Travel in Eastern Europe

We are planning to travel into Eastern Europe - typically see 3 cities (in 3 different countries). We have been advised to do Prague, Budapest and Dubrovnik (Croatia). The question is - is this the best choice ? We have been to Krakow in Poland earlier - so that is ruled out. If this is the right ion, what is the best way to travel to, and in between these locations (air / train / road) ? We will be traveling in from Mumbai (India).

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2826 posts

I haven't been to Dubrovnik, but do be aware that connections from Dubrovnik to other places outside of Croatia and Montenegro are poor. Dubrovnik has no train station; it's a 4-5 hour bus ride to Split; there are boats in season only; and flights from Dubrovnik can be expensive. So double check connections before you make any plans. Here's a website with some ideas: http://www.croatiatraveller.com/southern_dalmatia/Dubrovnik/GettingtoDubrovnik.htm#.T_DQc5FQR4I I loved Prague and Budapest, but do be aware that they are very different, and that Vienna (easy to visit from either, as it is geographically between them) is different too. You will find a lot of diversity of opinions about the three cities, so there is no right or wrong answer to your question "is this the best choice?"

Posted by Devon
Ballwin
810 posts

I've heard from people that love Prague, but others that say they prefer other cities because it's becoming touristy and crowded. I haven't been so I cannot comment on Prague, but I did love my time in Bratislava, Slovakia. Great taste of Eastern Europe, beautiful old town, some castles, and you're only an hour away from Vienna so you can take the train or hydrofoil boat to Vienna. I've heard wonderful things about Budapest and Dubrovnik but can't comment on either personally. Prague, Bratislava/Vienna and Budapest would all be fairly close together by train, but Dubrovnik is quite far south compared to your other locations and would be difficult to do by train. I would consider driving (still 9 hours though), flying or choosing a closer city to your others.

Posted by George
Canada
818 posts

With the exception of the Prague Castle, I found Prague quite underwhelming. Contrary to a previous poster, I don't think Bratislava is worth the time nor effort (boring boat trip, coupled with an equally tiresome train ride back to Vienna); the capital of Slovakia continues to show just how impoverished eastern European cities were within the USSR. I would put a plug in for Ljubljana in Slovenia. This country was and is the most progressive of the post-Yugoslavian empire. The city is attractive, lots of walking streets, a genuinely friendly people and some pretty tasty local dishes, beer, and wines and, unlike the rest of their post-Yugoslavian kin, they are on the euro. Want to get outside of Ljubljana for a day - a short 40-minute drive takes you to Bled and the Julian Alps.

Posted by James
Frisco
1783 posts

Prague, Vienna and Budapest is the usual tour and for good reasons. The proximity is good, transportation between the three is good and each is very unique and beautiful. It also depends on how much time you have.

Posted by James
Frisco
1783 posts

Oh, if Debrovnik is what you choose then I think there are direct flights out of Vienna.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

When comparing Slovakia with Slovenia and presumably Bratislava with Ljubljana, no doubt Slovenia and Ljubljana are weathier. It may not improvished (that's relative, depending on one's reasoning,) today twenty four years after ridding itself of Soviet communism, but there are certainly other areas behind what Churchill delineated (from Stettin to Trieste) that are better off economically as regards to per capita income and standard of living. Still, I would want to see both cities, improvished or not, esp. Bratislava with its German and Hungarian influences.

Posted by George
Canada
818 posts

I stand by my earlier comment. I am an avid "student" of post WWI European history and am well aware of the devastation and rebuilding that has occurred, both physically and socially. In the case of Bratislava "tourism" - the old adage of 'oversold, under delivered" comes to mind.

Posted by George
Canada
818 posts

James, just to take history a bit further along - pretty hard to determine who was the nastier of the bunch - Hitler or Stalin - remember the Siege of Budapest. Yep, those commies, the great liberators of 1945, became the great oppressors for the following 44 years. Rebuilding did occur, but let's not forget the 1953 Plzen Uprising, the 1953 East German Uprising, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the 1968 Prague Spring, and the 1970 and 1976 Poland protests ALL brutally quelled by those "great" liberators. Yep, rebuilding did occur, but it was done on the backs and minds of the "captive nations."

Posted by George
Canada
818 posts

James, sorry to see you deleted your comments. I was just providing a counterpoint to your strong statements.

Posted by James
Frisco
1783 posts

George, no problem at all. Just a little off base for this forum. I left the travel related comments.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

"...an avid 'student' of post WW I European history...." My compliments on that pursuit. How true, on which of the two was the nastier...look at "Bloodlands." The research that author came up with boggles the mind at the horrendous suffering inflicted on East Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Also, 1953 Poznan by the "great liberators" the Red Army. "the siege of Budapest"...last German offensive of the war.

Posted by George
Canada
818 posts

Fred, Bloodlands does leave the reader pretty wide-eyed! I'm about to start in on Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956.

Posted by James
Frisco
1783 posts

Here is an interesting list of books for background study before a trip "East". While generally about Hungary much is consistent with the rest of Communist Europe. 1. The Forbidden Sky: Inside the Hungarian Revolution by Endre Marton – Cold War Historical Account 2. The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World by Kati Marton – WWII Historical Account 3. Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America by Kati Marton – Cold War Historical Account 4. A History of Hungary by Laszlo Kontler – General History 5. When Angels Fooled the World by Charles Fenyvesi – WWII Historical Account 6. Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebestyen (Hungarian) – Cold War Historical Account 7. Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors by Lonnie Johnson – Cold War 8. Historical Account 9. 8. The Sword and the Crucible. Count Boldizsar Batthyany and Natural Philosophy in Sixteenth-century Hungary by Dora Bobory - History 10. Budapest: A Critical Guide by Andras Torok, Andras Egyedi and Andras Felvideki – General History 11. The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer – WWII Historical Novel
12. Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer – Cold War Historical Novel

Posted by James
Frisco
1783 posts

13. A Taste of the Past: The Daily Life and Cooking of a Nineteenth-Century Hungarian-Jewish Homemaker by András Koerner – Golden Age Historical Account 14. The Smell of Humans: A Memoir of the Holocaust in Hungary by Ernö Szép – WWII Historical Account 15. Bridge at Andau by James A. Michener – Cold War Historical Account 16. Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture by John Lukacs – Golden Age Historical Account 17. The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II by Alex Kershaw – WWII Historic Account 18. 19. Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust by Anna Porter – WWII Historic Account 19. Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War (Music in the Twentieth Century) by Rachel Willson – Cold War Historic Account Film 1. Gloomy Sunday – WWII / Cold War 2. Kontroll – Social Commentary 3. Freedom's Fury – Cold War Documentary 4. Budapest Retro – Cold War Documentary
5. The Journey – Cold War Historical Story (1959, Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr