Central Europe Takeover

Aug 14th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Join Date: May 2014
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Central Europe Takeover

Hi, so my fiance and I are looking at possible itinerary's for a two week honeymoon this winter. We are very inexperienced and I personally have never went to Europe. That said, this is the itinerary we had in mind:

* Fly into Brussels and go straight to Bruges, (stay one night)
* Take public transportation to Ghent (1 night)
* Train to Prague (3 nights)
* Train to Salzburg (2 nights)
* Train to Vienna (3 nights)
* Train to Ljubljana (3 nights)
* Fly back to Washington DC

We like a mix of outdoor activities along with relaxed settings like visiting Christmas markets.

Does this sound like a good itinerary, or at least doable itinerary that isn't too fast paced, but also not slow and boring? We're a young couple so we would like a mix

The forums help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
itainteasy is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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Gent to Prague is a long long train ride - consider taking an overnight train or break up your journey say in Munich - all of you train rides are fairly long - factor in one day of travel between each stop. If taking all those trains look into a Eurailpass of some type - if over 25 it is automatically first class and that has definite benefits as my decades of incessant rail travel in Europe have shown to me - In all those countries you can just show up at the station and hop any train anytime with very few exceptions

fully flexible travel like that can cost a fortune.

Great sources for info on European trains: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free and superb IMO European Planning & Rail Guide for a great primer on European trains.

For schedules to plan go to www.bahn.de/en - the German Railways web site with schedules for trains all over Europe.

again Gent to Prague is a long haul - consider breaking that up or taking an overnight train there.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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I meant to add, instead of Bruges, we might do Cologne instead. Thanks again.
itainteasy is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 01:53 PM
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This is what your schedule will look like.

Day 1 – arrive Brussels, take train to Bruges (1/2 day)
Day 2 – Ghent (1 day)
Day 3 – Train to Prague (11 hours)
Day 4 – Prague (1 day)
Day 5 - Prague
Day 6 – Prague to Salzburg (6.25 hours)
Day 7 - Salzburg
Day 8 – Train to Vienna (3/4 day)
Day 9 – 10 – Vienna (2 days)
Day 11 – Train to Ljubljana (6 hours)
Day 12 – 13 – Ljubljana

It's a lot of moving around and little time in any place.

I don’t see any night trains from Ghent to Prague. The trains have from 3 to 8 changes. Cologne to Prague is easier - 7.5 to 8.5 hours.

If you do decide to visit Bruges and Ghent then stay 2 nights in one of them and take the train to the other for a day.
adrienne is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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When exactly are you traveling? You speak of both winter and Christmas markets, but winter in Europe really does begin on Dec 21 and ends March 21, and Christmas markets tend to be over by Jan 6 by the very latest.

If you will be traveling during the Christmas/New Year's holiday period you need to be certain that the where you are spending the holidays is someplace where the attractions that you want to enjoy aren't closed. Also bear in mind that you will be encountering peak congestion in airports and train stations, and you will need more time to negotiate them because of lines, etc.

Daylight hours will be extremely short between the middle of December and January -- so if outdoor activities is high on your agenda, you need to consider how many hours of daylight you have to enjoy the destination that way.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 03:09 PM
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I would definitely do fewer places - and , based on your exact dates, might adjust them. Be aware the weather can easily be colder than DC with more snow. and the daylight hours will be shorter since you are further north (it doesn't seem like it, but it is: New York is on a line with Madrid or Rome).
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 06:23 AM
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there is no direct night train from Brussels or Gent but there is one to Prague from nearby Cologne - take the Thalys trains via Brussels to Cologne and hook up with the night train that puts you in Prague the next am about 9am.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 06:26 AM
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Thank you all for your replies and recommendations. Gives me a lot of things to consider. So based on what I've read, it seems that Bruge/Ghent-Prague is too long of a trip to consider given our other destinations. So just as a little background, we are thinking of December 12-December 27 and are now looking at this itinerary instead:

December 13-17 - Prague
Dec 18 – Prague to Vienna(5.5 hours Night train)
Dec 18-21- Vienna
Dec 21 – Night Train to Salzburg
Dec 21-22 – Salzburg
Dec 23 – Train to Ljubljana (6 hours)
Dec 23-26 – Ljubljana
Dec 26: Fly out

That should allow us to both attend to the Christmas Markets as well as pursue outdoor activities in Salzburg and Ljubljana and surrounding areas right? Is this reasonable? I appreciate again all of your help. Thanks.
itainteasy is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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<< Dec 18 – Prague to Vienna(5.5 hours Night train) >>

I don't see a 5.5 hour night train. There is a night train that takes almost 7 hours, departing 23:45 and arriving 6:34.

