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Eastern Europe Hostels Recommeded These hostels are highly recommended for travelers heading out to Eastern Europe!

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Old 05-16-2005, 11:05 PM   #1
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My friend and I set out in around two weeks for Eastern Europe. We've heard a ton about how to travel: bus, train, air, or hitchhiking (which seems questionable).

We're planning to go to Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary and Lithuania. What, based on your experiences, is the best/ cheapest way to navigate through these countries? We're hoping to avoid budget collapse and death...
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Old 05-17-2005, 02:06 AM   #2
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Well, in Poland I used the trains. I had no problem on them from Warsaw-Krakow, and even a day trip from Warsaw to Malbork (cool Teutonic Knights castle..have a looksee):

In Lithuania, I took the buses, but send any questions you might have about that country to our TPunker Tumbleweedz -- she's living there right now.

So, I'd say you're pretty safe choosing trains or buses...the guidebooks are pretty good about telling you how much time each takes. If the prices and time are about the same, go with trains every time. Not only is it more comfortable, it's easier to know when you've "arrived" at your stop. Buses may stop at so many places, I usually ask the driver to yell out when we get to my destination....

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Old 05-17-2005, 05:41 AM   #3
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Trains are fine in most of the places you mentioned, (we've gone everywhere on your list but Romania) but in Lithuania buses are really a better option. You can take a bus from either Warsaw or Gdansk to Vilnius for about $16 o/w, $30 return. Check out www.Eurolines.com for long distance bus info. All the major stations have a large sign (thanks to the Soviet occupation) with the town's name, so it's usually clear where you are.

Within Lithuania, say from Vilnius to Kaunas, you can just go down to the central train station and buy the ticket - even an express shouldn't cost more than 10 - 15 Lts, about $4-5 US. (Sorry, I don't know what currency you're working in...) Most places would probably be more like 2 - 5 Lts ($0.80 - $2.50). This is not an expensive place to hang out! Food and drink are very cheap, filling and delicious. There are a couple of hostels in Vilnius which are in convenient, if not necessarily beautiful, locations and the art academy has a dorm which offers really cheap rooms (about 20 Lts) about 20 metres from one of the main streets of Old Town, but I'm not sure if they have rooms available during the academic year. Maybe you could stay at a hostel and check out the other option once you get into town.

Let us know which towns you plan to visit and we can all chip in more specifics about our personal favourites and tips...
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Old 05-17-2005, 06:07 AM   #4
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For travel in Poland I recommend trains in between the major cities and buses for local travel and sightseeing the countryside. They are both fairly cheap and pretty good for running on time.

Krakow, Warsaw and the Gdansk/Gdynia/Malbork area are all great, but I also would suggest Torun (a smaller city with great history - Copernicus came from there) and the world famous Polish Arabian horse farm in Janow Podlaski (it's in eastern Poland and makes a great day trip if you're in the area and love horses). The Mazury region (north east) is also beautiful with hundreds of lakes and perfect for sailing and kayaking. There are some nice beaches in the north by the Baltic Sea and the further you bo south the more mountains you'll see - they are beatuful and offer greak hiking and scenic views. For a more historic trip check out the Eagle's Nests Trail (Szlak Orlich Gniazd in Polish)

Also check out this site for more info.
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Old 05-17-2005, 10:43 AM   #5
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Thanks a ton for all the advice! Tumbleweedz I'll surely be in touch for more specifics in Poland and Lithuania.

What's the overall opinion on hitchhiking?
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Old 05-17-2005, 11:33 AM   #6
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According to Let's Go, it's very common. I'll quote their blurb:

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Hitchhiking is common in Lithuania, although many drivers charge a fee comparable to local bus or train fares.* Locals form a queue along major roads leaving large cities - be sure not to cut.* Let's Go does not recommend hitchhiking.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone hitchhiking, in two years here, but admittedly, we don't have a car, so we don't use the major roads often.

Also looking in my well thumbed Let's Go, train between Vilnius and Warsaw is 8 hours, 115 Lt, bus is 8 hours, 80 Lt. My book's a couple of years old, you might want to double check in the latest edition, but it gives you an idea. (It's about 2.65 Lt to the USD these days). Train from Vilnius to Kaunas (2 hrs) 9,80 Lt, bus (1.5 hrs) 12.40 Lt. Most Lithuanians we know never travel by train. That's got to mean something!

For Poland, off the beaten track, check out Szczecin. Fun little place, surprised us immensely. There's an amazing side chapel remembering the Auschwitz sacrifice of St. Maksymilian Kolbe in either the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist or the Basilica of St. James (I think the latter, but my memory fails me...go to both, they're worth it.)
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Old 05-17-2005, 11:38 AM   #7
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I tried hitchhiking in Hungary, in a rural part, under a wet hot sun, with my backpack on, and only one tractor dared stopping after almost one hour !

In the northern part of Romania, I had read we could hitchhick and give some money to the driver. It didn't take long before somebody stopped, and the man didn't accept my money at the end of the short drive. Plus twice people stopped when I was just walking on remote roads to help me out.

So I guess it depends on the country, and if you two, it may be more difficult to get in as the cars are usually already "crowded" in those countries. In Bulgaria, forget it !
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