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Warsaw to Budapest Spring 2016 - good idea ???

I was considering an RS tour in May/June but decided that Greece in October looked better. Now I'm thinking of perhaps doing "my own thing" in the spring to "fill up the hole." Krakow has gradually moved to the top of my list of new destinations and Julie Cooper recently posted about her bus ride from Krakow to Budapest, which got me thinking about Krakow again and remembering how much I enjoyed my short Budapest visit a few years ago. Then C Barner posted a trip report on Pecs. With no trip in my immediate future, I started looking at the logistics and came up with this plan, from May 27 to June 12. (Can you tell I'm addicted to travel?)

Day 1 fly into Warsaw (3N) 8 am (no jetlag, but only 1/2 night's sleep)
Days 2-3 Warsaw
Day 4 train (2.5 hrs) to Krakow (4N)
Days 5-7 Krakow
Day 8 bus 6.30 to Budapest (3N), arrive 13.30
Days 9-10 Budapest and/or day trips
Day 11 train (3 hrs) to Pecs (3N)
Days 12-13 Pecs
Day 14 train (3 hrs) to Budapest (3N)
Days 15-16 Budapest and/or day trips
Day 17 Budapest, 11.35 PM flight out

My only airport options are Budapest and Warsaw. I can start at either end. My one big expense is lodging - single or double room, private shower/toilet, clean, quiet, and central are my requirements. I am a little flexible with dates. It looks like the linchpin is the Krakow-Budapest 6.30 bus, which is only available (Eurolines) on Tuesdays and Fridays. Other days and Orangeways buses leave mid-afternoon and arrive around 10 pm. I could extend the trip by 1-3 days, depending on the hotel prices, if advisable.

Thoughts?
Thanks!

Posted by
7124 posts

You do need a holiday, the accounting skills are a bit rusty !!

Day 4 train (2.5 hrs) to Krakow (4N)
Days 5-7 Krakow
Day 8 bus 6.30 to Budapest (3N), arrive 13.30
Days 9-10 Budapest and/or day trips
Day 11 train (3 hrs) to Pecs (3N)

Looks good, and by coincidence Krakow is on my radar too.

Posted by
14454 posts

Thanks, David. I edited the original to correct the numbering of the days.

Posted by
6775 posts

Four full days is enough for a leisurely time and side trips (Oswiecim, Salt Mine) since Krakow is quite compact (there is actually much more to do in Warsaw, but it's more spread out). Also consider Zakopane to the south if you have some wiggle room and would enjoy the mountain air. May is a lovely time to be in Poland, my favorite time.

I read about that bus too and got excited at the possibility of traveling between the two cities! (but my dream is to combine Krakow, which I've been to before several times, with Lviv since it's not so easy to get to Lviv)

If you want to save some time (and skip the 6.5 hour bus ride, unless you really want to see the scenery), you can also consider using Warsaw as your base and flying to Budapest directly from there. In that case, you can visit Krakow by a short 2-2.5 hour train ride from Warsaw's central station (only downside is the backtracking back to Warsaw, but it's a short backtrack)

Posted by
12845 posts

Chani, my thoughts on it. About a dozen years ago I saw a television show about tourism in Krakow. The thrust of the show was that while there were so, so much Jewish history on display, Jewish heritate tours, Jewish restaurants (none Kosher), and even a Klezmer Band; there were no Jews associated with any of the activities. I understand that this may have changed, but the “why” disturbed me enough to pull Krakow off my list. Then there are the camps. My emotions and my psyche would not endure the camps, so that doesn’t draw me there either. I understand that this is all my loss, as I have known those who have had remarkable experiences in Krakow.

The Bus to Budapest. It is against my religion to spend that much time on a bus. If I were to go to Krakow I would wait until I could break up the trip. Depending on the route the bus takes it must go through Brno or Banská Bystrica. Either is a great place to get off for the night. Both wonderful towns.

