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Eastern Europe

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Bulgaria – Traditional House (Ruse)

Bulgaria – Village (Ruse)

Sixt – Opel / Vauxhall Corsa

Car Rental Company: Sixt Company for Purchase : Expedia Location: OTP - Henri Coanda Bucharest International Airport As you arrive at OTP airport, signage to the car hire places is clearly shown. SIXT have their own well branded desk which is very clear once you arrive at area. There was no other hirers that day so the one staffed desk was of no issue but could be if a bunch of people are ahead of you as there is only one staff desk. Once documentation is complete and the rental agreement is signed staff walk you outside to an area where a van picks you up and takes you the 2-3 minute journey to where the actual car’s are. This is a medium sized car park shared with other car hire companies. You are taken directly to your car. Upon returning the car when by yourself signage for SIXT is poor, only Avis and Budget or Hertz I believe have very clear road signage but I missed the entrance due to SIXT as signage is literally only at entrance to the car park and therefore ended up driving down a motorway for about 3 miles before I could turn around. I noticed it when it was too late. Staff Staff at desk was really pleasant, spoke English well and seemed very enthusiastic. We even had a long conversation of tourists sights, distances to places like Bran and Transylvania- in which he guided me well. There is some degree of upsell in terms of bringing down the car insurance waiver, which I went for a cover called ‘Super Top Cover” which was about 15 Euro’s per day. I asked about GPS and it seems just like in Greece and Sardinia, that it’s a unusual feature. He simply stated I will see if I can get hold of one for you. Staff that drove van, different guide said he found a GPS, a sort of knock off similar looking to a Tom Tom and wanted 90 Lei for it (£15/€20/$22) as my booking ran over 24 hours so basically the GPS is £7/€10/$11 per day. It’s worth it as though signage is quite good in Romania it helps with speed limits etc. However I never got a receipt for this and it had a feel of an unofficial purchase. Car- Selection There was no selection like you find in the US- you are simply given the car you agree to at the desk in which my category was Economy 2 or 4 Door-Car. On Expedia it stated Nissan Tilda or similar. Car Review - Vauxhall / Opel Corsa Hatchback (Manual) This car was the 2nd one up from the cheapest option- in which I choose because I want things like USB and ability to plug my iphone and listen to music of that. Seating Manual seating- very basic. Typical hatchback, bar to move forward and back and seat switch to determine angle. I drove over 500km (but did stop a lot) and did not specially find this uncomfortable but none the less it was basic as you can get and an outer armrest door side exists but not inner side. I would say the comfort level is 4/10 or below average for long distances. Controls The controls were as expected very simple – Steering wheel offers indicator turn switches for cruise control which lights up on speedometer. Basic speedometer and rev counter with dial Air con and volume function. Audio had a button to control such aspects as bass and mids, there is also an auto lock button. There is no computer screen – just a digital basic alarm clock looking dash showing time, outside temperature in Celcius and AUX (if you’re not using radio). There is no USB only a standard car power socket. Though there is a Audio jack input so you can plug your phone into or music device. Fortunately I had a USB adaptor for car power socket so had to stop GPS at times and plug iphone in for a bit. The power socket was also loose especially with GPS- sometimes it showed a light to show it was charging, other times not- so I had to turn it a few times to get the light. Not sure if it was sat nav or car’s power socket that was of issue. The car was manual and the clutch was not that tight. Gear changes were not that smooth in lower gears and speed- meaning a few stalls occurred. About as basic as you get in terms of controls and felt very much 1999 etc. I believe looking at paper work it is a 2006 model. Space and Storage There is a sufficient size of boot for one large case and this is covered at back so is good for security. The car has 4 seats and space is very much down to the occupants but it is a hatchback so if your sat in back seat don’t expect much leg room. Driving The Corsa had 67000km on the clock and therefore quite well used (for a hire car). The clutch and gear box felt its age & had some poor transitions especially going uphill thru the hairpin turns in Transylvania at times in 2nd gear for long period when most cars could handle 4th. It generally had very high revs when in low gears and was  poor handling in slow moving traffic with awkward position of gears not coping at 4th and over revving in 3rd. Acceleration was good overall though and it could beat many at the traffic light challenge- so long your quick with your gear change. Over taking at times was risky but could make it in just about enough time. I wouldn’t risk it if I saw a car coming even 500 metres and you gotta overtake a lorry or coach. Swift gear high revs and engine noise makes it sound like you might break the engine. In 4th & 5th gear it handled much better though smooth ride and cruised very well on highways. Just not that powerful. Perhaps I got it to 130km / 85mph max on the highway straight road but the accelerator did vibrate a lot indicating it was not comfortable at the maximum speeds. However going around wide corners was its special area – accelerating and griping the road at decent speed smoothly and better than other cars I have driven such as Citreon or Chrysler spark etc. Audio The audio was actually ok- for a car 10 years old, you can adjust mids, bass and treble plus fade. I enjoyed my driving with variation of music tested. Rock was its desired feature. Bass heavy music was disappointing, bass lacked any depth- tinny but say house music with high mids and treble sounded fine. Fuel Efficiency This really is a hard one to work out as I handed some money at the border at a petrol station Bulgaria and women whom used pump just walked off. I am not entirely sure what I gave her and I said full but she only did 3/4 . She never handed me a receipt so I was probably ripped off but basically 500km was a full tank and quarter. Certainly reflected a car of 10 years old being not efficient for a hatchback compared to the comparison models of the last 5 years. Verdict For the price paid £16.55 (US$24 / 22€)  for 24 hours, it was an good value for Europe (though in the US you would get a much better/newer car). Overall good for flat roads say down to Bulgaria but not recommended for hills in Transylvania or that famous road (Transfăgărășan ) when more than one person is in the car as it struggles too much with just me and makes the driving a lot of effort with uphills and hairpin corners. I certainly wouldn’t want to drive straight for more than 3-4 hours as the car is simply not that comfortable ride but age of car audio was ok. Fuel efficiency was poor, but the car reved high on even the smallest incline as it can’t handle 4th gear and sometimes 3rd. Controls though are 10 years old- so no USB but ok on corners and sound system acceptable for age of car. I would upgrade unless you’re on a budget and flat road motorway driving lay ahead.

