Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

  1. #1

    Default A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    Hi friends

    I have a conference in Paris in June and hope to see a bit of Eastern Europe over a week. More scenery than towns if possible.

    Easyjet is my choice of airlines - they fly quite cheap to many places in Eastern Europe, but I would like to take in some of the towns, the culture but I really prefer the countryside and scenery so places with good photo opportunities will be nice.


    - accomo - simple ensuite with hot water is fine, but no hostels - too old

    - I don't speak any of the languages there though

    - I prefer one or two places, so I don't spend too much time flying about or running about like a refugee

    Any ideas will be appreciated, cheers.
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  2. #2

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    Hi, I just came back from a 17day eastern EU drive weeks ago.

    Across the many countries we visited, Poland shines.

    Prices are inexpensive, views are beautiful, and you have many choices ranging from old palace, castle, to WWII sites such as Auschwitz.

    Warsaw, Krakow are a bit far from each other though, train or better flight. But Krakow is so beautiful that you shouldn't miss it.

    Another interesting country is Czech. However prices in Prague is just insane.

    We spent 50Euro per night in Krakow for holiday inn express, while 100 for only a 3star hotel room in Prague.

    Hope that helps.

    oh btw, language is not going to be a problem at all, if you stay in touristic places. millions of people like you there

    Quote Originally Posted by petetherock View Post
    Hi friends

    - accomo - simple ensuite with hot water is fine, but no hostels - too old

    - I don't speak any of the languages there though

    - I prefer one or two places, so I don't spend too much time flying about or running about like a refugee

    Any ideas will be appreciated, cheers.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    Eastern Europe is really huge. Too many countries. Took me 4 months to get through most of the countries. If you prefer sceneries to big cities, then skip the big places. For eg. Prague is nice to walk around, esp the Old Town, but if you have been to many European towns before, the vibes are not that much different. I personally prefer to go to the small towns and countrysides. You get much nicer scenaries and prices are way cheaper too. I find Prague itself too expensive. I didn't even bother with the castle since the entrance fee was a bit too much for me. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at a small town called Cesky Krumlov, 2 hours by train south of Prague. Quaint old town. many medieval buildings. The most enjoyable part was going on a raft down the river, drinking a beer or eating chips or getting off the raft and sit by the river bank for a beer.
    For other places, you may want to consider Austria. It is not exactly cheap, but it does offer very beautiful sceneries. I did not do too many places there, but I felt Salzburg was really lovely. Lovely old town and if you venture a bit out of town, you get the lovely snow capped mountains. Even did an ice-cave at Werfen, which is not that far from Salzburg actually. And if you are into concerts and such, then don't miss Vienna.
    I did most of the countries in Eastern Europe. You can pm me if you want to know more.

  4. #4

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    I love Cesky Krumlov too!

    Prague is really pretty as well. With only a week, I would just limit to 2 places to fully enjoy but of course, different pple mileage vary :|

    If you like scenery, Romania is awesome, and cheap. But with only a week for Romania, you should just concentrate on it to give it justice!

  5. #5

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    If you are considering visiting Europe for the first time then you may find that the options available to you are somewhat bewildering. One way of getting the best out of your first visit is to consider taking an escorted break.

    Photo to painting

  6. #6

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    Quote Originally Posted by nuts View Post
    I love Cesky Krumlov too!

    Prague is really pretty as well. With only a week, I would just limit to 2 places to fully enjoy but of course, different pple mileage vary :|

    If you like scenery, Romania is awesome, and cheap. But with only a week for Romania, you should just concentrate on it to give it justice!
    Yup i will recommend Romania too, the Sibiu - Brasov - Sighisoara area is very nice and quaint. However if it is your first time to Eastern Europe, Romania may not be a priority or even convenient to move on to other places. But it is possible to couple it with a visit to Croatia, Split and Dubrovnik are very nice with great beaches and food, or you can also choose to go island hopping.

    Alternatively, I highly recommend Bled and Bohinj in Slovenia since scenery is what you are looking for. It is absolutely breathtaking when I was there in winter. You can take lots of pictures and have long walks around the lake, reading a book, chilling in a restaurant, and visiting the castle on the cliff. Vienna, Austria is just a short bus ride away and take in some operas there, and you can move on to Salzburg and Innsbruck, very nice as well. A hidden gem however is Hallstatt, great scenery in a little town, nice for a day trip.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    Found a bit more info on Prague:

    These easy day trips from Prague are all served by the country's efficient, and cheap, public transport system. Use the iDnes train and bus route planner to figure out your journey.

    These are something of a Czech obsession, and rightly so, given that the countryside is dotted with hundreds of fairytale castles and chateaux. Most of them used to belong to the Austrian aristocracy, who enjoyed a pompous, lavish lifestyle that at times bordered on insanity (the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, for example, is said to have shot 300,000 animals on his Bohemian estates).