Pecs is a great town and my wife keeps insisting we go back. Still, for me it’s a morning train down, the next day in Pecs and a late afternoon or evening train back on the third day (2N). The Hotel Palatinus is a grand old hotel. Not way, way, way good, but then I haven’t found a terrific hotel in Pecs. At least the Palatinus is dripping with history and it is extremely well situated.

For Budapest noting really beats an apartment. This is a town not to be visited but to be lived in; especially with the time you have. Because of your interests I suggest something between O utca and Dob utca and Terez/Erzsbet kert and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út / Karoly krt. This will put you near the Jewish District, the Arts District and keep you out of Disneyland (but less than 10 minutes away so you can visit). Send me the names or addresses of the places that interest you and I will tell you what I know about the neighborhoods. If you rent an apartment you can do it through AirBnB, but also check to make sure that it is rented or managed by a reputable company. Nothing particularly unique about Budapest, but world wide now so, so many of these apartments are being rented in manners that are not particularly legal and I wouldn’t encourage participating in that.

Your dates are a little late. If you can plan the trip a few days earlier you will catch more of the arts. Most everything closes in June. Check the websites of the Opera, the Operett and the Liszt Academy for performance dates.

Posted by
6775 posts

@James - has avoiding travel to Krakow helped deepen your understanding about why there is a lack of Jewish participation in reviving the very districts (e.g. Kazimierz) they lived in before the war? If so, please share. If not, why try to (subtly) nudge the OP away? This is not a political forum. Travel and contact with locals on this issue does not seem to pose any harm in trying to fill gaps in understanding such a complex subject...and, above all, the OP's motivations to visit Krakow are unknown to us, so I'm not sure it's constructive to make assumptions.

Posted by
6370 posts

I know it would be a long travel day but my inclination would be to go directly from Krakow to Pecs (bus to Budapest, train to Pecs) on day 8, then when done there go back to Budapest and spend a continuous 7 days (6 nights) there without moving again. That's just me because I hate to move hotels any more than absolutely necessary. I rented an apartment in Budapest for 6 nights last summer and I can recommend them ( Gozsdu Apartments ), it's in a great neighborhood in the Jewish district, 10 minute walk from the waterfront, Deak Ferenc ter (metro connections to everywhere), and the Grand Synagogue. It was a lovely modern studio apartment with all the conveniences (including elevator) and about $60/night.

Posted by
12845 posts

Agnes, so my emotional response is invalid? Unworthy to be shared? Less academic than .....? Is that your point? Thank you.

Nancy, the Gozsdu apartment was it quiet in the evening. I think its a great location but I have avoided suggesting it because the courtyard can get sort of noisy at night. Seriously just curious, not nudging; because if its located away from the noise of the courtyard you cant do a much better location in my opinion.

Posted by
14454 posts

Marginata, thanks for that great link. I like the idea of taking a bus at 11.15 MUCH better than 6.30 :-) And it means I'm not tied to any one day of the week to travel.

Do you know if it's possible to buy a ticket from Warsaw, then only get on the bus in Krakow? I see that the front half of the bus is reserved for passengers from Warsaw. I suffer from motion sickness and always travel better toward the front of the bus. The difference in cost is only €5, well worth it for me.

Hi James! I'll look into the Airbnb options. If the price and location are right, I would definitely consider staying longer in Budapest. I looked a little and saw several that could work out. They all look like they are privately owned and rented out by individuals. How can I tell if it's "rented or managed by a reputable company"? What do you think of staying 3 nights in Buda before Pecs and then 3-6 nights in Pest after Pecs?

I'm not crazy about a 7 hour bus ride, but it's only once, and there's no better connection. A train would be longer with at least 2 changes or a night train (ugh!). I don't think there's a bus or train to anywhere interesting (or anywhere at all) between them. The Hotel Palatinus looks quite nice and not expensive either.

Don't mind missing the opera - anyway, didn't see anything that grabbed me for May either :-) Liszt and Operett don't have anything up yet for 2016.

Posted by
6370 posts

James, the apartment I had was on an upper floor so yes, it was quiet at night, I had no problem with noise from the courtyard bars and restaurants. I would definitely suggest to try to get an apartment on the upper floors (above the 2nd floor), although even in the entryway to the apartment bldg I didn't hear the noise from the courtyard until I opened the door so it's pretty soundproofed.

