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-   -   Has anyone been on the Grand Circle Travel tour to Eastern Europe - (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/has-anyone-been-on-the-grand-circle-travel-tour-to-eastern-europe-419129/)

cheriegal Apr 5th, 2004 09:12 AM

Has anyone been on the Grand Circle Travel tour to Eastern Europe -
 
I'm looking for people that have been on the GCT tour to Eastern Europe - Prague , Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw and Vienna. We're leaving in less than a month for a 23 day tour and I'd love to hear from people who have done this tour. They offer several interesting excursions that I'd like to know more about and just general questions about the tour itself. We've never done a tour- always gone independently so I'd love to hear from anyone who has done this trip. Thanks

Deba Jul 27th, 2004 10:27 AM

We are going on the same GCT tour in September. How did yours go? Any information you can pass on about the tour in general and which of the optional tours were worth it?

jackandann Jul 28th, 2004 03:39 AM

We did not do that specific tour, but we did do a Danube River cruise with Grand Circle that included Vienna and Budapest, with a trip extension to Prague. Vienna is a beautiful city, with most of what you want to see in a very compact an walkable area. Prague and Budapest were fascinating, largely as a result of benign neglect during the Communist years. They have not undergone what we could consider urban renewal. The new city in Prague is from the 1400s, and the old city did not suffer too much damage from the war. One thing to watch out for in both Prague and Budapest is pickpockets. They largely seem to be displaced people from other Eastern European countries. Don't get paranoid about it, but use common sense. In none of these cities was being an English only speaker a major handicap, and all three have excellent public transportation systems. All also have plentiful ATMs, so getting local currency at the best exchange rates is not a problem. In Prague, do not bother with the Don Giovanni puppet show. It looks appealing but it was not worth the time or the money.

I can't comment directly on any of the hotels, as the boat was our hotel in Vienna, and we stayed at different hotels in Prague and Budapest, but we did hear from other travellers that the Don Giovanni was a nice hotel, but not in the most convenient location. During the longgg bus ride from Prague to Budapest, you'll be stopping for luch in Bratislava. This has a beautiful walled old city that I hope you have time to see.

We have taken three Grand Circle trips and have two more booked and another planned, once they set the dates. We have also travelled independently and with othertour operators, but Grand Circle is oour favorite. We have found that they take great interest in introducing you to the local culture and people. No subjects are taboo including religion and politics. Take advantage of the home hosted lunches. They give a you chance to meet the local people and they you. In some cases language becomes a challenge, but we have thoroughly enjoyed them everywhere we went. The local people were friendly throughout and one of the best parts of the trip. Please post your experiences, as we might want to take this trip in the future and it will help us relive our visits to these cities.

Ozarksbill Feb 19th, 2005 11:27 AM

Hey!

We depart May 27 also on GCT Best of Eastern Europe. Will take in most options and do Vienna extension. Being older, this is our 4th GCT although we have traveled other ways as well. Any advice and how about the optionals? Sure would like to see your reports from last year! Thanks for your comments, Jack & Ann...can you say more about location of Don Giovanni in Prague? I had the feeling it wasn't located as near center city as in the other tour locations. How about it cheriegal & Deba?

Bill in Missouri [email protected]

granny Feb 19th, 2005 12:08 PM

We're taking this tour with Grand Circle in late March. It will be our second tour with them. We usually extend it and go off on our own for several days.

We would really enjoy reading other peoples trip reports.

Cheriegal, did you take the side trips? How about interesting things you found on your own. Any restaurants you might suggests, since not all meals are included and we like that. When we were in China, every meal was included and did we get tired of the same menu. We like to eat were the locals do and scouting them out if part of the fun.

I'll try to write a trip report when we return.

I do appreciate all the help and information this website offers.

CAdreaming Feb 19th, 2005 04:39 PM

Hi fellow GCT lovers. Yes, I've been on this Eastern GCT trip -about a year and half ago and it was terrific - particularly the 8 days in Poland. Guide was great (very important) and and the hotels were just fine and even if your hotel isn't in 'perfect' location, it was always interesting to walk or ride subway in the various towns. They give out vouchers so you can choose which restaurants to dine in, so that was fun, too. We compared notes afterwards & had some laughs. The stop in Bratislava was a wonderful surprise as the hotel diningroom had a beautiful buffet and then it started to snow a little - what a memory. I've done other type trips but think the last few I've done with GCT have been unforgettable; such as Finland/Lapland/Fyords cruise (go in early May if possible) and their Turkey trip was fantastic even if I DID have my purse stolen (my own fault -sigh) Oh yes, their Canadian Maritimes tour was also amazing. Try it -you'll like it! Go NOW while you can. It's only money! If you don't travel 'first class' -your heirs WILL!
Nancy

maryanne1 Feb 19th, 2005 05:27 PM

I was on the Grand European tour,but visited Vienna,Salzburg, Prague and Budapest. It was an excellent tour as I learned so much about the Communist period I did not know much about.
We stayed at the Don Giovanni Hotel which is out of the central area,but there is a subway right near the hotel which makes it very easy to get to the main part of the city. I am sure your tour guide will show you exactly the location of it and give you some instructions about the stops. The Don Giovonni is a very nice hotel. I met some people there who were on a GCT.
I hope your tour will go through Cesky Krumlov which is an interesting Czech town. A good restaurant here was Konvic which served that delicious goulash.
Be sure and ride the funicular to the top of Petrin hill which from which you will have a beautiful view of
We enjoyed walking around Wenceles Square.
Sure you will see the usual sights of St. Vitus, Astrological Clock, walk across the Charles Bridge. We enjoyed a Czech folk Dance show in one of the hotels which was very good.
Prague.
An interesting side trip out of Prague is to the Nehosovic Musuem which is maintained by the Nehosovic family. Different room with different periods of history In this area is the home of Dvorak.
The Jewish cemetery and area I am sure will be included on your tour.
Some extra tours we did in Budapest were the cruise at night down the Danube. It is very beautiful with the bridges lighted and the parliament builing on the river. One of the most impressive experiences for me was going through the parliament building-definitely one of the most outstanding I have ever been in in any part of the world. There is a Jewish synagogue that has an impressive weeping willow tree outside with the names of those who died during the war.
An interesting experience was going to the spa in the old Gellet Hotel. Also the huge central market in an old train station near the hotel.
Grundels, a well known restaurant, serves delicious crepes.
We stayed in the Hilton-West End- which has a huge mall behind it which would make you think you are in the USA.
I have never seen escalator like the ones in these countries-such long steps-avery high climb.
Going across the borders into the Czech Republic and Hungary is quite interesting. Sometimes quite a long stop with the guards holding up the transportation. Our guide would offer them something like cokes, although they would have preferred liquor. This was 2 years ago so maybe by now it is a more relaxed situation.
Of the 3 places Vienna was the least interesting to me.
Prague and Budapest are so unique with such interesting and beautiful architecture, etc.
I wish our trip would have gone to Warsaw, but we went to Salzburg.
It really is a wonderful trip, and I am sure you will enjoy the places you are going. We usually travel independently,but for these countries I think a guided tour is much better. I always felt secure,but I think these countries are easier with someone to guide you.

Milliman Feb 22nd, 2005 05:13 PM

Don't bother booking with Grand Circle. They cancelled a planned trip and haven't refunded our $3000 for this trip after 1 month.

jackandann Feb 22nd, 2005 05:48 PM

Milliman,
Have you talked to them. We have travelled with them four times and have two more booked and paid for. At times we have been due refunds and they have been satisfactorily been paid. One thing that bothered us at first is that they cut refunds only once a month, but they have always cut them.


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