General information about Bulgaria, Rumania and the Ukraine
Bulgaria, Rumania and the Ukraine are among the most fascinating countries in Eastern Europe. On the one hand the cultural and natural richness of the countries is spellbinding. On the other hand, the apparently relaxed way of life compared with German culture and the fantastic landscape make these countries very attractive. In addition to the many places of interest from over 5000 years of history, the countries also have breathtaking and varied places of natural beauty. As well as the wild Carpathian Mountains, which are so thinly populated that one can walk for days without seeing anyone and take a holiday away from civilisation, there is also the Crimea, which in addition to many places of interest also has the Mediterranean flair of the south coast of France. Wonderful lively beaches, magnificent cathedrals, monasteries and charming relics of the socialist era combine to produce the unique flair which makes these countries so fascinating.<strong/>
The time difference to Central Europe is plus one hour in summer and winter.
Bulgaria, Rumania and the Ukraine are situated in South-Eastern Europe. They border on Russia, Moldavia, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Hungary and White Russia. All of the countries have borders on the Black Sea and are traversed by mountains.
The region has a temperate continental transition climate, with slight maritime influence in the south west and an excessively continental climate in the north east.
Warm summers, a sunny autumn and cold, snowy winters prevail. The climate of the Black Sea coast is Mediterranean and average rainfall in the Black Sea coast area is 400 mm per year. In the higher mountain regions of the Carpathians it rains about three times as much.
Rumanian cuisine is both highly traditional and full of the influences from the turbulent history of the country: Rumania has gulash (called "tocanà" in Rumania) and stuffed paprika in common with Hungary, vine leaf rolls (sarmale) , aubergine puree ("zacuscà") and sheep's cheese dishes with Greece, and with Turkey the sour soups ("ciorbe") and the sweet dishes based on honey, such as "baclava" und "sarailie". Wine goes well with most Rumanian dishes, but the beers brewed in the country are also known throughout the region.
Ukranian cuisine is very varied and has incorporated various European (mainly Polish, German, Jewish, Turkish and Hungarian cuisine).
Bulgarian cuisine has been influenced both by the Orient and by Europe, particularly Turkey, Greece, Austria and France. There are many extremely fatty dishes with various herbs (thyme, oregano, dill, savoury, parsley and forest herbs) as well as vitamin-rich salads made with tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, paprika, onions, carrots and garlic.
Accommodation ranges from luxury hotels on the Black Sea coast to middle class hotels and hostels and monasteries. In smaller towns and in rural areas, the hotels are often still furnished in the socialist style, with small rooms and old-fashioned furniture. Although the standard of furnishing and bathrooms has not reached Western standards, an effort is made for cleanliness and guests are treated very kindly.
In the Ukraine the currency is the Hriwna. €1 ~ 6.1 Hriwna.
The currency in Bulgaria is the Lew. 1 Lew ~ €0.51.
In Rumania the currency is the Leu. 1 Leu ~ €0.30.
Credit cards are accepted in large hotels and shops, in good restaurants and in various agencies. Eurocheques can be cashed with a relatively high bank charge.
Phone calls abroad can usually be made without problems from your hotel of from post offices. Often, direct dialling is available directly from the hotel room. Mobile telephones usually work without problems in all larger towns. The dialling code for Germany from the Ukraine is 81049, from Bulgaria 0049, Rumania 0049 and from Germany to the Ukraine 0038, to Bulgaria 00359, Rumania 0040. The emergency number in the Ukraine is 155, in Bulgaria 150 and in Rumania 961
Medical treatment is not guaranteed in all cases. In the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Rumania, the water is not always germ-free, so that if possible, tap water should be boiled before using or drinking it. If you need special regular medication, please take these with you in sufficient quantities. It is also advisable to check your general vaccination status – diphtheria, tetanus and polio. We also recommend vaccination against hepatitis A and B, typhoid and possibly rabies. If you need any daily medication, please ensure that you have an adequate supply with you.
Travellers should obtain information about infection and vaccination protection in good time and seek medical advice. Please refer to the general information available from health authorities, doctors experienced in travel medicine, specialists in tropical medicine, travel medicine information services or the Federal Centre for Health Education [Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung].
The mains voltage in all countries is normally 220 Volts, frequency 50 Hz. For the Ukraine we recommend that you take adapter plugs with you, as often only appliances with flat plugs can be used without an adapter.
The following articles may be imported into Bulgaria, Rumania and the Ukraine duty free: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine, 10g Eau de Cologne and 50ml of perfume. If you are not sure whether the goods or money which you are importing need to be declared, fill in a written customs declaration on entering the country.
The Rumanians are proud of their Latin ancestors. In educated circles it is fashionable to be Francophile. Therefore it is quite an advantage if as a foreigner you can speak French. However, many Rumanian words can be derived with a basic knowledge of Italian or Latin. In Rumania, women are greeted with a kiss on the hand. As in other Romance countries, embraces, kisses on the cheek and slaps on the back are standard amongst friends.
Even though tourists receive a hearty welcome, it should be remembered that the guest is not king. It is polite to observe good manners, and the culture and customs of your hosts. With an average income of approx. 100 – 150 Euro per person, Bulgaria is a very poor country. Please take this into consideration in your conduct towards the inhabitants.
In the Ukraine, the people have a charming mentality. They are very open-minded and hospitable. Or course, the way of life in the Ukraine is very different to that in Germany, and this can lead to cultural misunderstandings. However, if you are prepared to accept the culture of the host country and the rules of the Ukraine, you can get to know a wonderful country.
Caution is advisable when taking photographs, especially in regions with a Moslem population. Although photography is usually permitted in mosques, you should always ask beforehand. Photography in museums and churches is usually strictly forbidden. As in all places, military installations must not be photographed.
The countries are generally considered to be safe for travellers. However, there is a greater danger of theft than in other European countries. To avoid problems, in large towns vehicles should be parked on supervised car parks. Valuables and luggage should not be left in the car or otherwise left unattended. We recommend that valuables are kept close to you and you should keep your eyes open regarding what is going on around you.
Routes in Bulgaria
This information has been compiled to the best of our knowledge, however this may be subject to change. We are not liable for the accuracy of the stated information.