Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Road Trips (
-   -   First Trip Report Prague, Krakow and Budapest plus the less travelled road inbetween A road trip (

shandy Sep 13th, 2007 02:25 AM

Hi Maitaitom,

Glad to see you are still doing your trip to Eastern Europe. 2008 will be here before you know it.

It took us 2 hours to drive to Telc and another 2 1/2 hrs to Olomouc. For the drive to Telc we basically didn't travel on any major roads but meandered through the countryside. It was very pretty.

The trip from Telc to Olomouc was nearly all on motorways and should have been a breeze, moving along at a good pace. Unfortunately for us, it teamed with rain for that entire section and we found it rather nervewrecking with all the huge trucks throwing up a lot of water as they zoomed past.

As you know from my report, we were fairly unimpressed with Telc (although we did quite enjoy the castle itself) but it literally only adds about 10 mins to your driving time, so you might want to consider just stopping by to see the square and have a brief break from driving. If you do so, walk up to the castle (just at the far end of the square) and even without waiting for a tour you can still see the rather lovely chapel and walk around the grounds.

I hope you enjoy Penzion Na Hrade. Our situation was just the same as yours, we didn't pay a deposit or anything beforehand. In fact, for the entire trip the hotel in Krakow was the only place we paid a deposit. The Penzion is literally only a 100 metres from the main square. You should enter from the same direction as us, in which case the Penzion is in a small street just to the right of the square. You will see Cafe Mahler at the far end of the square, so keep to the right of that and continue along the street as if you are leaving the square altogether. Just after you leave the square, about 10-15 metres on your right you will see another laneway on your right. That is the actual street the penzion is in. It is on your right about half-way down the street. There is a small area where you can temporarily park the car whilst you take your luggage in. One of the hotel staff will take your car to a proper car parking lot. By the way, the Square is considered one huge roundabouat so you can only drive around it in one direction.

maitaitom Sep 13th, 2007 11:51 AM

Thanks shandy. We're really looking forward to our trip.


Brahmama Sep 20th, 2007 07:35 AM

Bookmarking this very excellent Trip Report for use in 2008

shandy Nov 7th, 2007 08:46 PM

Topping for tcreath. Hope it helps you decide.

tcreath Nov 10th, 2007 07:45 AM

shandy, thank you so much for topping this for me. I've been reading it off and on, between wor and homework, and it was a great trip report! Sounds like you had a wonderful time and you definitely explored some off-the-beaten-tourist-path places, something I am definitely interested in. I took some notes and am going to do some further research.


cherrybomb Nov 10th, 2007 09:00 AM


Oddsocks Nov 19th, 2007 01:13 PM

Hi Shandy,
Not sure if you remember but I promised to let you know how the walking tours worked out. And they went OK.
I started early in July and went until the end of August every day at 10am from the square just for two hours, to be back in time for the performance of the clock at noon.
I had some really good comments and most people seemed to enjoy it. I ended up not making very much money. Most people gave nothing, but one guy even gave me 1000Kc!!
Probably I'll do it again next summer, but I'm not sure about the 'free' side of it yet-if there are rude or apathetic people on the tour and then you walk away with hardly any tips, it's tough to keep up the motivation.
We'll see though. If you ever return to Olomouc, let me know and whatever I'm doing, your tour is definitely on me!
Cheers, Greg.

Wekiva Nov 19th, 2007 01:26 PM

Bookmarking for future trip

Lexma90 Nov 28th, 2007 12:29 PM

Shandy - We've just decided (and booked flights) on a trip that begins in Prague and ends in Budapest, with visited in between to as many smaller towns as we can reasonably fit in. I'm going over your report thoroughly, and I'm sure I'll have questions.

And Oddsocks, we may be contacting you as well - Olomouc is one of the towns on my (too-long) list.

