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Unread 08-02-2010, 03:13   #1
on the move
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Default Euro 2012 Interrailing

So, we got 5 opponents in the Euro 2012 group. Russia, Armenia, Slovakia, Macedonia, and Andorra, but we'll leave the football discussion aside for the moment.

I was out in Bulgaria for the qualifier in the last group, travelled by train from Bucharest to Sofia, and even though it took 10 hours, it was direct and reasonably comfortable, though it seemed that everyone got off at the border.

Had a look around some provisional routes, and if we got a double-header trip to Armenia and Russia in the same week, in theory it would be possible to travel by train. However, there doesn't appear to be such a service from Yerevan to Moscow around. If we got Armenia away on it's own, you could take in a trip to Turkey as well if the train was reliable enough.

Travelled through Slovakia the last time, but unfortunately, while it's dirt cheap, train travel in Slovakia isn't great, and I ran into numerous problems then. Barcelona appears to be the most accessible for Andorra, but not too keen on going down that route.

We've also got a trek to Skopje to negotiate, and is the one I'm most keen on. Had a look around and Belgrade, Tirana, and Salonika seem to be within reasonable reach. But which one is best? Going direct to the game venue may be more convenient, but it's also more expensive.

Anyone wish to post their advice of travelling around those countries?
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Unread 08-02-2010, 09:50   #2
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If you are going to Armenia, then you more or less have to fly. They are more or less at war (albeit with a ceasfire) with one of their neighbours, Azerbeijan; another neighbour, Georgia, is presumably cut off from Russia because of the little war in 2008 and the third neighour, Turkey, has closed its borders since the war with Azerbeijan. And there is always the continuing grief with Turkey over the genocide of 1918. I don't think that recent attempts to patch things up with Turkey have yet lead to anything better than direct flights, and I'm not so sure there are any rail links anyhow.
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Unread 13-02-2010, 10:22   #3
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Main line x Belgrade v skopje and border(gevgelija) thessalonika. deviation se3condary line atg lapova vers kosovo&pristina (may be familiar names from de war?) to Skop:je. Main line has good connections at Belgrade, Nis (for Sofia-Bucharest or Instanbul).
For Tirane U will have to bus it but they are like Dublin taxis-everywhere an wow-wow! Time; well much same speeds as 1960 Irish Rail!
But a sight cheaper than flying and a lot safer than de bus!
But remember: it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive! Bon Voyage
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Unread 13-02-2010, 17:59   #4
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Time; well much same speeds as 1960 Irish Rail!
Slower than now?
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Unread 27-02-2010, 01:10   #5
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Rail in Albania is crazy, if you find a seat thats not broken keep it, use broken ones lying aroud to block holes in carraige, only 1 train a day to lake ohrid on Macedonia border and no trains from there to Skopje. 50 euros in a taxi, Theres a couple of trains daily from Belgrade to skopje including an overnight on that arrives in skopje around 9 altough it was quite late when I used it, this train goes thru to thessallonika so I assume it comes back that way, All trains are quiete cheap in Serbia and if you have railplus (I dont know if you can buy it in Ireland, comes with bahncard in germany and costs E15 in Holland) theres 25% off crossborder trains.
The line via Kosovo is closed and you cannot cross between Serbia and Kosovo anywhere. The Greeks arenīt big fans of Macedonia calling itself, well, aah, Macedoina so transport links arenīt as good as they could be.

Very good train service from Budapest to Bratislava and Vienna is only 45 minutes away, theres also plenty of trains from Prague
I dont think theres much in the line of crossborder trains between Armenia and Azerbijan, they still have some unfinished border business and I think the only train that far east in Turkey goes to Iran with a break to cross a lake. Coming from Russia via Georgia would probably also pose a problem due to some unpleasantness that occurred recently.

Plenty of ferries from Bari (where Santa Claus is buried) in Italy to Durres in Albania and its less then an hour on the train to Tirana which runs regularly, an experience that will make you look differently at 2900īs but one I highly recommend.

