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Vienna before R.Steves Eastern Europe trip - Zagreb at end?

Hi. Does this sound like a good idea? The trip begins in Ljubilana, ends in Dubrovnik. I was thinking of two or more nights in Wien, then one night in Zagreb at end. Would take train from Wien to Ljubliana, fly or bus, train (not sure of options) to Zagreb. I live near Albany, NY, so flying to and from R.Steves starting and ending cities pretty difficult (although Zagreb not so hot either!)

Comments?

Posted by
12320 posts

I guess it depends on how much time you have and how much you want to spend.

I looked up the tour; interesting. Adria Airlines has direct service Vienna to Ljubljana so that’s really an excellent idea if you haven’t been to Vienna. I would do the plane rather than the train cause its a long trip on the train and about an hour by plane. If you have been to Vienna or you have the time and the desire you could fly into Budapest spend a few days then go up to Vienna on the train (easy and short) spend a few days and then take the puddle jumper to Ljubljana. Depends on your time and money. But with the little research I did I would say Vienna is a great option.

At the tail end Dubrovnik is very near Kotor and Kotor is really worth the effort. You can take a bus or shared van the short trip to Kotor. Then you are pretty much stuck. Hmmmmmmmm. Kotor to Belgrade on a puddle jumper and then on to the states out of Belgrade by way of Frankfurt. I am actually going to find myself in Perast (near Kotor) in May and my way home is the puddle jumper to Belgrade (about $125) then overland from Belgrade to Sofia by way of a couple of really nice castles and the Iron Gates of the Danube (about $400 for a private car). Eventually we leave out of Sofia back to the states. Again it’s all about how much time and $$$$$ you have.

I think the spending a day in Zagreb on the way back is good too (and a lot easier = but I never liked easy) but again I would fly so you can maximize your time in Zagreb. Again there are some puddle jumpers that are reasonable cost.

My attitude is (when the time is available) it costs a lot to get there and it prorates a lot cheaper the longer I stay.

Posted by
260 posts

Thanks for ideas. Really don't have that much time at beginning or end. Gave been to Vienna but wouldn't mind a couple of days there again. Like Budapest a lot but don't think want to go all the way there from Dubrovnik.

Posted by
12320 posts

If you have been to Vienna then first travel there and then do some day trips out of Vienna. I really enjoy Melk and the Wachau Valley: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/austria/wachauvalley.htm Another option that I like a lot is to cross the border into Hungary and visit Sopron or Gyor and the Pannonhalma Archabbey.

At the end of your tour if you do have two days then the quick trop to Kotor is worth it before you return to the states.

I am certain you will have a great time on the tour no matter what you decide.

Posted by
516 posts

Vienna is an awesome city to explore. I would go for it.

Posted by
163 posts

You mentioned you liked Budapest but did not indicate if you had already been there. If you have not, and having been to Vienna, I would give strong consideration to spending your pre-tour time in Budapest. Our family did the RS Eastern European tour last June and I found Budapest fabulous. I likened it to Paris as I found it had a great vibe. We found plenty to do including the baths, a night time river cruise, and were led on a city tour by local guide, Peter Polczman, who was tremendous. Even by car, Google Maps plans it as only 45 minutes longer to get to Ljubljana than coming from Vienna, and the flight from Albany is about the same time and money as going to Vienna.

Posted by
260 posts

Thanks for the Budapest info. Will look into it. Since I know you can take a train from Vienna, I hadn't considered Budapest (would rather take train than fly, although I'll look into all options). I have been to Budapest, but many years ago, not long after fall of Soviet Union. I found it exotic and very beautiful. I haven't been to Wien in many years either, and love the thought of visiting some of the museums - decisions!

Posted by
12320 posts

Here is some info on the Budapest Christmas markets
http://www.funzine.hu/2013-12-christma-markets-in-budapest/

I avoided the Budapest because I am trying not to sound like a broken record on the forum. My wife and I have traveled across a good portion of Europe and we have .......... Well it goes a little like this; About a dozen years ago we planned a trip to Vienna and Budapest. It was to be four days in Vienna and 2 in Budapest and then home. There weren't a lot of web resources on Budapest at the time and we didn't want to find ourselves spending too much time in some third world, behind the Iron Curtain, Communist hell hole so I figured 2 days would be enough. After all that left four days for glorious Vienna. After a couple of days in Vienna it became apparent that Vienna “wasn’t speaking to us” in the way we had hoped for. I guess it was the nasty Mozart ticket hackers on the street corners that pushed me over the edge. We checked out of our Vienna hotel a few days early and caught the first train south.

