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Questions re Trip to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary

Questions re Trip to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary

Old Dec 7th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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Questions re Trip to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary

I'm planning a trip to these countries in late May with me, DH and 13yo DS.

We're still working out the itinerary (I'll post questions on that later), but know we'll begin with 4 nights in Prague and end with 4 nights in Budapest, with a car rental and visits to the countryside and small cities/towns in between.

Some general questions:

Beer halls and beer drinking seem to be popular. I happily drink wine, but don't like beer (DH does, though). Do the beer halls have reasonable non-beer options? And what about DS - he looks older than his age. When do "kids" start getting offered beer?

If we want to attend the opera, which would be the more wonderful experience, Prague or Budapest? (though what's being performed when we're in each city may make the decision for us)

All the hotels I've seen include breakfast; some mention "filter coffee." I'm addicted to my morning cappuccino (or cafe au lait or caffelatte). Do hotels offer those kinds of drinks, or just "filter coffee," and is that like regular American coffee? I've read about turkish coffee, but that sounds like the equivalent of espresso/expresso.

Guide Books: I haven't bought anything yet, just checked out from the library: Fodors, Frommers, Eyewitness, Lonely Planet, Rough Guide. To buy and take with us, I'm looking for books that cover cultural and historic sites in a lot of detail. Of all those books, Lonely Planet comes the closest, but isn't perfect. Any suggestions? The two possibilities I've seen mentioned are Michelin and Bradt, but I'd have to order them without having a chance to look through them first. (For example, I used the Blue Guide AND Rick Steves on our most recent trip to Rome.)

Darling son is now vegetarian. I know this is a "meat and potatoes" region, but in looking at online menus of upscale and casual restaurants and beerhalls, it seems he has options. If he orders, for example, a salad and a side dish (let's say, dumplings), is that "socially acceptable?" (He says he can live for 15 days on apple strudel and palacinky, but as his mom, I have to say no!)

Other than the native cuisine, are there other restaurant foods/cuisines that are good, particularly in Prague or Budapest? French, Italian (pizza) Thai, Indian, and so on? I'm guessing we won't want to eat meat and potatoes every day.

Thanks for the help; I'm enjoying researching the area and reading up on history, particularly recent years (currently reading "The Haunted Land," by Tina Rosenberg)!
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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Czech R is real heavy on the pork and potatoes. I haven't been to the other countries, as least not long, but have been to Prague several times. I haven't been in beer halls, though, so can't comment on that. I just go to cafes. But the wine in Prague is really bad, because Czech wine isn't very good. And for some reason, a lot of places serve Czech wine rather than Italian or Spanish or French. So it's hard to get good wine. I don't hate beer, just don't drink it a lot, but do more in Prague just to go with the flow. You can get some wine, though, in cafes, just maybe not the greatest selection. People don't offer people drinks, you order them and order what you want. At least I've never seen people offering people drinks in cafes, a waiter asks you what you want to order, it's very normal. I can't imagine a 13 year old drinking! The legal drinking age in the CR is 18, I believe, although I don't know if you will be allowed to have your son drink or not.

The opera in Prague is very very good, and very cheap, so that's all I can say. Budapest may be good, too, but Prague is very opera-oriented and has at least three venues, so it is really important there and very good.

There are all kinds of restaurants in Prague, but for some reason, they have a lot of Italian restaurants there, so you will definitely find them. One of my favorite restaurants is Indian in Prague, on Dlouha street. It's called Rasoi and is at no. 13. There are many Italian ones, and I've enjoyed several so hard to pick. YOu won't have any trouble finding them.

There is a good Thai one around there also, but I can't remember its name.


There are several good French ones, also. I usually drop into a French cafe I like at least once -- Chez Marcel on Havelska Square. It's definitely French with a Czech twist, but you can still get some frites and a steak there (and some decent wine, actually).