In General trains are very cheap in eastern Europe.

Direct regular express buses run from Toulouse to Andorra.

Anybody know wher I can find the fixture schedule as I wouldnīt mind going to Armenia meself?
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Unread 27-02-2010, 03:42   #6
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Anybody know wher I can find the fixture schedule as I wouldnīt mind going to Armenia meself?
They may be working on it at the moment, this was put up last week. http://www.fai.ie/index.php?option=c...22&It emid=31

Actually, its not here either: http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro2012/sta...958/index.html so I wonder if they have decided yet.
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Unread 02-03-2010, 03:25   #7
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Quote:
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All trains are quiete cheap in Serbia and if you have railplus (I dont know if you can buy it in Ireland, comes with bahncard in germany and costs E15 in Holland) theres 25% off crossborder trains.
The line via Kosovo is closed and you cannot cross between Serbia and Kosovo anywhere.
Can't buy railplus in Ireland afaik, however IE might be able to do something for you regarding passes and tickets. I don't recognise Kosovo's "independence", however it might be possible to go up to the border and see the place where their refugees were dumped into Macedonia in the conflict. Thought about going into Serbia from Sofia last time, as it's only 90 minutes away, but apparantly Serbia isn't that easy a country to get into, and there is also a time difference between it and Bulgaria, and I wouldn't have much time there anyway, so I didn't bother. There is another time difference between Greece and Macedonia, but there don't appear to be any bureaucratic problems going in and out.

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Anybody know where I can find the fixture schedule as I wouldnīt mind going to Armenia meself?
The fixture list won't be released for another 2 weeks. It should have been sorted out by now, but the Russians dug their heels in and demanded they hold the meeting. The first sign of their stubbornness in the group.
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Unread 25-03-2010, 15:13   #8
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Finally they have been released. The away trips are Armenia in September and Slovakia in October, followed by Macedonia, Russia and Andorra next year.

Whatever about Armenia, Slovakia is accessible from Vienna, Budapest, or Prague. However, the game there could be moved to Zilina in the North of the country, where Krakow is within reasonable reach.
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Unread 07-10-2010, 07:27   #9
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http://www.fai.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10131 1%3Afai-arrange-free-train-transport-for-supporters&Itemid=122
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Unread 18-11-2010, 04:45   #10
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Went on the Slovakian leg of our campaign, and everyone who did go, got their own experience of travelling by rail in the country.

I stayed in nearby Vienna for the duration of the trip, and my first journey was to go by rail from Vienna to Bratislava, to see if tickets could be sourced for the game next day, and also to see how to get from there to Wolfsthal if needed the night after. With no joy on the ticket front on Day 1, a taxi driver took me the 10 kilometres back over the border to Wolfsthal, which would be needed if I came back from the game on the FAI boozecruise. The border between Slovakia and Austria symbolised a war for 50 odd years, but as we went back into Austria, the border posts are now unmanned and permanently open, due to Schengen. Apart from Kittsee, Wolfsthal is the Eastern outpost of the Austrian rail network, 2 kilometres from the Slovak border. The station is tiny and remote, yet it would have facilitated the 80 minute journey back to Vienna at 4am if required the night after.

On gameday, I left Vienna for Bratislava at Stadlau station, a new stop on the Vienna Metro network. It's a 14 Euro journey, and tickets had to be checked by both countries rail ticket inspectors. Upon arrival in Bratislava, a fair few Irish were milling around the station, until an FAI official moved us on and asked us to sign up to their free train. With no guarantee of game tickets, I set off on the earlier, more direct 13:15 train from Bratislava to Zilina. Having paid the standard 9 Euro fare for the journey, I went off to board, where I was to fall foul of a non-English-speaking ticket inspector 3 times. Apparantly because there was just one stop until Zilina instead of every station as normal, there was a different fare which I wasn't aware of at the time. At the third time of asking, the issue was sorted at another 5 Euro expense.