Melissa5 Dec 8th, 2007 11:29 PM

I apologize to any trees which were cut down in order to supply paper for the copies of Shandy's wonderful trip report, which I have printed out...probably at least twice!!!

shandy, love your trip report. I've decided to stay at Hotel Pugetow in Krakow. Since I've been working on our Eastern/Central Europe trip for a long time, I may have printed your trip report out twice! It looks familiar but I must have another more thorough read. Thank you!

I like your title..."plus the less travelled road in between"... What would you say were your favorite spots & experiences on the less travelled road in between? Are you glad you drove and why did you decide on driving instead of the train?

shandy Dec 9th, 2007 03:35 AM

Melissa, you will see from your own hotel thread that I am off on holidays again in a few hours. When I get back I will reply to your questions about what we liked best and why we decided on driving.

shandy Jan 6th, 2008 05:24 AM

Melissa, we chose to drive as compared to train or plane because we love the freedom a car gives us. We are not tied to being at a station or airport at a particular time in order to make a connection. If we want to linger somewhere longer than we thought we would, we can do so, or alternatively move on as well if we are not enjoying a place or the weather is bad. We usually have some leeway in the itinerary to allow for this. To be able to drive along and say, let's stop here for a picnic/go for a walk/take photos of the scenery is priceless in our opinion.

Many travellers are intent on only seeing the major cities and perhaps doing a day trip or two out of them and, in that case, train or plane is probably the way to go. Driving in and out of major cities/parking etc can be a major hassle.

However, for us, we actually prefer to spend more time in the countryside and less in the cities. We feel that we get to see and experience more of the local culture that way. The major cities are often extremely tourist orientated and therefore your chance to soak up the true local atmoshphere is somewhat skewed. This doesn't mean that the cities themselves are not enjoyable - you will have seen from our trip report that we throughly enjoyed Prague, Krakow and Budapest.

The other major consideration is that we simply enjoy being in the countryside. The green rolling hills and mountains of Europe are an absolute delight to us and we can't get enough of them. Train connections work well between major cities, but not when you want to visit a lot of smaller places. Trying to tee up train and bus connections to all the little places would have made our entire trip unworkable.

I know that many people would consider moving every few days a major hassle and couldn't stand the thought of contstantly packing and unpacking, but this is not an issue for us. I can't really imagine it ever taking longer than 20 mins to pack up to move onto the next hotel. The only exception being when we are finally flying home and thus have to make everything fit into the couple of suitcases again. With the car, it is easy to let any overflow of items be kept in a carry bag or two - it is not as though you have to carry the stuff in and around terminals, worry about security checks etc. You just have to carry it down to the car and dump it in the boot. No more carrying of luggage again until you park in front of the next hotel.

As to what places we liked best, our number one choice would definitely be Zakopane. The scenery was magnificent, both the overall mountains and wandering along the walking tracks through the forest. The river running through the town was delightful and the Zakopane style architecture lovely. The town itself was quitely lively with lots of choices of where to eat, though probably not a huge number of choices if you are after 'fine dining'. The meal we had at our own hotel one night, would have been the only one which rated as fine dining. The other couple of nights we ate at much more casual places but with loads of atmosphere.

Staying at the Grand Hotel in Stary Smokovec was well worth it too just for the experience. The township itself didn't seem all that wonderful but we were there well out of season so a lot of things were closed.

We really enjoyed the small towns of Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary. Both very preety with tons of atmosphere.

We enjoyed Oloumouc and Eger as well but probably wouldn't put them in the category of "must sees".

Of the main cities I would have rate Prague as #1. We did enjoy both Krakow and Budapest very much, but probably would place Krakow ahead of Budapest. I think that was because it was smaller and thus everything was walking distance.

I hope this helps a bit.

shandy Jan 6th, 2008 05:38 AM


I have only just noticed your posting re the walking tours. I am so glad that you gave it a go. As you know I am sorry that we didn't get more of a chance to explore the town.

