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How would you spend 2 weeks in Eastern Europe?

How would you spend 2 weeks in Eastern Europe?

Dec 20th, 1998, 12:33 PM
  #1  
Anne
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How would you spend 2 weeks in Eastern Europe?

After reading all the wonderful recommendations on Eastern Europe in this forum, we have decided to visit the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria in May/June 99. Could any of you experienced travellers provide advice as to how to allocate our two weeks between these countries? We will be flying into Prague and then travelling by rail to Bratislava, Budapest, and Vienna before returning to Prague. Alternatively, we could rail from Vienna to Salzburg and then fly out of Munich (which we've visited before). Any help with our itinerary would be appreciated. Thanks!

 
Dec 21st, 1998, 05:48 AM
  #2  
dan
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Did a similar trip in May/June 1995. With two weeks, I would concentrate mostly on the major cities that you have listed. Prague: 3 days minimum and preferably 4, Budapest: 3 days, Vienna: 3 days. I guess a couple of days for Bratislava - haven't visited it but have been by that way. That is as much as twelve days of the trip. If your two weeks include air travel, that is about as much as you can do. If not, then I would go to Salzburg as you suggested. By train, Salzburg is 3 - 3 1/2 hours from Salzburg. Salzburg to Munich is only an hour.
 
Dec 21st, 1998, 06:31 AM
  #3  
Tom
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Am making a similar trip in May but will be adding Cracow and Warsaw. Did the exact same trip you described two years ago. We spent two days in Salzburg, one day in Graz, three days in Budapest, five days in Vienna and three days in Prague. Starting in Prague you will be deadheading back through Vienna to return to Prague regardless of plans.I would suggest Prague to Vienna. Daytrip to Salzburg, about a 3 hr train ride, early and late trains. From vienna to budapest, budapest to Bratislava and then on to Prague.
 
Dec 22nd, 1998, 02:27 PM
  #4  
Linda
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May I recommend a place in Budapest. The home of Dr. Walter Fleps, who has a nice home overlooking the city. You get a bathroom & bedroom to yourself, with a nice view from the terrace. Mrs. Fleps makes a huge breakfast, for $40/night for 2. His address is Bogar utca 20b, Budapest, Hungary. His phone number is 36-1-3268-170. For Prague, email [email protected] They are very good at finding the place that fits your criteria. Have a wonderful trip!! Be sure to see the Charles Bridge at night.
 
Dec 22nd, 1998, 04:27 PM
  #5  
Aurora
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If you want to see what Eastern Europe looked like before the war, you should visit Cracow (or Krakow, if you wish). It escaped the war practically untouched because it was the headquarters of the Nazi government over that part of Poland. Wawel Castle, the old market, the entire center city -- marvelous for wandering and exploring. Take a tour out to Auschwitz-Birkenau and see what the Holocaust was all about. Go see and enjoy the great salt mines at Wieliszka.
A short trip south to Zakopane and the Polish "Alps." A short trip north to Czestohowa and its Black Madonna shrine.
Cracow is simply a "must" -- IMHO.
 
Dec 23rd, 1998, 10:16 AM
  #6  
Anne
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Thank you all for your suggestions! We'll follow your advice, Dan, and spend 4 nights in Prague, 1 in Cesky Krumlov, 1 in Passau (has anyone been there?), 1 night in Salzburg, 3 nights in Vienna, 2 in Bratislava, and 3 in Budapest before flying out of that city. That way we would not be deadheading back, Tom. We would love to add Krakow to our itinerary, Aurora, but unfortunately given our limited time the long train ride makes it prohibitive. We'll save Poland as something to look forward to on our next trip And Linda, I emailed avetravel and they responded immediately so I look forward to booking some accommodations through them. Thanks again for all your help!
 
Dec 26th, 1998, 03:30 PM
  #7  
Helena
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I think the trip sounds great, except that I probably would replace Bratislava with extra days somewhere else. As compared to the other cities, Bratislava isn't as exciting. Enjoy the trip!
 
Dec 26th, 1998, 06:08 PM
  #8  
Anne
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Thanks Helena. The reason we chose Bratislava was because my travel agent said that it was not to be missed for the shopping, but if that is its only draw then we may just skip the city for an extra night in Vienna. It's a little difficult finding info on Bratislava on the net.

Actually we've changed our itinerary again and decided to see Cracow afterall! (I will not tell my friend that it is a 7.5 hour trainride until we get there!) So 4 nights in Cracow, 4 in Prague, 1 in Cesky Krumlov, 2 or 3 in Vienna, 1 maybe in Bratislava, and 3 in Budapest. For the time being
 
Jan 2nd, 1999, 08:04 PM
  #9  
Jeanie
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Anne,
After studying in abroad in Vienna and traveling to Bratislava, I must second the idea to spend minimal time there. Bratislava is good example of what Communism can do to a beautiful city, but it is bleak and kind of hard to get around since most don't speak English. I love Vienna and Budapest though. I have heard that Krakow is a beautiful and interesting city. Be careful in Prague, I have heard way too many stories of crime against tourists!
Jeanie
 
Jan 5th, 1999, 12:08 PM
  #10  
Felipe
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That sounds like a good trip but I would skip out on Bratislava. I went there last May and could not wait to go to the next place on my which was Vienna. I would spend more time @ the other places you mentioned.
happy travels.
 
