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A A Trip Report - Germany, Czech Republic & Austria

A A Trip Report - Germany, Czech Republic & Austria

Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 02:44 AM
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A A Trip Report - Germany, Czech Republic & Austria

Trip Report Germany, Czech Republic & Austria.

Im a solo mature female traveler and have gleaned a lot of valuable information from this site. Thank you to all who answered my questions and to others who provided general information. To return the favor I want to share my experiences on my recent trip where I had a wonderful time. Ive been to Europe a number of times in the last 30 years both solo and with family, traveling by train and by car. I chose to travel by train as a car for one person doesnt make sense, especially in cities my main focus.

I traveled from August 20th to September 13th. Im not a foodie but I did take some restaurant recommendations from this site. Most of the time I just found a handy sidewalk café.

This was my first trip with carry on only and Im so glad I did. It made the train travel so much easier. I did have a soft second carry on that I used for the last days and checked my other bag for the flight home. It may not be for everyone, but it worked for me. Hotel info at the bottom. Ill be happy to answer any questions.

Berlin I went to visit family and Ive done the main tourist sites on previous trips. One different thing we did was to visit the Tag das offenen Turen (Day of the open doors). This is on a weekend where about 15 government agencies are open to the public. We visited the Kanzleramt (the office of the chancellor) and the Bendlerblock The Bundeswehr (German army) presentation. The Kanzleramt was just a walk through (we caught a military presentation outside first). At the Bendlerblock there were informational tents, the requisite tanks and helicopters, food and a band (I thought it was hysterical when they played a Frank Sinatra medley). We also got to tour the building where the army officers plotted to assassinate Hitler in 1944.

Dresden Its been about 12 years since I was in Dresden. Its a beautiful city and I will be coming back. I got the Dresden card and it was well worth it. I love just wandering the altstadt, the Zwinger is great with a different view every few steps I visited the art museum and the porcelain museum. I felt very drawn to the Furstenzug (porcelain tile procession of princes) and cut through there often. The Frauenkirche has been rebuilt since I was here and is amazing. I wasnt expecting it to be so light inside and the views from the cupola are fantastic.

If you are contemplating a visit to Dresden, definitely go to both the historical Green Vault and the new Green vault. Wow! Wow! Wow! Serious sensory overload. This was one of the absolute highlights of my entire trip. My only advice would to be to schedule them on different days if possible. I had to do them back to back and it was a little overwhelming.

I squeezed in day trips to both Schloss Pillnitz and Schloss Moritzburg. I did each on an afternoon on consecutive days with a boat trip back from Schloss Pillnitz.

Prague This was my first trip to Prague. I got the Prague card and it was well worth it. I absolutely loved the architecture of all the different periods. Office and apartment buildings had such interesting details. My favorite building was the Municipal House. Wow!

I enjoyed the main tourist sites the castle with St. Vitus cathedral, Starov Monastery, the Loreto, the Charles Bridge with the towers, the old town square, Mucha museum and many more.

My favorite concert was a string quartet that played extremely varied music everything from Bach and Vivaldi to Glen Miller and Scot Joplin. I ran across a folkloric festival by accident (it was behind the Estates Theater). Very energetic dancers from different regions, it ran for several days so each time I was in the area I checked to see who was there.

I did a day trip to Cesky Krumlov with Martin tours. For me, this was the best option to see the town. Its a long day but was very interesting. I loved the gardens they were something I wasnt expecting.

Ive heard so many great things about the city and Ive wanted to go to Prague for many years so I had very high expectations. Mostly the city lived up to them but I was bothered by one thing. The entire royal mile has been given over to tourists. There is a souvenir shop next to a garnet shop next to a marionette shop next to a money exchange next to a souvenir shop next to a crystal shop next to a garnet and amber shop, with a few restaurants in between. There is no reason for someone living in Prague to visit the area. Ive known other tourist areas like this, but Ive never seen it on such a large scale.

Vienna Ive been to Vienna before, but many years ago. I love this city with its beautiful architecture and lively population. Its a joy just to wander the pedestrian ways and the parks (and enjoy the occasional slice of torte or ice cream at a caf&eacute. They were setting up for a wine harvest festival by the Hofburg and a film festival was running by the Rathaus. The parks were used by the people in the neighborhood people on benches reading or jogging by.

I spent a full day at Schönbrunn palace. Even though Ive been there before it was well worth a visit. After touring the palace I spent a lot of time in the park. I did a horse and buggy ride and got the layout of what I wanted to see. I really enjoyed the Privy Garden and the Palm house. The biggest surprise was being able to walk behind the Neptune fountain to get some great views.

I toured museums, parts of the Hofburg and several churches. My favorite church is the Karlskirche. Since its undergoing renovation there is an elevator to get to the cupola and you get a fantastic view of the ceiling paintings.

One of my best experiences in Vienna was the concert by the Mozart orchestra at the Musikverein. The music was excellent and the hall is incredible.

