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Please help direct us in our Eastern European trip

Please help direct us in our Eastern European trip

Old Jun 7th, 2013, 09:16 AM
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Please help direct us in our Eastern European trip

Hello. My husband and I are spending Sept and Oct this year in Europe . We are aged 60 give or take and well traveled.
We start in Prague on Sept 9th where we have 5 nights and then will take the overnight train to Krakow. We have booked four nights in Krakow. The next month is not booked, we want to wing but have some direction in where we want to be.

On October 15th we need to be in Venice. I have booked 2 nites Venice, 3 Cinque Terre, 6 nites Tuscany (San Quirico) and finishing in Florence (3 nights). From there we fly to Barcelona for 3 nights and then a 16 day transatlantic cruise to New Orleans on our way home. I figure I can rest a lot on the cruise (If I am not too seasick that is).

My health has recently been compromised and I have tons of energy in the morning, but need to sleep between 2 and 4PM most days if I can. Therefore one day in a town will not work well for us.

My husband, the dear, wants to see and do everything. In the past we have crammed too much into a holiday and came home exhausted. I can't do that anymore so need to pare his wish list down to a reasonable expectation.

Here comes the questions:
From Krakow our wishlist is:
overnight train to Budapest for a couple of nights.

from there???? He wants to go to Sofia, Bulgaria. It is a long way south IMO. If we do that , should we also stop in Romania?

He also wants to see Skopje, (Macadonia), Albania and Montenegro.

We both want to spend at least a week (or 10 days) in Croatia before going to Venice.

How can we best squeeze as much as we can of the above into 26 days? We want to keep it fairly low cost, trains and buses are fine if they are comfortable, but we are not adverse to flying long distances if the price is reasonable.

Any help streamlining this is most appreciated. We like small towns as well as major cities. Our interests are museums, people watching, taking it all in from a sidewalk cafe, history and culture, and just being there.
Thanks in advance. My previous trips have always been fantastic due to all the help from Fodors travelers.
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. I live in Budapest and love it ... There are also a good number of easy day trips and overnights nearby. Let's come back to that when you start the detail planning. I have some number of ideas.

We have a lot of friends who are natives of Central Europe. My friends from Sofia are not terrible high on their home city and have encouraged me not to vacation there. But I have no first hand experience.

We are headed to Zagreb in 2 weeks... And I have heard very nice things about it. We will go from there to Ljubljana and then onto the Slovenia coast with friends. From there we will do a day trip to Trieste. I will let you know about this when I return. We will largely go by train... Maybe deal in a few buses (honestly, I have no real idea how we will move around after Ljubljana... But will be figuring that out shortly!)

If I had your amount of time (and a trip we will do eventually), I would head to Zagreb, Sarajevo, Mostar, Dubrovnik. Montenegro, Albania (a country I am dying to see).

Romania is a fabulous country, perhaps a bit off piste to the5 rest of your trip... It is a fairly easy country to get to and then drive around a bit if you are so inclined..
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 11:06 AM
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You may want to check out lonely planet where central and Eastern Europe is a bit more popular.
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 12:00 PM
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If going by train all that way look into the Balkans Railpass though trains are still rather cheap (and cattle car slow sometimes) in this area. - anyway some great sites to help you plan the rail portion - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

You may even want to consider the Global Eurail Flexi Saverpass as it covers all your countries and would give you a free ferry transportation over to Italy and be valid on Italian trains to boot.
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 01:34 PM
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He also wants to see Skopje, (Macadonia), Albania and Montenegro.

We both want to spend at least a week (or 10 days) in Croatia before going to Venice>

If you go down the coast to Igoumenitsa, just below Albania or Corfu, just offshore you could then take an overnight ferry up to Venice - if you had a railpass I think you'd get free deck passage with just a small port tax.

You could take the famous boats up and down the coast as well.
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 05:56 PM
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You might find my fall 2011 trip useful - I visited most of the Western Balkan countries.

See: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...d-bulgaria.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rn-balkans.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...o-budapest.cfm

Or go to http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/ and do a search for the town you're interested in.

Unfortunately, while I am a big fan of train travel, I can't really recommend the Eastern European trains for long distances... However, I do recommend Budapest, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro (aside from Dubrovnik) and Sarajevo.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 07:43 AM
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Hello,
I live in Romania and can tell you that I definitely recommend you explore Transylvania. You can fly from Budapest to Targu Mures (wizzair) and then explore the medieval town of Sighisoara, Sibiu, Brasov... I recommend in this area 2 hotels: Viscri 125 and Cabana Hadar. It would be best if you rented a car for this trip, as you would not have to worry about trains or busses.
Then you can make your way down to Bucharest, spend a couple of days there and from here continue your trip onwards. I don't necessarily recommend Sofia, there is not much to see, English is not spoken very much and the writing is in cyrillic, so you will have a bit of a hard time.
If you want to finish your trip in Romania on a relaxing note, the best would be to choose Sighisoara and Brasov let's say and then choose one of the hotels I mentioned for a few days.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Thank you everyone for you help on this.
Centraleurope, I look forward to hearing about your Croatia trip. I think I will try to convince DH not to go to Sofia but still so Budapest of course and perhaps Romania. I will check out Lonely Planet, I always forget about that thanks.

PalenQ, thanks for the links. I have looked into train passes but from my research it appears that we can do it as cheaply or even cheaper to pay as we go. The ferrys from Croatia to Venice stop the first week of October from what I can see unfortunately.

Thursday, I have read all of your reports and will read them again for sure.

oa toma, thank you for your information. I think perhaps we will put Romania back on our radar and look at renting a car there.

I guess I just wanted to make sure that this was all doable. On the map it looks good, but I have traveled before, eg Turkey last year, when it looks like places are not too far but it takes forever to get there because of the roads/connections etc.

We will also look forward to meeting other travelers while we are on the road to get tips and recommendations from them too which is why we dont want to set the entire 2 months in stone.
I will keep you posted.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 08:26 AM
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Centraleurope, I meant your trip to Slovania and Ljubljana. I will be interested in Trieste too as we are thinking of spending one night there to get to Venice the next morning faster than from Croatia.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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Just to add a couple of suggestions to the many fine ones above. Consider the 'Painted Monasteries' area of southern Bukovina, Romania which is a Unesco ste. Use Suceava as a base with tours, taxis, or your rental car as a means to get between the many Monasteries. You can fly or take the train to Suceava which has a good TI.
Also, if you reach Sofia, two hours south is the Rila Monastery, another Unesco site. Tours, buses to get there with accomodations in or near the Monastery. Lovely area.
Also, as a 71 year old traveler giving advice, consider getting some innoculations for eastern Europe. A travel clinic will know which ones and especially in Romania, if needed, ask for private care and carry good travel medical insurance with evacuation cover.
Romania and Bulgaria are very unique and special and should not be missed.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Parmenter, Bukovina looks fantastic, but it would take us even further astray I am afraid. Maybe another time. I will look into the monasterys more though, they look amazing.
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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Trieste to me was one of a nice surprise - something very different and a neatly restored old town of ancient wooden buildings up on the hill overlooking the busy port.
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