EDIT I also have to add that my apartment bldg was the last one along the courtyard away from Kiraly Utca so it was a bit farther away from the 'action'.

Posted by
4637 posts

Bus ride from Krakow to Budapest is scenic to very scenic for the most part of the journey. And James, no bus from Krakow to Budapest goes via Brno. It would be huge detour adding many kilometres and hours to the ride.

Posted by
14454 posts

Maybe it's just because it's so far in the future, but I looked at prices/availability for Gozsdu Apts - prices for May/June are ridiculous. On April 27, the studio is €49.82, then €66-69 for each of the next 3 nights, but from May 1 , it's €150/night, and unavailable after May 31.

Posted by
6775 posts

@James, an "emotional response" is not "invalid" but it seems confined to a very narrow prism of a tv show you saw a dozen years ago. It sounds like your whole worldview about Krakow "froze" (for lack of better terms) right then and there. I just asked if an additional info has filtered in afterwards to fill an understanding gap, and suggested that travel may not hurt (and may help) in that respect. Since a dozen years ago, there have been efforts made to resurrect the Jewish culture in Krakow (although they may not be to your liking and can certainly be criticized for a variety of reasons).

Posted by
6370 posts

Chani, I checked the Gozsdu on booking.com and for dates in early June 2016 it's $84/night. That's not horrible but definitely more than last summer when I paid $62/night in mid-July. I booked mine through booking.com and had no issues using them although I had no choice of which bldg or where my apt was located in the bldg, just the luck of the draw.

Posted by
2169 posts

I think your choice of days, locations and transport is perfect--in fact, I considered a close facsimile of this trip in May, but since I'd just been to Budapest decided to focus more on Poland with 8 full days and 4 days in Prague. Like you say, the recent post about the positive bus experience has made me think that's a good option to consider.

I was totally captivated by Krakow, my first stop in Poland--I stayed at the Hotel Unicus on Sw. Marka just steps from the Rynek Glowny, and it's a beautiful old town to explore on foot. I spent a lot of time in the Kazimierz district, it had a gritty charm that really appealed to me. I posted a lengthy review of the Poland portion of my trip in early June with more detail, but suffice it to say Poland is a beautiful country, the people are very kind and friendly and our money goes a long way there. I love history and art and there's no shortage of either, discovered the artists of the Mloda Polska era (Art Nouveau and Jugendstihl elsewhere) and Jan Matejko, and their ethnographic museums were full of wonderful things. And the food! I definitely plan to return and include other towns.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

No jet lag...good. That proves my point that not everyone gets jet lag upon landing. Are you sure not more time can be set aside for visiting Warsaw? I liked both Warsaw and Krakow, found both interesting and fascinating, very positive experiences, and wished that I had had another day or two to spend in each. Both are good walking cities. In both I came across, random chance just by exploring the place on foot, poignant memorials to Katyn. Warsaw was where I stayed in an apt, the only time up to now using that option, stayed in a hotel in Krakow near the main train station. The next time in Krakow would be in a hotel or even at the hostel nearby. the station.

BTW, my emotional reactions are invalid or have been invalidated.

Posted by
12845 posts

Nancy, the end by Dob utca is a lot quieter; and like I said, I love the location. We know the management at Café Vian and have breakfast there every morning. Not the cheapest but the staff always gets us caught up on what we missed while we were away. Lovely people. Also very near is Macesz Huszar one of my favorite restaurants in town. The courtyard its self connects District VI with District VII two very vibrant but different parts of town. About a block up Kiraly from the entrance is a reconstructed portion of the original ghetto wall and in the general area you can find a number of stumbling stones (Stolperstein for you Fred). BUT, I don't think you have to pay 84USD for an apartment either. You should be able to find a really nice one for under 70USD, cheaper if you go just a little further out from the center.

