Please sign in to post.

After Prague??? Travel suggestions? Sept. 9 - 15, 2022

Hello, fellow travelers.

My husband has a work conference in Prague Sept. 6 9, 2022. I'm tagging along, of course. We're thinking of traveling 5-6 days after Prague (flexible). We live in San Jose, CA. I could use your help in planning our itinerary!

We love history, walking tours, hiking, churches, WWII connections, discovering local culture, local b&bs, avoiding tourist traps, your typical Rick Steves stuff. We're very active 58 & 61 year olds. Vegetarians (but not vegan). Rich loves beer, I love desserts (gelato/ chocolate anything).

We've both traveled Europe a lot. (Last time southeastern Poland, 2018.) Richard speaks German almost fluently (family in Germany & Austria). All my grandparents immigrated long ago from southeastern Poland (Carpatho-Rusyns--hillbilly Ukrainians) so I have a big interest there.

We have the curse of being too open to possibilities. I'm better at choosing from cool options rather than creating them myself. Here are some thoughts. Yes, they are all over the place:

  1. I am/was interested in volunteering time somewhere to help Ukraine (bringing things over, packing supplies, serving food, etc) but I'm not finding anything. Sadly, this probably isn't possible.

  2. Our plan was to explore Eastern Europe (Slovakia, Poland, Czech) but with the dollar so strong, I was wondering if it'd be wiser to use this trip for normally expensive places (i.e. Vienna, Switzerland, etc) we might skip otherwise to save money. Honestly, we'll probably stay with Eastern Europe but I'd be interested in any ideas people might have on this.

  3. I have no interest in Hungary given their obnoxious politics.

  4. If we stay local:. Rich is interested in Cesky Krumlov near Prague (cool castles). Maybe stay there overnight. Is it worth seeing?

  5. We've already seen Kutna Hora. Great place but would like to see something new.

  6. Is Brno worth seeing?

  7. Recommendations for Slovakia?

I know this is pretty rambling but we'd appreciate any guidance/ideas you might have.

Thank you. ☺️

Elaine

Posted by
296 posts

When my daughter was studying in Prague and I visited her the two of us took a long weekend trip to Vienna, very easy by train. I had a childhood wish of seeing the white stallions of Vienna fulfilled when we went to the Spanish Riding School practice session. It's a unique experience you might enjoy. Also the desserts in Vienna are fantastic so that hits a sweet spot for you. It's a lovely city.
Cynthia

Posted by
745 posts

Dresden is an easy trip form Prague. We combined those two, as well as Leipzig, and it was a wonderful trip! Both of these other cities are chuck full of history. I did a wonderful walking tour in Dresden while my husband was working. There is also a Chocolate museum in Dresden, attached to a chocolate shop/cafe of course.

Posted by
2767 posts

I was going to recommend Krakow and Budapest but with your feelings toward the current regime in Hungary, I’ll also second visiting Vienna. A shame since Budapest is such a compelling city…

Posted by
61 posts

Since you will be in Prague (and are interested in WWll), take a short bus ride out to Lidice. Once you exit the bus, cross the highway to the stunning park/memorial in honor of the people of Lidice. The razing of this town was the Third Reich's response to the assassination of Reinhold Heydrich.

Too, another possibility is a visit to Karlovy Vary, although you might consider it too 'touristy.'

Posted by
2233 posts

The US Dollar is about on parity with the Euro. Switzerland uses chf, which usually trades close to a dollar. Switzerland is expensive because everything just costs more, most likely because the Swiss pay a living wage to employees, and many food items need to be shipped in, among other reasons. You won't find bargains in Switzerland, but you will find mind- bending vistas, clean air and water, and maddenly-efficient and comprehensive transportation systems.

We explored Cesky Krumlov a few years back, and really enjoyed walking the beautiful town. Also enjoyed Lake Bled and Lbujljana in Slovenia.

Safe travels!

Posted by
2952 posts

We love history, walking tours, hiking, churches, WWII connections

From Prague, I would encourage you to take a day trip to Terezín. I did not have time for it during my first visit to Prague and went back for it, taking the guided tour with the phenomenal guide, Pavel Batel. Jason at Living Prague gives enthusiastic and informative walking tours in Prague, including a WWII focused tour.

From Prague, you can easily get to Dresden (a compact center which used to have regularly scheduled, paid, walking tours) Nuremberg (loads of history and WWII connections) or Wroclaw, if you decide to dip into Poland, where you can also take a day trip to the all-wood Church of Peace in Świdnica. You could easily spend a delightful 3-4 days in any of those.