I did a day trip with the train to Stift Melk, boat to Krems and train back to Vienna. The abbey is fantastic! I did the guided tour and we got to the church just as the noon service was about to begin. It was only 15 minutes long but it was nice to be able to participate in why the gorgeous church was built, not just be a tourist taking pictures. The boat ride was fine but I was not impressed with Krems. Most people were on tour buses that were right by the docks. It was a 15 minute walk to the train station (with no directions on where it was or how far I had to ask if I was going the right way several times).

Salzburg Ive been before so I just took my time and enjoyed the slower pace of the city. After touring the Festung and the Dom (where they were rehearsing for an evening concert) I went over to the Mirabell Gardens. Beautiful gardens with even better views of the city. It was nice to see that there was a play area below the dwarf garden area for children so they could have a place to run away from the formal gardens.

I did a half day trip to the Salzkammergut. Bus to St. Gilgan, boat on the Wolfgang See to St. Wolfgang and bus back to Salzburg. The only problem was the weather turned from slightly misty to rain. It was still nice, but boat trips in the rain are not especially fun. I would like to come back with more time for this region.

Mosel Valley I havent been to this area before. I stayed in Cochem, which I enjoyed and did day trips. The slower pace of the small town was a nice balance after the cities I had been to. I visited the Reichsburg and took a short boat trip. I will definitely revisit this area.

One day I took the train to Moselkern, a few small towns over to visit Burg Eltz. Dont believe the tourist information that the walk to the castle is an hour. Maybe someone else walks at that pace but I took about one and one half hours each way. This is one area where a car would have been nice the parking lot is not too far from the castle. At least the castle was worth the trip very impressive. Its great to see it isolated up above the stream without anything else around.

Another day I went to Trier. I loved the roman ruins. There is a huge difference in viewing the Porta Nigra from the outside very impressive and being able to wander through there and the Kaisertherm where the Romans walked so long ago. It was neat to see school field trips to the various sights. These kids get to really see the history its not a dry fact in a book but alive on their door step. I used the Hop On Hop Off bus and found it a practical way to get around.

Mainz My goal was to spend my last night close to the airport. I visited the Dom which had the local fruit and vegetable market around it and St Stephans to see the Chagall windows absolutely glorious.


Hotels

Berlin Stayed with family

Dresden Ibis Hotel Bastei (3 nights), near train station, great room, convenient location, 10 minute walk to altstadt. I didnt opt for their 10 euro breakfast buffet as there were many more reasonable options just outside the door.

Prague Charles Bridge B & B (5 nights), Mala Strana, basically 100 yards from Charles Bridge. Loved the location. I had a huge room with 3 beds and a full kitchen more than I needed. Its a bit odd that you have to go next door for breakfast and the staff, while trying to be helpful, did not seem to have a good handle on things. I was lucky to be able to find someone to check in (they were cleaning the stairs) as the outer door was normally locked and the reception door had instructions to call a number to get someone (I didnt take a phone with me so this could have been a problem).

Vienna Pension Suzanne (4 nights) many opinions here, both positive and negative. My stay was great, I loved the location, good breakfast, computer was available when I needed it and the staff was very helpful.

Salzburg Haus am Moos B & B (2 nights) many reviews here, nice but too isolated for me. Being there on a Sunday when the bus only ran every 30 minutes, I didnt run back to the hotel for a jacket when the weather changed and I had to leave by 7am to catch my train so I only had one breakfast. For me, a hotel near the train station would have made more sense.

Cochem Hotel Germania (4 nights) I picked this hotel because it has a bakery/cafe in it. Yum! Great location in the center of things and I sampled their tortes more than once. Good breakfast (even scrambled eggs and sausage).

Mainz Hotel Austria (1 night), near train station basic small hotel but a good room. I didnt have their breakfast as I took the train to the airport early.

Inge_On_The_Go is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 04:40 AM
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Thanks. Nice report with lots of useful information.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 05:27 PM
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I am a mature female considering taking my first solo trip to Germany and Austria. Your report was encouraging as well as informative.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 05:49 PM
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Glad to hear you had a wonderful time and thanks for writing. We loved Cochem last year and thought Burg Eltz was fantastic (we had a car, much easier).

Paul
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Old Oct 5th, 2008, 03:14 PM
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Thanks for the report. I'm off to Dresden next week and your comments were helpful.
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Old Oct 5th, 2008, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for your report. It sounds like a great trip! I was so happy to read that the Municipal House was your favorite in Prague! It's mine, too, and I always recommend it here. I can't tell you how much I love that building. To think that it fell into such disrepair during the Communist era almost brings me to tears now. Well, it did bring me to tears when I visited. You gotta cry once on every trip, right?
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Old Oct 5th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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thanks very much for your report!
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Old Oct 5th, 2008, 08:23 PM
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I enjoyed your report! We visited Prague and Vienna in 2006 and the Rhine Valley last summer. I loved each of these places. Agree with your lament about the touristy aspect of the shops in Prague. I enjoyed the city but never had the sense of being among locals going about their day-to-day life. I wondered if that was because the city developed as a tourist destination immediately after the fall of communism.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and impressions.
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