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Need help from experts o last minute trip to Czech Republic, Poland and/or Slovakia

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Aug 3rd, 2003, 08:17 AM
  #1
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Need help from experts o last minute trip to Czech Republic, Poland and/or Slovakia

We have 12 days from the time we arrive in Frankfurt (where we could find cheap airfare) until we have to leave from there. We plan to rent a car and head east. We've already been to Prague and southern Bohemia where we particularly enjoyed Czesky Krumlov and the area around Trebon, and to Krakow (including salt-mine and Auschwitz). This time we want to do some of the typical touristy things, but also spend some more down time enjoying small towns, hiking or perhaps biking or canoeing for a day here and there. We know we want to visit the Tatras and spend another day or 2 in Krakow. But, we are having trouble narrowing it down after that and making realistic choices about where to spend ou rtime. Other areas that we have identified as of interest in Czech and Slovakia are Czesky Raj, Litomerice and Teresin, the Bohemian Switzerland, Slovensky raj or re-visitng parts of Southern Bohemia and spending some more time there. Krkonose mopuntains of Czech and Poland are another possibility. In southern Poland we have identified Wroclaw, Zamosc, Kazimierz Doiny, Carpathain foothills, icon trail of the Bieszczady, the Pieniny area, and the Sudeten mountains as areas we might be interested in. Especially with some of the more mountainous areas there might not be that much difference between places, but we don't know which are the best.

We do not want to spend all of our time driving from place to pace and continuously moving. We are middle aged parents with our son in his 20's. We tend to stay in modest place but are past the point in our lives of being willing to just stay anywhere there is a bed. We have occasionally just stopped at zimmers but don't do that as a routine. Can you help me with a couple things?
1. Of all of the areas I have identified, which really are the best and most unique for people who are looking for charming small towns, beautiful scenery, a mix of types of activities including nature oriented (but not total wilderness), and interesting sights?
2. Which of these places could be clustered together so I could make day trips in the area?
3. If we make reservations in Krakow and the Tatras area, but just want to wing it in the other places so we can stay or move on when it appeals to us, would we be okay? We are laving in 6 days which puts us into high tourist season. We don't want to be completely tied down with reservations, but also are worried about being able to find reasonably proced places that wil have a room for 3 people if we wait.
4. In the Krkonose area could we base ourself on either the Czech or Polish side and then easily cross the border? We are US citizens.
5. How much is realistic do do in this time frame considering driving times and the fact that we don't want to just sightsee and move fro place to place every day?

Thanks in advance for the advice.
julies is offline  
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Aug 3rd, 2003, 09:33 AM
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Does this mean you skip Germany?

I think Krakow and the Tatras are your best choices. You should also consider Mala Fatra for mountain scenery (maybe enroute back).

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Aug 3rd, 2003, 08:49 PM
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Why not see a little of Germany? South and Lower South East (Alps region south east of Munich) is very nice. Or take an overnight train or fly directly to Poland (ie Krakow)... This way you are not driving for very long time (and waiting for a great while on Border) to Poland...
Another thing you need to verify with your car rental company is the fact if they will let you take their car to Poland... Considering jokes like "Germans visit Poland your cars are already here" car rental companies usually have a problem with you taking their cars east. If they do let you to take the car also remember that with german plates will be advertising that you may have nice goods in your car and you will not know how to quickly notify in most cases only-Polish speaking Police.

Now to the trip it self - with the very little time you have you may need to pick a spot... Sudety and Tatry is duable ... but definitly not anything beyond Tatry... To save some cash as I have mentioned in your other post - you may want to cross to Slovakia... which actually many Poles visit to save money on room/board where food and just places to stay are much more cheaper then in ie. Zakopane.

As for reservations in peak season... well all those will be packed esspecially cheaper places - so DEFINITLY make reservations in at least some hotels by calling DIRECT and reserving without credit card (just tell them you be paying cash), which is still very popular all over Poland - then be nice and call them at any time you will see you can not use that reservation.

In Poland buy 2 types of phone cards (one with chip the other without) one without the chip is the old style but many of the gas stations still have the old phones. In towns you will find mostly chip phonecard phones (best buys are usually 50 or a 100 which is highest) per min. charge is the lowest. You can also use those cards and phone for international calls as well.

Enjoy!

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Aug 4th, 2003, 06:48 AM
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Thanks to both of you Ingo and PeterB.

We are finding that the more research we do the more complicated the choices become because there are so many things we read about that we want to do. I think we have decided to save Dresden for a future trip when we have time to do the area justice.

