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Just back from Macedonia/Czech Rep./Hungary & Vienna

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Just back from a month in the above mentioned countries. Specific cities visited include Vienna, Skopje, Ohrid, Budapest, Szentendre, Pecs, Villany, Prague and Brno. I'd be happy to answer any questions people might have. [that I have answrs for :)!]

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    I'm not sure I got my address right, damn stupid computer wont tell me my own address. Anyway, I was just wondering if you could help, I'm planning a trip to the Balkans this Sep. and was wondering how cheap it is travel on Eastern European trains. I've done a rough estimate from guide books, and figure only about £70 (c.$115) for round trip from Prague to Istanbul, taking in Hungary Austria (where you come in). Any help appreciated (if you can get through!). Cheers. RJT.

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    I am going to spend 2 months in Berlin on a german language scholarship and like to visit Prague(other Czech cities) and Vienna after the class.
    can you tell me what kind of rail tickets you bought for your trip? I am considering buying different rail passes but not very sure which one.

    I am an architect so I am interested in buildings. I have never been to Czech before. Any places you recommended there?

    Thanks.

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    Would love to heard what you did in Vienna. I will be traveling for a couple of days in mid-October. Did you visit the Spanish Riding School? The Opera House (Staatsoper)? Thanks!

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    First my apologies for a slow response. We've had house guests! I will respond in order...

    Richard: Unfortunately there hasn't been a coherent railpass for the area you wish to explore. There was a quick 'blurb' in the Sunday NYTimes about the Balkan Felxipass covering 1st class train travel in Bulagria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. The length varied from 5-15 days. The price from US$152 to $317. I'm not sure what is available in Czech Rep./Hungary/Austria. The new balkan pass may be useful as train ticket prices can vary from country to country. The only leg of the trip I know the price for is Budapest/Skopje. 2nd class purchased in Macedonia is about US$120. Second class travel is fine in Czech Rep./Hungary/Austria especially on EC or IC trains. South of there, I would recommend going 1st class. Most of my train trips were for shorter legs, but my sense is that your guidebook estimate is on the low side.
    Mem: Where to start.... Any guidebook [I like Frommers among the standard ones... sorry Fodors...] will list the ten top attractions. We 'marched' through the list for Budapest last summer and weren't disappointed. So let me just mention a couple of things.
    Prague: The Jewish Museum of Prague. A very powerful and culturally rich experience. St. Nikolas of Mala Strana. If you like baroque churches... well... this is BAROQUE!!!!!! A little restaurant called Zlata Ulicka [golden lane], on Masa Street near Old Town Square. It is Yugoslav... not more than a luncheonette, but quirkily fun! Budapest: The one don't miss is the historical exhibit on the 1st floor of The Hungarian National Museum. You don't need Hungarian to understand the ebb and flow of Hungarian fortunes... There is also the crown of St. Stephen there. On 'castle hill' either Ruzwurm for a traditional coffee/pastry experience or Cafe Miro for a trendier outing. Don't miss Mathias Church. Vienna.... harder to choose... If you can see the opera at the Statsoper go. You will do best getting tickets in advance.. I used the box-office a few days ahead and tickets were available, but not great seats. I think you can book from the states... and if you are at a first class hotel they have "ways" of getting seats. Be warned.. EVERYTHING in Vienna is EXPENSIVE!!!!! Two don't misses: Schonbrun Palace and Hundertwasser House.

    ED: No I didn't visit the battlefield... I recommend a new restaurant there "The Three Arrows

    heman: Please see my comments to Richard above. I'm not sure there are rail passes that cover all the ground you wish to. If they are single journeys with a simple return regular tickets will probably be what you want. Second class in the countries you mention is fine. You might post more generally on railpasses to this list. I think anything you might buy in the states isn't activated until you start using it. Train travel is not horrendously expensive either, so if you aren't sure of your plans you my wait and see what's available over there. Oh. If you have a sgerman student id I bet train travel is reduced in cost. I know it works that way in Czech Rep. and Hungary.
    Date: 6/27/1998 11:50 pm

    Message: I am going to spend 2 months in Berlin on a german language scholarship
    and like to visit Prague(other Czech cities) and Vienna after the class.
    can you tell me what kind of rail tickets you bought for your trip? I am considering
    buying different rail passes but not very sure which one.
    As for architecture... Prague is a veritable storehouse of Hapsburg baroque... It is pretty well restored and maintained... I imagine there are special architecture tours [I have a faint memory of seeing a flyer for one...] that you can find once you get there... You might try emailing the architecture departments at the universty [I believe Charles] in Prague. Vienna is, of course Hapsburg heaven! The modern architecture is less felicitous. [The Finacial Ministery building is a case in point.] If I find any more information I will get back to you, but your colloeagues in Germany should be or more help than I can be.

