Where to go in Eastern Europe

Old Apr 25th, 2003, 12:59 PM
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Where to go in Eastern Europe

Myself and a friend are planning to take our next vacation early in August at Eastern Europe. We have 3 weeks.
There's so many places we want to visit, but as it's a short period we must select.We are thinking about Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Rep, Russia, Romania....
We need some advices about where to go, itinerary suggestion and tips like best transportation, hotels, etc.
I'd appreciate any help.
Adriana
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 01:08 PM
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Go to eurail.com, look for the eastern europe deal. If you are younger than 26 or travelling with a friend, you get a discount, if you dont mind travelling 2nd class. With 3 weeks, I would do ALL the places you mentioned. 4 days at each is plenty. Not to miss: Prague, Budapest, and if thats what youre into, I highly recommend Innsbruck, Austria. Beautiful in the summer.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for your replay.
I checked at eurail, but the only eastern country included is Hungary.
Which cities do you recommend me to visit?
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 01:32 PM
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I have a good friend from the Czech Rep. I have seen many photos and heard many stories....it looks wonderful! It's inexpensive and beautiful.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 05:15 PM
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Budapest and Prague are both interesting and worth a stop...Prague, "The Golden City" lives up to its nickname in every way, the world of the medieval and baroque preserved in the old part of town especially. If you do go to "Eastern Europe" I would certainly suggest these two places as absolute musts
 
Old Apr 25th, 2003, 09:24 PM
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Hi
Have you thought of renting a car? That's what we do and we have traveled all over eastern europe. Czech Republic is very good, Inexpensive, good food and the people were friendly. Kutna Hora and Ceskey Krumlove were outstanding, especially the latter. Hungary is very good also, we've been throughout Hungary and renjoy it alot. Especially Pecs,Danube Bend, Szeged. Don't advise driving in Budapest as it is avery busy city and we've had dificulty getting around and out of the city. The Tatras in Slovakia are beautiful and great for hiking. Really nice old hotels up there. The wealthy commies had some nice places. In Poland I've only been to Krakow and the surrounding area. It wasn't bad driving into Krakow and leaving the car in a guarded car park. Went to Deva in Romania last year via Hungary and only stayed a night. If you don't go to the more touristed areas, it is kind of spooky. We never made our goal and left. The hotel was a 2 star as were all there. Hard to find a resaturant, only about 1 in 3 street lights were working and dogs were roaming the streets. The city was rundown, though renovations were beginning. The hotel had no hot water in the morning for showers and other people were complaining. We usually stay in 2-3 star hotels and they are fine, as long as they have a shower and wc in the room. Hungary and Czech Rep are my favorites and you really need some time to explore them, especially if you go to Prague and Budapest. I also find a car the best way to go as it offers you independence and the ability to go where trains don't. Hope I helped somewhat.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 01:46 AM
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Basques:
Go and look at the Eurail site again. It DOES include Romania and Bulgaria (as well as Poland).
Next look at a map. Russia is HUGE: Romania not much smaller than France.
So take a strategic decision. Czech, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland are simply poor versions of West Europe: travel is relatively painless, and things work pretty much as they do in the West. Romania and Bulgaria are a LOT poorer: road travel really isn't for the novice (I hire a driver every time), the trains are OK - but can be squalid in 2nd class - and, unless you've family ties in the area, these two are probably left till the next time you come over. Independent travel in Russia is not for the faint-hearted. If you want to do it, you should really be on the Lonely Planet website. Otherwise, for an intro, get a quick package to Moscow or St Pete from a Western city like London or Vienna.
If you limit yourself to the central section - Hungary/Czech/Slovakia - do take in Cracow in Poland , and a slug of Austria
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 03:34 AM
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I have only been to Prague so far,and would say that should be close to the top of your list.

Your question is so broad that it bound to attract some very random advice at this point. I would suggest you get a guidebook for Eastern Europe and do some basic reseach first, as it is hard for people to really give helpful answers until you can pose more structured questions. Fodor's has one on eastern europe generlaly, as well as books on each country click on "Product" above and take a look.

Finally, if you have any control over your schedule, you should seriously consider not going in August. That is the #1 vacation month in Europe, and in addition to things being very crowded, prices for hotels, etc higher and harder to get reservations, you will also find that many restaurants are closed and shops will also be on a reduced opening schedule.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 06:34 AM
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With three weeks you can see a lot, but I would not suggest taking on all the countries you mentioned. While I'd suggest a week per country, I think you need a minimum of:
4 full days for the Czech Republic, with at least two for Prague and two for other spots;
5 full days for Hungary, with 2-3 days for Budapest, a day for a "Danube Bend" tour to Szentendre, Visegrad and Estergom, a day for Eger;
4-5 days for any other country, and clearly more for Russia;
travel days.

Although you can cover a lot of territory, I think you'll get a lot more out of a trip if you take more time to see more than just one city, and even there to get to more than just the main attractions. Get out of the "big cities" and into the countryside and smaller cities/towns to get a feel for what the countries and their cultures are really all about.

Depending on what you settle on, you may need air transportation, but I think rail works quite well much of the time. You may consider starting anywhere, basing a country visit in the capitol city, then going on to the next country.

