Vienna, budapest Warsaw Berlin

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Aug 30th, 2003, 08:40 PM
  #1
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Vienna, budapest Warsaw Berlin

Hello
We are planning a trip using trains, starting in Vienna , on to Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, and maybe to Berlin ar back to Vienna.
We have looked at organized tours, but think we would prefer rail and personal tours/homestays in the various cities.
Love meeting people, eating local food etc. and going to local concerts, galleries.
any suggestions?
Yours in anticipation
amaryllis
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Aug 30th, 2003, 10:34 PM
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I agree with your choice. To meet local people you have the drawback that nobody likes to interrupt a couple in conversation. So it will fall to you to make casual remarks to people (admire their dog, comment on the weather) to start conversation: they are less likely to do so than they are with me, a bachelor. Local food is everywhere, except Berlin and Krakow, which are full of Mediterranean restaurants, so you find local food most easily in taverns away from tourist places. Galleries are in any guidebook: please do not miss the da Vinci Lady with an Ermine in Krakow, nor the open air museum of socialist art in Budapest. For concerts you can go early to the tourist information offices to ask for their monthly lists. This is true in Vienna, Budapest, Krakow and I think Warsaw. In Berlin you should buy Berlin Tips magazine at any news agency, and the Thursday edition of Berliner Zeitung, and in Budapest the weekly magazine that lists concerts all over Hungary. Any concert where the players dress up in Mozartian clothes is for tourists, not nationals of the country. You may perhaps find a local concert, by a youth group in a church say, but these are rarer than concerts by orchestras of national or international importance, such as the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonic, or the Czech Symphony Orchestra.

The same city info offices often run walking tours of their old city centres in English and the national tongue, often starting at ten. You can hire somebody there to take you on a personal tour, but you meet people more on one of these public tours, and they save you money. Those offices can tell you whether there are tours in their city art galleries. Again, they can find you bed and breakfast houses, but I have to say that those are usually thirty minutes by tram from city centres, and do not necessarily lead to conversation. True homestays are hard to arrange: you might put a note under the heading Homestays Wanted to ask people on this forum whether they have a family to recommend.

You save travel time and the cost of a room night if you take a sleeping car. Vienna to Budapest is three hours. A train with sleepers and a buffet car leaves Budapest at 1925 and reaches Warsaw Central at 0704, then a train with restaurant car fir breakfast leaves Warsaw Central at 0800 and reaches Krakow Glowna at 1035. There is a direct night train, but it reaches Krakow at 0556. Trains with sleepers run from Warsaw at 2330 to Berlin at 0717 and from Krakow at 2140 to Berlin at 0824. So if you do go to Berlin you might travel Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow, Berlin, for long and simple night journeys. Trains with sleepers run Krakow 2245 to Vienna 0656 and Berlin 2006 to Vienna 0745. There is a note on getting the best from sleepers and couchettes at http://www.twenj.com/tipsnighttrains.htm. If you are two, and want conversation at bedtime, you should book into 3 berth sleepers, where you are separated by sex, so travel with two nationals each. (Nobody wants to talk in a sleeper after ten, nor much in the morning). For privacy you pay fifty percent more and travel in a double.

In Krakow Glowna station pickpockets work in groups of three. No problem. Ten minutes before you arrive you put a little money and one credit card in a pocket, and all other valuables, including passport, into the top of your heaviest suitcase. On arrival you take a trolley, and go up by lift to the roof of the station, which is a car park. There you hire any taxi with a phone number painted on its side, stop if need be at an ATM (bankautomat) to draw money, and go to your hotel. Leaving, in your room you put some money and your rail tickets in a pocket, and everything else in the top of your big suitcase, to be taken out once you are in your compartment.

Please write again if I can help further.

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Aug 31st, 2003, 12:49 PM
  #3
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Hello Ben,
thankyou for your amazing reply, full of all the information we require! you certainly have enthused us to do this trip independently.
As New Zealanders, it is a long haul to fly anywhere, to say nothing of the value of our dollar, so we like to make the most of it all.
Thanks again for your trouble-we shall take uo your offer of further help, nearer the time.
amaryllis
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Aug 31st, 2003, 12:54 PM
  #4
ira
 
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Hey Ben,

I stand open-mouthed in wonderment.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 01:31 PM
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Ira: Thank you. But as you see, I share a lot of ground with Amaryllis, so this is top of my head stuff.

Amaryllis: If you will excuse a stereotype, I cannot imagine a New Zealander who would not fall naturally and easily into pleasant conversation. We have one in our church, quite old, retired deputy head, and she is a treasure. I look forward to your next note.

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