Summer in Eastern Europe

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Summer in Eastern Europe

Postby sarahmorgan » Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:56 pm

I'm looking to go to Eastern Europe this summer, and haven't got a clue how to start organising it. When I travelled in my gap year I travelled with an overland company and although brilliant, it's an expensive way of doing it and I have a tight budget now!

I'm looking into the inter rail option, but just wondering if anyone has any suggestions/experiences that can help, about where exactly to go and how to organise it, preferably cheaply!

Thanks very much
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Austria and the Czech Republic

Postby Champ Magazine » Wed Nov 21, 2007 4:55 am

Hi there,

I would highly recommend a Summer adventure in Austria and the Czech Republic. Austria has some lovely hiking in places like the Tirolean mountains, cycling on the Donau radweg (Danube Cycle Way), castles to explore and the spectacular sights of Vienna by day and night. They have outdoor cinemas and multi-cultural eating on the grounds of the Rathaus (Council Hall) in the Summertime. It is festive, fun and full of energy. While Austria is western, it is the gateway to the East and makes a great visit in itself.

The Czech Republic is alive with history and spirit all the time but Prague and Cesky Krumlov are musts. Check out this piece on Cesky Krumlov if you want a little more info. Happy to correspond if you want more info. Prague is the jewel of the western-most of the "Eastern European" countries. In my humble opinion of course...Very much an important, landmark city to stop and enjoy in your Eastern European travels.

Rail is just fine - I used it to great effect. Your best bet is to travel east from Austria where you will get the right advice and facilities. You can go on the Orient Express Route from Paris to Istanbul. Of course, you don't have to go all the way but you can stop off in Budapest and other great locations on this route.

I had a great time at these places and have plenty of off-the-beaten track local knowledge if you want. Rail is great but bring a book(s), iPod or MP3 or that notepad to draw, think write or pass the time. It can be very drawn out without entertainment. Look there is heaps more I could tell you - if you want to know more, e-mail me!

Cheers and enjoy!
David B
Editor - Champ Magazine
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Postby cookie » Fri Nov 23, 2007 7:36 pm

I spent around 3 weeks inter-railing through Eastern Europe with a friend about 2 summer's ago and it was ace!

My friend and I organised it all ourselves with a little help from our local STA Travel shop for booking my inter-rail pass, insurance and the hotels along the way. It was the first time we'd travelled without a tour company of some sort which is why we booked my hostels in advance. As it turns out the only place we really would've needed to book a room was Venice.

The route my friend and I took was to start in Prague then go to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Pula (nice town on the Croatian coast), and then we finished in Venice. I really wanted to stay in Lijublijana but we didn't have time. Of all the cities we visited I'd say they're all worth a visit except Zagreb - there really isn't much to see and the HI Hostel there is horrific.

The best thing about travelling by train is that you really get to appreciate the country you're travelling through in relative comfort. The train ride from Pula to Lijublijana was simply spectacular.
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Re: Summer in Eastern Europe

Postby Nadia » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:34 pm

My husband and I splent 3 weeks between Slovakia and the Czech republic last summer and loved every moment of it. Slovakia is not a huge tourist draw just yet but it is ramping up to join the EU so take advantage of it while it is still very inexpensive. We took the train from Koscice to Poprad. The entire 60km of the High Tatrys is serviced by an electric train, for which we bought a week's pass. The hiking is absolutely superb and we found when it was misty and miserable at the bottom, it was brilliant sunshine above at higher altitudes. If you can book into a chata (hut) you can spend the night of a hard climb with hikers from all over Europe. It was the best 8 days. I would love to go back as there are at least 6 must do hikes and we only got 4 in with the weather.

We spent 3 days walking through Prague and took a side trip to Terezin. Not to be missed. Then we looped around south and discovered wonderful small places like Loket Nad Ohri. But Cesky Krumlov got our vote as the most charming and captivating town of all. Take a raft down the Vltava, especially when the weather is scorching. And CK has the best vegetarian restaurant ever - we ate there 3 times.

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Re: Summer in Eastern Europe

Postby london_chica » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:52 pm

I went interrailing around Europe the summer before last, would thoroughly recommend it :) if you're in the UK go to STA Travel to get your InterRail tickets. They give you basic travel on all trains but you need to pay supplements/reservations on certain trains - always check before you travel as you face being charged hefty fees if you're caught out. Also bear in mind that InterRail tickets are only worth it if you travel a LOT - we didn't stay more than 3 days in any 1 place so got our money's worth, but if you'd rather stay in a few places for longer time then it might actually be worth buying the tickets for each journey in the country - not as scary as it sounds, most people speak English and are helpful, plus train travel is soooo much more efficient on the continent than the UK.

In terms of destinations, the bits of Eastern Europe I went to were Ljubljana in Slovenia (a real hidden gem - go here if you can, not much historical stuff but a great party town and incredibly cheap), Budapest in Hungary (lots to see), Bratislava in Slovakia (wouldn't recommend it, pretty grim...) and Prague (needs no explanation!). If you have any questions about these places then PM me. Enjoy!
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