Logistics

Dobre došli! (Welcome!)

On this page you will find the logistics information you need to prepare for your trip to Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria for The 2016 Teach For All Global Conference in October. Most logistics information will be provided on these pages, but some personalized information  (e.g. your assigned hotel and  transportation details) will be sent via email as it’s confirmed. Please look out for emails from the Conference Support Team as the event approaches, read through this page and the FAQ section, and email us if you have further questions.

Information on this website will be provided in two stages:

  1. Booking: Currently, you will find the information you need to arrange your travel and register for the event in the sections below. This includes travel booking guidance, visa guidance, health & safety information, and other frequently asked questions.
  2. Your Trip: In early October, registered attendees will see a “Your Trip” page appear when logged in. On that page you’ll find details about ground transportation, venues, dress code, packing tips, and more.

Travel

Introduction to our venue and location

This year, we’ll be hosting the conference at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) Blagoevgrad campus. Blagoevgrad, a 1.5 hour drive from Sofia, is a smaller town than our “typical” Global Conference location so we will be reimagining the conference experience by staying in multiple hotels throughout the area and keeping everyone connected to the venues and each other via a conference shuttle bus.

Travel Guidance

Before registering for the conference, you will need to book your travel to and from Blagoevgrad. It is your responsibility to book your flight or train to Sofia, and from there Teach For All will provide transportation to Blagoevgrad for those who need it.

The guidelines below indicate what day you should arrive in Bulgaria, and when you should depart based on the conference schedule. We have listed these dates according to the different attendee types. If you have any questions about which attendee category you fall into please contact us.

The conference officially begins the morning of Tuesday 25th October. Hotel accommodations will be available from the evening of Monday 24th October. If you are attending a school visit, we will provide accommodation from Sunday October 23rd. If you are opting into any other optional activities, you will be responsible for your accommodation on October 23rd. We will provide meals beginning on Tuesday morning.

Optional Activities

On Monday, we will offer a set of optional activities or you may choose to use the time to rest and adjust to the local time zone. These activities involve local tours of Blagoevgrad, a trip to the Rila Monastery (estimated cost is $10-20USD per person), and community visits to Teach For Bulgaria schools.

This year, we are taking a different approach to community engagement at the conference and will not be having the "traditional" school visits as part of the three days of programming. Instead, we are offering to arrange an additional hotel night for anyone who would like to arrive early on Sunday 23rd October and spend a full day in the community on Monday. This additional night will not be available for those not attending the school visits. Please indicate your commitment to attend in your registration form.

Arrival and Departure Guidelines

*As you evaluate flight options, please consider that travel time between Blagoevgrad and Sofia airport is about 1.5 hours. We will provide transportation for everyone who is arriving within the below date guidelines, including for late night arrivals.*

Attendee Type Arrival Date Departure Date
Board Members, Speakers, and  Guests of the Network Monday October 24th, 2016
The Global Conference will begin on the morning of Tuesday 25th October in Blagoevgrad. If possible, we recommend that you arrive in Sofia on Monday 24th October.
If you plan to attend school visits please arrive Sunday 23rd October.
Thursday October 27th, 2016
We invite you to stay with us through the closing of the conference on Thursday at 5:30 pm. We recommend you book flights departing no earlier than 9:30 pm.
Partner CEOs Friday October 21st, 2016
Please arrive in Sofia any time on Friday the 21st. The CEO Retreat will be held from the morning of Saturday 22nd October through mid-day Monday 24th October.
The NAC meeting will take place on Monday afternoon.
Friday October 28th, 2016
The Global Conference will end with a closing dinner on Thursday 27th October. Please plan to depart anytime on Friday 28th.
Partner Staff, Teach For All Staff, and Alumni Monday October 24th, 2016
The Global Conference will begin on the morning of Tuesday 25th October in Blagoevgrad. Please arrive in Sofia on Monday 24th October.
If you plan to attend school visits please arrive Sunday 23rd October
Friday October 28th, 2016
The Global Conference will end with a closing dinner on Thursday 27th October. Please plan to depart anytime on Friday 28th.
Early Stage Entrepreneurs Monday October 24th, 2016
Early Stage Entrepreneurs will have a meeting on Monday 24th October at 6pm. Please plan to arrive in Sofia by 3pm at the latest.
If you plan to attend school visits please arrive Sunday 23rd October.
Friday October 28th, 2016
The Global Conference will end with a closing dinner on Thursday 27th October. Please plan to depart anytime on Friday 28th.
Teach For Bulgaria Guests and Community Partners Wednesday October 26th, 2016
We invite you to join us for a day of sessions from 8 am to 5 pm on Wednesday 26th October in Blagoevgrad. More details will be sent via email.

 

For your convenience, we have our travel agents at Key Travel available to help book your flights, which you will need to pay for via credit card payment. If you’d like to use this service please visit this page. To submit a quote request, select The 2016 Teach For All Global Conference from the drop down menu and an agent will be in touch with you.

Where applicable, Teach For All will be arranging transportation from Sofia Airport to our conference hotels.

Registration

Registration for the Global Conference will be open from 25th May to 25th July, 2016.

