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Logistics - Visiting Prague, Dresden, Berlin in Fall 2009

Logistics - Visiting Prague, Dresden, Berlin in Fall 2009

Old Jun 26th, 2009, 03:40 PM
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Logistics - Visiting Prague, Dresden, Berlin in Fall 2009

Hi all,

I am considering (nothing set in stone yet) taking a trip in September 2009 (probably 2nd & 3rd week) to these 3 cities, due to an airfare sale.

If I do decide to go, I would want to work out all the logistics prior to booking my plane ticket. My interests are art museums, classical music, and opera. I will travel by train between these cities.


1) Is there any preference whether I go Prague -> Dresden -> Berlin; or the reverse order? I'm asking in terms of ease of buying discount train tickets in advance (if available), crowds, hotel prices, weather etc

2) Are there any dates I should avoid in each city, such has HUGE conventions etc?

3) Dresden: I'd be interested in attending a concert by the Staatskapelle Dresden. How easy or difficult to buy tickets, meaning, do they get sold out as soon as they get released (like the Vienna Philharmonic), or can I still buy tickets, say, a month beforehand?

4) Dresden: For the historic Green Vaults, do the tickets also get sold out way in advance (like Last supper tix in Milan)? I just tried a dummy booking for July 10 and there seems to still be tickets available. Is that the norm?

5) Prague: Does the State Opera Prague sell out performances, or will I be able to get tickets as it gets closer to the date?

6) Berlin: Does the Staatsoper Berlin (Unter den Linden) sell out performances, or will there be tickets say 1 month before?

7) Since my schedule is totally flexible, would you suggest I visit earlier in September, or should I delay until October? And why?

8) I have been to Berlin before in 2003 for 6 days, but not the other cities. Will 10 full days (not counting travel days) be reasonable: Prague (3) - Dresden (2) - Berlin (5)? Another thread about Leipzig got me interested in that too. Would a day trip to Leipzig be enough or do I need an overnight there?

9) Anything else related to classical music/opera in these cities I should know about, such as festivals etc?

Thanks in advance.

P.S. I'm asking questions about getting tickets for concerts and operas because those were fairly difficult to get for Vienna. Just wondering if that's the same for these cities.
yk is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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Hi yk!

Wow another trip? I remember reading your last trip report...

I can answer you on the Prague - Dresden portion.

Yes I think Prague - 3 days and Dresden 2 days would be reasonable.

I did a day trip to Dresden from Prague and for me it was quite fine. But I'm a fast walker and I took the 6.29am train to Dresden which arrives around 8.30am. I had the entire day in Dresden.

I think Dresden is definitely worth seeing. In fact, I might even take a day from Prague and put an extra day in Germany (or do a daytrip from Prague to another city in CZ).

I'm living in Prague at the moment so I'll look around town in the next few weeks to see if there are any special concerts that are worth getting tickets in advance for. If I find anything I'll let you know.

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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 04:45 PM
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Many concerts in September. Try this site. www.classictic.com/en/special/prague-concert Also www.inyourpocket.com and click on Prague [then instant] for a 'download'. Dick
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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 05:00 PM
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Know nothing definitive about opera tickets - but we were able to get them for 3 days later when in Prague a coule of years ago.

My only advice is to rethink your distribution of days. If you're already spent 6 days in Berlin I wouldn;t do another 5 there and then only 3 in Prague - but reverse that. Prague has a tone of things to do - esp if you spend a day in the countryside.
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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 05:24 PM
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2) huge conventions: IFA in Berlin, 1st week of Sept. (yes, I read that you plan to go not before 2nd week.. just to be on the safe side)

6) You can get your tickets for the Staatsoper already now on the web. But currently there is not one single event sold out or flagged as close to selling out from early Sept. through mid October.

7) not earlier in Sept. for Berlin -- cf. 1)
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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 05:43 PM
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Hey folks, thanks for all the input so far. An error on my part, which I just realized ~

We will have guests visiting us the 2nd week of Sept, so the earliest I can go on this trip will be the second half of Sept. So it'll be more like Sept 17 through end of the month.

As I said, I'm flexible in terms of time, as well as length of the trip. I can certainly extend it longer if needs to be, but since I have more time than I have of money, the longer the trip, the more expensive it will be.
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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 08:11 PM
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FYI, I searched on whatsonwhen, and found out the Berlin Festival takes place Sept 3-21, 2009. It has many top-tier orchestra concerts, with Simon Rattle and Berlin Philharmonic plus many more.

(Can someone tell me who that hunk is? And, do tickets sell out way in advance?)

There's also a Bauhaus exhibition in Berlin through October 4, 2009.

Sadly, the Prague Autumn Festival, which takes place annually in September, is cancelled for 2009 due to financial reasons.
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Old Jun 27th, 2009, 02:04 AM
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re. costs/hotels:

In Berlin, you will find several smaller hotels now that are equipped like the extended stay motels in the US (kitchenette, fridge, internet access/wifi for free in room; but no restaurant/breakfast room and a reception only during daytime), just that they are in the city center with good access to public transport - but maybe two or three blocks away from the tourist hotspots. They also rent by the day, and not only long-term.

