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Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, and maybe Krakow?

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Jul 25th, 2013, 03:50 PM
  #1
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Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, and maybe Krakow?

We have 14 days, including travel, and want to schedule a late June/July trip to Prague, Vienna, Budapest using American Aadvantage points for air. Would appreciate any planning help. Would like to schedule a possible first stop to Krakow/Auschwitz, then on to BUD, VIE, and PRG, but American Airlines is not making it easy to schedule. Or should we consider flying into Germany to visit a Camp there? We would then rail between the other cities. Thanks for your thoughts!
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Jul 25th, 2013, 04:20 PM
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There's a lot more to Krakow (a beautiful city) than Auschwitz, though that of course is a historically significant highlight of visiting the area. I don't think you can simply substitute any other city as long as there's a concentration camp nearby.

(FYI, there is the Terezin camp near Prague - I've not visited so I'm not sure how it compares to Auschwitz.)

I assume your issue is you can't do an open jaw with AAdvantage miles so you have to fly round trip into/out of one city?

It's easy to get by train from Prague to Vienna to Budapest. Try using the site http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml and see how practical to get by train from Budapest to Krakow and then Krakow back to Prague - overnight trains might save you a day or two, but otherwise I think it's going to eat up significant travel time. Decide for yourself if it's worth the extra time.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 04:30 PM
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Terezin near Prague has evocative Nazi camp sites - the prison in the old fortress and the old ghetto in town.

We have visited Terezin & Auschwitz/Birkenau and found both thought provoking.

Krakow has Schlindler's factory & a fascinating old town with castle.

Train is super easy between Vienna & Budapest. Also good train between Budapest & Krakow. Can't comment on other train trips.

However, 4 cities in 2 weeks is a lot with travel. Can you fly into one & out of another? Or maybe 3 cities?
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Jul 25th, 2013, 04:52 PM
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kja
 
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I've been to Auschwitz/Birkenau and found it unforgettable; I haven't been to any of the other camps.

I agree with Andrew and SusannahT -- there is MUCH more to Krakow. It is charming and well worth at least a few days.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 05:00 PM
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Adding Krakow to the mix, making four major destinations in 2 weeks really crowds the schedule. Assuming that one imagines the schedule as dividing the days in this manner: 4-4-3-3, it does not take into account traveling time between the cities. I would forget Krakow or one of the original cities--perhaps Budapest.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 08:29 PM
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I would drop Prague... Krakow and Budapest are (to me) more diverse choices. Prague is more central europe's disneyworld.

I could also easily drop Vienna... I assume it might be a good entry or exit city.

What do you want to visit?... Major Jewish sites? That would be one compelling reason to keep Prague and remove Vienna.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 08:43 PM
  #7
kja
 
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Hmm... I didn't find Prague anything like a disney world, but then it's been years since I visited, so maybe it has changed.

Trying to fit all 4 cities into the same 2-week trip will be a challenge, especially (as already noted) if you can't find an open-jaw option. Can you add even a day or two to your time?

Personally, I'm not sure which city I would drop if I had to drop one. Knowing a bit about your interests might let people give you helpful input.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 08:52 PM
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Prague is a lovely city, Kia. It has just become so touristy that it feels artificial somehow. At least to me.

You are fortunate you were able to see it years ago. I wish I had.

I live in Budapest ... So I am partial there (but loved it before I moved).
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Jul 25th, 2013, 08:58 PM
  #9
kja
 
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@ centraleurope: Then I'm especially glad I saw Prague when I did! I found it vibrant and beautiful and Bohemian and a true delight. Of course, I also loved Budapest ... and Vienna ... and Krakow..... I also found them quite different from one another; each city had its own special aspects.

Maybe that means there's no bad choice for martian - just some difficult choices!
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:04 PM
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Prague is very touristy, no doubt, but it's also a beautiful town and still worth a visit. (I visited for the second time last fall.) And given that it's convenient to Vienna (short train ride), you don't necessarily save much time by dropping it. At very worst the OP could shorten his/her time there. The long connections by train are between Budapest-Krakow and Krakow-Prague.

We all have our preferences. I'm not a classical music fan, and I didn't find Vienna all that picturesque or that appealing - a pleasant town, no doubt, but not one I'd be excited to visit again, whereas I'd love to return to Budapest and Krakow someday.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:17 PM
  #11
kja
 
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For me, the main draw of Vienna was its museums -- oh, such wonderful, glorious, fantastic museums! The Kunstmuseum with its Klimt stairwell AND incredible collection!!! (That stairwell is, IMO, one of the most stunningly beautiful man-made artistic achievements any where, any time!) And the Belevedere with its breathtaking array of works by Klimt (although I think some have since been restored to their original owners). And the utterly unique Secession! And so many other museums that IMHO were well worth seeing.