    The guided tours can be staid and a bit didactic, so it is best to amble around on your own where possible. Most castles, however, are situated in picturesque natural surroundings or carefully manicured grounds, and touring them - perhaps taking in a hike and topping it off with a foamy pint of Czech beer - is a great way to relax and learn a bit about medieval Bohemian history at the same time.

    Check out the three 'K's of the region's best castles: Karlštejn , Konopiště and Křivoklát.

    How to

    * Karlstejn: take the train from Prague's Hlavni Nadrazi, trains leave every hour and take 40 minutes
    * Konopiste: take the train from Hlavni Nadrazi or bus from Florenc bus station to town of Benesov (around 45 min), and then a 30-minute walk
    * Krivoklat: take the train from Hlavni nadrazi, changing at Beroun (takes around 1hr 45 minutes)

    Kutná Hora
    The 12th- century silver mining town of Kutná Hora lies 70km east of Prague. For centuries it competed with Prague for political, economic and cultural supremacy over Bohemia, and much of the medieval town centre, a Unesco site) has been preserved intact. Each cobbled square is a former mine entrance and there is a brilliant guided tour of the former mines (hard hats supplied) available at the Czech Museum of Silver from April to November.

    Make sure you see the incredible St Barbora's Cathedral, which hovers above the horizon like a gothic spaceship. At its creepy "bone church", whose interior is decorated with the bones of 40,000 victims of the Great Plague and the Hussite Wars, you can literally stare death in the face.

    How to
    Direct trains leave every two hours to Kutná Hora - Hlavní nádraží (Main Station), a 40 min walk from the town centre,. So when you arrive, hop on the little connecting train to Kutná Hora - město. The bone church is a 15 min walk from the main station in a suburb called Sedlec.

    This industrial city 90 km west of Prague has a certain gritty charm, not least because of its importance to the local beer culture.

    The Czechs have been brewing beer since the 9th Century, and still drink more of it (158 litres per capita) than anyone else on the planet. Plzeň (Pilsen in German) has been the home of modern brewing since 1842, when Bavarian brewer Josef Groll combined Plzeň's remarkably soft water, pale malts and local Saaz hops in a unique bottom-fermented brewing process to produce Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský Prazdroj in Czech) - a soft, pale lager now imitated around the world.

    The story of Pilsner is eloquently told at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery Museum, which also houses the entrance to the city's labyrinth of underground tunnels. They wind beneath the city's streets for 20 km, and 750 metres of them are open to the public. (You will be gasping for a pint when you resurface.) Plzeň's Moorish Great Synagogue, meanwhile, is the second largest in Europe.

    How to
    Plzeň is a hour and 40 minute train ride from Prague's Hlavní nádraží/Main Station. Direct trains leave every hour.

    Known as Theresienstadt in German, this 18th-century garrison town 60 km north of Prague was transformed by the Nazis into a concentration camp. Spirits invariably sink as the grim red-brick walls of Terezín's fortress slowly swing into view. About 140,000 Jews from all over Europe were interned here during the war. Deportees were initially crammed into the town's barracks and when they were full, the civilian population was moved out and the entire town turned into one huge ghetto. The "small fortress", used as a prison by the Gestapo, now houses the Terezín Memorial. Theresienstadt was not an extermination camp as most of its prisoners were sent on to Auschwitz or other death camps, but some 34,000 people died here and visiting the town today is a moving experience.

    How to
    Terezín is 50 minutes by bus from Prague's Nádraží Holešovice train station. Buses leave every half hour.

    Kokořínsko Nature Reserve
    This area of primeval forest and sandstone towers, 60 km northeast of Prague is ideal for walking and little visited by tourists. Kokořínsko offers dozens of colour-coded hiking trails that crisscross this unspoilt area of deep forest and rolling hills, with odd shapes looming out of the sandstone rocks.

    A good starting point is the sleepy town of Mšeno; follow the green and blue trails past the 1920s outdoor swimming pool into the virgin forest. Take the yellow trail to Raj (Paradise), the excellent country pub there offers hungry hikers and bikers steaming plates of wild boar in cranberry sauce or artery-constricting fried cheese, washed down with foamy pints of Pilsner. Ask for a hiking map (turistická mapa) of Kokořínsko in any map shop. You will see the trails marked on trees, walls and lampposts.

    How to
    The nature reserve is only an hour away by car but is also possible to reach by public transport for adventurous travellers. Look for train and bus connections to Mšeno.
    Last edited by petetherock; 26th March 2011 at 10:36 AM.
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  8. #8

    Default Re: A week in Eastern Europe - any ideas?

