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TAD1 Dec 10th, 2005 06:39 AM

Eastern Europe Itinery - feedback please
This is a early-stage rough draft of an Eastern Europe itinery. We will be travelling for about 5 weeks, mid June through the end of July 2006 . We have Australian passports. Any feedback welcome!

From Istanbul, train to:
Sofia 3 nights
Belgrade 3 nights
Budapest 3 nights
Car rental from Budapest to:
Vienna 3 nights
Prague 3 nights
Warsaw 2 nights
Krakow 2 nights
Bratislava 2 nights
return car back to Budapest
Train to Varna (5 nights travelling - where to stay on the way?)
Varna 3 nights
Istanbul (by bus?)3 nights

This seems like a lot of stops, but the distances are mostly not far and we are used to this kind of trip. Anywhere that we MUST spend more time, or anywhere that we MUST stop on the way - or anywhere that we should avoid? It doesn't have to be capital cities, we're just using them for a guide at this point.

Your comments will be appreciated,

Thanks, Terry

Andrew Dec 10th, 2005 09:04 AM

The conventional wisdom says Warsaw is kind of dreary but Krakow is amazing (to be fair, I have not been to either place), so you might look into that a little more and perhaps skip Warsaw and put one extra night in Krakow, another somewhere else. Remember, if you want to see Auschwitz from Krakow, even with your car, you'll probably eat 1/2 of your short time in Krakow on that alone.

On a trip last fall, I did 4 nights in Prague (including arrival), 2 in Vienna, and 3 in Budapest and that was about right for me. I loved Prague and appreciated Vienna and Budapest without falling in love with them. On future trips, I would definitely return to Prague, maybe Budapest, probably not Vienna unless there was some special event to take me back.


tower Dec 10th, 2005 11:30 AM

Hi Terry: Sofia is a lovely city, bursting into the 21st century. Be sure to take a day trip to the Rila Monastery and/or to the picturesque village of Melnick. Highly suggest the Maria Louisa Hotel, boutiquey and charming, in the center of the city.

Suggest you drop Belgrade for the much more colorful and interesting Zagreb (Croatia) or Ljubljana (Slovenia), with good train connections to your next destination, Budapest (8 hrs., daily).

Renting a car in Budapest (worth three nights) and heading for Vienna (why not stop in Bratislava for no more than one day en route..makes more sense to seeing it later, logistically speaking). In Vienna, among the usual tourist attractions, be sure to see the Hundertwasser buildings..amazing architecture....reasonable hotel would be the Pension Pertschy smack in the center of the city...highly recommended by many on this board, and a place we've returned to a few times.
The ride to Prague is about three hours, look at map and stop in Telc(h) for it's beautiful square. Prague has become extremely crowded in be prepared for long waits everywhere.Try to visit UNESCO heritage town Czesky Krumlov en route from Telc to Prague..a bit out of the way, but well worth the visit and an overnight.
Prague to Warsaw (OK)...Warsaw is a fascinating, totally rebuilt city...but 2 nights is enough, then drive to Krakow for three nights, taking in Auschwitz (30 miles)...then head into the outstanding High Tatra mountains of Slovakia en route back to Budapest...also a stop in Szentendre, about a half hour north of Budapest would be worth it..artsy town, on the Danube.
Train to Varna will be a long ride...just visited Varna for the third time last month...the Odessos Hotel near the beautiful Sea Gardens, close to the beach is a good, reasonable spot...visits to the Black Sea Beaches to the north can be taken in on local bus trips...and a fantastic Bulgarian song and dance folk show at the Old Oak ("Stari Dub")Restaurant in Albena...about half hour north on the beach..ridiculously reasonable...even Aussie dollars go a long way in Bulgaria! Stop in at ONNO's ultra mod cafe, around the corner from the Odessos hotel...superb food.Also on that pedestraian walkway is a large MacDonalds with a gigantic sign in

Cyrillic (photo op, for sure).
Any further questions, or for photos,contact me at any time. [email protected]

Stu T.

julies Dec 10th, 2005 04:23 PM

Well we've been to Vienna, Krakow (2 times), Prague & Budapest (2 times). Vienna was our least favorite. I agree with the suggestion to include some smaller towns in your itinerary. There are some fabulous small towns on the Danube outside of Vienna and Cesky Krumlov is very interesting. My concern is that you are going to be spending all your time driving.
Two summers ago we drove from Germany into southern Poland/northern Czech Republic and up to Krakow with a stopover in Zakopane. Then from there we headed back into Germany near Dresden. Driving in Poland was very slow as there are no autobahn type roads as you will find in the more westernized countries. Try viamichelin for driving times.

TAD1 Dec 11th, 2005 01:20 AM

Thank you all so much for some very useful information. I'm sure I'll be back again with more questions when we've firmed up our plans.

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