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Need information on day tour guides for Prague, Budapest, & Vienna.

Need information on day tour guides for Prague, Budapest, & Vienna.

Old Dec 30th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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Need information on day tour guides for Prague, Budapest, & Vienna.

If anyone can recommmend day tour guides or companies for these cities, I would appreciate any information.

Thanks,

Vince
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 10:36 AM
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All of those cities are so easy to get around that you don;t really need any sort of guide - although any of the hotels could sign you up with a one-day city bus tour. What we enjoyed much more was ecploring on our won wth the addition - in Prague and Budapest of neighborhood walking tours.

these can be picked up at the Town Hall and are very inexpensive - our tour of Old Town Prague - inclujding a lot of interesting architectural and historical highlights you never get on the bus tours - lasted about 1 1/2 hours - and left us with time to go back atnd relook at some things we wanted. There was also a ghetto tour, castle tour etc - but we felt perfectly comfy doing those on our own.
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 11:38 AM
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If you plan to visit the Terezin Concentration Camp, I highly recommend Pavel Stransky as a guide. Mr. Stransky is fluent in English and can be hired through Wittman Tours:

http://www.wittmann-tours.com

Mr. Stransky was interned in Terezin and Auschwitz where he worked as a teacher in the Children's Block of the Czech Family Camp. In October, we were fortunate to spend a very memorable day with him touring Terezin and environs where we learned a great deal about the Camp as well as Czech history and literature.

He has amazing energy and is a very bright and funny man; our time spent with him is our fondest memory of our trip to Prague.

Vince best wishes to you for a terrific trip!
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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The Destinations section of the Fodors website provides excellent walking itineraries for Prague and Vienna. Most attractions that are of interest to tourists are centrally located, within walking distance of each other. If you don't feel like walking, there are excellent trams, buses and metros in these cities.

The one attraction that is not within walking distance of central Vienna is Schoenbrunn Palace. We enjoyed our half day tour with Vienna Sightseeing. It gave us an introduction to the layout of Vienna and provided us with a guided tour of Schoenbrunn. However, I should mention that that was in the comfortable weather of September. I understand Schoenbrunn is not heated. Anyway, our hotel booked the tour for us.

I do not feel that the Fodors Destination notes on Budapest are helpful for a first time visitor. Must see things are the Royal Palace and Matthias Church on the Buda side of the Danube and Istvan Bazilika (St. Stephen's Basilica) and the Houses of Parliament on the Pest side of the river. The night view of Budapest from the Citadel, on the Buda side, is an absolute must.

If you're going in summer, add a walk around Margaret Island to that list.

A tour through the interior of the splendid Houses of Parliament is ever so worthwhile.

These things all are centrally located. On top of that, there is a fabulous public transportation system.

Buses that provide introductory, commentated tours of Budapest depart from Deak Ferenc Ter (Francis Deak Square) on the Pest side.

If you want a private guide for Budapest, people here at Fodors speak highly of Bela Lukacs, whom you can reach at [email protected] . See this thread, for example:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34526496
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 01:32 PM
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In Prague, I recommend Dana Chaloupka
She has a website http://sweb.cz/travelcz
We used her for a general orientation tour and wish we had used her service for touring the Castle, as the audio guide there was useless

Wittman tours for Terezin and for the Jewish Quarter were excellent
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 01:37 PM
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I meant to add
in Vienna we used the services of
www.viennasightseeingtours.com

I don't know if that is the same organization Judy used or not.

We had booked a walking tour with this group well in advance of our arrival. The guide who met us at our hotel, Arno, was a very pleasant young man with a van, who spoke almost no English, and what he did say was incomprehensible. He had no itinerary planned.
We got the impression he was a last-minute substitute and we joked to ourselves later that he might have been the coffee delivery guy who had been drafted.

After less than an hour of our scheduled tour, we politely sent Arno on his way—we were working way too hard to understand him and help him with words, and he seemed to know (or, express) very little of Vienna’s history, the main reason we wanted the tour. A very disappointing experience.

This might just have been a bad luck experience; when we wrote to the company after we got home, they promptly refunded our money without comment.
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Old Dec 30th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Yes, www.viennasightseeingtours.com , which Elaine mentioned, is the same tour company we used in Vienna.

We had been told we would be picked up from our hotel. We were expecting to be picked up by bus, but in fact a man arrived on foot and told us to follow him. He already had a small following by the time he reached our hotel, and we and he walked to a few other, nearby hotels and collected other people as we went along. He was a bit like the Pied Piper. I was rather amazed by this arrangement but, when I stopped to think about it, it made sense. Some of the streets in the Innere Stadt are very narrow.

Anyway, our Pied Piper took us to a bus. It was like the Tower of Babel. Our fellow passengers spoke every language you can imagine. Somehow or other, the driver and the guide explained to everyone that this was not our sight seeing bus, but rather the bus that would take us to our sight seeing buses.

This "collector bus" took us to the parking lot of Sudbahnhof, a train station that is a little to the south of the Ring Road that encompasses central Vienna.

At Sudbahnfhof there were many buses, each clearly labelled with the destination and the language in which the commentary was offered. There were English, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, etc., buses going to Schoenbrunn, the same number of language groups going to Mayerling, and so on, through a few other destinations.

Our guide, Marco, was a great guy. His English was excellent, he had a cute, dry sense of humour, and he gave us interesting insights into the history of Austria and the places we were seeing.

During our trip he pointed out the university at which he'd studied languages. He said that he alternated amongst English, French and Spanish guided tours.

These sorts of half day tours have worked well for me in the past when I've wanted a brief introduction to a new city.

Elaine's experience with Arno of Vienna Sightseeing Tours sounds extremely disappointing.

I'm guessing that, if one wants a more personal tour, one in which just one or two people are accompanying a guide, it's good to rely on a specific individual who has been recommended by other travellers, folks like Dana Chaloupka in Prague and Bela Lukacs in Budapest.
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Old Dec 31st, 2004, 07:37 PM
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It sounds like you want a trip outside the city, not in it, so a day tour company can be very useful and efficient. I used two in Prague (they have excellent companies there, lots of choices) -- Prague Sightseeing Tours and Martin Tours. Both had good guides and good itineraries, but I preferred Prague Sightseeing for quality of the bus (this was a bus trip of several hours, so a more comfortable seat was nice). The Prague company is affiliated with Cedok and is on their website www.cedok.cz, but also has their own web site.

I also used Vienna Sightseeing Tours for a day trip from Vienna to Budapest and they were excellent, simply outstanding. The main guide was American, actually, but spoke fluent German, and there was also a local Budapest resident who was a historian/ guide for the city itself who also spoke English very well. I felt sorry for the folks who didn't know German or English.

I've never used a guide for the city itself I'm staying in.
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