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Prague Budapest RS tour, Wonderful Experience

I did this tour Oct 22-29. I had 3 extra days in Prague to start and 3 extra days in Budapest to finish. (I then took the train to Vienna for another week. More on that in another post.)

I had a great time, terrific guides and very amiable fellow travelers. Both cities were wonderful, I was very impressed with both. We had super in-city guides, people that informed us and shared their pride in their cities and shared their experiences. The communities in both places seemed proud of their home country and heritage and ready to share it all.

I’ve been trying to find a way to put into words why I enjoy the RS tours I’ve taken so much. I used to solo travel and only somewhat reluctantly tried a tour back in February 2014. It was the Barcelona and Madrid tour and even though I had done my homework and read a lot about the history and culture it became a much richer experience having a Spaniard to ask questions of for a week and having a city guide from Catalonia talk about that issue. I learned so much more than I would have on my own. I still scheduled another solo week in Madrid afterward and I have settled on that as a happy balance for me. Tour time and solo time.You can schedule a 2-4 hour to full day tour with a local guide but there is real value to me to be able to come back the next day and ask another question you just thought of. And frequently hearing the input from your tour mates is very useful too.

The same thing applied to this tour and perhaps even more so. We had George Farkas for our guide and he was terrific, very smart and funny and loves his hometown of Budapest. We also got lucky that we had Tomasz, who usually does the Poland tours, along as well. It was sort of a professional development thing, observe how other guides work etc. He was so nice and really makes me think about going on the Poland tour. To have these two great guides to question and listen to for a week was priceless. The history of the Czech Republic and Hungary was so interesting to me. I’m very interested in WWII history and the years of the Iron Curtain and you can read about it but to listen to people who have lived parts of it is terrific. What these countries have experienced in the 20th C is truly humbling.

The hotels were nice and welcoming with very good breakfast buffets I thought. There was a good mix of touring with the group and on your own time. We had some amazing music, a fun cooking class, a beautiful river cruise in Budapest and fascinating history shared. Besides the tour activities, I scheduled a WWll tour with Jason from livingpraguedotcom that was great, I went to art museums in both places because that’s my passion. I went to mass in historic churches, and went to a concert in St Istvan’s in Budapest on my last evening. Both cities were great to walk, and public transportation was fantastic as well.

We had a 72 hour pass in Budapest for public transportation from the tour. And I bought my own 72 hour pass for my last 3 days solo. On my last day I was so happy to meet up with the dreaded ticket checker police. When I realized what was going on I was smiling when she scanned my pass. I was the only one, most people did not look pleased to see her however.

I’d definitely recommend the tour and I’ll be happy to answer any questions…….

Posted by
2265 posts

Thank you for putting into words exactly the reason multi day tours with Rick Steves are so good! I too know I learn so much more about the places visited then I could ever learn traveling on my own.

I haven't been on this tour, but Madrid/Barcelona was my first RS too.

Posted by
3829 posts

I am glad you had a wonderful trip and appreciate how you are able to express why. And you made me smile, because this was my exact reaction to my first metro police in Budapest last year (only it was on my first day). I thought, “Amazing! This proves I am really HERE!”

Posted by
2458 posts

I enjoyed reading your trip report and you express very well why I love the Rick Steves tours so much. I haven’t been on this tour but have been to Prague on the Berlin Prague Vienna tour, excellent introduction to these culturally rich cities steeped in WWII and Communist 20th Century history. I’m about to leave on my 11th RS tour - 7 Days Best of Paris, not my first time in Paris but just want to go Rick’s way.
Since you are interested in WWII history, you might like the Berlin Prague Vienna tour and the Poland tour, too. I’m also booked for the Poland tour next May.

Additional comment: when I travel independently I worry more about the logistics, the train or plane schedules or times for sights I want to tour, etc. when I’m on a tour many of those details are someone’s else’s concern. More time spent learning and enjoying when on a tour.

Posted by
363 posts

LizinPA, I’m glad you understood what I was trying to communicate. So often on this forum people just don’t quite understand what a tour can give you and I really felt the benefit of it this trip. It’s never a bunch of people who need someone to hold their hand. I’m always impressed at the range of travel knowledge and acumen from most of my tour mates.

TxTMom, I felt like dashing off a message to Mr E immediately after I ‘got carded’. George our RS tour guide warned us repeatedly as well. People who live in Budapest take it seriously!

Judy B, please share your thoughts on the Poland tour after you come back. I’ll be doing Greece with my hubs in May. And yes, it’s very nice to have someone else work the logistics, isn’t it? I know I can do it if I have to, but I’d rather have more play time, thanks all the same.

Did you do a TR for your Berlin Vienna Prague tour? Some tours are like the stepchild you never talk about. Italy and France get all the shine! You will enjoy the Paris tour. I did it in Nov of’19 even though I’d been to Paris 3 times before. It was great. If you’re that person, I don’t think you can ever get too much Paris.

Posted by
2458 posts

Unfortunately I didn’t write a trip report for my Berlin Prague Vienna tour which I took in June 2015. It was an amazing trip! I read your other report on Vienna too. I adore art and felt Vienna has some of the very best - Kunsthistorisches, Belvedere, Albertina. The Third Man Museum while not an art museum is a wonderful collection of artifacts from Post World War II Vienna, many related to the movie, The Third Man. The movie is filmed in the rubble of Vienna after the war.

I’m impressed you actually spent a week after your tour in Vienna. Usually after a tour ends I’m ready to go home! Your idea of slow travel I’m sure helps with sensory overload.
Yes, I’m looking forward to my Paris tour, two weeks from today!
I will try to write up my impressions of Poland and perhaps Paris. Enjoy Greece! I have a new laptop which I like much better than my old PC that recently died.