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Upcoming Budapest/Prague/Berlin trip

Old Jul 9th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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Upcoming Budapest/Prague/Berlin trip

I have a trip planned for early September. I'm a "bang for your buck" kind of traveler (looking for clean, quiet, good location preferably with a little charm, doesn't have to be 4*, overly roomy or luxurious), and have checked reviews on Tripadvisor, Venere, Booking, etc, but very little info was found in these forums (which is my go to place for honest and accurate opinions and info) when I searched my specific hotel choices. The hotels are:
Budapest - Kapital Inn (3 nights)
Overnight on sleeper train to Prague
Prague - Hotel Pod Vezi (2 nights)
Berlin - Hotel Adelante Berlin-Mitte (4 nights)

Any thoughts or comments about these choices? The neighborhoods? Any restaurant recs in these cities?

We plan on taking some walking tours in each city. I was looking at the free ones offered by http://www.unitedeuropefreetours.com/. I was also looking at www.insidertour.com for additional Berlin tours.

We are walkers and like cities so look forward to lots of exploring.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 12:59 PM
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Have you ever taken an overnight train - if so you know whether you can get some shut eye or not - folks who cannot stand a modicum of noise may 'awaken' in the destination city sleepless - but most have no problem - I've taken zillions and rarely had time sleeping but just a note if you've never taken one there is noise from the tracks stops in stations. PA announcements and if in a shared compartment snorers and folks getting up at night to go to the loo, etc.

For lots on what to expect of overnight trains check: www.seat61.com - also clues you in on available discounted train tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. You may be a night train pro but just in case you're not...
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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I did research the train. I booked a sleeper compartment for the 2 of us so no shared area and there will be some form of beds and a sink. I look at it as an adventure. Trains in general put me to sleep. Planes are another story.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 03:08 PM
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Ok - great - a private room is well worth the extra cost over a couchette IME - especially for a couple - my friend insists his first kid was conceived on a night train to Venice! Enjoy! You can bring any food and drink you want onboard!

Prost!
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 03:35 PM
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You will LOVE Pod Vezi. Just at the end of the Charles Bridge. Great rooms, great breakfast, great staff, no view, but everything else was beyond wonderful.
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Old Jul 9th, 2015, 04:30 PM
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Ha Ha PalenQ, although no new additions to my family...we're beyond that age The train is at 10PM, and based on our travel style (a LOT of walking), we'll be tired at that point. Although, maybe a bottle of wine and a little dessert won't hurt.

Zorrosf, thanks for the feedback on Pod Vezi. We booked a "superior double room" in their "second" building.
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Old Jul 10th, 2015, 05:43 AM
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In Budapest you should totally visit the Margaret Island which is in the middle of Danube and there are lots of landscape parks. From the centre of Budapest you can easily walk through the Margaret Bridge and arrive there in maximum 15-20 minutes.
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Old Jul 10th, 2015, 07:23 AM
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As for "free" walking tours, you can find them in each of your cities. Usually, they all meet at the same square. Usually, there will be guides who are not affiliated with the "major players," but are very good and you tend to get much smaller groups. In Prague, we intended to go with a well-known group, but ended up with a transplanted South African who formerly worked for the "major players," but was on his own. He took our group of 4 and one other couple for a total of 6. Had a truly wonderful experience. The group going away with the "major Player" had at least 40 people in it. Sometimes, it just pays to take a chance.
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Old Jul 10th, 2015, 08:58 AM
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Zorrosf, thanks for the tip about tour guides. I rather not be with a group of 40 if I don't have to, and don't have a problem paying for a decent tour.
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Old Jul 16th, 2015, 08:45 AM
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I have purchased my train tickets in advance. The sleeper from Budapest to Prague, I had to purchase on the Czech rail site. The Budapest site didn't sell the sleeper car tickets on line. On the Czech site (czech-transport.com), the tickets can be sent here (US), for about $25, or to the Budapest hotel. I opted to get them here, just so I know I have them.