In order to register for this event, you’ll need to check your email to access your personalized registration invitation. Invitations will be sent to all confirmed attendees on May 25th. If you have not received one and feel that you should have, contact us.

Before Registering

Before clicking through to your personalized registration link, please purchase your flights using the travel guidelines above. 

Registration forms with invalid flight information will not be honored. Valid flight information must be entered into the system in order to complete your registration.

After Registering

Once your registration form is complete and has been submitted, you should receive a confirmation email with next steps. Please be sure to read this email carefully as it may require action on your part to complete your registration.

Teach For All will follow up with more detailed logistics information closer to the event date using the email address you provide upon registration.

Registration process

If you already have a Partner Learning Portal account you will need your login information for your registration. If you don’t have an account yet, you can create one by clicking on your registration link. Please make note of the username and password you choose—all of the information you need to attend the Global Conference will be hosted on this website, and you will need your login credentials to access the detailed agenda, logistics information, and attendance list from your computer, tablet, or mobile device.

After you have created your account, an email will be sent to you asking you to confirm your account. Please do so right away, as you may otherwise have problems logging back in again.

Visas

Please make sure to check here if you are in need of a visa! If you have a Schengen visa that is valid for your entire stay in Bulgaria, you do not need to apply for a visa for Bulgaria.

If you need a visa to Bulgaria, please start your application as soon as possible and reach out to the conference support team IMMEDIATELY so that we can prepare any necessary supporting documentation as described below.

The information below is only for entry into Bulgaria. If you are transiting through a third country, you need to check with the embassy/consulate of that country whether or not you need a transit visa. For example, visas to Bulgaria do not apply for the whole of Schengen (the visa-free zone within the European Union). So if you touch down in Frankfurt, you may need a separate transit visa for Germany.

Visa information and consulates/embassies

You can find information about Bulgarian visas as well as the contact details of their foreign embassies and consulates on the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Visa type and requirements

Please apply for a visa type C (Planned Stay visa).

You will need a number of documents to support your visa application; they are described in detail in this document on pages 2-3. Please make sure you read it carefully so you can arrange for that (including for the necessary travel insurance that Teach For All does not provide). Please make sure you reach out to your consulate or embassy to verify which additional documents you need.

Invitation Declaration

If you need to apply for a visa, you will need an invitation declaration which needs approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria. The Ministry will send approved names to the individual consulates and embassies.

This takes time, so please send the following information to the Conference Support Team to request an invitation letter.

  • Full name (as written in your passport):
  • Nationality:
  • Date of birth:
  • Place of birth:
  • Passport number:
  • Date of issuance:
  • Date of expiry:

We would advise you to plan out the visa process carefully beginning immediately, especially because all visa applications need to be submitted in person so that biometrical data can be collected. We recommend that you:

  • Find the closest embassy/consulate for you
  • Collect all the documents you need and fill out the application form
  • Inquire with the embassy/consulate in advance how long it takes to receive a visa appointment so you can manage that process
  • Inquire with the embassy/consulate about the process of application, especially whether you need to apply in person
  • You may need to travel (even internationally) to the nearest embassy/consulate, so please make sure that you have cross checked this with any other travel dates you have on your calendar.

If you need to apply for a visa, your passport/travel document must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Valid for more than 3 months after the day of the planned departure from Bulgaria
  • Contains at least 2 blank pages for visa purposes
  • Has been issued within the last 10 years

Health & Safety

Your health and safety during the conference is important to us.

Please take a moment to review this document from International SOS, our partner for health and safety issues and brief information specifically about travel to Bulgaria. Please also make sure to have medical and/or travel insurance as you would have for travel to any other destination. We will not be providing additional insurance for this event.

Transportation During the Conference: For all excursions outside of the hotel during the conference, including airport transfers, transport to the conference sites, community visits, and restaurant dinners, Teach For All will provide safe and secure coach transportation and/or walking instructions. Attendees will never be expected to travel anywhere alone. Teach For All staff will be on the ground at all times and contactable by phone 24 hours a day throughout the conference.

The conference organizers are in regular communication with the ISOS team. Any crucial changes in our Safety and Security advice before the conference will be communicated to all attendees.

FAQs

If I’m invited to the CEO retreat, will I be able to attend community visits?

The CEO retreat programming will include direct involvement with Teach For Bulgaria communities and schools so rest assured that you will spend time in schools. The closing of the retreat will conflict with the optional community visits being offered to other attendees so you will not see this option in your registration survey.

When should I arrive in and depart from Bulgaria?

Please visit the Travel Guidance section for detailed information about arrival and departure times.

How will I pay for things in Bulgaria?

The official currency is the Bulgarian lev (BGN; plural leva). Bulgaria is primarily cash-based, which means that although credit cards are accepted by large hotels and more upmarket restaurants, you should bring or plan to withdraw sufficient cash and expect to pay for most goods and services in cash. You can exchange money at banks or official bureaux de change, but please avoid black-market money changers. Banks may refuse damaged or torn notes. ATMs connected to the MasterCard/Cirrus network are widely available in Sofia and the Black Sea coastal resorts, and can increasingly be found elsewhere, particularly in banks and at petrol stations.