Hotels in the 3-star range may be fine, but not all places with the same rating are on a par. A pensione or B&B might prove perfect. I think you need first to settle on itinerary, then address hotels.

Rod
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 07:16 AM
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We've visited Czech Republic, Krakow in Poland, Hungary & Romania and immensely enjoyed them all. We always rented a car and had no problems driving (other than in the big cities where we just drove in and thenleft the car for the remainder of the stay and then drove out again). All the ocuntries are unique and have intersting things. i agree tht you should limit your range, but I also suggest that you do something else than try to just hit the major cities. I also agree that Romania is definitely less developed and doesn't have the tourist infrastructure. But, it is a fascinating and beautiful country. We spent 10 days there on our own and would visit again in a heartbeat. It is also the least like Western Europe and more what old Europe must have been like.
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 08:30 AM
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Thank you all for the advices
Unfortunately, I must travel on Augusty
It seams that Czech Rep and Hungary are must!
One option is start my trip from Moscow, than St Petersburg area and go by air to the next country. Is it worthed?
I like to go to the countryside and if itys easy to drive, this could be a great idea.
If I need to decide between Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, which should be the best option?
Thanks again for the help.
Adriana
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 04:49 AM
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I'm an American living in the Czech Republic right now. Some advice- you can get a railpass from eurail.com called the eastpass, but trains are pretty cheap in this area so you may find that you only save yourself a few bucks. The good thing about eastpass is the ability to jump on trains without dealing with ticket people- great if you dont know the language and also to avoid hassle.
I agree with everyone else- Budapest and Prague are wonderful cities. In Budapest, go to the chain bridge at night to see the city all lit up, breathtaking. Especially in CR, prices are very low. Expect to spend $3 for a really great meal (try smazene syr y hranoke for dinner). Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia, is also very nice and the old part feels almost like Italy. If you venture all the way to Bulgaria, go to the sea for the day and just hang out. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 05:48 AM
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Ugacaro,
How is Prague after the fload last year?
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 01:29 AM
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Prague is up and running, the flood shouldn't affect your trip... i'm pretty sure all public transportation is back to normal too
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 04:16 AM
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Russia is a nuisance. You can have a visa only if you book hotels in advance through an agent.

In order of cost I place cheapest Bulgaria, then Romania (except Bucharest), Hungary, the Czech Republic (not Prague), Bucharest, and Prague most expensive. The best transport is by train.

If you can start in Vienna, you can buy a "City Star" ticket in Slovakia. See: http://dop.slovakrail.sk/city_star.html. Example are that a return ticket, valid two months, from any station in Slovakia to anywhere in Bulgaria costs 109 for one person, 163.5 for two.

If not, you should use domestic, in-country, tickets as much as possible and international tickets as little as possible, as these cost four times as much per mile as domestic. To buy a ticket in a language you do not know you can write down your plan and train times and pass the paper to the booking clerk, or can look for a well-dressed young person in the queue (line) behind you and ask for help. Some useful crossings are these.

Walk 30 minutes or bus 10 minutes from Komarno Slovakia to Komarom Hungary
Bus from Sturovo station Slovakia over the bridge to Esztergom Hingary
Walk 400 yards from Slovensko Nove Mesto station in Slovakia to the bus stop in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary.
You?ll save about 17 euros if you go from Budapest in three hours to Sopron, then on to Vienna in 80 minutes. Or from Budapest in two hours to Gyor, then two hours by stopping train to Vienna South. Sopron is beautiful.

Bus from Arad Romania to Szeged Hungary. Busses are cheap and convenient from Debrecen to Romania, too.

Buy a domestic train ticket in Bulgaria to Ruse on the frontier: from Veliko Turnovo costs about 3 Lev (1.5 USD). While the train stops in Ruse you have plenty of time to buy yourself from the small Rila office down the main station hall (by the information office) an international ticket Ruse to Bucharest (7 Lev, 3.5 USD).
Boat from Calafat Romania to Vidin Bulgaria

In summer only, a Belorussian sleeper runs near the Black Sea coast on selected days. No tickets can be sold for journeys between or in Bulgaria and Romania, so you would have to bribe the conductor. Times are Burgas 1545, Varna 1900 to 1955, Kardam 2300 to 2350, Barlad 0653 to 0657, Ungheni 1018 to 1223

Or by train or van from Constanta to Mangalia, the end of the railway, and then rare busses go over to Durankulak. If not, catch a bus (many of them in summer) to Vama Veche and walk along the deserted road from there to Durankulak, from where there are buses in summer down the Bulgarian coast (to Kaliakra, Kavarna etc.). The border crossing is open non stop and there is no queue. Another writer confirms this northbound. Get a bus to Durakulak (the closest checkpoint with Romania). Walk several kilometers over the border and take a bus to Mangalia then take the first train to Constanta. There you can wait for the first train to Tulcea or take a bus from the coach station situated in the rail station vicinity.

Plovdiv and Brasov are nicer and have more to see and do than Sofia and Bucharest. In Slovakia I suggest you stay in Levoca (Arcade Hotel) and take bus trips to other fine towns around. In the Czech Republic stay in Ceske Budejovice (Grand Hotel) and take bus trips to fine towns and villages around.
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