500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Things are coming together

Spent a fair amount of time this past weekend organizing some accommodation for our six week trip to Romania and Moldova. We leave a week from tomorrow!

We arrive in Bucharest, Romania the afternoon of November 2nd. We've got a couchsurfing host arranged for three nights there...a younger couple (32) with their two cats. And then on the 5th, we take the train to Brasov.

Brasov is a popular tourist town because it's close to ski resorts and Bran (Dracula's) Castle. But there is a lot to see in that area and so there are a ton of day trips that you can do from Brasov, so we want to use it as our base for a week. And because it's a popular tourist town, there is a lot of different accommodation available.

We tried to set up a couchsurfing host for part of our time in Brasov, but we got turned down three different times, so I gave up and started looking at guesthouses. Someone asked the other day why we might get turned down, but there are a lot of reasons. Sometimes, the prospective host already has guests booked. Sometimes they are too busy to host. Sometimes, they simply don't want to.

I found one hostel through an online reservation system. It was an obvious pricing error and it went through at $12 per night. The system took my deposit and I got a confirmation number and everything. But then fifteen minutes later I got a cancellation directly from the hostel, blaming the reservation website on the error. The reservation website admitted the error, and refunded my "non refundable" deposit, giving me a whopping 5% discount coupon on my next booking. Big deal.

I tried checking some AirBnb's in Brasov, but didn't see anything that really piqued my interest.

But then, I came across a really nice guest house with nice facilities and only four guest rooms. I checked it out on tripadvisor and it is the #1 rated out of 134 guest houses in Brasov. It's a little more expensive than we would normally pay, at $280 CAD ($217 USD) for the week, but it looked like it was worth it and we don't mind splurging every now and again.

Brasov Guest House

But, I couldn't get the reservation to go through for the days we wanted.

So I sent them an email directly.

They got back to me right away.

Long story short, they didn't have availability for the first night, but the rest of the week was okay. So they offered to put us up at their in-laws studio apartment in the center of town, and then move us to the guest house the next day. They have even offered to pick us up at the train station, and drive us both days. Great service. No wonder they have such a high guest satisfaction rating.

So, we're all set until November 12th. Today, we'll figure out where we want to be after Brasov and start looking for places to stay.

Oh, and I booked us a spot in Chisinau, Moldova for November 28th for a week. This one, I did find on AirBnb at only $14 a night sharing an apartment with a single girl who also happens to be a certified tour guide. It turns out that she won't be there during our stay, but has arranged to meet us with a key so that we will have the place to ourselves. Nice!

And so, things are coming together!

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11 comments:

  1. Glad you are getting some nice accommodations!

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    1. There are lots of options out there! :-)

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  2. Beautiful! My favorite area of trip advisor now is the B&B , Inn & Guesthouse. Those generally list any hotel with less than 10 rooms (my favorite). Just fyi alot of those guesthouses have started to list with Expedia. Trip advisor has some kind of side deal with booking.com and no longer always shows expedia inventory (I just kind of came upon this realization while doing research) So what I do now is look at great hotels, b&b and guesthouses in the list on trip advisor even if no availability is showing them google them. If they have a booking service they show up, if not their own website usually shows up.

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    1. There are soooo many options for online resevrations now. I had been using booking.com exclusively when we were in South Korea and Colombia, and was happy with them. But now I'm trying out hostelz.com where they compare prices for you. So far, so good except for that error pricing that didn't go through.

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  3. Hope you get a chance to visit Bran Castle. We were there back in the 1970s (yeah, I know...time flies when you're a traveller!) and really enjoyed learning about this Romanian ruler. As for Booking.com we use it to find accommodations, but do not book through them. An Irish b&b owner scolded us and advised us to avoid them like the plague because Booking.com charges far more than the actual establishment. Her facts were correct. We could've saved ourselves at least 40% by booking directly with her. Can't wait to follow you around Romania!

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    1. Our experience has been different with booking.com. I've checked the prices, and normally they are exactly the same as the actual establishment, because it's the actual establishment who supplies the pricing to booking.com. Booking.com then keeps their percentage and sends the balance to the establishment. Booking directly with the establishment means the establishment doesn't have to pay anybody a booking fee.

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    2. I'll take another look at Booking.com, Kevin. Perhaps our Irish advisor is just a little more frugal than we thought and it does boil down to her not wanting to pay the booking fees.

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  4. Yes looks like it is all coming together, and I know you will have fun.

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    1. Yep, we have enough of the early part organized that we will probably wait until we get there and talk to some of the locals before deciding where else to go and what to book, they may have some better ideas.

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