Upon arrival in Zilina, the hunt for game tickets resumed in the team hotel nearby where extra tickets were found by Delaney and a raffle held to distribute them. When my name came out, that issue was finally sorted. Just over an hour later, the boozecruise arrived, and those on it, were met by a display of the full armour of the local cops, though thankfully they didn't lash out with them. After the game, headed back to the station to see if it would be possible to find a spot on the FAI return train, but despite waiting around for an hour, our only company in the station was the police, who came prepared again for every non-existent eventuality. Instead those of us not on the FAI train wanting to get back to Bratislava and beyond, had to wait until the regular normal fare 02:40 train back to Bratislava which was a sleepy 3 hour journey. With the Wolfsthal option now irrelevant, I got the next train back from the main station to Vienna at 6am and arrived back 90 minutes later.

Our next away qualifier is in Macedonia in June, a trip that presents another set of rail challenges, however it's done.
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Unread 20-02-2011, 01:38   #11
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Macedonia away in a few months. Latest access info:

Skopje can be accessed by bus from Sofia and Tirana. By rail from Belgrade and Pristina in Serbia. The Salonika option is closed, as OSE have shut their international lines in and out of Greece until further notice.
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Unread 18-03-2011, 22:06   #12
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Default [26/03/2011] Rep of Ireland Vs Macedonia KO 19:45hrs @ Aviva

http://railusers.ie/forum/showthread.php?t=13373
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Unread 23-03-2011, 19:27   #13
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Default Win tickets to Ireland v Macedonia

http://irishrail.ie/news_centre/news.asp?action=view&news_id=1034
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Win tickets to Ireland v Macedonia PLUS details of rail services by Marketing Department

European Championship Qualifier Rep of Ireland Vs Macedonia KO 19:45hrs Saturday 26th March 2011.

Take the train to the Rep of Ireland v Macedonia European Championship qualifier in the Aviva stadium on Sat 26th March.

Iarnrod Eireann are providing additional return services after the match for soccer supporters from Heuston Station to Galway (23.05hrs) and to Limerick and Cork (23.15hrs).

Early booking day return online fares from €30 out of Galway and Limerick and €40 from Cork are currently available on the Iarnrod Eireann website, www.irishrail.ie or through telesales at 1850 366222.


DART

Extra DART services will also operate before and after the match.

Please buy a return ticket before travelling.

Grand Canal Dock Station will be closed from start of match and until 90 minutes after match ends. No trains will call at Grand Canal Dock during this time.

No bicycles will be carried on DART / Commuter on this evening.


Competition

Fancy winning one of two pairs of tickets to Rep. of Ireland V Macedonia? Click here to enter our competition http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZVBKVJ8
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Unread 08-04-2011, 07:14   #14
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Heading out to Macedonia via Belgrade.

There is a direct raillink between the two cities, and unlike from Greece, it does operate. Did consider heading to Pristina in Serbia for going back, but didn't need it in the end. Skopje and Pristina are only 90 minutes apart, but due to border controls, is said to take longer, and the trains are apparantly very slow.

