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What are your reasons for going to Eastern Europe?

What are your reasons for going to Eastern Europe?

Old Oct 18th, 2002, 04:37 PM
  #1  
Lee
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What are your reasons for going to Eastern Europe?

I have become very interested in taking a trip to the Eastern European countries and am wondering what interests other people about these countries. Is it the history, the people, the beautiful architecture?<BR>Is there beautiful landscapes to see in that area? What are your favourite cities? I would like to visit Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest and Prague. I really would love to hear any opinions and ideas . I don't want to miss the essence of these cities.<BR>Thanks for any help.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 05:41 PM
  #2  
Rod
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What interests anyone about anywhere? Each place has its own attractions, and each culture has its own character. And beauty of landcape is as much in the eye of the beholder as it is on the face of the earth -- although I conceed that some places are not so compelling to view.<BR><BR>"Eastern" (or is what you refer to "Central"?) Europe had a different history for most of the latter half of the 20th century than that of "Western" Europe. The differences can be seen in contrasts between, say, Budapest and Vienna. <BR><BR>You say you "don't want to miss the essence of these [four Eastern] cities". I'd submit that you ought to consider more than just the cities and get into the country as well.<BR><BR>But do go!
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 05:52 PM
  #3  
Rex
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I want to go to make some kind of connection with Slavic language(s). I took a year of Russian, 30 years ago, and I want to jump from this little bit of fundation into a whole big new ocean of language and all the culture associated with it.<BR><BR>I realize that Hungary will be part of a whole different "other" ocean.<BR><BR>Best wishes,<BR><BR>Rex<BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 05:54 PM
  #4  
AR
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Krakow, Budapest and Prague are relatively near to each other. If you want to do a circle of these three, perhaps leave out Warsaw. The Tatra mountains in southern Poland are beautiful, the holiday base being Zakopane. I would recommend that you stay here and do Krakow, Wroclaw and Auchwitz. Then go to Prague and Budapest. Don't bother with Bratislava as it has very little to commend it. If you would rather cities to Zakopane, then add Berlin. It is a fun city which changes all the time.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 06:03 PM
  #5  
Art
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I agree with AR. The Tetra Mountains are very picturesque. I really enjoyed Hungary and would like to return. Budapest is in such a great location on the Danube and IMO is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe because of its location. There was a lot of damage during WWII and there is a lot of restoration left to be done. The food is great and still inexpensive. Budapest houses the largest Parliament and Synagogue in Europe. Tremendous amount of history to be learned there. Prague has the most striking buildings of any city in Europe, all different variations of colors. The old town main square is worth an afternoon of sitting, sipping and people watching. There are several day trips from both Budapest and Prague that one can take. Hungary has the largest lake of Central Europe and is a very popular tourist spot in the summer.<BR>Krakow also has a lot to offer and see in the surrounding area. Warsaw had to be totally rebuilt after WWII with less to see. <BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 04:47 AM
  #6  
Marc David Miller
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Eastern Europe (at least as defined by the Big Three at Potsdam and Yalta) draws me because of the history, art, architecture, music and more practical reasons. <BR><BR>The history is what first drew me to that region. I wanted to see how countries developed behind the Iron Curtain that sealed off much creativity for over 40 years. To this day I am amazed at not only what was produced but that the people, abused by their governments, still managed to build lives, produce families, and find varying degrees of happiness. After studying Western Europe for the better part of 20 years, I could easily go to Eastern Europe, and learn, for instance, about the influence of both the Germans and the Russians on the countries between their borders. It is fascinating for me to look at examples of the idealism of the 19th and early 20th Century (the Parliament building in Budapest is larger than that in London; Russian avant-garde art illustrated the creative energy released by the overthrow of the Czar).<BR><BR>Russian art of the early part of the century has always held my interest, and it was wonderful to learn about artistic and architectural movements (such as Czech cubism) that are never exhibited in the West. There are variances of Art Nouveau and Art Deco that were never duplicated in the West (I could name at least four Russian and Czech architects who are the equal of Gaudi).<BR><BR>In classic music the Eastern European theaters still, despite a lack of government (or private) support, manage to produce both classic and newer productions that are the equal or superior to those in Western Europe. Valery Gergiev of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre/Kirov Opera is the von Karajan of our generation. <BR><BR>Finally the more practical reasons: Eastern Europe, lead by the Soviet Union, was for three generations our enemy. I always theorized that most of the horrors of the 20th century were started in Eastern Europe (even Nazism to me was a perverted form of anti-Communism). The more we "normalize" Eastern Europe, visit them, expose them to our society and our values (including regulated capitalism), and the more we appreciate what they managed to produce despite the hell that they experienced, the less likely that they would embrace a man on a white horse.<BR><BR>Try also Karlovy Vary, the old resort town of Carlsbad (in the former Sudeten German area of the Czech Republic). It is a great place to relax for a few days in the middle of a sight-intensive trip.<BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 05:01 AM
  #7  
Shain
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puuh, what else can I add to Rex and Marc David ?<BR><BR>Well, Prague is indeed a must, You feel relaxed wandering through the pedestrian streets, enjoying coffee in some youthstile cafes or restaurans.<BR>I found it on some spots very "french", especially at the restaurant "provence".<BR>It's a great charming city. Don't miss out Karlsbad, but also do not forget the dark places, which gives you quiete a feeling of what the "nazis" did to human kind - take a moment time for<BR>"Theresienstadt"(i think it's written Terecin in czech) and "Auschwitz" in Poland.<BR>You may discover along the river moldau, elbe still some great disturbances because of the big flood of this august (even in prague and drsden)
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 07:59 AM
  #8  
Lee
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Thank you all so very much for the great responses. YOu have really helped me, and have tipped the scales. I am not only interested, but now very certain that I will make this trip. I'm planning on going next May, so have lots of time to start reading. I do enjoy learning as much as possible about my destination when I travel.<BR>Now to decide how to travel. I am a single woman ( not very good at languages) and so think that driving on my own would be a mistake. The often 'slammed' coach tour may be the way to go. It would be wonderful if I could find a very small and budget minded tour group.<BR>Again, many, many thanks.<BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 08:50 AM
  #9  
cd
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Lee<BR>Thanks for asking this question and thanks to everyone that gave so much information. This is about 3rd on our planned travel list of places to visit.
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 09:06 AM
  #10  
Rex