    Prague's coffee houses:

    There is an old story about Lenin, set in the gilded splendour of a café somewhere in Central Europe, sometime in the early 20th Century. A pair of distinguished old gentlemen are discussing affairs of state over steaming cups of coffee and slices of cake. “There’s talk of revolution,” says one, moustache quivering. “Any day now, they say.”

    "Revolution!" scoffs the second, cocking his thumb at the next table, where a scrawny young man with a goatee beard and flat cap is scribbling furiously in a notebook. "And who's going to lead it - him???"

    The tale is almost certainly apocryphal. But sitting in Prague's art deco Café Imperial, scooping the whipped cream off a vídeňská káva (Viennese coffee), it is an evocative fantasy. The future Soviet leader did visit Prague, in 1912. In fact, it was at the Prague Party Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, held just around the corner in Hybernská street, that his Bolshevik faction broke away from the Mensheviks for good, with untold consequences for humanity.

    Unfortunately the Imperial was not built until 1914, so there goes the Lenin theory. But with its creamy tiles and Moorish mosaics, it is still a great place to sit and watch the world - and the trams - go by, though the prices are no longer revolutionary. Like many Prague coffee houses, the Café Imperial has undergone something of a makeover in recent years. Gone is the dark and dismal interior, the indifferent service, and - a terrible shame this - the legendary doughnut bowl, whose stale contents could once be bought and pelted at fellow patrons for exactly 1,942 Czech crowns (just over 100 dollars), a homage to an incident in the classic 1942 novel Saturnin, a sort of Czech Jeeves and Wooster.

    The Imperial is one of a handful of the great pre-war cafés - temples to caffeine, creativity and conversation - left in Prague. You wll find two of the most famous on the city's Národní street. The first, Café Louvre, boasts a beautifully-preserved interactive map in the marbled lobby, displaying the unfeasibly long list of cafés (160!) that served the Czech capital before war, Communism and Starbucks intervened. Each is marked with a little bulb that lights up when you press a button. Most, sadly, are long gone. But the Louvre, with its pastel pink decor and excellent sweet trolley, survives to this day, its genteel ambience unchanged since 1911, when Einstein, then a visiting professor, would pop in for a piece of strudel.

    Further down Národní - scene of the 1989 Velvet Revolution - is perhaps Prague's most famous coffee house, the art deco Café Slavia. Its large plate glass windows frame perfect picture postcard views of Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge. Mirrored walls reflect the imposing 19th-century edifice of the National Theatre. Slavia was a popular meeting place for anti-Communist dissidents - Václav Havel was a regular customer. When it closed in the early 1990s, its fate uncertain, Václav, now President, Havel joined a sit-in demanding it be returned to its former glory.

    Today Slavia is thronged with tourists and theatregoers alike, though the students (mostly from Prague's Film School next door) are stirring pressos (medium-sized, strong espresso coffees), rather than revolution. At least one former dissident was still in attendance when I visited, however, smoking furiously in the corner. The most coveted table, underneath a painting called The Absinthe Drinker, was, as ever, "reserved". For Havel, no doubt, it is always available.

    A short walk from Slavia and the Louvre, but well off the tourist track, is the little-known gem, Café Montmartre (Řetězová 7, Praha 1). Before the war it was a magnet for pre-war debauchery and high jinks - evidence of which can be found in the delightfully louche photos on the walls. It was also a regular haunt for members of the so-called Prague Circle of German-speaking writers, most notably the angst-ridden Franz Kafka. Closed for half a century and reopened in 2000, the Montmartre is now enjoying a new lease of life.

    Unfortunately another Kafka haunt, Café Arco (Dlážděná 6, Praha 1), is faring less well, and after decades of neglect appears to be suffering a final humiliation as an Interior Ministry canteen. It is closed to regular punters, but you can still poke your head around the door for a glimpse of retired policemen slurping down plates of goulash. A fate only the tortured writer himself could have imagined.

    Also well worth a visit are the Grand Café Orient in the cubist House of the Black Madonna (Ovocný trh 19, Praha 1), the stunning art nouveau Café Obecní Dům (Náměstí Republiky 5, Praha 1) the luxuriant, though not the original Café Savoy across the river from Slavia (Vítězná 5, Praha 5), and the Lucerna Café (Vodičkova 36 , Praha 1), located in a pre-war arcade built by Havel's grandfather.

    Most of Prague's old cafés have at least three things in common. First, many also serve decent, sometimes excellent food. Second, as long as you order a coffee or two, you will be allowed to idle at your leisure without feeling under pressure to pay up and leave. And finally, a word of warning: the air will almost certainly be tinged a delicate shade of nicotine blue. For a non-smoking, free-wi-fi, honey-nut macchiato type of café experience, go to Starbucks instead.
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts