My mom and I are planning on taking the Highlights of Eastern Europe tour in June 2015. I just wanted to know how it was, and if it is worth the trip?
My husband and I had a blast on our tour (plan for warm weather though :) ) we are creating a scrapbook that we will post at the end of the week :) but if you have more questions don't hesitate to ask. It was a fantastic tour that you will learn so so so much!!
You will love it! We have traveled in other parts of Europe but didn't feel like we had experienced all of Europe. We still had that desire to see Eastern Europe and this tour provided an amazing trip. We reminisce about it often. We made a Rick Steves scrapbook, look for it in the 2013 archives.
We've lived in Prague and travel to Eastern Europe several times a year. You are in for a treat!
The Rick Steve's tour of Central Europe is a blast (the area cover by his tour do not consider themselves Eastern Europe.) I went a couple of years ago and enjoyed every day.
I went in 2013. Fascinating combination of cities and natural beauty. Prague is beautiful. Krakow was an unexpected delight and Budapest was amazing. Enjoyed the World War II and Warsaw Pact aspects of these cities. I recommend visiting Memento Park in Budapest to see socialist realism sculpture (and to ride the bus like a local). Also, suck it up or in, and do the Szechenyi baths in Budapest. All three cities deserve another day.
Add to that the visits to Lake Bled, Plitvice Lakes and Skocjan Caves and your trip is a great combination of cties and nature. Do be prepared to exchange currency frequently as most of the countries are not on the Euro. Your trip will go to Rovinj; that's an itinerary change from my tour when we went to Rab Island.
Watching Schindler's List before going might improve your experience in Krakow. You do visit Schindler's factory in Krakow but it's more about the occupation of Krakow than Oskar Schindler. Fascinating nonetheless. Also a great book to read before or after is Thadeus Pankiewicz's "The Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy".
Have a great trip.
I would second Memento Park. Almost everyone I know who has gone has enjoyed the experience.
My husband and I had an AMAZING time!!! Please ask me if you have any questions!!!
This is a question for the people who have taken the Eastern Europe Tour. What transportation mode did you use to get from Bled to Ljubljanna airport? If our flight would be leaving at 7:35 a.m. is it easy to get really early transportation to the airport on the last day of the tour. We are looking at the Eastern Europe tour from June 15 -June 30, 2015. We could also plan to leave on July 1 instead of June 30 and spend the night on June 30 in Ljubljanna. What do you recommend who have taken this tour.
How much money did you bring for each country before you left US? Did you have any trouble with the ATM machines in each country? Did you use much cash or just relay on debit and credit cards.
Although I have not taken the Eastern Europe tour, I have been to all the places you will visit on the tour. To answer a couple of questions in your most recent post....I would not stay in Bled and try to get the airport for that early of a flight. I think you would really, really be pushing it. As far as how much money for each country...that is totally up to how much you think you might want to spend. We had no problems with ATM machines in any of these countries. We mostly used our credit cards for hotels, restaurant meals and any major gift shopping. Cash was usually used for things like taxi's, quick snacks on the go, things like that.
You will love your trip.
With respect to getting from Bled to Ljubljana Airport for an early flight: I did the tour in 2013. Though my flight was not as early as yours, getting to the airport was easy and took about 25 minutes. We used a private van service from the Hotel Lovec to the Airport. I don't recall encountering much traffic as the route avoids major highways. The airport is not very big so it shouldn't take long to get through security. Have the hotel arrange the transportation and you should be fine for your early flight.
I wouldn't worry about foreign currency until you get there. I had some leftover Euros and some dollars when I arrived and that's it. Upon arrival in Prague, hit an ATM to get your Czech Koruna (make sure you use a bank-affiliated ATM, not a money exchange ATM - better rates). After that, your guide will assist you in exchanging your Koruna into Zlotys when you get to Poland, your Zlotys into Forints, when you get to Hungary, etc.
Have a great trip.
Our guide set up the transport to the Airport from Lake Bled. Our flight left earlier than yours I believe and we had no problems getting transport. They were timely and professional. I got currency in all the countries before we left (Bank of America ordered it for us and it came in in 3 days!). But this helps keep me and my husband on budget, so our preference! We budget 50 dollars/person/day. This includes cost of meals and souvenirs. We came home with almost 400 USD. It was nice that in the first lunch spot in Poland, we were exploring, instead of looking for the ATM. I also had concerns my local credit union would lock our card even though we notified them, so having some cash takes away that stress.
Thank you very much for all your responses to the questions. This information is very helpful.