Jan 5th, 1999, 07:32 PM
  #11  
Anne
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Ok, ok... I cry uncle and we'll skip Bratislava afterall! Thanks for your suggestions, everyone!
 
Jan 6th, 1999, 11:07 AM
  #12  
Lanny
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Hi Anne: Since you seem to be still open to suggestions and itinerary changes let me make a couple based on
my experience. I am sorry to see you add another day in Vienna, easily the most expensive city in Europe (be prepared to pay $10 to $15 for a cup of coffee and piece of cake at a cafe in Vienna, vs. a couple of dollars for the same thing, only bigger and better in Budapest), and eliminate Passau. I would spend two days in Vienna, and let it go at that unless you are planning to attend the (grossly over-priced) opera and must stay around. Passau is an absolutely lovely picture postcard town on the Danube, small and accessible enough to visit comfortable over a day and evening that you would have been there. Passau glass is world famous, and the glass museum just across the road from the Danube is a must. As an alternative to Passau consider Durnstein, at the southern tip of Austria. This is easily one of the two or three most beautiful mediaeval villages in Europe -- breathtakingly beautiful in fact -- and it will be at its floral glory in May/June with the roses growing up the walls. Located in the Wachau valley, Durnstein is also a noted white wine centre for Austria so you have the enjoyment of the local hurrigens (places owned and operated by wine-makers) as a nice way to pass an evening. Moving on down river, Bratislava has a very beautiful city core, but the rest of the city is grey and ugly and dilapidated and the people seem shell shocked with the changes that have overcome them in the past decade. Slovakia is the best reason I can think of for nation's to determine not to split up because the split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia has left Slovakia devestated. Your travel agent is absolutely right about this being the place to shop. The country's economy is in a shambles, everyone is looking for a good hard currency and so a tourist with a good currency -- the US dollar, or even the German DM -- can purchase gorgeous things, particularly glass and crystal for a fraction of the price found anywhere else in Europe. I had bought some very nice glass at prices I found very reasonable in Passau en route to Budapest and on reaching Bratislava I darn near cried at how much less expensive things were there. A tip to the wise. Slovakian currency is of no interest or value in any other country in Europe and you will not be able to redeem it once you leave. My advice: buy little or no Slovakian money and rely on getting by with your DMs and US $ instead. Just be sure to ask the price in their currency first, then have them convert it into the currency you are using. Enjoy Budapest, one of my favourite cities in Europe. As a hotel tip, if you still have money left to spend and want are prepared to splurge to have location, location! then stay at the Hilton on the Pest side, easily one of the most fabulous sites for a hotel in Europe. An alternative is the Marriott on the Buda side of the Danube, but my first option would be the Hilton!
 
Jan 6th, 1999, 01:32 PM
  #13  
dan
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I will agree with Lanny that you can see the main sites of Vienna in 2 days. It is a fairly small city, and the sites are within easy walking distance. However, it depends on what you want to do. You will certainly want to see Schonbrunn, for example, which will take several hours. If you don't care about seeing museums, then 2 days are probably ok. If you wish to see the Art History Museum or other art museums, the Army Museum, or see the beautiful cemetary, or just go at a slower pace, then go for 3. You can always change your mind when you get there and stop somewhere in between destinations if you don't make all your reservations ahead of time.

You did very well choosing four days for Prague and Cracow. I think you can see much of Budapest in 3 days, but 4 isn't bad, since there is a lot to see. Be careful of your possessions on the Budapest subway. The Hilton is in a wonderful location. Don't know the rates. Try a turkish bath, and climb Gellert Hill for a great view of the city (very steep)! Decisions, decisions...
 
Jan 6th, 1999, 03:23 PM
  #14  
s.fowler
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A small correction to a previous post. In Budapest the Hilton is on the Buda side on "Castle Hill". It incorporates a medieval ruin of some sort and is right next to Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion. The Marriot is on the Pest side. All rooms lookm out over the Danube. The joke among Budapesters-- is: stay at the Marriott so you don't have to LOOK at it!
Right next to the Marriott is a Thai restaurant with decent food and a great view of the Danube and Castle Hill.
Well you know my hotel recommendation in Budapest. It's the Hotel Victoria on the Buda side, just beneath Castle Hill. An easy walk to both the metro and to the funicular to Castle Hill. And the walk across the Chain Bridge isn't far either. Do a search for hotel victoria budapest on this site and my more detailed comments should come up!
Vienna IS expensive, and I find the edifices overpowering, BUT there is lots to see. Yes the opera is overpriced, but it is the Vienna State Opera and it is fabulous! Could someone tell me why Cracow is so special?
Also from Budapest a beautiful picture postcard town named Szentendre [St. Andrew!] is 45 minutes via the HEV railway. [Which just happens to leave from the metro station near Hotel Victoria!] It is completely and utterly charming. Nice galleries as well as the usual tablecloth outlets It's a nice daytrip. You could go in the morning, have lunch and still have most of the afternoon in Budapest.
If you are open to another suggestion, the city of Pecs is 3 hrs south-ish of Budapest. The train leaves from Deli station on the Buda side. It is also picturesque. It has a walking street. Good shopping. The Zsolnay ceramics are made here. It has several interesting museums [Vasarely, Csontvary, Zsolnay], a mosque church [thanks to the Ottomans who ruled Hungary for 150 years.] a synagogue and many opportunities to sit down for a coffee. There is a cathedral that manages to be spectacular and homey, a champagne cellar [they will show you around] as well as the Mecek Hills.
Near Pecs is a medieval castle/fortress called Siklos, and near there is the wine district of Villany. Cellar hopping is a fascinating introduction to Hungarian wines. The reds are especially good here! There is also an interesting outdoor sculpture garden near Villany and a shrine church in Mariagyud.
 