<< Dec 21 – Night Train to Salzburg >>

There is no night train from Vienna to Salzburg as these two cities are only 2.5 to 3 hours from each other by train. Unless you want to leave at 11 minutes after midnight and arrive 3:26am.

Where are you getting this night train information?

The train from Salzburg to Ljubljana takes 4.5 hours, not 6 hours with no changes.

Are you making up this train information or getting it from a reliable source?
adrienne is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 08:39 AM
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I used this to determine the Prague-Vienna trip: http://www.raileurope-world.com/trai.../prague-vienna
itainteasy is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Do you have thoughts on which railway to use to travel between these countries?
itainteasy is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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1. Don't use RailEurope as they do not list all trains. Do not buy from them as they are overpriced.

2. From your link you used next week's schedule. The schedule I used was in December as that is when you are going. As of now, the schedule only shows up to December 11 so I used that date for reference.

3. Sites to use:

For schedules and duration use the German site (because it' the easiest to check) but you cannot book on that site as your trip does not include Germany.

German site:

Czech site - if you have problems just try again or buy at the station when in Prague. Czech trains are very inexpensive.


Austrian site:
adrienne is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:44 AM
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P.S. Please look at the sites Pal gave you. They are very reliable. Seat61 is a comprehensive site with lots of information on European trains and includes photos. After spending just a few minutes on these sites you won't have to wonder how and where to buy tickets.
adrienne is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:51 AM
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All that being said, your revised itinerary looks doable except for the night train thing. Vienna and Salzburg are quite close. Adrienne's suggestion of booking the trains when you get there is a good one--book your train to Vienna upon arrival in Prague, etc.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 06:28 AM
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Thank you Adrienne and everyone else who responded. Great Advice! I'll look into those websites.
itainteasy is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 07:00 AM
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Czech Rail is pretty inexpensive for travels within the Czech Republic.
On international relations, the fare goes up to comparable levels with the neighboring countries.
Means: An unrestricted ticket you buy same day at the station in Prague may not break your bank, but will be much more expensive than the "First Minute Europe" discount fares you get in advance via the link which adrienne provided. These discount tickets can sell out if you wait too long - but right now December is still too far away to book them.

From Vienna to Salzburg, you can also use the Austrian Rail's competitor westbahn.
Their trains need a few minutes longer than the "Railjets" of Austrian Rail (ÖBB) - but westbahn has the advantage that they have a reasonable same day travel fare of 23.90 euro for Vienna to Salzburg.
You don't even have to buy those tickets in advance. Just hop on the next westbahn train and get them without a surcharge from the conductor.

In general: When checking connections on the railway companies' websites, it can be necessary to use the local spelling, i.e. Wien instead of Vienna, or Praha instead of Prague. Most websites "understand" also the English translations of those place names. But you will need to know the local spelling of your destinations anyway if only to find your trains in the stations and to understand the timetables.
Cowboy1968 is online now  
Aug 17th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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Thanks cowboy for explaining Austria's Westbahn trains and their always cheap as possible walk up fares! No having to book far in advance to get limited in number discounts on Austrian Railways' trains.

I do wonder if Westbahn trains sell out or like many can folks get on even if there are no seats?
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 17th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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Pal, the Westbahn trains do not sell out. It's like any regional trains for which you cannot reserve seats even if you wanted. A friend of mine from Vienna who uses the Westbahn more often than me tells me that the trains are rarely crowded. Most tourists either need the faster international trains to go from, say Munich to Vienna or to Budapest or are unaware of that option as many still think that railways are just the big one national rational companies in our countries.
Cowboy1968 is online now  
Aug 17th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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caboy - thanks a lot for taking time to answer!
PalenQ is offline  
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