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Trip Report 21 days through Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Budapest

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So, this is as far east into Central Europe that we ventured into...21 days across Berlin-Dresden-Prague-Budapest!

Enjoyed Berlin thoroughly even though not a "pretty" city, loved the size and sights of Dresden, was a bit underwhelmed by Prague (ossuary at Kutna Hora included) and pleasantly surprised with Budapest. The heat didn't help ( prefer eat over rain, any day) but was boosted by loads of ice cream and gallons of beer - it all made for a memorable holiday.

Berlin highlights
Gemaldegallerie was lovely, Neferetiti at Neues Museum was stunning, we ogled at the gigantic structures in the Pergamon. Simply loved all the musea we did. And, also our day trip to Potsdam was much appreciated despite the heat, especially when it ended atbthe Movenpick restaurant. The Jewish Memorial was an intense afternoon well-spent what with answering my 7- year old's intuitive but probing questions. Had pre-booked the Bundestag tour and we really enjoyed it, having been to Westminster last year. The tour of the dome was quite literally the icing on the cake! I recommend all the musea we went to! Also stuck gum at the Berlin Wall off Potsdamer Platz and walked around tracing the wall.

We did walk a fair bit of walking to the sighs staying off Wilhemstrasse in an apartment. The location was great ( bus 200 stop and all) but the apartment was not. Could very easily imagine being picked up by Gestapo at night!

Foodwise, ate a satisfying meal of schnitzel at the Merado outlet on Unter den Linden, tried Sony Centre's many restaurants to start off our day. Another place we really liked was " Home of a 100 biers" off Potsdamer Platz. Special mention for the Turkish cuisine which we sought out at the Turkish quarter (Haseer is overrated and my husband found the hole-in-the-wall types per some food blog much better, including the one on the way to Charlottenburg Palace). Also had a hearty meal at a popular Indian restaurant called Mirchi in the turkish quarter. Followed Fodor 's and visited a biergarten off the zoo too.

Dresden
Train to Dresden. Dresden looked pretty and manageable on foot. I know its all been rebuilt not too long ago but it was charming. Stayed at the Park Inn Radisson in the new town - got a great deal for a family room which was essentially a suite with breakfast through booking.com. Again had our fill of the musea there and really loved the Historiche Green Vaults which I had pre-booked. As my 12 year old said, if these are the treasures left after wars and much looting and loss, one can only imagine the original grandeur! Truly. We really enjoyed walking around the old town. Our much discussed boat ride to Meissen never happened - the morning we had intended it for was completely booked. I was really dejected. We instead went to Pillnitz and drowned our sorrows in beer and ice cream. My dear husband thought that the only reason for the trip to Meissen was for its pottery and tried to buy me some in Dresden. It didn't quite help! The boat ride was picturesque along the Elbe admittedly up it wasn't my ride to Meissen! Evening we went to the IHT and Fodor's recommended restaurant called Watzke Ball and Brauhaus on the river. Great meal with the largest ever curryworst ever seen!

Prague
Took the train from Dresden - as it turned out, ours was the only coach where the air conditioning had failed and despite the pretty scenery we were quite unhappy. And heartened when we reached Prague of red tiled roofs and cobbled pathways. We stayed at a large and comfortable apartment in Stare Mesto very close to Narodni. Great location and though a bit noisy.

Prague, in my mind, is a tourist trap, a delightful one but a tourist trap. Very crowded, pricey compared to Berlin and Dresden where we found service and quality both excellent. Prague was quite hot so walking around was not as much fun. Of course, we did all things touristy from the astronomical clock, the tyn church (which we could see from our window), St. Nicolas churches including a church concert which we enjoyed very much, Prague Castle, highlight being the cathedral, Petrin Hill including the Mirror Maze and Kampa a la MI! Also did the Charles Bridge early morning and late night - it was unwalkable later in the day! Found both Dresden and Prague magical in the evening with the lights on as were the views from the Prague Castle. Eateries worth a mention were the Marina Grosseto looking out to the Castle, uVedvojudu pub where we watched the Wimbledon finals. We searched and searched and finally found the Fodors-recommended vegetarian Lehka Llavah and ate a meal under a starry cave roof! Beer wise, Master beer won the vote followed by Staropramen. We also went to the brewery tour followed by a generous lunch there - the tour though very good technologically didn't include a visit to the actual brewery. Did a day trip to KH - enjoyed St. Barbara's Cathedral with kids traipsing in the gardens but unfortunately had no takers for the ossuary. It wasnt appealing to me either. I have to admit that in hindsight, should have skipped it. The train ride was pretty, past sunflower fields. Oh, and the food was excellent in KH. Shopping, of course bought some acclaimed crystal limited only by what one can carry!

Budapest
Took the very comfortable night sleeper train, Metropol 177, to Budapest bought upon arrival at Prague. Budapest didn't start out too well - we got conned by the taxi - what should have cost us HUF2500 cost us 4500! Again was lucky with the apartment location right on Karoly Utca and 5 minutes to Deak Terr and to Vaci Utca. Was quite impressed with Budapest which is surprisingly a large city with a real magnificent parliament building, Opera House, St. Stephen 's Church and broad boulevards . Plus, it wasnt completely overrun by tourists. We did a HOHO to get our bearings and were very glad we did. I really liked the Castle area and could get on and off without having to get a taxi again. We spent a couple of hours at the Szechenyi baths - reminded me of the movie, Cocoon - brimming over with oldies but a lot of fun actually and a fair number of young ones. Kids loved the permanent circus opposite as did we. Though have to admit that I did not watch the tigers perform. The highlight in Budapest was the evening cruise on the Danube. It was beautiful. We also went by boat to Szentendre which wasnt as picturesque as the Elbe cruise but hey, we were on the blue Danube. Ate lunch at a strange place though the food was pretty good called Rab Raby, wandered around a few churches and returned to Budapest by train. Notable eateries in Budapest were Gundel near the zoo, ate some delicious pike perch. Found a small but real VFM place off Karoly Utca called Bob's Pizzas where pizzas were good as was the friendly service, Gerloczy near where we stayed, Duna Corsa near the pier where my little girl danced with her Dad for the first time to a live band. We also squeezed in a visit to a ruin pub just to see what it's all about. We however didn't do any musea here as my kids had museum fatigue by then! I would have liked to visit the terror museum and also the communist era statue park but we didn't have time or energy left!

All in all, it was a great trip. We found people generally gracious and helpful, the exception being the cabbies at the Kereti. I found the Fodors and print outs from these forums very handy and most times spot on, whether it was that tram 22 to Prague Castle, 100/200 in Berlin and the group day tickets. So, thank you!

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