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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 07-08-2004, 03:26 PM   #1
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Leaving Vilnius in 10 days for our month-long central European ramble, now we're trying to figure out where to lay down our little sleepy-heads! We've tentatively booked at the Hotel Spirit in Bratislava - it looks like something out of Dr. Suess (which the kids will love), though I'm a bit leery of the "nutrition" program, so any reassurance - or otherwise - would be appreciated!

Now we're looking for hints on places to stay in the Slovak Tatras - wwm, did you hit this area? Where are the funky, cool, exotic places to stay? Aren't there old castles or hunting lodges or so? I don't want to live in a box if there are better options!

We want to sample a bit of Austria, but this time of year prices are fierce, specially when we need so many beds. Anyone have any suggestions of little out-of-the-way places that can offer a couple of relaxing days for a reasonable sum?

I think we're sorted out for Poland and Prague, haven't even looked at options for Hungary or the rest of the Czech Republic yet. Has anyone been to Lake Batalon in Hungary? It's supposed to be a scenic train trip, but is it worth spending the night?

Appreciate any help!
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Old 07-08-2004, 11:04 PM   #2
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I only passed through Slovakia on the train, so I can't help you much there, but that hostel you mentioned in Bratislava is supposed to be pretty good (and you are right about the Dr. Suess look).

For Czech Republic, there are several not as touristy places as Prague that are worth a visit. Olomouc is a very nice town, about 100,000 people there and it is a university town, but seemingly undiscovered by tourists. The hostel there is very small, but the owners make you feel like family. It is also a lot cheaper than Prague. You can eat a great five course meal for under $5 there, beer costs $.30, ect. Cesky Krumlov is supposed to be an excellent city to visit for it's huge castle, but the hostels fill up fast and I was not able to make it there last time due to this problem. Also, you have to take a bus if you want to get here from Prague it seems. Karlovy Vary is another destination that is supposed to be great. A lot of Germans go there for vacation.

For Hungary, Lake Batalon is supposed to be beautiful in the summer and very touristy. Seems to be one of the cheap resort destinations in Europe. I would think it would be worth it to stay a day to enjoy the beach, but that seems to be all that is there.
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Old 07-09-2004, 12:06 AM   #3
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Thanks Skidrage, I read about Olomouc, but it's always better to hear from someone who has been. I guess we'll stick with the Dr. Suessostel unless we hear something awful about it! We may have found a pension in the High Tatras, hope they write me back. Anybody else have suggestions?
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Old 07-13-2004, 07:52 PM   #4
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Sorry, Tumbleweedz, I haven't been to Slovakia. And in the Czech Rep it was one of my trademark 3-day trips, so all I saw was Prague (which I loved). I read from someone else on the boards, I think it was Clevercraig, about Olomouc, and he RAVED about it. So, I think it's a good tip. Let us know, though, your report.

Don't know how much time and distance you have, but I loved Bulgaria. Definitely had the "undiscovered" feel, and the folks are super-friendly. Those Cyrillic signs are a bitch, but the country's awesome.

What's the rough itinerary, my friend?

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Old 07-14-2004, 12:47 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips, that's the second rave I've heard about Olomouc, we'll have to see how we feel about hopping on yet another train by then! I think Bulgaria is out for this trip, although we just talked with a friend who lived there for three months, during a heat wave and with frequent power outages, and he loved it.

So far the plan is bus to Gdansk, then train to Szczecin, Poznan, Krakow, long haul to Budapest, then Vienna and Salzburg, Bratislava and up to Prague before flying to Riga for a couple of days before coming home. We're planning on at least a couple of days in each place, with a few longer stops along the way, to let the laundry dry! The kids are well travelled by plane and car, this will be their first extended train journey (though we've done a few trips in Japan, so they're not complete novices).

Our goal is to pack for six people, six countries and six weeks in one backpack. If we manage, I'll be sure to brag!

I'll let you know about the wacky places we're staying...

We leave Sunday, can't wait! Cheers.
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