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2 Wks in Eastern Europe (Hungary,Slovakia,Austria,Czech Republic,Poland)

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Mar 26th, 2012, 02:13 PM
  #1
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2 Wks in Eastern Europe (Hungary,Slovakia,Austria,Czech Republic,Poland)

Hi,

I'll be taking my first solo-backpacking trip in May. I'll be flying into Budapest and out of Krakow. I plan on traveling around by train. Here is my perspective itinerary (I have 16 days total, days that overlap in two cities will mean a 1/2 day of travel and a 1/2 day in one of the cities... I'm not sure which way this will go in each case. Also, I have already been to Prague which so I intentionally left it out):

Travel from USA to Budapest: Day 1
Budapest, Hungary: Days 1-4
Bratislava, Slovakia: Days 4-6
Vienna, Austria: Days 6-8
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic: Days 8-10
Olomouc, Czech Republic: Days 10-12
Krakow, Poland (Including Auschwitz): Days 12-15
Travel from Krakow to USA: Day 16

My questions are:
- Is this too much traveling (i.e. should I take out a city in order to spend more time in the others)?
- I'm mostly interested in urban space/design, architecture, and history. I love history museums. I can appreciate art but I wouldn't say its my priority. What attractions in these cities are a must for someone like me?
- Is there anywhere en route I missed that maybe would be very interesting to me?
- What train pass should I buy?
- What are the best guide books for these countries/cities?

Thanks!
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Mar 26th, 2012, 02:47 PM
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I always use the Fodor's guidebooks, or Lonely Planet. In Cesky Krumlov, I highly recommend a tour of the castle. In Krakow, I recommend the Weiliczka salt mines, a tour of the Wawel castle & cathedral, St. Mary's church (Trumpeter of Krakow fame), and just wandering around old town & Kazimerz.

I'm not an expert and I haven't been to all the cities on your itinerary, but it does seem like you are trying to see too much. You do waste a lot of time checking in & out of hotels, traveling from place to place, etc. Maybe eliminate Bratislava from your itinerary?
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Mar 26th, 2012, 06:06 PM
  #3
kja
 
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You've selected some wonderful destinations, but I also think you are trying to fit in too much. Assume that you will lose at least 1/2 day each time you move. And consider shifting some days around - Budapest and Vienna, for example, normally warrant more than 2 or 3 days; whereas Cesky Krumlov (from what I hear) can be visited in a day or at most 2.

> What are the best guide books for these countries/cities?

Different guidebooks serve different purposes. I encourage you to stop in a library or bookstore to get a better sense of what they provide and how they suit your needs. In addition to Fodor's, I always use Rough Guides (similar to Lonely Planet in coverage, but I like the RG maps better).

Enjoy!
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Mar 27th, 2012, 02:35 AM
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Where is Prague?

If you are a fan of architecture and history you must come to Prague. Bratislava is not a must see..I would drop it. Concentrate on Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Krakow. Do daytrips to the other destinations in CZ.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 02:36 AM
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Oops... for guidebooks, I adore the DK series. I am a sucker for pretty pictures.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 06:49 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the advice everyone!

I think maybe I will nix Bratislava, especially since I realized after writing this that my flight won't land until Day 2. I'll add the time to Vienna and Budapest.

Also, I forgot to ask this question in the original post: I'd like to try to attend a classical music or opera performance in one of these cities. Does anyone have advice as to which city/ensemble/venue? Price is somewhat of a concern, although I'm willing to not be completely stingy in order to have a good experience.

Thanks!
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Mar 27th, 2012, 06:13 PM
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As I was reading your itinerary I was going to recommend that you drop Bratislava and add the time to Vienna or Budapest, but I see you have already come to that conclusion. If you really want to see Bratislava, you could do it as a day trip from Vienna. Take the train or a bus in the morning, walk around the old town area, have lunch, and make your way back the same day. Just depends on how badly you want to see Bratislava, or if you feel the time would be better spent in Vienna. No right or wrong answer, just a matter of personal preference.

I do, however, think it would be a mistake to go to Central Europe and not go to Prague. Some people love it, many think it's ho-hum, but IMO it is definitely worth a look for a few days. Cesky Krumlov is lovely, but I wouldn't bypass Prague to go there. Or again, you could base yourself in Prague, and do a day trip to Cesky Krumlov.

I have not been to Olomouc, but it seems a bit much for a day trip from Prague, about 3 hours by train and just under 4 hours by bus. You could do it on your way to Krakow, staying overnight though. http://www.myczechrepublic.com/olomo...ing-there.html

As for classical music or opera, the only one I can speak about is Prague. Definitely worth it if you are an opera buff. State Opera House is a beautiful building. http://www.bohemiaticket.cz/WBS/ang/
http://www.czechopera.cz/index.php?s...-2012&x=35&y=9

I would love to see an opera in Vienna, though. Maybe a knowledgeable Fodorite will chime in with info. In the meantime, see this link: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attract...se-Vienna.html
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Mar 28th, 2012, 01:22 PM
  #8
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Thanks!

I have already been to Prague once for a long weekend while living in western Europe a few years ago so I intentionally left it off. I actually saw The Barber of Seville at the State Opera House while there and I agree, it is a beautiful building!

Thanks for the recommendation of the Vienna State Opera house! I will probably try to see an Opera there (and possibly take a tour of the building as well).
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Mar 29th, 2012, 08:08 PM
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As a history buff, you might like to visit the Ethnography Museum across the street and 45 degrees to the left, as you face away from the Parliament Building. Full of remnants and apparel from 17-18th century Austria-Hungary. Amazing the intricate clothing peasants could put together!
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