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Lee,<BR><BR>I would be very interested in helping to put together such a trip - - May might not be my first choice of dates - - and I am considering one or two other destinations for April or May. But my plans are generally very flexible and nothing is set yet on any other trips for spring.<BR><BR>So if you would like to discuss this with me further, please let me know.<BR><BR>Two years ago, I tried organizing just such a trip, but it fell through. Here was the thread. <BR><BR>http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=100242<BR><BR>I have now learned much more than I understood at that time about the time line required to put together such a thing. To date, I have been on group trips 11 of my 22 trips to Europe - - as organizer, planner/leader in one capacity or another. One trip that occurred as a result of message here on this forum was the Fodorites' Italy 2001 trip. There is some additional info about that on a webpage www.rexbickers.italy.com<BR><BR>Best wishes,<BR><BR>Rex<BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 10:18 AM
  #11  
Ben Haines
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Sorry to join late. My reasons match those of others here.<BR><BR>It is interesting and pleasing to see the advances made in only a dozen years in the Baltic countries, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. I am glad to disagree loudly with Potsdam and Yalta and agree with Rod : these countries are in central Europe. Only the 1945 settlement locked them for a time into east Europe. I think the term East Europe suits countries from Belorussia to Moldova, and on into Romania and Bulgaria, countries where economic advance is slow and politics are murky ? though I have hopes for Bulgaria.<BR><BR>I enjoy the welcome, the strongest where tourists are few, so Serbia is delightful at present. I like the food: in central Europe westerners can afford the best meals in town (except Prague, Warsaw and Krakow). I enjoy the beautiful cities and towns with their baroque buildings. I see very few signs of war damage in central Europe anywhere south of Dresden, or in the Balkans. It is true that Belorus and Ukraine took a battering, and it shows. Even Warsaw has at last gained the feel of an old city ? though it is a complete rebuild, and I should miss it on a first tour. I enjoy the classical music, a half or third of London prices, unless you go for Mozart and Bach played badly by candlelight, in costume.<BR><BR>Your choice is probably a group tour or by train. A group tour lets you see the favourite places with little worry about hotels, times, and so on, but locks you away from citizens of the place you visit. A specialist rail agent can easily set you up a train trip around Krakow, Budapest and Prague, and if you travel alone (as I do) you fall into plenty of conversations in trains, cafes, concert intervals, and so on. Suitable agents are<BR><BR>In the USA and Germany<BR>Euraide, offices in Florida and Germany: http://www.euraide.de/. Telephone in USA 1 941-480-1555. Fax 1 941-480-1522. E-mail [email protected]<BR>Rail-owned DER travel agency in the USA: http://www.der.com<BR>In the UK<BR>Trainseurope Ltd, of Cambridgeshire and London, take credit card bookings by phone and mail tickets to any address. Have the widest access in Britain to rail systems and tickets. http://www.trainseurope.co.uk/ - E-mail [email protected]. Phone 00 44 900 195 0101 - calls from Britain cost 60p per minute, maximum &pound;5, but if the enquiry results in a booking, the cost of the call is deducted from the final invoice.<BR>German Rail UK: www.deutsche-bahn.co.uk/ Phone : 00 44 870 243 53 63 Fax : 00 44 20 8339 4700. E-mail : [email protected]<BR>In the Czech Republic: Cedok Travel, www.cedok.cz, charge to credit card via internet, and the tickets are at your hotel upon arrival in Prague<BR>In Hungary: Budapest: http://www.aeroviva.com, then Europe, then rail and bus. <BR><BR>You could let them choose he hotel in each city, or could use http://www.inyourpocket.com to pick your own, then book by e-mail.<BR><BR>Please write if I can help further. Welcome back to Europe.<BR><BR>Ben Haines, London<BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 10:23 AM
  #12  
Leslie
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Lee, I was in Prague in November by myself and in Budapest in March by myself, each for 9 days. The place you want to spend the least amount of time is in Warsaw (1 to 1.5 days will suffice). I have not been to Poland yet, but it is on my list of countries to go to, and I will most likely make the trip next fall. <BR><BR>If you are hesitant to make all of the arrangement by yourself, I suggest you look into Paul Laifer Tours. The tours are not organized tours with a group of people per se. You decide how many days you want to spend in each city, and Paul Laifer will make the arrangements for air, train, hotel, connections, and a 1/2 day tour in each city. <BR><BR>Within the hospitality industry, you will find that English is widely spoken in Budapest and Prague. If you are looking for either private tour guides or day tours through organized tour companies, I can also give you a number of recommendations.<BR><BR>How long do you plan to be on vacation? What I do not suggest is spending 2 weeks seeing 4 cities, as you have to take into account the connection times. In 2 weeks you might consider just going to Budapest and Prague, and then making some day trips outside of these cities.<BR><BR>If you want information on Poland, Art Hussey would be a very good source here. Art also has been to Budapest and Prague, however, he favors Budapest, while I favor Prague. <BR><BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 10:45 AM
  #13  
Lee
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Oh, you guys are great!! Thank you so much.<BR>Ben, I stand corrected... Central Europe it is!!<BR>Leslie, you give me hope that I really could do it alone.<BR>I have travelled many, many times to Britain and Ireland on my own, so am not really a novice. I'm not the least bit hesitant to do all the arranging. It's the actual travelling in a foreign language country that scares me. I'm absolutely hopeless when it comes to languages... and not for lack of trying.<BR>I would actually enjoy the planning part and know I'm quite capable with help from Fodorites!!<BR>If I DID decide to go it alone, are the transit systems within the cities easy enough? <BR>Also, I have to watch the budget, as I'm Canadian and our dollar is soooo bad!.<BR>Oh , I am getting excited.<BR>Any suggestions for reading? NOthing too heavy please &gt;g
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 11:15 AM
  #14  
john
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<BR>Lee,<BR>Someone once asked a famous mountain climber why he climed Mt. Everest. His reply: "Because it's there." Same goes for travel, no matter where.<BR>I've spent probably two months on several trips in "eastern" Europe. It is interesting and entertaining, pleasant and economical. I've driven into the Ukraine, around Poland, Bulgaris, Romania, etc. Make sure you see Budapest. It's not so much raved about as Prague but I like the food and the ambiance a bit more. A jewel that you should also consider is Ljubljana in Slovenia. On your way from Budapest stop in Graz, Austria for the museum armory.<BR>John
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 02:21 PM
  #15  
Art
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Lee, the transit systems within Prague, Budapest and Krakow are excellent. I bought a 7 day pass in Budapest for approx US $7.00 2 years ago. It is good for the metro, trams and busses within the city and you can really cover the city with them. Prague also has a very good system, but you will use it less as the city is much smaller than Budapest. I did not use the system in Krakow as we had rented a car in Germany for our trip, but I did see a lot of trams and busses. <BR><BR>
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 05:50 PM
  #16  
Rex
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Lee,<BR><BR>I spoke tonight with Lois, 72 years young, from Carbondale, IL - - and although her first interest was in a trip to Spain, she loves Prague, and would be interested in a trip to central europe in a heartbeat.<BR><BR>I appreciated your e-mail, and would be exicted if this is the first seed of a possible group trip interest for sometime next year.<BR>
 