The tickets from Prague to Berlin I purchased on the German site (www.bahn.com). I first tried on the Czech, but again, they had to ship, no print at home option. I was able to print them on the German site, after registering. I also paid 9E more for reserved seats, although from what I read, this isn't really necessary, as the trains rarely are full. I also read that the right side of the train has better views, but that can't be requested with the reserved seats, so hopefully we'll be lucky either to have seats reserved on that side, or empty seats we can take on that side.
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Old Jul 16th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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paid 9E more for reserved seats, although from what I read, this isn't really necessary, as the trains rarely are full.>

In 2nd class they can always be quite full - you can find single seats scattered around but if want to be guaranteed two seats together then it is a wise investment - otherwise you may be playing musical chairs - seeing a seat is not reserved until say Dresden but is afterwards - and finding one that was reserved from Prague but not from Dresden, etc. You could always make those seat reservations a few days early once in Prague too - this all assuming you have 2nd class seats - first class IME rarely on any German train not having several or more empty seats though that too is changing as trains try not to ferry half-full compartments around. discounted tickets are meant to assure fuller loads when folks have to book really early so the train company knows how many cars it will need - the days of half-full cars in either classes in Germany are declining IME but first class still can be dependable to have empty seats usually but 2nd much fuller.
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Old Jul 16th, 2015, 12:34 PM
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Bookmarking for hotels
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Old Jul 17th, 2015, 06:37 AM
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We booked 2nd class. So far I have had nothing but good experiences with trains in Europe, but never traveled these routes.
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Old Jul 17th, 2015, 09:33 AM
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Prague to Berlin trains are top notch German trains I believe - amongst the finest in Europe - but beware Germany has had a spate of rail strikes, some lasting several days so pay attention - strikes are usually announced in advance - currently there seems to be some kind of cease fire and in strikes not all trains are affected but for th foreseeable future a constant problem - again the situation I read may be on its way to resolving - hopefully but in May and June trains seemed to be on strike more than not.
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Old Jul 17th, 2015, 10:20 AM
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We're going in early September. I will check for rail strikes when it gets closer to the time. I sure hope that's not a problem. I guess flying is the alternative.
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Old Sep 16th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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Just returned. All the accommodations were GREAT! I would highly recommend each one. In both the case of Kapital Inn and Pod Vezi, we arrived early in the morning, they gave us our room right away, and even offered breakfast (at no extra cost). I didn't expect either, so that was a pleasant surprise.

As far as the train goes, we had no problem, but came close. We were there during the refugee crisis at Keleti train station (which is heart wrenching). There had been no trains running east up until the night before our train. We had made alternative plans, to take a cab to train station in Slovakia and catch our same train there. Worst case scenario was to take cab all the way to Prague (which was the backup of our alternative). Fortunately we were able to stick with original plan. Albert, at Kapital Inn kindly helped us arrange the backups, by checking regularly with the train station, making phone calls and exploring other options (bus and plane, which both were booked solid). Without him we would have been anxious, to say the least.

The sleeper was fine, actually the rocking of the train put me to sleep! I would not hesitate to do this again if it fit into the itinerary.
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 11:41 AM
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Thanks for the report - especially how the rocking sleeper train helped you sleep!
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 04:02 PM
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Interested to hear your experience re: trains during the refugee crisis. We will be in the area soon and have made reservations with a car and driver to take us from Budapest to Bratislava and from there on to Vienna. No idea how things will sit by the time we get there.
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 04:17 PM
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Thanks for the update, MFNYC. Glad you had a good trip.

I'll bet being there during the refugee crisis was indeed heart-wrenching.
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 02:24 PM
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We are heading to Budapest on September 27 and traveling by train to Vienna on the 30th. We are checking alternate forms of transportation but everything is very expensive and we already have our tickets for the train.

Can you tell me a little more about the situation at the train station and tips you might have for us? Did you have any concerns on being in the city of Budapest during this time. It is a very sad situation that is overwhelming the EU.
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