Posted by
7000 posts

We were in Dresden in October and it was once perhaps Europe's most besutiful city with superior museums. It is maybe a short 2 hr. trsin ride from Prague. The Saxony region of Germany is also absolutely beautiful.

Posted by
1924 posts

Since Vienna and Berlin are roughly four hours by direct train consider one or the other. If going to Vienna take a day trip to Bratislava (1h) by direct train.
If you go in the opposite direction stop in Dresden (2h 30m) for a couple nights then continue on to Berlin (2h).

Posted by
3605 posts

I will add another enthusiastic vote for Prague WWII & Jewish History Tours. We also took the Terezin Tour with historian Pavel Batel. The best tour guide we have ever hired! Life altering experience. In addition we took a private walking tour of Jewish Prague with his knowledgeable & engaging colleague Yvonne. We also did an amazing walking tour with Jason (Living Prague). Wonderful!

We were in Central Europe in September 2019.
We started in Budapest>Vienna>Cesky Krumlov>Prague. (Spent 5 nights in Amsterdam before heading home) We hired Naomi Koopmans in Amsterdam for a Jewish Walking Tour. Another great historian!

Our focus was WWll and Jewish history.
We hired guides in all the cities except for Vienna. We enjoyed two nights in CK. We arrived in the afternoon on a Thurs. and left Sat. before the weekend crowd arrived. We hired Karolina Kortusova from Krumlov Tours for a private “off the beaten path” tour early Friday am to avoid the tourists. We found CK magical. We added a tour of the historic theater after our morning tour. https://www.krumlovtours.eu/

Our intention is to return to Eastern Europe to visit Poland. Elaine, your family history is similar to mine! ;)

Posted by
30 posts

Here are two ideas that I plan to do on an upcoming trip that no one else has mentioned:

1) Bohemian Saxon Switzerland - day trip from Prague: beautiful sandstone formations https://www.getyourguide.com/bohemian-switzerland-l35170/from-prague-bohemian-and-saxon-switzerland-scenic-tour-t224523/

2) Alphonse Mucha's Slav Epic available for viewing at the château in Moravský Krumlov in south Moravia;
Source: https://www.visitczechrepublic.com/en-US/b6faba5a-38f9-4f82-8289-a5a6ae310c74/event/e-moravsky-krumlov-epic-slavichttps://www.visitczechrepublic.com/en-US/b6faba5a-38f9-4f82-8289-a5a6ae310c74/event/e-moravsky-krumlov-epic-slavic
The Slav Epic was moved from Prague while a new museum is being built to display it. It is somewhat far from Prague (4 hours by train), but you can spend the night in Brno nearby. We plan to visit Moravsky Krumlov when we are in Vienna (2.5 hours by train).

Posted by
1113 posts

While Vienna has some amazing sights and if you haven't been there you definitely want to go, I didn't really like it as a city. Only 4 hours from Prague by train. I love Krakow so if you can make that work I would recommend it. I get your thoughts on Budapest. We went there as part of our BOEE tour and Peter our guide was from Budapest. Not my favorite city either, but from talking to Peter I gathered that just like Turkey the government does not necessarily represent most of the citizens. Do I plan on visiting Turkey or going back to Budapest any time soon? No. My first choice would be Poland.

Posted by
3322 posts

I was thinking Krakow too-see the article from the Guardian about supporting Poland right now. However, if you've never been to Vienna, you must go. I went to Europe 14 times before going there and was amazed that I'd never gone after I found out how much there is to see there.

Posted by
13954 posts

You have to follow your heart. No argument there. I would be a true hypocrite if I said otherwise.

But RS has some points worth reading and considering

6. Identify — and undermine — your own ethnocentricity: The US has been preoccupied with terrorism for the last generation. But other nations have their own, sometimes heavier baggage. Ponder societal needs even more fundamental than freedom and democracy. Why is Putin so popular in Russia? Why would a modern, well-educated Egyptian be willing to take a bullet for the newest military dictator (as my friend in Cairo just told me)? Why, in some struggling countries, does stability trump democracy?
7. Accept the legitimacy of other moralities: Be open to the possibility that controversial activities are not objectively "right" or "wrong." Consider Germany's approach to prostitution or the Netherlands' marijuana policy, both of which are based on pragmatic harm reduction rather than moralism. Get a French farmer's take on force-feeding his geese to produce foie gras. Ask a Spaniard why bullfighting still thrives — and why it's covered not in the sports pages, but in the arts section of the local newspaper. You don't have to like their answer, but at least try to understand it.

