport by a driver who took us to our apartment. Patrick picked us up  the next morning. Essentially, the plan was to do a large loop around the country, heading north from Sofia, then east to the Black Sea coast before returning to Sofia via a more southerly route through the Rhodope Mountains.

While we had agreed to an itinerary, as Patrick learned what we were most interested in, he suggested alternative sites. These modifications on the fly were much appreciated.

We included the more typical Bulgarian tourist locations (Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Sofia and Rila Monastery) but also had many off-the-beaten-path experiences. Highlights, for us, included the Magura Cave, with prehistoric cave art, the Baba Vida fortress in the town of Vidin and seeing relics from the Cold War, such as part of the original Iron Curtain fence as well as abandoned soldiers’ barracks and bunkers.

Best of all were the encounters with some of Patrick’s many friends around the country and interacting with locals in their homes. We had tea with Angelina in her 300-year-old house overlooking the Balkan Mountains and enjoyed a homemade breakfast with Baba Kunka in the village of Jeravna.

We highly recommend Patrick for anyone who wants to tour Bulgaria. He also provides driving services throughout the Balkans although no guiding outside of Bulgaria.

We learned a lot from him about the country, and we enjoyed his company.

NEIL JOHNSON
San Jose, CA