Oh, and staying in Buda? That's really a personal thing. If you want to spend time is very beautiful tree lined residential neighborhoods at the expense of 30 to 45 minute trips to Pest where most of the culture exists, then do so. I know some who swear by it. Personally I like the architectural beauty of Pest day and night and I enjoy being in the center of it. Just a few nights ago the Opera had a performance that they also erected a giant screen on Andrassy ut so the public could see it along with those inside the house. All lit up at night, the music on street and the people it attracted is the sort of thing I enjoy in Pest. If I had been staying in Buda I would have missed it completely.

And Fred, you remain among the most relevant here. Always enjoy your perspective. Although I will point out that the lack of Chani's jet lag is probably the point of origin.

Posted by
14454 posts

Ilja Sounds nice, as long as it's not raining. And if it is, so what. I'll be comfy and dry. After a week of sightseeing, I won't mind a long, relaxing journey. And it will give me time to write a travel diary and go through my photos.

Nancy Thanks. I'll keep it in mind and check back in a few months. It does look like I can do this trip pretty cheaply. Budapest is probably going to be my most expensive stay, but $84/night isn't going to bankrupt me :-) I looked on google maps and like the location. I'm not crazy about splitting my time in Budapest, but with a 7 hour bus trip, it would just be too much to transfer to the train station and have to wait around and then have a 3 hour train ride. Might be worthwhile to stay in a hotel for 1-2 nights, though, then 2-3 nights Pecs, and back to Budapest for a longer stay at an apt. Could probably leave a suitcase at the hotel then and pack light to Pecs. Something to think about.

Christa Thanks for mentioning your review. I'll definitely read it with interest and maybe come back with some questions. I was in an RS tour around then and missed it. With the prices I saw for Warsaw and Krakow, I could add a night to either or both and still keep to my "budget." I thought about Prague briefly. I did a Budapest-Vienna-Prague trip in May 2010. At the time, I liked Prague better, but I also had good weather there and rain in Budapest. Looking back 5 years later, I find it is Budapest, not Prague, that is calling me back. The wines are really good too.

Fred I don't know that I prove any point. I'll leave home about 4.15 am, have a 20 minute taxi ride to the airport and get on a 6.45 am flight that lands in Warsaw 3.5 hours later - and a 1 hour time change. When I fly to the Bay Area, I definitely get jetlagged. Did you report on your trip at all? How much time did you spend in each city? What were the main sights you saw?

Love you guys.

Posted by
4637 posts

Fred, I think everybody has jet lag but it differs in length and intensity. Chani flies from Tel Aviv to Warsaw, time difference 1 hour, that's why no jet lag.

Posted by
12845 posts

Jewish culture in Krakow (although they may not be to your liking and
can certainly be criticized for a variety of reasons).

Agnes, I tend not to criticize.

Fred, my way of dealing with jet lag is a hot shower then we hit the town till 10pm. It's hard at first but the next morning no lag at all because we forced our body into the new time zone.

Unlike Chani, we leave home then 1.5 hours to the airport. Then 1.5 hours to flight time. Then an 1 hour flight followed by a 2 hour lay over followed by a 9 hour flight to a 2 hour lay over followed by a 1.5 hour flight and a 45 min taxi ride x 3 times a year.

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Chani...I don't get jet lag. I am not zapped, exhausted after landing. Others here have said as much. I book a direct flight leaving SFO in the afternoon , 2-4, which lands in the morning, as long it is prior to noon in London or on the continent. I make sure I sleep on the plane, yes, squished in Economy, but still getting anywhere from 3 to ca.6.5 hrs. The more sleep (you can't count on that each and every time...lol ) I get on the flight, the more refreshed and energized I am upon landing. On the day of arrival I turn in no later than midnight, usually 10 pm to midnight and wake up at 0700-0730, depending on when the Pension or hotel starts with breakfast.