Some travel for the pure pleasure of it, G-d knows I do. Some travel as much to learn as to enjoy; and I hope I fit that category too. But what I do know is there is nothing to be learned by standing in a crowd of people that think the same as I do.

Off my soap box: you have enough time for one stop. Make it Vienna; and stop for a night in Cesky Krumlov on the way there.

Posted by
20 posts

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR KIND SUGGESTIONS & ADVICE! WHAT KIND PEOPLE YOU ARE. : )

We mulled it all over. Right now, it looks like we'll be wild. After Prague we will focus on eastern Slovakia.

We had to make hard choices. My husband decided he didn't want to spend time in Switzerland or Austria even if the dollar makes it wise economically (he has relatives in Austria so we'd be obligued to visit... gets complicated). Given that all my ancestors are from southeastern Poland, we've been to Krakow & nearby areas (me several times) and Richard wanted to try something else. With all the darkness currently in the world, I decided to save the WWII topics for another trip. (My dad was a decorated US Army infantryman in Germany during WWII; his spirit is with me whatever the case.)

Via a search on this forum (thank you, Michele in Oregon), I found an excellent travel journal through Slovakia with a guide in Presov who does both private day tours and genealogical research with visits to ancestral villages:

RS PAGE:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/day-tours/hiring-guide-in-eastern-slovakia
"For Slovakia advice, check the Slovakia forum in the "Destination Q & A" section, as well as my trip report "A September Week in
Spectacular Slovakia". I recommend Michal Razus of Slovak Ancestry
(https://www.slovak-ancestry.com/). He is particularly good if you
have ancestry in the region, but is also a fun tour guide with a
degree in history and fluency in English. It's a beautiful country,
and time there fits well with the Eastern Europe RS tour."

I don't think my ancestors went south of the Tatra Mountains so I probably don't have Slovakian ancestral villages to explore. But I liked the sound of the guide & what people experienced with him. It sounded very "Rick Steves". (Maybe it's time Rick gives Slovakia a second chance??) I know how fantastically friendly & hospitable the Poles/Carpathians in southeastern Poland can be so it's hard to imagine the Slovakians in northeastern Slovakia being all that different. I was raised in an Americanized version of that culture so maybe I'm biased.

Anyway, I'm corresponding with Michal in Slovakia. He's available part of our travel time--from Sept. 10-13th (Sat - Tues)--and said he could get colleagues for things after that. From his website, we're considering his day trips to Bardejov (medieval town) & the wooden churches. We'll see what else surfaces. The price varies according to the activity. He guessed a range of 200 -250 Euro/day which will limit us but we can obviously do things on our own. MORE IMPORTANTLY FOR ME, Michal has already been a helpful advisor for lodging, travel, etc. That's reassuring for a country that might be a tad bit harder to get around than others.

Michal also knows ways we can volunteer locally to help Ukraine. Turns out his family is personally helping with an NGO in Presov:

Yes, all my family is somehow connected in helping Ukrainian people. And we have several centers where you can help or I know some
Ukrainian families here in Presov that you can help somehow. I am
supporting *
Podaj Dalej NGO** who are sending every week help to
Ukraine: https://www.facebook.com/podajdalejpresov*

This might be a way for us to spend a rewarding day or two, especially after Sept. 13th when Michal isn't available. I'll need to look into this more but the NGO's Facebook page looked promising.

Amazingly, not bad flight connections are possible from eastern Slovakia (Kosice) so we might just fly home to California from there ~ Sept. 16th. This would maximize our time locally.

Obviously, we still have planing to do. I'll send updates as our plans progress. Suggestions are still appreciated. THANK YOU ALL!

Posted by
13954 posts

Sounds like a most excellent trip.

I think you choose well.

Slovakia is a wonderful secret with beautiful castles, mountains and fascinating towns like the two Banska towns.

I will be in Poprad fly fishing (again) in mid-August.

I think this is my 4th trip into Slovakia (Kosice and Bratislava are just a few hour train ride from Budapest). Never gets old.

And to help out with Ukraine you might talk to this woman for ideas: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/hungary-reviews/kyiv-virtual-tour-guide-report