Perhaps next summer you should try asking for a small/moderate fee per person. At least then, that would make it still worthwhile if you don't get any tips, but it is still small enough that people won't mind giving you a tip as well if they have enjoyed themselves. Also, do you let the people know that you are doing the tour for no payment at all? Perhaps some are assuming you are being paid by the local tourist office to provide the service - just a thought.

Unfortunately, I think it will be a long time before we get another chance to be travelling over your way again but I always live in hope. :) If you ever make it to Melbourne, Australia let me know. I would love to give you a walking tour of Melbourne.

LoriS Jan 6th, 2008 04:58 PM

Great report. This is very helpful in planning our trip to Hungary/Slovakia for this spring!

Melissa5 Jan 8th, 2008 12:15 AM

shandy, thanks so much for answering my questions. Your views on the big and small towns, the countryside, and driving versus trains or planes is very interesting. I too love the countryside, but driving is more fun with just my husband...when we have our young adult daughters in the car with us, driving is not so tends to provide more chances for squabbling. So when we travel as a family now, I try to avoid car trips if trains or planes work well.

I have missed being on the forums...hurt my shoulder and can't use the computer as much as I used looking forward to healing up as I love the forums for trip planning!

Vanessa1981 Feb 1st, 2008 04:21 AM

Kaziermierz is beautiful at night. All the pubs and resteraunts where i stayed were lit by candlelight, its quite strange but adds to the atmosphere greatly.
Im unsure wether i agree with the number one tourist attraction in poland. I visited Auchwitz and was absolutely stunned. I was left with a heavy feeling after though. It was number one for me.

maitaitom Apr 28th, 2008 04:27 PM

"By the way, the Square is considered one huge roundabouat so you can only drive around it in one direction."

I had better warn the Olomoucians (probably not what they are called) that they might want to be on the lookout for some crazy Americans endlessly driving around the square looking for their hotel. We leave in less than a month, and my last question (probably) is what is the amount of time it took you to drive from Olomouc to Krakow?

Thanks again for the great report, which I think I have read about 50 times.


shandy Apr 28th, 2008 06:45 PM

Hi maitaitom,

You must be very excited by now about your trip. I am sure it will be wonderful.

It tooks us approx 4 hours I think to drive from Oloumouc to Krakow. Once we crossed the border there was a lot of roadwork (hopefully now finished) but it didn't significantly affect the driving time. Don't get caught out like we did by not having any Polish coins to pay the toll or, as I think I mentioned in the trip report, Toll Booth #2 will take your visa card. Overall it was a fairly easy drive.

I know you have a thread going at the moment about whether to get a GPS or not. Although I had spurned them in the past, preferring to rely on my trusty maps, I do have to say that I was sold on them with this trip. However I am sure that you will remember that I did advise having one general overall map as well.

I'm madly planning for a trip to Japan in Sep/Oct now which I am really looking forward to as I have never been before. As someone who has always relied on travelling by car I am rather freaked out about 3-4 weeks of train travel and wondering if I can cope. You have to laugh as the vast majority of people on this board would be thinking of their trips the other way round, train travel as being easy and a potential car trip as nerve wracking.

Anyway, have a great trip. Please do a trip report when you get back because I would love to know how you got on.

tower Apr 28th, 2008 08:43 PM

Hi Shandy...

sorry I dodn't come across your excellent report until tonight. So happy that the trip went so did yourselves proud, indeed. Also pleased that The Grand Hotel met up with you pleasure...Old elegant Europe at its best.

Happy travels...we're off to Portugal and the UK on Sunday...Portugal is my last remaining European country I have yet to experience...we're driving after four days in Lisbon. Also, returning to UK for the first time in several years has us excited...doing London and The Cotswolds.

Keep on truckin'...

stu t.

shandy Apr 3rd, 2009 05:49 AM

Yippee - I've just been notified by Fodors that a comment in my trip report was used in the Word of Mouth feature for their new Prague edition. Now I get to choose a free travel guide - Italy here I come - plus I can tell all my friends that I am "published author" to boot :)

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:06 AM.