Best of Eastern Europe

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Best of Eastern Europe

Postby VAtravelers » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:37 pm

My husband and I just booked the 15 day Best of Eastern Europe trip for May. We have an extra day in Vienna at the beginning and an extra day in Budapest at the end.

Has anyone been on this trip? Can you share any experiences or advice?

If you've been to Prague or Budapest do you have any advice of things to do on our extra days?

Will appreciate any advice - thanks!
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Postby careau » Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:46 pm

While I have not been on that trip, I did cover Vienna, Prague, Bratislava and Budepest on my european vacation 2 years ago.

My vienna highlights were: climbing St Stephendom (the roof & views are well worth it). Eating Schnitzel at Figlmueller - an institution in a nearby alley and watching an apple strudel making demonstration at the palace. While I enjoy classical music on occasion, I could barely stay awake during the concert at the palace. I would advise against that venue but it seems like a concert is the thing to do in Vienna.

My prague highlights were just endless hours of walking around town & through all neighborhoods. The black light show was only good - not great.

My Budapest highlights were: Fisherman`s Bastion, Communist Tour & Széchényi Baths (but I hear Géllert baths are better). Parliament building offers a nice tour too if you have time.

Have fun!
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Vienna

Postby VAtravelers » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:10 pm

Thanks for the reply! For, Vienna this is what the itinerary says it includes:

Enjoy a walking tour along the most beautiful and elegant streets, to the most famous sights in Vienna. The tour will focus on the Hofburg, residence of the Habsburg family for nearly 650 years and St. Stephen´s Cathedral, the landmark of Vienna. There will be no lack of tales about the Habsburgs - e.g. Sisi and Franz Joseph - the marriage and burial rites, or the stories concerning the Sachertorte coffee houses and the oldest cake shop in Vienna.

The afternoon is yours to explore at your leisure. You could marvel at the Hofburg, the lippazaner horses of the famous Vienna Riding School, or experience a joyful mass with the Vienna Boys Choir.


So, it sounds like we will see your favorite Vienna sights. We have one day in Vienna before the offical day the tour starts. So, I think we may try and go to a concert at the Musikverein on the evening that we arrive, http://www.musikverein.at/startseite.asp. Has anyone booked tickets from out of town for the Musikverein? Any tips about doing that?

The next day is the official first day of the tour, but I bet the only thing we'll have that day is an evening introductory meeting. I think it makes sense to go to the Schonbrunn Palace, http://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/. The Schonbrunn Palace is apparently a bit out of town. If anyone knows about it, please let me know any advice.

It sounds like the city tour with GAP probably includes going into the Hofburg museum and St Stephens. We'll have to think of something to do afterwards that afternoon. Maybe the Naschmarkt? Also, probably the Freud museum, http://www.freud-museum.at/e/.

Thanks for the ideas!
Last edited by VAtravelers on Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby careau » Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:54 pm

Sounds like your GAP tour will cover the city center sights.

I did see Schonbrunn Palace in an afternoon. While it is a bit out of the way, the U-Bahn gets you there quite easily, cheaply and quickly. I just had a couple hours to tour the palace and was a bit rushed. I didn`t get to explore the grounds/gardens & Gloriette as I would have liked. In hind sight, I wish I would have gone through the rooms a little more quickly and given myself more time for the grounds. The Apple Strudel making demonstration was a fun little break. I wouldn`t plan my visit around it, but if you happen to be at the right place at the right time, check it out...they give out yummy samples.

PS: I found the ticket of admission (15 euros) to be rather expensive.
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Postby francine_16 » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:22 pm

In Budapest I would go to the Gellert baths. As well, in the evening try to go to the citadel for a great view of the city. I also made a dinner reservation at Gundel- a very famous restaurant in Budapest. Those were my highlights. I would agree that the black light theatre in Prague was okay, but not great. I also found it easy to get to the summer palace in Vienna- the public transit system was really easy to navigate. You do need a few hours to do this.

