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Trip to central Europe

Last month my father and I took a holiday to Prague and then Bamberg in Germany, all by train. Initially we went from London to Frankfurt-am-Main via Brussels. My father has an artificial hip and can't walk very fast, or stand for a long time, so I booked free assistance from Eurostar. I strongly recommend it, he got taken through St Pancras in a wheelchair, with us being led past the queues for security and passport checks, and then the staff member at Brussels Midi literally whisked him through the station to the platform for our train to Frankfurt at ridiculous speed, I had trouble keeping up. After we reached Frankfurt we spent the night at the Premier Inn there, which was fully up to British standards, and had a pleasant meal at the Kanonensteppel where I had some very nice Frankfurt cider (the main reason why I wanted to have our overnight stay there).

The following day we travelled from Frankfurt to Prague, which didn't work as well. On arrival in Leipzig our ICE train broke down, so everyone got transferred to the next RE to Dresden which took a bit longer and ended up being rather crowded. As we changed, a German man joked to us "Welcome to Deutsche Bahn", alluding to the fact that British people tend to have a bit of a rose-tinted view of DB's quality and reliability. When we got to Dresden there were no trains running to Prague due reportedly to overhead line damage, so I hastily booked Flixbus tickets on my mobile. Although we got on the bus in time, I had a bit of trouble finding the stop outside the station. The bus was fast and comfortable, although there was a brief flare-up of aggro on the approach to Prague after a foul-tempered old man was upbraided by the co-driver after the detector caught him smoking in the toilet.

We stayed in Prague at the Hotel Adler which my father had found online and had very good reviews. We found it in general excellent, although the cheapest rooms that we got had some issues due to being in the former attic of the building. My father's bed was directly underneath the slope of the gable, so there wasn't much headroom, and there was a step down from the doorway of my room into the room itself, which I was constantly afraid of tripping over in the night, although as it was I didn't. Most of our meals were at a restaurant close to the hotel, the Pizzeria Kmotra Kavarna. A wide range of pizzas but also pasta and a few Czech dishes, all very good. The restaurant is unusual as there's a relatively small ground-floor dining room but an enormous cellar underneath, which must extend other neighbouring buildings in the street. I also enjoyed the Cafe Louvre, although my father was unhappy about having dumplings as accompaniment.

In Prague we saw all the usual sights. I'm more fond of museums than my father so went to the Science Museum, the Prague City Transport Museum, and the Trade Fair Palace Museum (19th and 20th century art). Warning about the transport museum - when we arrived I was scared for a few minutes that it was closed, as the entrance to the museum is an unmarked metal door which I finally decided to try and turned out to be unlocked.

Prague public transport is excellent, we used trams all the time and my father could travel entirely free due to his age, regardless of being a tourist. Unfortunately he tripped over and fell while trying to get into one of the old Tatra trams with high floors, although the only injury was to his sense of dignity.

We travelled from Prague to Bamberg by train although again this went wrong. Our train from Dresden to Erfurt was delayed, and we missed our connection in Erfurt, having as a result to go by two regional trains with a lengthy gap in between at Coburg (yes, as in Prince Albert). Next time I will definitely try to remember to add more time to short connections when booking at bahn.com

Posted by
171 posts

Bamberg was as pleasant as I remembered it the previous visit. I have a friend whose parents live in the area, so she showed us the main sites of the town. Apart from the general baroque atmosphere the main claim to fame is that the cathedral has the tomb of the only Pope to be buried north of the Alps, Pope Clement II, who was the former Bishop of Bamberg and wanted to be taken back there to await the Last Judgement.

Strong restaurant recommendation: Eckerts on the bank of the millstream in the old town centre, which serves upmarket German food.

At this point things went pear-shaped again. We had planned to travel to Paris, spend the night at our usual hotel there, and return to London by Eurostar. We had already postponed our trips to Paris and London by one day due to a threatened strike on DB which ended up being banned at the last minute by a court decision. However, two days before we were due to go to Paris we heard that Eurostar services were in chaos due to a wildcat strike by their French staff (not SNCF). In case this continued we decided to fly back from Nuremberg to London, which in the event was trouble-free. However, it was too late to cancel our night in Paris or the trains, so I lost the cost of them. I am now waiting to find out which of our various extra travel expenses my travel insurance policy will pay out for.

Posted by
18859 posts

Well, you survived and you have a great adventure story to share.

You also made a point without realizing it. Where is "Central Europe".

Posted by
171 posts

I suspect Germany and most of the former Habsburg Empire. Talking of which, the Adler may possible be a controversial place in Prague as it's obviously run by Habsburg nostalgists - German name, and various reproduction historical artwork in the lobby with a sign about how "for centuries Germans, Austrians and Czechs lived in harmony in the city of Prague", with obvious subtext about "and then the nationalists ruined it".

Posted by
18859 posts

I got confused because Rick says Central Europe is the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Romania.

I'm not sure where Serbia is. Maybe it's in Central Europe but not covered in his Central Europe Guide book. And N. Macedonia and Albania and Kosovo?