In those days the coaches were somewhat similar to the battered and dented old Mussolini specials we had “enjoyed” in Italy. Shortly after our departure the train came to a stop. We were being boarded by soldiers in black uniforms carrying machine guns!!! One of the soldiers, a very large, very serious middle aged gentleman, approached us and said something in the most bizarre language imaginable. My wife was like a deer in headlights. Finally it occurred to her; passports! Tickets! Hand it all to him and smile damn it! I chuckled, we did, he did, the train moved on. For the first time I thought that I might be responsible for my wife disappearing behind the Iron Curtain – never to be seen again!!! Okay, it was 2002 and there was no iron curtain, but tell that to the guy with the machine gun. Thanks to the E.U. the days of passport checks is long gone and the trains are remarkably modern, clean and efficient.

The train arrived in Budapest a couple of hours before sunset. The Kelti station was a dark, soot stained, musty relic of the cold war, and upon leaving the train and becoming aware of our surroundings we were stunned. My wife gave me the, “what the heck have you gotten us into” look and I could only smile. A quick 360 degree spin and the only exit path became evident. Pushing the door open and looking out it was a beautiful day. Beautiful until I felt tugging at my suitcase. Some big burley, Russian looking commie guy was trying to nab my suitcase! No he wasn’t, he was a cabbie. He wanted a fare and he was going to get it by kidnapping our luggage. I pulled back, another cab drove up on and over the curb and stopped; a young kid jumped out and ran to what we hoped was our rescue. He and the commie began arguing in that same mystifying language we heard the soldier with the machine gun using. How the heck could they understand each other, I thought. The struggle of the cabbies ended abruptly and they looked towards my wife and I for guidance. Easy, the kid was small and skinny, I could whoop him if need be, so I choose him to drive us.

Posted by
12320 posts

Drive us where? After numerous attempts and numerous of responses of “no English” he began to understand that we just wanted him to drive around the town. Sort of an orientation tour was my intent. Budapest was lovely. Here was the Danube where it belonged; in the middle of the town unlike Vienna where the Danube was an inconvenience not an attribute. As it began to get dark the cabbie began driving away from where the “action” seemed to be. He began driving higher and higher. Dear G-d he was taking us to some deserted spot to rob and kill us. I knew it, we should never have come to Eastern Europe! As predicted, on a high winding road he pulled to the side and motioned us out of the car. In the darkness I couldn’t tell if he had a weapon, but he must; all communist killers do. Once out of the car he instructed us to turn around; I was certain it was to shoot us in the back. We did as instructed and we saw the most magnificent view G-d ever created. Budapest with all its lights when seen from Gellert Hill is the most magnificent view in the world. Our cabbie was very proud he had brought us here and my wife and I were almost speechless. I whispered to my wife, “we’re coming back to Budapest”. She whispered in return, “we just go here.”

It took almost three years to return as part of a trip to Romania; then Budapest & Bulgaria on the next trip, followed by Budapest & London; then just Budapest and more Budapest. In the years prior and following our first visit we had seen a large portion of Western and Eastern Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East and nothing really compared to the time we spent in Budapest. We return to Budapest about three times a year now. We enjoy helping other tourists get the most out of the city so if we can be of any assistance please don’t hesitate to ask.

Posted by
6562 posts

James:
You're very entertaining, and it's great that you've gone other places and returned to Budapest where you obviously feel comfortable.

We'll be landing in Budapest on 3/25/2014, and are looking forward to the city. Then, moving on to Bratislava, Vienna (again) and Prague.

With Hungary and Czech Republic still having their own currency, it'll be like the pre-Euro Europe--transposing every purchase into dollars in our heads.

The difference now is that we've got smart phones with apps that can translate 70 languages into 70 languages and pronounce the words to you. And a GPS will route you from place to place anywhere. I'm also not used to talking to home via telephone, but T-Mobile only costs 20 cents per minute to call home and unlimited data and texting.

Posted by
12320 posts

If it is in your budget get a car or a car and a driver and drive from Vienna to Prague. I appreciate Prague and I am glad that I have seen it and would recommend anyone to not miss it if the opportunity presents its self, but what I really enjoyed was the country side and the castles and towns south of Prague. You might also consider reversing the trip as Budapest is a much more laid back and less hectic than either Prague or Vienna.