KO is 21:30 local time, so out of the oven-like heat, and also provides an opportunity to travel from Belgrade on the day of the game, as the train is scheduled to arrive at 17:00 local time, well in time for the game. Whether or not, I'll head in on the day or the one before is something I haven't decided yet, but overall, it's not too bad given the relatively limited rail options in the region.
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Unread 08-04-2011, 19:31   #15
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Did consider heading to Pristina in Serbia
Not, getting into the politics, but hasn't Ireland recognised Kosovo's independence?
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Unread 08-04-2011, 20:08   #16
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Not, getting into the politics, but hasn't Ireland recognised Kosovo's independence?
http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=42938
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Unread 09-04-2011, 07:30   #17
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Not, getting into the politics, but hasn't Ireland recognised Kosovo's independence?
It claims to, but I don't. Kosovo imo is another region of Serbia, and if you look to travel there, every time you type the main city of the area, it will come back as "Pristina, Serbia". The Serbian government also doesn't recognise it as independent.
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Unread 09-04-2011, 10:51   #18
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Another option to go via Sofia. There are 5 buses a day from Sofia Central Bus Station to Skopje, 7:00, 9:30, 16:00, 19:00, 24:00. Return ticket 58 BGL (30 euro). Journey time 4 Hrs.
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Unread 19-06-2011, 02:53   #19
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Skopje is now the last stop on the Belgrade-Salonika rail line, as access to/from Greece is still shut, and the Belgrade-Skopje service is scheduled to take 9 hours. So with an 8am departure on gameday from Belgrade's version of Heuston Station, it was time to head South for just 23 Euro.

Unlike what the Serbian Railways website advertises, 2nd Class was the only class available. The problems began as soon as I boarded. The train is split in half. One half to Skopje, the other half towards Sofia and eventually Istanbul. After going to the carriage on the platform indicated, I discover I'm in the Sofia carriage. The Skopje carriages were on the next platform. The Skopje side of the train leaves it's platform and shunts back to the indicated platform to meet up with the rest of the train. Now in the right carriage, the train leaves Belgrade at a snails pace 20 minutes late already. By the time we reach Rakovica, the first of many stops, we are 40 minutes late. The pace picks up after that, but stops for red signal lights often, and one of the crew at one point had to physically leave the cab and go to the phonebox at the side of the track to get clearance to continue.

The journey is only 440 kilometres, but the train can only drive at 80 kph maximum, there is no restaurant or functioning toilet on the train, so it's not TGV standard, and more delays continue until we reach Nis 6 hours in. We're 2 hours late arriving in Nis where many passengers alight, and the train is split into the 2 separate directions. As our carriage trundles down to Skopje, missing the game ko becomes more of a concern, but the scenery dramatically improves, with the stunning rises of the Balkan mountains on either side, as we go through Vranje and Bujanovac. If you're going to take a longer look at the beauty however, do it from the train carriage, as the area is one of the most unsafe areas of the Balkans with landmines and other ordnance rife.

The first of 2 passport checks are at Presevo in Serbia and Tabanovci, a rail station less than 100 yards inside Macedonia. The checks are more detailed in Macedonia, but after 15-20 minutes at both borders, we are sent on our way. Travel Insurance is mandatory while visiting Macedonia, but is requested by the authorities on an ad-hoc basis. I wasn't asked to produce mine. From there, it's a largely trouble-free hour ride into Skopje. The train had no further delays, so took 11 hours in total instead of 9, but thankfully not long enough to miss the game.

With the train arriving 2 hours late, the cab drivers were getting restless. But they don't wait for passengers, they come to see you on the platform, and I am immediately accosted by 4 different demanding drivers, all wanting to know where I'm going. With my accommodation quite far from the station, there's no option but to take one. I wasn't ripped off tbh, but it wasn't a comfortable experience in the station.

Within Macedonia itself, rail options are somewhat limited, and make Irish Rail look a wide and extensive network. For 4 hours in the morning, no train leaves Skopje station at all. So most people travel on buses. Despite being the capital city, Skopje is the Macedonian version of Limerick, so I tried to head down to Gostivar and Ohrid on other days, but the transport schedules didn't suit. Then again, the draw for the WC qualifiers is next month, and we usually get one team from the previous qualifiers, so who knows, we may have another trek to Macedonia in front of us soon.
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Unread 11-08-2011, 09:33   #20
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Scotland and Wales got sent to Serbia and Macedonia. We got sent to Austria, Germany, and Sweden instead. Sweden can be accessed via Norway and Denmark, while Austria and Germany have well-developed rail networks.

We got Kazachstan too, but I think I'll leave that to the more adventurous support.
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