Have fun.
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Vienna

Postby VAtravelers » Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:36 pm

Thank you for your help! I think we have a good plan for Vienna now. We arrive at noon, and will probably do the Freud museum, http://www.freud-museum.at/e/ that first day. If anyone knows of a restaurant or other attractions near that, I would love other ideas for that afternoon/evening. Maybe wander the Ringstrasse (I think I saw somewhere that you can take a ride around the area)?

The next day is the official first day of the tour, although the only "scheduled" activity is that we should arrive that day. We'll head out to the Schonbrunn Palace, http://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/ after breakfast. It was good advice to leave plenty of time for the grounds. We are zoo people, so we may do that part as well. I guess we'll eat lunch out there. Any recommendations for lunch? No plan for dinner that day. I bet there will be an introductory tour meeting that night.

The next morning is our city tour with GAP - Hofburg museum and St Stephens. The afternoon is on our own. If GAP doesn't include tickets inside the Hofburg Palace, I guess we'll do that in the afternoon. We have tickets to a Beethoven performance that evening in the Golden Hall at the Musikverein, http://www.musikverein.at/startseite.asp . It was simple to book the tickets directly for that concert - they were pretty expensive, but we got the "cheap" seats in the gallery balcony.

So, I am excited about our Vienna plans!

Now, I just need to think more about Budapest. Thanks for the ideas about that as well!
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Postby jackmcmanus21 » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:06 pm

Let us know how Vienna goes....I've always wanted to make it there
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I am going on that trip too

Postby trentgrad » Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:13 pm

Hi,
I am also travelling on the Best of Eastern Europe tour in May. I am coming from Toronto and will be arriving in Vienna on the Thursday before the tour starts and then staying an extra day in Budapest at the end as well.

Looks like we have been offered some great suggestions of things to do.

Knowing that you are arriving before the tour starts, are you planning to stay at the same hotel that Gap has booked for the tour?

Perhaps we can meet up and tour around a bit if you are interested. This will be my first time in these countries too. I think this is the first time GAP is offering this tour so it should be fun.

Let me know your thoughts.

Katy
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Postby VAtravelers » Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:24 pm

Cool! Yes, we're staying at the Hotel Kugal in Vienna and the Buro Panzio in Budapest. I emailed both hotels to make reservations for the extra nights. I'm reluctant to coordinate plans ahead of time since we have no idea how wiped out we'll be that first day, but we'll definitely keep a look out for you! Maybe we'll see each other at breakfast that first morning and we can see how things look once we're there. I'm pretty certain we'll head to the Schonbrunn Palace after breakfast. :-)
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Best of Eastern Europe - May 25 Departure

Postby kjack30 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:01 pm

Are you leaving Vienna on May 25? My Mom, sister and I are on that tour.
We are booked for the Vienna and Budapest hotels on either end of the tour for extra nights.
Kathy
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Postby VAtravelers » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:05 pm

Great! The tour we are on officially starts on May 25th (so that's the arrival day in Vienna for most people). Is that the one that you're on?
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That's It!

Postby kjack30 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:08 pm

Yes, that's the one. Where are you from?
We are coming from Victoria, BC, Canada
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Postby VAtravelers » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:11 pm

We are traveling from Virginia. We traveled with GAP last year too (to the Galapagos). We haven't traveled in Europe that much, so we're looking forward to this trip. It's pretty cool that we already can account for 6 of our group just from this thread (assuming that Katy is also on the May 25 one)!
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Good Experience?

Postby kjack30 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:16 pm

I guess we can assume you had a good experience on your last trip? My sister did a couple of GAP tours last year in South America and had a great time.

I can't wait for this trip! We have been to Austria but not anywhere else this tour visits. We really enjoyed the little bit of Austria we did see.
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Postby VAtravelers » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:22 pm

Oh yes, we loved our Galapagos trip and were very pleased with GAP. They will probably be our starting place for any future tour travel. It's great that we all seem to be staying for extra nights at beginning and end. So, did you book with the start hotel in Vienna (Hotel Kugal)?

When I was going through making a reservation with them, they took awhile to track down their existing GAP tour reservation starting the 25th, and there was some confusion in the process. It all got straightened out (they do have a record of our tour staying there beginning on the 25th), but I'm curious if you had a similar problem?
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