When you check websites like hrs.de, you will find them often in the €40-45 price range (per room) which is quite a bargain. For example, next week I'll be staying three nights in one of those hotels appr. 5min walking distance from KaDeWe department store (so quite in the Wester city center) for €40 per night, which at the moment would equal $56.
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Old Jun 27th, 2009, 05:54 AM
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Cowboy1968 - those type of hotels sound perfect. Are they individual hotels or are they chain ones (like Ibis eg)? Are they ensuite? I only need a basic, clean place to stay without bells and whistles, though I prefer a private bathroom. When you say reception only during daytime, does that mean one can only check-in or check-out during certain hours (ie, no late check-in)? Or do you mean there is some sort of "curfew" after a certain hour?
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Old Jun 27th, 2009, 12:50 PM
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They are more individual or small chain hotels.
If you google for "Amadeus City Am KaDeWe" or use that search phrase with hrs.de you will find one example.
They are always ensuite - and often also have a sitting area with a couch - so it's more like having a studio apartment than a hotel room. If you have troubles to identify those types of hotels (as they are not always labelled as apartment hotels in the search results) I can run a search for the dates you need and post the names of the hotels here.
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 09:35 AM
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PS: Reception during certain hours usually translates to 8am-10 or 11pm. There is no curfew, you can come and go as you please. Just for late arrival you have to tell them in advance so someone is there to get you checked in.
These places do not really have a "concierge" that can get you tickets or reservations, and usually also no kind of restaurant/cafe. Apart from that, they are much more a 4* hotel than a hostel, and you can actually expect more value for money than at any hotel - if you can live without concierge and room service.
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 09:46 AM
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Thanks again, Cowboy1968. I never use concierge and room service anyway. This trip is still uncertain, but if I decide to go and buy my plane ticket, I'll definitely ask your advice on Berlin hotels. My main concern is to make sure I won't get locked out if I return late from opera or concert, which sounds like it is not a problem. But I'll make sure if I buy train tickets, I won't get one that arrives or departs too early or late.

Anyone else has comments on the order of my itinerary? It looks like IF I want to attend part of the Berlin Festival, I'd have to visit Berlin first, making it:

Berlin -> Dresden -> Prague
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 05:34 PM
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As for the opera and concerts, I have found the situation in Europe to be no different than in the U.S.-- if the performance is worthwhile, it sells out early. Therefore, I rely on the concierge at my hotel to arrange tickets and do that as early as possible. That way, when I leave the U.S., there are no surprises. For example, I had my tickets for the Opera Gala at the Prague State Opera for New Year's 8 months in advance.

If you feel uncomfortable with such advance planning, roll the dice. I don't see how anyone on this board can answer your hypothetical questions with any assurance. Gradyghost
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 05:58 PM
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I am leaving or Prague- Dresden - Berlin in 2 weeks.

5 nights Prague - private home
2 nights Dresden - Hilton
6 nights Berlin - Melia

I have booked train tickets ahead of time at 30% discount.
I have also booked ( and printed) ticket for Green Vaults .
I took Thin's recommendation and booked Melia hotel ( love the location), got excellent rate on Expedia several moths ago.

It looks like there are a zillion concerts in Prague , I will wait until I get there.

When I return, I hope to have more info if anyone is interested.


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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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In 2006 I was in Berlin when Art Forum was occurring. It takes place in Messe. I just checked the dates and it's Sept. 24-27 this year.

It's a little like the Armory Show. But I think that I am (much?) more interested in contemporary art than you are.

During the same visit I visited the historical Green Vault in Dresden. Since tickets were sold out online (that was when it had just reopened to the public, if I remember right), I went and queued for same-day tickets, and I made it in. I had to take a train that left at 5:30 am or something like that.

I think it was Ingo who told me that the "Neustadt" station was more convenient. If you do make the trip, you should check the logistics. I recall from Ingo there are two stations for Dresden. Per his advice, I got off at the earlier stop and saved a couple of minutes and took a taxi to get in line for the Green Vault as early as possible.

I've also been to Sammlung Hoffmann in Berlin, which also requires advanced reservations, but not this far ahead in advance. I recommend this to anyone interested in contemporary art. The installations change. When I was there, there was something by Ernesto Neto (he just had an interesting show at the Park Avenue Armory). Actually as I'm writing this, I can remember most of the art I saw there well -- which means that the tour must have made a pretty good impression.
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 06:35 PM
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Actually I just remembered that this is the 20-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was reading something about this recently. There are quite a number of celebrations occuring this year, so you may want to check the dates to see if there's something interesting that's worth going to.

I think one of the first demonstrations took place in Leipzig? I was thinking of visiting Leipzig, but I didn't have the time to do so. There's been a lot of focus on the Leipzig school of artists (Neo Rauch, etc.).
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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Historic Green Vault logistics, if you need it:


It sounds like the craze has died down though.

And just let me remind you (since I know you're trying to see all the Vermeers) -- there's one in Braunschweig. I forgot about it and it was annoying because I was in Hannover. I can't remember how long the train ride was, but I think that it's accessible from Berlin.

I was recently checking the logistics for Dessau. That's where the Bauhaus is located. It's accessible from Berlin also.

I'm pretty sure there's an early Vermeer in the Alte Meister gallery in Dresden, which obviously you'll have to look for. Of course the most famous work here is Raphael's Sistine Madonna.
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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danon, I hope you'll post a trip report when you return. Did you buy all your train tickets via DB, including the Prague -> Dreden ticket? I just tried a dummy booking on DB for that leg, and discounted tickets are available for 19E, but it is not a self-printed ticket but by mail only. Is that what you bought?

111op, I forgot this is the 20th anniversary... thanks for the reminder.
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Old Jun 28th, 2009, 08:18 PM
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Yes, they mailed my Prague -Dresden ticket ( I guess that is the procedure),I was able to print Dresden - Berlin.
I don't write trip reports ( lazy..), but may write a few notes. It is my first visit to all 3 cities.
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