I want to travel by train from Bulgaria to Amsterdam.
I have travelled on Bulgarian Sleepers before and it rightfully holds first place in my rank of terrible trips (hate to think what it would have been like had I not booked 1st class). I did this trip when I travelled from Istanbul to Sofia, and would only recommend it if you want to know what hell is like.
I have heard going the other way - North West, is a different story, and perhaps you even have a non-Bulgarian train. A Bulgarian friend has given me a rough estimate on cost, leaving from either Sofia or Ruse, but has not advised on the quality of the 1st class sleeper.
Has anyone travelled on this route, if so, what's the recommendations? Are there any english web sites and/or contacts to describe the details?
Any help would be much appreciated. All of these TGV online rail booking pages are great, but they fail when your including Eastern Europe.
I wouldn't expect much. If you want to travel by train from Bulgaria to anywhere it's going to be zombie-riffic until you cross the former iron curtain. Trains in all the former bloc countries tend to be the same quality, use the same kinds of sleeper/couchette carriages etc (in fact, I think nearly all of Europe use the same sleeper/couchette carriages). If you go via Ruse you might have a Romanian or Hungarian train instead, it's not much different. If you're going via Serbia then it's a Bulgarian train. To be honest, when I took the sleeper from Belgrade to Sofia we slept so well that we were woken up by an angry cleaning lady shouting at us that the train had already been standing in Sofia station for an hour. It was luxury, especially compared to the bumpy non-reclining seat ride we had to Varna the next day. But then I probably have lower expectations than you do.
As for websites, see if RailEurope answer your questions, and if not then you could try contacting the Bulgarian railway company and ask them: http://bdz.creato.biz/en/contacts
Thanks for the info. I think it might be better if we take the car. I don't want to risk another sleeper with unwashed BO smelling sheets.