Old Oct 22nd, 2002, 03:09 PM
  #17  
Rex
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More information on the possibility of a Fodorites' trip to Spain on these two travel-board threads:<BR><BR>http://www.travel-board.com/index.php?board=2;action=display;threadid=288<BR>< BR>and<BR><BR>http://www.travel-board.com/index.php?board=2;action=display;threadid=280<BR>< BR>Still very much in the drawing board stage (if even that), at this point.<BR><BR>The travel-board.com forum will probably end up being a better venue for the exchange of information about any such possible trip.<BR><BR>Still, it will be worthwhile to share info on interest for such as it frows (if and when).<BR>
 
Old Oct 22nd, 2002, 03:16 PM
  #18  
yes
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Eastern Europe has not been a tourist destination for the past 55 years until recently. That's why it is so adventerous. As for Prague, it is one of the only cities in eastern Europe which was not bombed. It was caught in a sort of time warp and looks much as it did a century ago. It is Fantastic.
 
Old Oct 22nd, 2002, 05:58 PM
  #19  
up
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So, will there be a Fodorites trip to Prague or any of these other places?<BR>
 
Old Oct 23rd, 2002, 01:00 PM
  #20  
Lee
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Art and John, Thanks so much for the information. I do appreciate it.<BR>And 'yes', understand what you are saying and I think that is one of the reasons I'm so interested in going to this part of Europe. I'm sure it is fasinating, and with all the help I've received , I'm quite sure I'd have no problem going on my own, and in fact, have decided that it's the best thing to do.<BR>Thanks again to everyone.<BR>
 

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