I'm not saying Vienna should "survive a cut" -- just that there are wonderful reasons for visiting it that are different from the reasons from visiting the other cities under discussion. I think it's really a matter of priorities and preferences.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:25 PM
  #12
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I appredicate the debate. So is it the consensus that, with the limited time, we probably should drop a city and, if so, which? We are able to fly in to one city and leave from another. Our interests are cultural, historical, and eating well. Visiting a concentration camp is an important aspect of the itinerary. If we flew into Krakow we could take the overnight train to Budapest or Vienna and fly out of Prague, unless we drop one city. Or if we fly into Munich we could visit Dachau then on to Prague, Vienna, and leave out of Budapest, foregoing Krakow. Yes, difficult choices! What to do?
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:28 PM
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Vienna has fantastic museums and classical music. I agree. If that is your thing, go.

If that is not your thing, consider cutting it (or using it as your arrival or departure city and giving it one full day).
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:33 PM
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Btw, I have some amount of regional info at my blog site:

Www.centraleuropebeyondprague.com

I seriously need to focus on the Budapest content! But i do have info on Vienna and Prague (and, of course, Bratislava if you need another city!)

We are fairly cheap travelers... So restaurants and hotels are lower priced.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:34 PM
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If you can open jaw, I'd say you can do all four cities in two weeks without too much trouble. Your one long day would be the train between Krakow and Budapest. How to split your time? That depends on your interests in all four cities. To me, that means reviewing a guide book and summarizing what you'd like to see in each city. If like kja you think you'd love the museums, then maybe you'd spend more time in Vienna than I needed to.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 09:48 PM
  #16
kja
 
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Oh, if you can do open-jaw and are willing to take the overnight train from Krakow to Budapest, you probably can visit all four cities in 2 weeks! Again, it depends on your interests, but that makes it MUCH more possible, at least IMO.

If one question is Krakow vs. Munich, then one thing you might consider is whether you would be more likely to plan a future itinerary that would bring you closer to one or the other. My guess would be that Munich is more likely to crop up again as a possible destination that Krakow. I found much to enjoy in both cities, but I think Krakow is a bit more distinct, as so many places nearby were destroyed during WWII. Just my opinion.

If you do go to Krakow, don't miss visiting Leonardo de Vinci's Lady with an Ermine. She is SO lovely!
http://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en/index.php?op=13
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Jul 25th, 2013, 10:22 PM
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Having visited Krakow, Prague and Budapest, and now living in Vienna, I would keep all of them. No one ever sees "everything," anyway, and each of the cities are distinctive enough to make for a pleasant holiday.

Fly into Krakow and out of Budapest, or the reverse (2 days)
Krakow (3 days) including Auschwitz
Overnight train from Krakow to Prague. Use PolRail for booking.
Prague (3 days) including Terezin. This was the "children's camp" and is different from Auschwitz.
Train from Prague to Vienna. Use OBB for booking, and if it's early enough you may find a SparScheine ticket (savings ticket).
Vienna (2 days)
Train from Vienna to Budapest. Again use OBB and look for a SparScheine ticket if possible.
Budapest (2.5 days)

You'll eat well in every one of the cities, and there is no shortage of culture and history, either. Have fun planning!
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Jul 27th, 2013, 12:24 AM
  #18
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Much appreciated clarity. Thanks to all for the continuing conversation. We feel strongly about visiting all four cities, just have to figure the entry/exit cities (which will probably be determined by American Airlines travel awards availability). The schedule put forth by fourfortravel seems viable.

New Question: What area of each city is recommended to stay? We generally prefer higher end hotels in centrally located parts of town.
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Jul 27th, 2013, 01:23 AM
  #19
 
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So in Budapest, I would definitely stay in pest... Maybe the Gerloczy.

Fight the urge to stay in the castle district.
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Jul 27th, 2013, 04:23 AM
  #20
 
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In Vienna I would suggest Hotel Astoria, but for the fact that it lacks AC. The last two weeks of June this year and last were hot, with temperatures in the upper 20's/low 30's. Something to consider as you plan.

Look for hotels in the InnerStadt. Many near Stadtpark are more international (Marriott, Hilton, and so forth), as well. If you really, really want high end, look at Palais Coburg.
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