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Europe: Eastern From Russia to Croatia, the Danube, Iron Curtain era vestiges, Pilzner beer, Czech it out!

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Old 08-04-2006, 09:17 AM   #1
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Hey guys, how does this sound?

I plan on leaving mid Jan coming back late april so 3 1/2 months give or take:
Slovenia (Lujblana, Lake Bled maybe)
Croatia (Zagreb, Split or Hvar Island, and Dubrovnik)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mostar and Sarajevo)
Serbia and Montenegro (Belgrade)
Bulgaria (Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna)
Romania (Bucharest, Brasov, Sighisoara)
Hungary (Budapest)
Slovakia (Bratislava)
Czech Republic (Prague, Cesky Krumlov)
Poland (Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk)

Pretty standard stuff. I think I've finally made up mind. Kinda. Yeah right, I'll probably have a different iteneray posted in a month. I might add on a month to Western Europe, but that's only if the cashish flow keeps up.

On to the questions for the experts:
1. How cold is it going to be on the Adriatic Coast in Feb? I checked on the net, but I'd like to hear from someone who has been around that time so I can get a good idea what to pack etc.
2. Since I'm travelling in the low season, I don't need to book hostel's in advance do I?
3. How big is the language barrier going to be? It's not something I'm terribly worried about, more curious. I usually have big dumb grin on my face and that's always helpful.
4. Have I given myself enough time to really experience the region?
5. Is there any must see in this region that I'm missing?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 08-04-2006, 09:41 AM   #2
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I have done some reading on Czech and it appears they have a few towns on the "beer trail" where you can visit breweries and have great beer. If you are a beer fan look into it. The likes of Budvar and Pilsner Urquell are made there!

Foo

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Old 08-04-2006, 08:56 PM   #3
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Nice plan almostdone !

I don't know about the Adriactic, but the northern countries you listed can be pretty cold before April, and even have snow. Here's an idea of the temperature in the winter (from the Lonely Planet)

Slovenia : January coldest month ; average -2 C
Croatia : sea tempature is always above 10 C, you can swim from mid-June
Bosnia and Herzegovina : it's a mountainuous country, where snowfall can last until April
Bulgaria : from December to February 3 C ; warmer around the Black Sea
Romania : average annual temperature is 11 C in the south, and 2 C in the mountains
Hungary : January around 0 C
Czech Republic/Slovakia : around freezing point in January, above 10 C in April (except in the Tatras)
Poland : possibility of sub-zero temperatures between November and March

BUT those are averages. I was in Poland-Slovakia-Hungary-Romania in late April until early June and it was nice and sunny (up to 36 C in Budapest). There were very few days where the temperature went below 20 C. In the north of Slovakia, in the High Tatras, people were still skiing in April though.



You won't need to book ahead of time a room/bed, except for Prague and Budapest if you want to stay close to downtown. Those destinations are pretty popular nowadays. I was in Budapest in April, and the only hostel I could find was a long bus ride from the center (but it was a very nice place - no regrets at all !).

In Bratislava, most hostels are closed during the off season, so search in guide books or on travelpunk's book online (link) to find good addresses.



The language isn't a problem when you stick to major cities and tourist area, but elsewhere, you'll need patience and your grin to communicate. I personally suggest (strongly !) to learn the basics for directions and time schedule (when, where, bus, train, etc.), if you do head away from the centers.



Enough time ? It really depends on you. What kind of experience are you looking for ? You're planning 100 days in Eastern Europe, for 10 countries, so 10 days average per country. Considering that you'll spend different amount of time in each, I say it looks pretty good. But of course, more is always better, for a thorough experience !



As far as I'm concerned, the "true Eastern Europe" lies in the countryside. So, the one thing I say is missing, is to base yourself in one town, and do several day-trips in the area. Rent a bike or a car, and get away from the city ! Northern Romania is great, around Prague, and Eastern Hungary as well. (I don't know about the ex-Yougoslavia's republics.)

Vadu Izei (north of Romania)


If the Adriatic is too cold to bath in January, try the Black Sea later in your trip.

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Old 08-04-2006, 10:24 PM   #4
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(foofiter @ Aug 4 2006, 07:41 PM) [snapback]133647[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
I have done some reading on Czech and it appears they have a few towns on the "beer trail" where you can visit breweries and have great beer. If you are a beer fan look into it. The likes of Budvar and Pilsner Urquell are made there!

Foo


[/b]
Please go on...

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(atchoum @ Aug 5 2006, 06:56 AM) [snapback]133741[/snapback]</div>
Quote:

Vadu Izei (north of Romania)


[/b]
Awesome pic. Thansk for the info!
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Old 08-06-2006, 05:53 AM   #5
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Yes, I'd be a bit careful to have a couple of options for accommodations, particularly along the Adriatic in the off season - it's possible that some places (maybe most?) will shut down for all or part of the winter. I haven't been to Croatia, but had a similar experience in Greece a few years ago - there weren't a lot of options. Also, be sure that the transportation options you want (ferries, for example) are actually operating! Sometimes the services are limited or stop altogether for the off-season, so you could find yourself spending a lot more time than you'd planned if you miss the last boat! These are easy things to check in advance, so don't panic about it, just do a little checking first.

Best way to deal with the weather is layers. You'll be up and down mountains, getting wet breezes off coasts, and dealing with wacky winter/early spring weather the whole time, so you'll probably experience just about everything in that span. Definitely, a sturdy pair of waterproof walking shoes (my husband swears by his Doc Martens) are a must, as well as a couple of pairs of really warm socks. You'll want a good warm sweater and a water/windproof shell. Don't forget gloves and hat, and a scarf isn't a bad idea. Sounds a bit excessive, I know, but I was in Gdansk in April some years back, and had snow and cherry blossoms falling on me at the same time. We live in Germany, and this year it was really sweater/coat cold nearly til June (after one brief warm week in April). Seems the weather's pretty unpredictable in Europe at the best of times, and in spring even more so. But we lived two years in Lithuania, roughly the same climate as Warsaw, and we definitely needed coats in April - and it did occasionally snow. Up north in Gdansk, you get the cold damp, which is really chilling if you're not dressed properly.

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Old 08-06-2006, 12:16 PM   #6
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Weather in Hungary, particularly Budapest, can vary immensely. From the beginning of August until mid October i got away with wearing strappy tops; after that it was jumpers all the way with temps around -15c. Just grab a scarf hat and gloves
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:10 AM   #7
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Well I was looking at a 3000ci pack, maybe I'll get one thats a little bigger for rain and cold weather gear? hmmmm...
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Old 08-07-2006, 02:57 PM   #8
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Yeah, you'll probably need your warm stuff the whole time, though you'll likely be wearing a good bit of it, most of the time! I wore just about all my clothes (in layers) that whole cold week in Poland, so for that week my pack was pretty light!

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