Eastern Europe itinerary

Oct 15th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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Eastern Europe itinerary

I'm planning a late May trip to parts of eastern europe and looking for some early advice. I have a rough idea of the ground I want to cover and the order, but I haven't decided the overall length of the trip yet - thereis some leeway in the amount of time I can be gone. Here is what I'm thinking, and I'd love some early input on order or other suggestions. I anticipate 2-3 days at the major destinations and possibly overnights at some of the others. I've been to Vienna previously, which is why I gave it a pass this time.

Prague w/ possible trips to Karlovy Vary & Cesky Krumlov
Night train to Krakow
Krakow w/ day trip to Auschwitz
Night train to Bratislava
Bratislava and ??
Night train to Budapest
Budapest and ?? [Pecs?]
Eventually end in Bucharest but I'm not sure how to connect Budapest and Bucharest

Any suggestions on cities or sites that I can use to connect these places would be greatly appreciated. I plan to fly into Prague and out of Bucahrest. I enjoy history and am looking forward to seeing this part of the world as most of my travels in Europe have been through western european countries. Honestly, Romania's main draw for me is the dracula stories [sorry, I know that's a little cliche but it's not JUST a "true blood" thing] and I haven't done any research on what else Romania has to offer, so any suggestions for the latter half would be greatly appreciated. I also have a few night trains in the trip and I'm not a huge fan so if there are places that would be a good day stop to break the journey, please mention them as I would much prefer to break up the longer treks than take a night train. I also typically use public transportation, no car rentals - too intimidated to learn how to navigate in europe as I'm also a solo traveler. Thank you in advance for your input!
sjk1976 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Any suggestions on cities or sites that I can use to connect these places would be greatly appreciated>

For loads of great train info in those countries I always spotlight these info-laden sites: www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com - for train schedule the German Railways web site is the easiest I have seen for schedules for trains all over Europe - www.bahn.de.
You are traveling enough by train to investigate the Eastern Europe Railpass - valid in all the countries except the portion from Hungarian border to Bucharest - and that is a cheap train ride you'd buy regular ticket from Hungarian border to Bucharest. The pass covers night trains for the basic rail fare but not the optional extra sleeping accommodations like a couchette or singles or doubles or triples in the Sleeping Car. I would highly encourage first class travel in these countries as well - much more leisurely than second class - lots more empty seats - more easy to stow luggage, wider seats - etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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Bratislava is not that far from Budapest -- it's about 3 hours by hovercraft down the Danube, so it's really about 2 hours by train. No need to overnight. I don't know that you need more than a night in Bratislava because it's a very small town. Add time to Prague or Budapest or Krakow.

Romania was a communist hellhole with two of the worst of the commie dictators running the country into the ground for the first 4.5 decades after WWII, and Bucharest bears many of the scars of that. When you go to Hungary, you'll learn why the Hungarians like Romanians about as much as they like Russians (not much at all). The country itself has interesting mountain regions and great castles (including Vlad the Impaler's old manse). Physically Romania is larger than you may think -- larger than Czech Republic or Hungary.

Where are you coming from? The US is my guess, but if it's convenient to connect through O'Hare, you can get a straight shot from there to Krakow, then go south to Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, and east into Transylvania and to Bucharest. Any flight from Bucharest likely will have to connect through a European hub to a US hub to your hometown (unless you're near a US hub with good Europe connections like ORD, JFK, LAX).
BigRuss is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 01:29 PM
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> I anticipate 2-3 days at the major destinations

You might want to consider a bit longer in Prague and Budapest.
kja is offline  
Oct 16th, 2010, 05:11 AM
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Here are some suggestions for the last part (Hungary to Romania) focusing mainly on popular Dracula-related sites :

a) Fly from Budapest to Targu Mures in Transylvania with the low cost airline Wizzair (flight takes one hour and costs about $20 if booked with some time in advance), then catch a bus from Targu Mures to Sighisoara (takes less than one hour, costs ~$4, some schedules available here: http://www.autogari.ro/Transport/Tar...15840-406.aspx ).

b) Visit Sighisoara, a well preserved small medieval town which is the alleged birth place of Vlad the Impaler/Dracula, then catch a train to Brasov (about two hour away, tickets start from $5, timetables available on http://www.cfr.ro/calatori/ or the above mentioned bahn.de).
one day

c) Visit Brasov's old quarter (another interesting medieval area), then go by bus to Bran (30-40 minutes away) to see the so-called Dracula's castle. Between Brasov and Bran you can stop in Rasnov to visit the local fortress.
about two days.

d) Finally get back to Brasov and catch a train to Bucharest (about four hours travel time, tickets from $7). On your way you can stop in Sinaia (a mountain resort one hour south of Brasov) to see the former royal palace Peles.

If you're starting from Pecs instead of Budapest, catch a bus to Szeged then another bus across the border to Arad in Romania and go by train from Arad to Sighisoara.

Other parts of Romania you might like to visit are the northern regions Maramures and Bucovina, famous for their rural lifestyle and landmarks (wooden churches in Maramures, ancient monasteries in Bucovina), the spectacular southern part of the Carpathian mountain range or the Danube Delta (unspoiled wetlands near the Black Sea with abundant wildlife, small fisherman's villages, deserted beaches etc.).
flat4 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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thank you PalenQ for the sites. I use a couple of them pretty frequently but the budgettravel was new to me.

BigRuss - coming from NYC, so ORD would be the opposite direction

flat4 - thank you for the suggestions! This was exactly what I was looking for. Now I have a starting point for some research.
sjk1976 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 08:17 AM
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Krakow also offers a sweet day trip to the nearby Wieliczka Salt Mines, a UNESCO World Heritage site - we took a train there but buses go to - just a few miles south of Krakow

Hard-hatted salt miners gave the tour that wound thru lots of impressive salt rooms hewn out by miners and with salt chandeliers, salt furnishings - everything out of salt.

anyway in case it was not on your radar

Wieliczka Salt Mine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine continuously produced table ...

Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow | Ancient salt mine in Poland
Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow is a world-class attraction listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 05:14 PM
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I've been to Prague twice and I recommend 4 to 5 days in Prague, and at least 3 days in Krakow.
Kwoo is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 11:12 AM
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Kwoo - did you spend the whole 4-5 days in Prague or do some day trips - myself five whole days in Prague would be about two too many unless day tripping.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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To each his/her own and the pace one likes to travel. I would also recommend 4-5 days in Prague (considering the day trips) and 3 (maybe 4) days in Krakow (considering the Auschwitz day trip). Five days in Prague alone would not be too many for me.
Jean is online now  
Oct 20th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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We did spend the whole 4 - 5 days in Prague. We allowed some time for shopping & we love just walking around because it is such a beautiful city. We also went to Vyshrehrad (sp?)on both trips. We love that area, with the church & national cemetery. I'm not sure if Vyshrehrad is on everyone's radar.

After we saw Prague, we rented a car on our second visit & went to Cesky Krumlove, Telc, Karlovey Vary & the Bone Church (can't remember the name, off hand). I agree with Jean: "to each his/her own pace of travel."

It's also important to take into account jet lag.
Kwoo is offline  
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