As for the coffee -- I imagine filtered is regular brewed coffee. I don't remeber any particular name being attached to the coffee at the hotels where I've stayed, but it was regular brewed coffee, def. not cappucinos etc. I just like regular black coffee, though. A lot of hotels have breakfast included, and you can put milk in your coffee if you want, but I don't think they'll serve you a special thing like cappucino for breakfast, which is a special machine and everything. YOu could probably get that in a cafe, though.
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Christina's response is pretty well covering. Thoughts.

Hotel breakfast coffee will normally be based around automatic machines. So if you want the real stuff you may have to step outside or go up market in hotel.

Prague is a beer based area but plenty of wine in restaurants (less so in beer halls but coke/pepsi is every where. Czech wine is not very good so chose from international ranges.

Czech food is meat based. Hungarian food allows for vegitarian but in both countries you will probably prefer to eat Indian or North African, Aphgan (good one in Prague) or other similar.

Note that even if the Czech says it is vegitarian they might include a meat gravy.... so dumplings will be made with meat suet.

I think rough guide covers Hungary very well.

Note that Vienna is a little between the cities mentioned but I doubt you have time to fit it in

Budapest is in a wine drinking country so less of a problem
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 01:48 PM
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In Budapest I ate at a good Indian restaurant, Salaam Bombay, and one not so good, Govinda (but good for vegetarians). I can also recommend Trattoria Toscana for Italian.
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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Thanks for the info.

Can you tell we mostly drink wine on vacation? Of course, when it's beer, people just order. I was thinking back to our trip to France this year, where our DS was offered wine with dinner several times. Such a silly question on my part.

I feel "forewarned" now about bad wine and filtered coffee. So if I want a cappuccino, I'll go to a cafe. All of the hotels we've considered provide breakfast, so we'll probably eat there.

Let's keep the meat gravey and suet in the dumplings as a secret between ourselves! We've told DS that we're not making our restaurant choices based on his moral food choices, though as we don't eat a lot of meat ourselves, I'm sure we'll be eating a variety of cuisines. And when I've talked to him about what the food might be like, he's agreed that if something comes - surprise - with meat on it, he'll pick it out. But I hope he doesn't realize that the dumplings may include suet (or lard), because I'd also like him to try the local foods as much as possible.

I was happy to see the suggested Indian restaurants - since DH and DS are Indian, we all like that kind of food! I'd read about Rasoi, so good to hear it's good.

On our itinerary, I really want to spend time in the countryside (about 9 days), so I've vetoed Vienna for this trip (us grownups have visited there previously). We're probably going to travel to Austria next year, so we'll visit Vienna and Cesky Krumlov as part of that trip.
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 12:43 AM
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When we were in Prague and Budapest this year we had no trouble finding reasonable wines to drink with our meals. Admittedly, in reation to Prague that was partly due to the fact that we were staying with locals and so they took us to places they already knew. Unfortunately I don't the name of most of them. However, at least you know it can be done.
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 05:15 AM
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Well if you drink wine Hungary will be a wow. Lots of choices but the wines of Balaton, Eger and Tokai are all great. You may find out in country inns that they will offer wine with water (various concentrations "short stop" "long stop" etc). Tokai is known as a sweet wine in the west but they actually offer a full range of white wines many go great with fish
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 06:20 AM
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Beer halls serve soda and hard liquor, but usually not wine. Just depends on the place. The hard-core local halls are generally beer and sausages, and you will find some pets coming along for company (usually dogs), and LOTS of cigarette smoke. As unappetizing as that may sound, most of my best times in the Czech Rep have been in those types of establishments.

PS - even if beer is not your thing, find a place that serves Kozel (it has a symbol of a goat, as the logo). It is the BEST dark beer made. I'm not a big beer drinker either, but will get that everytime, if the place serves it.
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 06:47 AM
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If you want an introduction to Hungarian wines, visit the Hungarian House of wine in Budapest (opposite the Hilton on Castle Hill) and take the wine tour. You'll get to taste 22 wines, see many more, and read some information on them. www.magyarborokhaza.hu/borkostolo_pince.php
Fortunately, they provide spit buckets, although I seemed to absorb a fair amount of alcohol even though I used them... Good place to meet people, too.
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