    I am an architect so I am interested in buildings. I have never been to Czech
    before. Any places you recommended there?

    Thanks.



    Author: Beth (demita_r@msn.com)
    Date: 6/29/1998 7:30 pm

    Message: Would love to heard what you did in Vienna. I will be traveling for a
    couple of days in mid-October. Did you visit the Spanish Riding School? The
    Opera House (Staatsoper)? Thanks!

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    Sorry beth :) Obviously I forgot to answer your question... [and you see how I remeber what people say:)]I think I stated some Viennese info in the answers to the others... If you have any specific questions please email me.

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    Okay... here's the cleaned up version!!! I think I need more coffee:)

    Message: First my apologies for a slow response. We've had house guests! I will respond in order...

    Richard: Unfortunately there hasn't been a coherent railpass for the area you wish to explore. There was a quick 'blurb' in the Sunday NYTimes about the Balkan Flexipass covering 1st class train travel in Bulagria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. The length varied from 5-15 days. The price from US$152 to $317. I'm not sure what is available in Czech Rep./Hungary/Austria. The new balkan pass may be useful as train ticket prices can vary from country to country. The only leg of the trip I know the price for is Budapest/Skopje. 2nd class roundtrip purchased in Macedonia is about US$120. Second
    class travel is fine in Czech Rep./Hungary/Austria especially on EC or IC trains. South of there, I would recommend going 1st class. Most of my train trips were for shorter legs, but my sense is that your guidebook estimate is on the low side.
    Mem: Where to start.... Any guidebook [I like Frommers among the standard ones... sorry Fodors...] will list the ten top attractions. We 'marched' through the list for Budapest last summer and weren't disappointed. So let me just mention a
    couple of things. Prague: The Jewish Museum of Prague. A very powerful and culturally rich experience. St. Nikolas of Mala Strana. If you like baroque churches... well... this is BAROQUE!!!!!! A little restaurant called Zlata Ulicka [golden lane], on Masa Street near Old Town Square. It is Yugoslav... not more than a luncheonette, but quirkily fun! Budapest: The one don't miss is the historical exhibit on the 1st floor of the Hungarian National Museum. You don't need Hungarian to understand the ebb and flow of Hungarian fortunes... There is also the crown of St. Stephen there. On 'castle hill' either Ruzwurm for a traditional coffee/pastry experience or Cafe Miro
    for a trendier outing. Don't miss Mathias Church. Vienna.... harder to choose... If you can see the opera at the Staatsoper go. You will do best getting tickets in advance.. I used the box-office a few days ahead and tickets were available, but not great seats. I think you can book from the states... and if you are at a first class hotel they have "ways" of getting seats. Be warned.. EVERYTHING in Vienna is EXPENSIVE!!!!! Two don't misses: Schonbrun Palace and Hundertwasser House.

    ED: No I didn't visit the battlefield... I recommend a new restaurant there "The Three Arrows

    heman: Please see my comments to Richard above. I'm not sure there are rail passes that cover all the ground you wish to. If they are single journeys with a simple return regular tickets will probably be what you want. Second class in the countries you mention is fine. You might post more generally on railpasses to this list. I think anything you might buy in the states isn't activated until you start using it. Train travel is not horrendously expensive either, so if you aren't sure of your plans you might wait and see what's available over there. Oh. If you have a german student id I bet train travel is reduced in cost. I know it works that way in Czech Rep. and Hungary.
    As for architecture... Prague is a veritable storehouse of Hapsburg baroque... It is pretty well restored and maintained... I imagine there are special architecture tours [I have a faint memory of seeing a flyer for one...] that you can find once you get there... You might try emailing the architecture departments at the university [I believe Charles] in Prague. Vienna is, of course Hapsburg heaven! The modern architecture is less felicitous. [The Financial Ministery building is a case in point.] If I find any more information I will get back to you, but your colleagues in Germany
    should be more help than I can be.

    beth: I stated some Viennese info in the answers to the others... If you have any specific questions please email me.

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