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loved these hotels in central Europe/somewhat short trip report...

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Jun 14th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #1
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loved these hotels in central Europe/somewhat short trip report...

I just returned from visiting Berlin, Krakow and Prague. I took my 17 and 19 year old children (by myself--hubby couldn't get away and my 13 year-old was not at all interested!) They've dubbed it the two-week field trip because it really brought history alive for us (we concentrated on WWII and Jewish history--dd is a history/poly-sci major)

As always, I got some great travel tips from Fodorites. What I had some trouble with was finding reasonable accommodations because the trip was last minute. I cross referenced hotels on various sites and then used tripadvisor.com (the best travel site for hotel info/reviews IMHO) to check them out.

I doubt there's anything that I can add about the sites, points of interest and historical landmarks that would be new info, but I get so many useful tips here I thought I'd share some highs and lows regarding tours, hotels etc. that might be useful if you're traveling to these areas.

Here it goes:
-after traveling over 24 hours we checked into the Mercure Berlin an der Charite. I got a great deal on their website (74 euro/non refundable at booking). The room was wonderful, extremely clean and the hotel was in a perfect location. Unfortunately their rooms are strictly doubles but we were not spending the night. It was just a stop over point for a rest, a shower and then on to the overnight train to Krakow. Luckily our room was ready at 8 am so we had a chance to rest and freshen up before our 8.5 hour walking tour of Berlin. I will never hear the end of that one! I highly recommend the tour group--Brewer's Berlin Walking tours (http://www.brewersberlintours.com). THe guide was a US citizen studying in Berlin and he knew his history. I was the oldest one there because it was cheap (12 euro p/p)and long so it was mostly students. We made it six hours and I wish we'd made it the distance but we were exhausted.

Krakow
-Globtroter Hotel. There's not much on this site about this little gem of a hotel but if you're looking for a perfectly located, clean and reasonable (about 90 US per night this hotel is it (http://www.cracow-life.com/globtroter/index.html). The main square is literally around the corner. The room was spacious, clean and the bathroom was great (no hair dryer though!). The front desk was extremely helpful with restaurant suggestions, directions etc. They do not have breakfast but there are so many places to choose from it wasn't a problem. It's a little hard to find because it's back in one the quaint courtyards and it was a little comical because it takes five keys in five different doors before you get to your room.
-Don't bother with those little golf cart tours. They were expensive and the driver just points and flips on a brief taped description of what he's pointing at!
-We booked a tour to AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU through Jarden Jewish Book store (http://www.jarden.pl/). They picked us up at our hotel and there were two other people on the tour with us. The driver delivers you to a tour guide once you reach the camp. The gentlemen on our tour had visited the camp a few days earlier but were very unhappy with the tour company (Krakow tours I think) which they said only lasted on hour. Our guide was excellent and we spent 3.5 hours total touring the camps. The biggest negative was not having more time on our own. We would have liked to read more of the information that was available and spent more time at certain exhibits. If I did it again, I would probably take the train, hire one of the museum guides and then spend the rest of the time viewing the exhibits on our own. We are not Jewish but the gentlemen with us were and they gave us a lot of personal insight into what we were seeing because they lost family in the Holocaust. For me, the only way to descibe the experience is indescribable.

Prague
-Hotel Rezidence Lundborg is one of the nicest European hotels I've ever stayed in. It is in the Mala Stana district at the base of the Charles bridge. We had a beautifully decorated two-room suite overlooking the brige on one side and the Karlov on the other. The best part was the bathroom--it was huge and had a whirlpool bath which was a treat after a long day. Each room has a computer and ours had a large wet bar as well. The posted rate is 200 euro per night but I contacted the hotel directly and was able to get the room for 160. The front desk was extremely helpful and their breakfast was wonderful.
-We used Wittmann tours (http://www.wittmann-tours.com/) for a walking tour of the city the first day. We had an excellent guide who was a fifth year Czech law student. The kids were fascinated with her stories about growing up as a child under communist rule. We also used them for a tour to Terezín and Lidice. It was a private tour and our guide, Petr, was just great. I highly recommend both tours.

Berlin
-We finished our trip in Berlin and stayed at the Hotel-Pension Bregenz (http://www.hotelbregenz-berlin.de/main_eng/main.htm) Wilmersdorf. Again, a great location on a charming street and a wonderful little hotel owned by a young couple who could not do enough for us. The room was very spacious and clean. The bathroom was small but we managed! It was 100 euro a night and breakfast was included. The Brewer's tour on the first day we arrived,
(plus help from Christian the hotel's owner) enabled to find all the major sites. We also took the S-Bahn to see the Villa Wannsee where the conference for the "Final Solution" for the extermination of European Jews took place; an incredibly beautiful village and villa for such an ugly thing in our world's history. The museum in the villa was probably the most well done and comprehensive of all of the Holocaust memorials that we saw.

Each of these hotels was close to the metro so it was very easy to get around. Finally, at the advice of many here we used Budget Europe Travel for our train tickets and they couldn't have been more helpful or efficient.

Jayne11159 is offline  
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Jun 14th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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PS - I forgot to add that we also took the tour of the Jewish quarter in Prague with Wittmann tours. Once again great guide, great information.
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Jun 14th, 2006, 06:45 PM
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Hello Jayne, you're sure the brave one to take your children all by yourself. Sounds like it all went really well.
Thanks for the report.
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Jun 21st, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Jayne,

I am going to Berlin by myself this Oct and booked at the Hotel Pension Bregenz, my question is : is it in a pretty safe neighborhood? I can I walk to the hotel at night without any problems? thanks
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Jun 21st, 2006, 01:44 PM
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I am staying at the Lundborg at this moment and I am afraid that thoughts are abit more critical. It is not that this is a bad hotel, it just has many faults as well as several strengths. I would probably give it a 5/10.
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Jun 26th, 2006, 06:16 PM
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igpjazz-I felt perfectly safe in the neighborhood. There is a small park directly in front of the street that the hotel is situated on and I wouldn't walk through there after dark as it wasn't lighted, but otherwise, we had no problems. It's a residential area with several restaurants and small shops.

mjs-I'm sorry that your experience is not turning out as well as ours. We stayed in the executive suite and could not have been happier. I'd have to give it 9.5.
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Jun 26th, 2006, 06:31 PM
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Jayne,
We stayed at the Globtroter in Krakow in October.I was treated as one of owner, Jack's family.We felt so welcomed by him & his young staff that I gave the pension a glowing review on Trip Advisor.Clean,large room with balcony overlooking pleasant garden.Close to the square & good restaurants.As Jayne said, no breakfast which is minor when such hospitality is offered.
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