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First Time in Poland, Prague and Budapest

First Time in Poland, Prague and Budapest

Old May 26th, 2005, 05:07 PM
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First Time in Poland, Prague and Budapest

I'm planning a 3-week trip in October to Poland, Prague and Budapest. Prague and Budapest will probably be done with an escorted tour (4 days in each city) but I can't find any tours that cover Poland as extensively as I want to (from Gdansk to Zakopane) so I might do this part solo. I'd welcome any tips regarding tours in Poland; and basically just about anything a first-time traveller to this part should know. Second time in Europe but in France the first time. I speak English and French and I wonder, among other things, how much of the local language I should be prepared to speak/understand. Thanks to you all.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Would you mind saying why you will do an escorted tour of Prague and Budapest.
I haven't been to the latter, but Prague is easy to explore on one's own.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 06:52 PM
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Everyone has their own reasons for how they prefer to travel, but since you did add a "probably" in there...

Basically agree with elaine, except I haven't been to Prague and have been Budapest. Budapest too is dead easy to do on your own if you wanted to. I don't speak Hungarian but had no trouble and a great time. Very walkable city, the Metro is self-explanatory, tons of people (and the ATMs and metro ticket machines) speak English. Besides, a lot of the attractions have guided tours available on the spot. Recommend DK Eyewitness guide to Budapest.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 07:25 PM
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Well, as to why I was considering an escorted tour, I suppose I thought it would be easier to arrange for accommodations (safe part of town, central); and for travel between Prague and Budapest (I wasn't too keen about driving.) I am a woman in her late forties travelling alone and an escorted tour gave me a sense of security. I don't know how courageous I will feel, especially since I will want to enjoy the night life and certainly dinners in good restaurants but have some concerns about being out by myself after dark. And in October, I suppose it will get dark as it does here, at 4:30 PM or so. Being with an escorted tour, I thought I could join others for some evening activities (the tour includes a concert ticket), even daytime activities. As I said, I'm very new at this. I was also under the impression that a tour would be cheaper than doing it alone. Anyway, your thoughts are welcome. What I would really like to do is live with a family during that time, and get to experience the not-so-touristy things, as well.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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Well, I'd not want to talk you out of or into anything, just relate some experience as it was our first time as well. Your logic sounds reasonable enough to me.

Barring a homestay, if you find yourself needing an inexpensive, pleasant small hotel with a very nice staff and a great view, check out the Victoria at www.victoria.hu. They were so eager to provide recommendations and make arrangements, that we were almost sad that we already had plans.

By the way, we were there in late late Oct into November and I don't remember it being dark that early, but I could just be having a memory gap.

Enjoy your trip!


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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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There might be something about Prague's location vis a vis its time zone.
When I was there mid-last month, we commented that it was remaining light outside much later than it was at home (New York state).

I too don't want to talk you out of anything if you'd prefer to be in a group, and I hadn't realized that the alternative was for you to go on your own. If you'd rather not do that, that's fine. I haven't done it, but many people easily travel between Prague and Budapest by train.

My comment was just meant to convey that Prague is easy to get around in.
Most of the city center is relatively small and quite walkable, and I've used public transportation to go anywhere only a couple of times. There are many hotels and pensiones at all price ranges that are in central, safe, and active locations. If you were going to try traveling on your own, Prague is an easy place to get your feet wet. Language isn't a problem, almost everyone you will come into contact with in Prague speaks some, or a lot of, English.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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I meant to add, if you'd like to see my file on Prague, email me at
[email protected]
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Old May 27th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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We've never been to Poland, but did have a wonderful trip to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, which we planned on our own. I can certainly understand your hesitance at solo travel, but many Fodorite women travel alone safely and enjoy their trips immensely. We flew into Prague and out of Budapest, and used trains in between cities. We stayed at the Hotel Victoria in Budapest and Clifton is absolutely right about the staff. It is a terrific hotel, both from the standpoint of location and just about everthing else!

I have a page of websites for both cities, as well as some other info. Please e-mail me if you would like any or all of it.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Hi, I was on Poland with two friends in 2001. We were on our own and we're in our 30s. Depending on where you go in Poland, it can be very easy language-wise. Krakow is beautiful and one of my favorite places. It is very easy to get around with just English (our party spoke both English and German, but we used English more). Warsaw was a bit more difficult - but only in the train station becaause we were leaving on All Souls Day (Nov. 1st) which is a major holiday in Poland and many things are closed (such as tourist info in Warsaw's trainstation) But navigating the historic discticts in both Warsaw and Karkow were very easy - and wonderful. The only time we hired a guide was to get to Aushwitz - which recommend. It was a draining trip but very worth it. We also stayed in the Jewish quater of Krakow, which was lovely and safe.

We then took a night train to Prague, where we stayed for about a week which was also fun, but really I liked Krakow more.

Have a wonderful trip, Poland is amazing!
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Old May 27th, 2005, 01:34 PM
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Thank you everyone for this information. It is very useful to me. As time goes by, I will have more precise questions but an overview is helpful. Picapica, I'd like to know more about your trip to Poland (what you recommend, tips for first-timers) since the information on Poland seems rarer. Many thanks again.
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Old Jun 11th, 2005, 01:43 PM
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In Krakow/Budapest (about the same longitude) the sunrise in May was about 4:30 AM, about a good hour earlier than here in Michigan on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone.
I suppose that in October the difference is less, but not the longitude.
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Old Jun 11th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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If you need to book an escorted tour for a trip to Missouri then you need to book an escorted tour to go to Poland.

In the major cities I recommend an introductory city tour on your first day. I only did that in Budapest and it was certainly worthwhile. Then go on your own with a good guidebook.

I've driven all over Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary with one word in my vocabulary, pivo, and can't imagine why anyone would need to be on an escourted tour.

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Old Jun 11th, 2005, 03:26 PM
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Prague and Budapest have good tourist infrastrucutres and English is widely spoken (we found exactly nowhere you couldn't just speak english - including the man at a waffle stand - delicious). (He was elderly and since I heard him speak in German to the previous customer I was trying to use my feeble German - asking for eerdbeeren (sp?) on my waffle - and he said - oh - strawberries.) You should have no problems on your own.

Unfortunately (or fortunately if you're looking for more authenticity) Poland has not yet developed such a strong infrastructure and English is not too widely spoken outside of major hotels/rourist restaurants - you will do best with younger people - under 30 or so.
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Old Jun 11th, 2005, 04:09 PM
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You should contact Urszula at www.affordablepoland.com
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