Help regarding Central Europe itinerary

Old Mar 14th, 2019, 06:46 AM
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Help regarding Central Europe itinerary

Hi again. I'm a fast paced travel photographer for those that don't know me. In September 2019 I'll be taking my annual photo trip in Europe. The 2018 trip was mostly through Germany, Alpine country, and surrounding areas by car. (trip report to come) This time I'll be photographing cities only and traveling exclusively by train (or bus if it makes sense). 11 days 3 countries. I have flights booked into Berlin and out of Budapest. These are the places I plan on covering:

Berlin (100%)
Dresden (100%)
Prague (100%)
Vienna (50% maybe)
Budapest (100%)

So far I have a skeleton itinerary that looks something like this:

Day 1. Flight from US
Day 2. Arrive Berlin
Day 3. Berlin
Day 4. Berlin
Day 5. train to Prague
Day 6. Prague
Day 7. Prague
Day 8. train to Budapest
Day 9. Budapest
Day 10. Budapest
Day 11. Flight home

So my questions:
- Where to insert Dresden and maybe Vienna? I'm not interested in staying in either city and would prefer to cover the highlights in a full day + travel time.
- I read somewhere that it may actually be better to visit Dresden while in Prague as opposed to Berlin. Another website suggested Dresden as a stopover en route to Prague. Which is better?
- Are there any legs in which a bus would be more advantageous than train? (saving money is not a priority)
- Thoughts on a sleeper train possibly to Budapest?

Vienna is the one city I may eliminate completely for a variety of reasons such as foul weather, travel logistics, or unforeseen issues, etc. My biggest priority is minimizing travel time and that's why I'm here. I also want to remind you that I won't be on vacation so no museums, palace tours, or things like that. While I definitely appreciate the advice I'll receive, subtracting cities or adding days is not something I'm looking for help with. Thank you!

Last edited by tailsock; Mar 14th, 2019 at 06:49 AM.
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 07:38 AM
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Do not discount Vienna in September.That month is grape harvest season, with nearby Gumpoldskirchen hosting its Genussmeile (a mile of wandering the vineyards while eating and drinking along the way). Vienna itself will celebrate Erntedank (harvest thanks) in the middle of the month with, naturally, eating and drinking at a festival; and will open (more of) the vineyards to wanderers and tipplers on the last weekend of the month with the Wien Weinwandertage. In our now seven years here, only once has the Wien Weinwandertage been rainy; and last autumn, the Genussmeile just shifted a week to get around the weather.



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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 08:43 AM
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book trains early at www.bahn.com/en - for fares involving Germany and www.trainlineeurope.com for others or thru their national rail - this site matches lowest prices and easier to use. www.seat61.com has sage advice on booking own train tickets - general info also BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com/

Dresden would go between Berlin and Prague - could throw bags in locker and do a half-day look =could end in Vienna a day and for more flights probably than from Budapest.
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 11:11 AM
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Insert Dresden between Berlin and Prague and Vienna between Prague and Budapest. Dresden deserves a full day, 2 nights, unless you arrive from Berlin by noon to visit the city for half a day and then spend another half day the next morning before going on to Prague. Vienna deserves as much time as either Prague or Budapest.
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Insert Dresden between Berlin and Prague and Vienna between Prague and Budapest. Dresden deserves a full day, 2 nights, unless you arrive from Berlin by noon to visit the city for half a day and then spend another half day the next morning before going on to Prague. Vienna deserves as much time as either Prague or Budapest.
making Dresden a stopover en route to Prague sounds pretty attractive. Will I have to choose a time to leave or is there a flexible option when booking?
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 07:25 PM
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I think I forgot to mention that my airfare is booked into Berlin and out of Budapest.
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 08:10 PM
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Go to this site for train information: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 08:28 AM
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There is no such thing as a "flexible option" on high-speed long-distance trains that require a seat reservation. I am not sure what you mean about choosing an option, if you want to be flexible, just don't buy the ticket until you know when you want to leave.

Sleeper trains don't exist much anymore as trains are so fast nowadays for long distance. So there are few trips where that makes sense. Sleeper trains are also expensive for a railway to run. Most people don't want to spend 10 hrs on a trip if they can fly in a couple hours. Prague to Budapest is a 6.5 hrs direct train trip.