Another issue is that we will be meeting our son who is travelling in eastern Europe and plans to live and work there as an English teacher. We do not want to stay in super low priced places, we do want some places that are both nbut ice, clean and reasonable priced. Places mentioned by both of you meet that criteria. We have decided on Poland primarily because it will be cheaper for 3 people to travel there. Also, we know we can usually get a relatively inexpensive flight into Frankfurt so we will have other trips where we can visit some of those interesting areas of Germany.
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Aug 4th, 2003, 06:53 AM
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One more question for you PeterB. We have rented cars in Germany and driven in the Czech Republic and Poland. and we have also rented a a car in Hungary and driven in Hungary and Romania. As far as car theft and break-ins, is Poland worse than those areas? AutoEurope has told us we can take a car into the 3 countries I am talking about. However, now we are wondering if we should upgrade from a manual transmission Opel Corsa type car to a larger Opel Astra type car so as to have more room for luggage so that nothing will be visible. We will not have a lot of luggage, but there will be 3 of us so I wonder if we need the larger car so as to hide everything from sight when we stop between locations where we will be staying. We are also thinking about perhaps buying a club to take with us to use on the car. What do you think?
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Aug 4th, 2003, 07:14 AM
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My husband and I went to Slovakia last year to trace his family roots. Our destination was in the eastern part of the country, a beautiful small town called Bardeyov near the city of Presov. We drove the entire width of the country through gorgeous countyside dotted with numerous old castles and medieval towns. It took about six hours to drive from Vienna to our hotel in the Tatras where we chose to stay. I'd highly recommend it:

Grandhotel Praha ****
059 60 Tatranska Lomnica
Vysoke Tatry, Slovakia
tel: +421/52/4467941 -6
fax: +421/52/4467891
E-mail reservation:
[email protected]

Even though it looks grand, we stayed in a two room suite overlooking the mountains for $62 per night. A five course meal in their lovely restaurant (with wine) was $29 for the two of us. This is the right time to go to Slovakia, before the switch to the Euro when the prices will shoot up.

Have a wonderful time!!
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Aug 4th, 2003, 07:36 AM
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Christobel--

I'm getting my map out right now to see where this place is.

PeterB--

What do you think about Szczawnica as a compromise location rather than the high Tatras? It looks as though it is centrally enough located so I can make lots of day trips in the area. Realistically we don't have the time to do lots of intensive heavy duty mountain hikes. So maybe the Pieniny would be a better spot for hiking, with a chance to visit Zakopane which I have read mixed things about.
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Aug 4th, 2003, 08:30 AM
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Lou
 
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In Slovakia I can highly recommed Slovensky raj (Slovak Paradise) - great for hiking, amazingly beautiful. Also the town of Banska Stiavnica is gorgeous (central Slovakia).

There is also a village called Cicmany (pronounced CHI-chmoney) which is great - it's a village-museum with most of the old wooden houses preserved the way they looked 150 years ago. They are dark wood with wonderful white designs painted all over. Quite a sight and very unique.

If you are in Eastern Slovakia there are many old wooden churches (I think there are Orthodox), some of them supposedly from the 16th century. Again - a sight that's unique to Slovakia.

More info about the churches (even a little photo) on http://www.geocities.com/woodchurch99/auvod/uvgb.htm

Good Luck and have fun.
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Aug 4th, 2003, 02:33 PM
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Don't waste your space and time on getting a club... most breakings are to get radios or your stuff... and if someone really wants you car club will definitly not stop them. Don't leave your keys or papers in your car, make sure that insurance you have covers theft of the car. If you have visited Romania and Czech republic by car already - then Poland is really not much different - I always parked in guarded lots (which are all over the place) and never had problem...but some I hear do. But i never rented cars like BMWs and such... Normal cars like Opel VW etc. are all over Poland - and they are not so hot as BMWs and high end cars... As for stopping on the way - just park in guarded areas, or do not have anything of value visible in your car.

As for Szczawnica...which is rather near Zakopane - is also a very nice place - but trust me - you need to check Zakopane... as for hikes Zakopane has many lifts, and many of the places that are worth a very easy hike (ie Morskie Oko) are definitly nothing that is hard. Although if you would like to do something really hard - there are trail s which can definitly challenge. As for where to stop over for a night - I have mentioned Slovakia since you will definitly get a best bang for your buck there... In Zakopane behind Gazda Hotel there is a huge market - which definitly is worth the trip, at the end of that market there is a Mountain Car Lift to take you up to Gubalowka Peak - which gives you a very nice view of the area...
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Aug 26th, 2003, 04:15 PM
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We, too, were exploring the area around Bardejov in eastern Slovakia. What a wonderful spot ! Hope too many people won't discover it !
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