What hotels will we be staying in?

Your individual hotel assignment will be emailed to you in early October. Teach For All will be making arrangements for participants in the following hotels:

 

 

Hotel Address
Orbita Hotel (A) Благоевград, след парк Бачиново; Blagoevgrad 2700
Hotel Park Bachinovo (B) Mestnost Bachinovo; 2700 Blagoevgrad
University Center Bachinovo (C) University Center Bachinovo, Blagoevgrad
Hotel Kristo (D) "Varosha" quarter; Blagoevgrad 2700
Monte Cristo Hotel (E) Ivan Rilski str., №1; Blagoevgrad 2700
Hotel Corona (Crown) (F) 2700 ул. "Никола Вапцаров" 16; Blagoevgrad
Hotel Cardinal (G) 5 Jeims Baucher; Blagoevgrad 2700
Hotel Ezeretz (I) Blvd. "Peyo Yavorov" No.2; Blagoevrag
Hotel City (J) ul. "Doyran" 28, 2700 Blagoevgrad

Can I extend my stay after the conference?

If you would like to extend your stay in Blagoevgrad please reach out directly to the Conference Support Team. We will note your request and send you your assigned hotel as it becomes available. Given the complexities involved in arranging a rooming list across 8 hotels, hotel assignments may not be available until early October. If you’d like to extend your stay before then we recommend calling and booking with any of our hotels listed in the previous question. You may need to change hotels but will be guaranteed a room of your choice.

Should I bring my family to the conference?

We understand that many parents or spouses may be interested in bringing their family to the conference in Bulgaria. While we do believe that experiencing the beauty and culture of Bulgaria is a wonderful opportunity for any family, we are currently not able to host children and families as participants in the conference. If you ultimately decide it is the right decision to bring your family with you, please do let us know at conferencesupport@teachforall.org.

I am nursing, can arrangements be made to accommodate me?

If you are nursing and are therefore bringing your child and a caregiver, please note in the registration survey that you would like to request a single room for medical/religious reasons. Please make a note in the comments at the end of the survey that you are nursing, and let us know any other specific requirements (for example a crib, refrigerator,  etc.) that can help us to make your stay more comfortable. We will also arrange for nursing rooms at the conference location.

I have special dietary requirements. What should I do?

In the registration survey there is a question regarding your dietary requirements. Please be as specific as you can and we will make sure to accommodate your needs throughout the conference.

I have specific requirements because of a medical condition, to practice my faith, or for other reasons. Who do I contact?

At the end of the registration survey we ask if there is anything else we can do for you to make sure you have the best learning environment possible. It is immensely helpful for us if you note your requirements there, as we want to ensure that you get the most out of this event and that we can support you in every possible way. Please also contact the Conference Support Team if you have any further questions or need to give us any specific information and know that we will keep this confidential.

How do I get around in Bulgaria?

During the conference

We will arrange group travel to and from all major locations and events during the Global Conference, including airport transfers, travel to dinners, and from the hotel to the conference center.

 

Before and after the conference

DRIVING

First-time visitors should be very cautious when driving in Bulgaria. Driving is generally more hazardous than in Western European countries, particularly after dark. Driving standards vary, and so does road infrastructure, which can be poor in many areas. Motorists often drive aggressively. Those intending to drive should be aware that road signs can be rare and erratic. Signs on major highways and in Sofia are in both the Cyrillic and Roman alphabets, but elsewhere are often only in Cyrillic.

Visitors who opt to drive should keep proper documentation with them in the vehicle at all times. A valid international vehicle insurance (green card) is recommended. Theoretically EU insurance is valid and interchangeable, thereby making green cards technically redundant for those with EU insurance but please check carefully with your insurance company. Foreigners may drive in Bulgaria using their national driving licence for 90 days, after which an international driving permit is required. A vignette (highway permit) is required to drive in Bulgaria; it can be easily bought at border points, post offices and petrol stations. Traffic drives on the right. The police may charge on-the-spot fines for any traffic violations.

Drivers are legally obliged to have their lights on at all times—day and night—all year round. Non-compliance may lead to a fine.Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers

BY TAXI

Foreign visitors should use only official yellow taxis that are equipped with meters. Taxis can be flagged down on streets and have a green light on when available. Tariffs can vary and are generally listed on the vehicle window. 'OK Supertrans' are the only officially licensed taxi service able to operate at Sofia International Airport and these can be booked in the arrivals hall. Travellers should not leave their luggage unattended in the vehicle and should keep their valuables and identification paperwork with them while travelling.

BY TRAIN

Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) is the main operator of the rail network. Most cities are accessible by rail and the express services linking Sofia with cities such as Plovdiv and Varna are reliable. However, other rail travel is uncomfortable and slow, and theft is a growing problem on trains, particularly at night. When travelling by train, visitors should consider booking an entire sleeping cabin and lock the compartment door. Trains are often busy and must be booked in advance.

BY OTHER MEANS

There is a relatively good network of long-distance bus lines throughout the country. The bus stations (including Sofia) are usually located near the central train stations. Established companies such as Bodimet or Etap-Grup operate comfortable buses.