Jan 7th, 1999, 12:33 AM
  #15  
Anne
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What a wonderful wealth of information you all are! We are flexible in our itinerary because we won't be booking our plane tickets til later this month, which allows us ample opportunity to refine our plans. We definitely would like to see Prague, Vienna and Budapest, but as for the stops between these cities we are open to suggestions. Based on your recommendations, it appears that there is a lot to see and do in Austria so we will probably concentrate on this area and visit Poland another time when we can do it justice.

Lanny, Passau and Durnstein sound like the perfect balance to the large cities we are visiting so we will research further into them. The roses blooming in the springtime sound lovely -- thank you for your recommendation! And the shopping is truly good in Bratislava? Well then, maybe a leetle stopover on our way to Budapest We would love to splurge on a fancy hotel at the end of our trip but unfortunately, the Canadian dollar does not get us very far. We will keep those locations of hotels in mind, though, when we get to making our reservations.

Dan, we would be interested in a concert and museum or two in Vienna, so perhaps three days is a good length. An additional day in Budapest sounds like a good idea though -- we'll try to fit that in. And talking about decisions... I photocopied a map of the region and circled the places that we'd like to see.. and are now up to 16 cities! So we'll have to be ruthless and pare them down to fit our two weeks

Sally, a side trip to St. Andrews sounds great and another circle has just gone around Pecs on my map Thanks for your suggestions -- I'll check out the posts on the Victoria Hotel.
 
Jan 7th, 1999, 06:29 AM
  #16  
tom
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Anne,

Follow on to original post. Last trip we took included Vienna(5 days), Budapest (3 days), Prague (4 days). Visit to Vienna was our second and we still took five days to see all we wanted in a relaxed manner, i.e. 2 hours over coffee watching people, etc.

Vienna is by far the most expensive, but it is in my opinion the most beautiful city in the world. It appears to be one big city park.Also, if you can see Vienna in two days then you can allow one day for Schoenbrun and Durnstein. Try staying at the Nuer Markt Pension, reasonably priced and about two blocks from St. Stephans.In Parague we stay at the Cloisters, about $100 per night in the old town, and in Budapest the Marriott(I love those points).
 
Feb 3rd, 1999, 12:02 AM
  #17  
Anne
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Just wanted to say to Lanny & Tom that after some reading up on the subject, we've decided to take a cruise down the Wachau and overnight in Durnstein afterall... and are very looking forward to it! I just had the most amusing time trying to book accommodations in the town though. The first place I called was already full the night we wished to stay, and in the second place I telephoned the hostess could only speak German (I'll admit that I skipped out on my German class tonight Other places I telephoned thereafter had answering machines playing in German as well. Guess I'll have to telephone the 'town hall' to get some help in finding accommodations. If anyone has any suggestions for places to stay in Durnstein, or even Szentendre, I would sure appreciate hearing from you. Just some ramblings from the land of insomnia....
 
Feb 3rd, 1999, 05:09 AM
  #18  
s.fowler
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Szentendre is only 40 minutes from Budapest on the HEV railway that leaves from the Batthyanyi station on the "red line" in Budapest. It makes a great day trip. I'm sure there are small inns/guesthouses etc..., but since I wasn't looking I didn't see them!
 
Feb 3rd, 1999, 10:10 AM
  #19  
Dennis
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I have been reading all the messages and would appreciate your reactions to my sister's plans to go to Slovakia on her own. My sister is planning to spend two weeks driving a car on her own throughout the country. When I read the message about the poverty in Bratislava, I became concerned. Beyond the normal precautions that a woman traveling alone takes, what's your opinion about the relative safety of her trip? She has told me that Slovakia appears to be safer than Latvia, Warsaw, Moscow, etc.
 
Apr 3rd, 1999, 10:12 PM
  #20  
alan
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If it's not too late, can I add the Hotel Astoria in Budapest. very nice rooms. central location and reasonable. If you are able visit Sopron in western Hungary at the Austrian border, very nice small city, and Graz in Austria. Whatever, i could go on. Enjoy alan
 

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