I'm leaving very soon to go on the Best of Eastern Europe tour in May. Any suggestions for any "off the beaten path" sightseeing in my free time? Also my right ankle tends to sprain easily (though I've had physical therapy to improve my ankle's strength and balance and I walk ~10,000 steps daily and have been climbing stairs more). Should I bother buying & packing trekking poles for the hiking parts of the BOEE tour or are the trails not too uneven or difficult? Thanks in advance!
The tour has changed a bit since I took it, but the one part which was more of a "hike" is no longer included and the caves are no longer part of the tour. I can't say for sure, but if you can walk 10,000 I would not think hiking poles are required. Plitvice is (if memory serves) pretty flat (lots of boardwalks over lakes or paths running along streams) except for the very end where you climb some switchbacks. In Bled you can circle the lake (very flat). If you go to the castle in Bled, you can climb the steep hill or (as we did)-take a taxi up and then walk down. That is steep, but not necessary with a taxi. Nothing was uneven, but in those 2 instances a bit of steep trail (not much.) There have been several postings about this tour and everyone differs. In Budapest I enjoyed Memento Park and the House of Terror. They took the salt mine out of the Poland part and that was enjoyed by everyone in my group. Also in Krakow was the factory owned by Schindler (of Schindler's List fame) which now contains an interesting museum about the occupation. It is a great tour. Enjoy.
Thanks very much for the helpful details, Ray.
Also, I'm wondering if those who have taken the BOEE tour have any "things that I wish I'd known beforehand" tips to pass along. I did go on the very beginning of this tour last September but I had to leave the tour after 3 days due to a fall resulting in a broken wrist and sprained ankle. Bizarrely this fall didn't happen during a hike the day before (which went well) but the next morning just after taking a photo and then turning around to continue walking on some long wet grass on a lawn. (My weaker right ankle struck again, but after lots of physical therapy after I returned, I think that it'll do better on this trip.)
For your free time on your own, I just loved walking around Prague's old town and over the Charles Bridge. I could go back and forth all day long just people watching. In Budapest, the House of Terror and and afternoon at the the baths were a delightful own your own experience. Both of these are easily reached using the Metro which will be explained to you by your guide. For free time in Krakow, a group of us visited the Schindler Museum. I could have spent an entire day there and not seen everything. If you are able to walk 10000 steps a day, you should have no problem. Have fun, I loved this tour.
Lisa, I agree that the people watching in Prague is great. I just arrived in Prague a few hours ago and am looking forward to doing more of that on this visit - though it's raining just now so that will need to wait a bit. Thanks for the Budapest and Kraków free time suggestions. I'm sure that this will be an interesting tour.
I am heading on the tour a month later. Can you let us know about your experience? I am wondering about footwear sneakers -vs- hiking boots, etc. I am thinking that it is going to warm in late June.
We did the BOEE tour several years ago and have since done BO scandinavia and traveled France on our own. I always take a collapsable walking stick. I find cobble stone can be tricky to negotiate and for steps without railings. It goes into my backpack when not in use. Happy and safe travels.
Hi, jprice. For the hike in Plitvice area, I wore my running shoes same as I wore during the rest of the tour. I'm not a runner but I wear good quality, well cushioned running shoes for comfort and to minimize the risk of another ankle sprain. These shoes worked great on this hike. I did see that one couple wore low rise hiking shoes but I didn't notice what others wore.
The key thing with this hike as our RS guide Peter cautioned us at the beginning is to really pay attention to the boardwalk and trail as you walk. The boardwalk seemed to be built with local wood and has a number of sudden ups and downs. The trail portions often had rocky outcroppings and some tree roots. As long you pay close attention to those details, you should be fine. The waterfalls were incredible. The BOEE was a great tour. Have fun!
Sneakers and sports sandals it is. I also have a skinny pair of flip flops (from the fantastic Spa in Bath, UK) to use at the beach and Budapest baths.
This tour is on "my list". :)