There is an overnight train if you really want, the Euronight 477. Leaves at midnight.
https://czech-transport.com/index.php?train=28&lang=en
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 11:21 AM
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There are still dozens of sleeper trains but they are diminishing - and getting better to to attract people. Still to me a great option vs 6-7 hour day train or flying - the ultimate time-save and fare somewhat offset by having not to pay for a hotel that night. Get a private compartment and bring any food or drink aboard - chill and have another neat experience.
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
There are still dozens of sleeper trains but they are diminishing - and getting better to to attract people. Still to me a great option vs 6-7 hour day train or flying - the ultimate time-save and fare somewhat offset by having not to pay for a hotel that night. Get a private compartment and bring any food or drink aboard - chill and have another neat experience.
Only if you wish to play roulette on whether or not you will catch bedbugs. It happened to friends who complained to the SNCF. It admitted that the problem existed but it was very difficult to eradicate the bedbugs because the homeless would go into the rail yards and sleep in the couchettes of parked wagons.
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 01:35 PM
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SNCF doesn't really have traditional overnight trains but only 4-person couchettes with mixed sexes but still I suppose that could be a minor problem- never experienced bed bugs from zillions of overnight trains I've taken.
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 02:36 PM
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Thank you for the replies so far. I'm increasingly more interested in the sleeper train. It'd be nice to experience this before they go extinct. I'm not terribly worried about bed bugs though. I bring a travel sized bottle of bed bug spray with me and mist down sheets, mattress, head boards, etc. Only takes a minute and never had problems.
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Old Apr 9th, 2019, 10:10 AM
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Thank you for the help so far. I've given up on the sleeper train idea and adjusted my itinerary to give me one night in Vienna (you guys talked me into it). It now looks like this:

Day 1. Flight from US
Day 2. Arrive Berlin
Day 3. Berlin
Day 4. Berlin
Day 5. train to Prague (8 hour stopover in Dresden)
Day 6. Prague
Day 7. Prague
Day 8. train to Vienna
Day 9. train to Budapest
Day 10. Budapest
Day 11. Flight home

Now before anyone throws their coffee please remember I'm not here on vacation. Using your advice I used the DB Bahn website to book a ticket from Berlin Hbf to Prag with an 8 hour stopover in Dresden (for the low low price of 22,90) This will give me plenty of time to shoot some nice material there. I now have a few questions about the train to Budapest. Will I be able to use Vienna as a stopover to Budapest from Prague? (And would it save me money?) Or will I need to buy 2 separate tickets? (Prague > Vienna and Vienna > Budapest) And which website is best?
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Old Apr 9th, 2019, 11:44 AM
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Sit on east side of train when going towards Prague south of Dresden so you can best see the neat Saxon Switzerland:

https://www.google.com/search?q=saxo...iw=645&bih=613

Or make a whole day of it from Dresden!
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Old Apr 9th, 2019, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
Sit on east side of train when going towards Prague south of Dresden so you can best see the neat Saxon Switzerland:

https://www.google.com/search?q=saxo...iw=645&bih=613

Or make a whole day of it from Dresden!
I'm so doing this giving you full credit of course....
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Old Apr 9th, 2019, 01:23 PM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=wach...w=1280&bih=625

Too bad you have so little time as the Wachau Valley of the Danube lies just west of Vienna and has lots of fairly-tale old wine villages as well as the Uber famous Melk Abbey - train from Vienna - boat to Durnstein = bus to Krens (sp?) train back to Vienna.
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Old Apr 9th, 2019, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
https://www.google.com/search?q=wach...w=1280&bih=625

Too bad you have so little time as the Wachau Valley of the Danube lies just west of Vienna and has lots of fairly-tale old wine villages as well as the Uber famous Melk Abbey - train from Vienna - boat to Durnstein = bus to Krens (sp?) train back to Vienna.
Wow. Gorgeous scenery indeed. This particular trip will be exclusively city based. If the weather is good in Berlin and I'm ahead of schedule I'd be open for venturing out somewhere nearby (open to suggestions other than Potsdam which I've already got marked down) Also can anyone answer my question about the Budapest leg of my trip?
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Old Apr 28th, 2019, 04:41 AM
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1 day for Budapest? It's MUCH more colorful and architecturally interesting than Vienna, in my opinion, which I would think would interest a photographer.
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Old Apr 28th, 2019, 09:50 AM
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1 day includes getting there and relocating hotels? Not worth it.
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Old Apr 29th, 2019, 11:36 AM
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I'm gonna go against popular opinion here and vote for SKIPPING Vienna in order to add more time to Prague and Budapest, which have so many breathtaking sights for you to photograph (and one day in Budapest is not nearly enough time). Plus Vienna is huge - I'd imagine it'd be pretty difficult to capture much of the city while visiting during such a short stopover (let alone the vineyards).

Otherwise, these are gorgeous cities and you're going to have an amazing trip - bon voyage!
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