Romania – Vlad III Dracula (Bran)

Romania – Tree Cut Man (Sinaia)

Romania – Sinaia Monastery (Sinaia)

Romania – Romanian Character To Protect Against Bad Sprits (Bucharest)

Romania – Palace of The Parliament (Bucharest)

Romania – Castelul Bran Vlad III Dracula (Bran)

Romania – Castelul Bran Transilvania Vlad III (Bran)

Romania – Castelul Bran Transilvania (Bran)

Z Executive Boutique Hotel (Bucharest, Romania)

4 Case Rating
Location Hotel is located just off a side street from E81 in city centre, minute walk from Universitate metro station.This is the square where the intercontinental hotel is and where the 1989 revolution started from. From OTP airport it takes about 30 minutes and is about 17km. Famous sights such as Bran in the Romanian countryside are about 160km away or 2.5 hour drive. This is the old part of the city and a quick walk at night reveals very interesting old building and mainly the intensive bar culture night life, therefore a great place to stay if you like to party and go for drinks. Noise does not affect the hotel though as the bar streets are a 5-10 minute walk away. Tourist sights are walkable and in particular you are on the door steps of Bucharest Municipal Museum. The Palace of Parliament is probably a 20 minute walk. However the architecture and building in this old part of the city are very beautiful and impressive. Overall an excellent location for Bucharest. Room The room on 6th floor was an interesting feature. very clean, boutique design, very east european classy if you understand me. The room offers a very comfortable double bed whereby each side offered a bed side table and had convienient euro power sockets (staff can lend adaptors). Next to bed are flexi reading lights, though my side did not work. Above are interesting blue lights as overheads along with central spotlights and inner wall interior lights- many light options. Facing the bed is a large mirror and luggage rack - this is also where the desk is located but unfortunately it is clustered with stuff- such as the kettle, phone, the non working lamp and hotel guides etc plus part of the mini bar items. They offers free coffee sachets and green tea. Below is the mini bar, which is like the oldern days full of miniature liquor bottles but also soft drinks and some food items. The modern LCD TV is above the desk requires controlling from a cable box below- the two tv controls become confusing initially. There are many channel mostly local / regional but also German, French and English- BBC world etc and American channels such as Nat geo. The room has a side room in which was very convenient which offered an open wardrobe basically but in a room that you can close. There are many square pigeon holes and a laptop size safe that was easy to use. Plenty of coat hangers as well. Slippers, shoe polish are offered in here as well. The bathroom was interesting, they are trying the Asia/Chinese thing with a window that opens out into the bedroom. Though it does have blinds but perhaps you might see the TV from the toilet seat but the design is really about design rather than actual effectiveness. The bathroom though is spacious and offers a circular cubicle with rain shower and mini shower head. The sinks has spotlights but did not find a switch to use them. Amenities are odd- the shower cubicles has a fixed dispenser with the sign "professional shampoo and shower gel from Sweden by Tork" but there are still x2 mini bottles of shampoo- why not body lotion or conditioner. The room offers air-conditioning from a remote control unit and worked ok. Lighting was very good in this room, many options they just need to check all are working such as the desk lamp. Blue lights are weirdly offered overhead for that blue 'moment'. However an artistic room and enjoyed it. Facilities Business facilities include free secure WIFI for multiple devices- worked great. In reception one laptop computer and fixed tablet by reception. Worked ok. There is also a function room on the roof- more for private parties than meeting rooms etc. Catering included a bar (you get a welcome drink voucher upon arrival). A restaurant where you get 10% off with the welcome drink voucher. There is a restaurant on the top floor (9th) with fantastic views that offers quite a nice breakfast, unusual items but nonetheless enjoyable. Mostly continental buffet but there is a egg to order menu which includes omelet & eggs Benedict. Leisure facilities include a spa that offers a multiple massages with Balinese being the main alternative one. A general food massage costs 100 Lei for 45 minutes or a full 90 minute Balinese is 223 lei. There is also parking but it can prove difficult if road is blocked. Staff will try their best though. Otherwise you can use underground public parking at a charge. Staff Staff are really nice at this hotel. Very helpful with information about the city, warm and friendly and speak English very well. Overall excellent value for money hotel, right in the heart of old centre of Bucharest. Could do with better maintenance standards ensuring all lights works but otherwise a nice hotel, more aimed at the romantic couple, leisure traveller than the business crowd, though there is a desk to work on.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] Z Executive Boutique Hotel, 4 Ion Nistor Street, Bucharest 030041, Romania
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Slovakia – Plate of Sights (Bratislava)

Slovakia – Danube River City View (Bratislava)

Slovakia – Country Map (Bratislava)

Slovakia – Bratislava Castle (Bratislava)

Poland – White Eagle (Warsaw)

Greece – The Acropolis of Athens

Greece – Santorini

Finland – Helsinki

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