My observations of Krakow and Warsaw may be a bit dated since they were in 2001. Specifically, I was interested regarding Warsaw in the cultural and historical sights, saw the monuments to Katyn, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial, and the Warsaw Uprising memorial and statues, didn't have time for the Museum, the outside explanation is written in 5-6 (?) languages, including French and German. saw the monument dedicated to General W. Anders and the Poles at Monte Cassino in the war, got to the Polish Military History/Army Museum...just by chance but it was 15 mins to closing time at 5 pm....yes, the next trip. I remember having dinner in one restaurant either in Krakow or Warsaw in the nice dining room was an historical painting of the Polish general, later president Pilsudski leading his Polish Legion in Galicia in 1914 against the Russians. Would I go back to Warsaw? Of course, not just for that missed Army Museum but also the cultural sites.

Posted by
14454 posts

David From Krakow, going anywhere south takes longer than to Budapest and requires a transfer. I don't know why, but there it is. Anyway, I was in Vienna 3 months ago. I would like to visit Brno, but it doesn't fit into this itinerary, so I may not get there in this lifetime. So many places, so little time. . . .

Fred Thanks for the info on Warsaw. What about Krakow? Did you visit the salt mines?

While I envy people who live in Europe and can drive their own cars on trips, or take long weekend jaunts by train for a pittance, I know I'm a lot more fortunate that you Americans. From Moscow to Dublin, from Iberia to Scandanavia, I have at most a 2 hour time difference, and a 6 hour flight. Good for me since I find it really hard to sleep on a plane.

Posted by
7124 posts

"While I envy people who live in Europe and can drive their own cars on trips, or take long weekend jaunts by train for a pittance, I know I'm a lot more fortunate that you Americans. From Moscow to Dublin, from Iberia to Scandinavia, I have at most a 2 hour time difference, and a 6 hour flight. Good for me since I find it really hard to sleep on a plane."

hahaha ... I have at the least an 8 hour time difference, and a 24 hour flight from Australia. I know, I know, I can hear you saying, "Suck it up Aussie, there has to be some drawback to living in the best place on the planet."

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Chani...You're welcome. On Krakow....my memory is less clear without looking at the pictures I took. It was the second city visited in Poland on this first trip there in 2001. After Warsaw we took the train Warsaw to Krakow, direct, bought the tickets the day prior to departure , ie, didn't reserve in advance, stayed at a hotel just literally a minute or two from the station once you stepped outside and turned left... Europejski Hotel, used English at check-in. Shortly after I found out the woman who had checked us in was more fluent in German than was her level in English, After that I used German with her. The Polish staff all speak good to excellent English. If you like a hotel that is old world, old school, with genteel atmosphere, has a restaurant, etc, then I recommend it. I liked Europeski, great location, which means not only in the train station area but also close to the Old Town,,,the rynek, that large square, went through that every day...found it very interesting, worth spending time there.

Like Warsaw Krakow is also a walking town, never took the bus or taxi in Krakow, just walked all over, saw the Wewel castle, If you want information on going to Auschwitz, the staff at Europejski can provide it. They also had a chauffeur offering to drive you out there. If you want to go by bus, there is bus stop tour a few blocks (4-5) down from the hotel that take you there. The stop is on the street corner where the big monument /stature dedicated to the defeat of the Teutonic Knights by the Poles in 1410 at the battle of Grunewald. I didn't go the salt mines. Had we had another day, the day trip r/t I would have been to the small town of Pszczyna to see the chateau, which is connected to US history in WW 1. What is interesting about Krakow is that it basically survived the war intact, was not bombed out, fought over, and left in ruins. In that sense you see the contrasts between Warsaw and Krakow. After leaving Krakow, we took the day train back to Berlin, another ten hour ride. It was direct then.

Posted by
6179 posts

Chani, in Krakow, we stayed in the Kazimierz area (the old Jewish area) which was still walkable to & from the old town square, or by street car. Krakow is wonderful. We did the salt mine tour, and it was very interesting if you've never seen one. I think just about any hotel can arrange a tour there or to Auschwitz. I think the salt mine can be done in half a day.
I found the "In Your Pocket Krakow" and "In Your Pocket Warsaw" interactive websites and downloadable guides to be excellent resources. You can use the map feature to pinpoint restaurants (with reviews and descriptions) near your hotel or vice versa, and street views as well.