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A little Help-E. Europe Imperial Capitals Trip
Old 02-03-2011, 03:45 PM   #1
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A little Help-E. Europe Imperial Capitals Trip

We're fairly experienced European travelers, but now we're looking at a Prague/Kracow/Budapest trip. Any suggestions from those who have traveled in this part of the world?

We want to go independently, probably using trains. Where do you suggest that we fly into? Itinerary?
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:29 AM   #2
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All of the cities are beautiful - Krakow has a wonderful history - make sure you get a tour. Prague is great, too - larger area to cover - lots of history there, too. Budapest is amazing - when we went we took a train from Vienna - had to change trains at the border, get our passports checked and then on the train the Touist bureau had people selling different levels of hotels. The amazing this is the train trip is only 2 hours form Vienna and yet you can see that the 'Oriental' influence immediately: the food, the architecture, the people, etc. The 'encroachment' of the east was stopped in Vienna and you see it in the difference. I loved the different baths in Budapest - the old town was pretty. When I went, they had just been admitted to NATO so there was a lot of money and development occurring. Don't know if it's slowed down now due to the economy issues.

Krakow had a golden age and it shows. The cathedral reminded me of the famous one in London - all of the people with their sarcophagi---also, there was a 'Jewish Ghetto' - I believe they used the one in Krakow to film the famous Spielberg movie. Also, the palace there had the most amazing tapestries - one of th ekings gifted the tapestries made in Flanders to his wife - they hung them outside.

Prague has a beautiful cathedral and palace as well. Prague also has a great Art Deco museum (Mucha was from Prague) - also a really neat astronomical clock int he center of the old town. Of course, there is the famous Charles bridge - and there is a cool Irish pub as well - forgot the name of it - name after a famous author.

In all - three great cities/towns to visit - you could also rent a car and drive to them, although some of the roads are not that modern (2-laners with trucks, sometimes horse drawn carts, etc).

Enjoy your trip! Also, read as many travel guides as possible from hitch-hiking types (Lonely Planet), Rick Steves, Frommer's - etc - then craft your own itinerary based on your desires. I also look at tour sites and see what they are visiting and use that as an outline as well.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:43 AM   #3
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Good to hear - I have flights booked for Budapest for the last two weeks of March (short layovers in Frankfurt), but little in terms of itinerary. We may visit Vienna (top on my list), but possibly Krakow or Istanbul.

DW won't get in a plane, so I'm going with a friend who travels a lot. Some of the limits are due to the fact he has been just about everywhere already (he may go to Vienna later this year, that is why that is tentative).

It'll still be cool there, but the Spring Music festival starts, so I plan to book a few concerts today for that (you can print tickets at home - nice). We only booked hotel rooms for the first week, 2nd week is open for travel. I'm studying all the books now.

Any other info/tips greatly appreciated.

-ERD50
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:14 AM   #4
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No need to rent a car and have the burden of returning it in the country where you got it from. All these cities have good public transport and are very walkable. Taxi is also quite cheap.
You could either use trains or fly from your first stop in Europe (Frankfurt?, Warsaw? Berlin?) into Krakow, then fly to Prague (via Czech Airline), then fly to Budapest or vice versa.
If you go through in Germany, the low cost (but reasonable service) airline Air Berlin has good connections to Krakau, Prague or Budapest.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougViages View Post
We're fairly experienced European travelers, but now we're looking at a Prague/Kracow/Budapest trip. Any suggestions from those who have traveled in this part of the world?
We want to go independently, probably using trains. Where do you suggest that we fly into? Itinerary?
Where are you flying from and when?
I would fly to a cheap European gateway and take a one way cheap flight or train to the first destination. Maybe LON->KRK->PRG->BUD->LON
You can spend a lot of time in any and all of these three cities.
No problem with doing connection with trains.
There is an overnight sleeper train KRK<->PRG with takes about 9 hours, slow, but relatively cheap and it gets from the city center to city center so no need for airport transfers.
Sleeper train KRK<->BUD is little over 10 hours, going through Bratislava.
Polish train timetable: Route Planner (use national spelling for the station names)
Here is the info PRG<->BUD: Train from Prague to Budapest

I actually recommend not renting a car for any of these cities, but in addition the center of KRK is a no motorized vehicle zone.
In Krakow, don't miss Wawel castle, Czartoryski museum, many old churches, Jewish district, Wieliczka salt mine (an hour outside city center). Auschwitz (German Nazi death camp) is also about an hour away.
In Praha Charles bridge, Hradčany (castle district)
In Budapest in addition to all tourist attractions I recommend Gellért Bath ( Gellert Spa and Bath - Budapest )


In Krakow and Praha make sure you taste local beer (and maybe vodka, but Polish vodka is readily available in US)
In Budapest there are wonderful local wines (Tokaj with at least Aszu 5 Puttonyos ( Royal Tokaji Aszu Wine Classification ) is my favorite desert wine, very expensive in US, really reasonable priced there)
All three of these cities have very good and distinct local cuisine:
In Krakow maybe try pierogi, bigos, barszcz
In Praha knedliki
In Budapest gulash and paprikash
All of these cities will have bread, smoked meat & cheese selection way beyond what is available even in big US cities (maybe excluding ethnic pockets like Chicago or some parts of NYC)

I lived in Krakow for a quite a while, so if you have additional questions let me know.
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Thanks for all the Info so Far
Old 02-05-2011, 11:10 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the Info so Far

Here's the way I'm looking at doing this (possibly):

Fly to Prague, spend 2-3 days
Take overnight train to Kracow, spend 2-3 days
Fly to Lviw (Ukraine), spend 3 plus days (My wife is Ukrainian/American, and was born in the USA and has never visited Ukraine. Her parents were from the Lviw area)
Fly Lviw to Budapest, spend 3 days.
Take overnight train to Prague, spend 1 night & fly home.

16 days or so in total.

How does this look as an itinerary? Any suggestions on places to stay in Pra,Kra, & Bud? We like smaller boutique hotels & nice B&B's in Europe.
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:45 AM   #7
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2009 in Prague we were happy at "Cloisters inn Hotel". No. 62 at tripadvisor. Nice place, good location, everything within walking distance.
Unitas Hotel is close by, a bit more upscale and also looked very good (No 11 at tripadvisor).

In Budapest we used "Professor's guest house", more a dorm than a B&B, but we were not aware that we arrived during Formule 1 races, so we were happy to find some place without paying an arm or leg.
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Old 02-08-2011, 01:58 PM   #8
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In KRK these guys have reasonable prices and excellent location, close to everything: apartament cracow, room cracow, B&B cracow, guest room cracow
Never slept there, but several friends did and they did recommend it.
The only "drawback" is that they specialize in French cuisine, but very fine local food options are available just around the corner.
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