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***** Written
Highlights of Central Europe


5 Stars

Highlights of Central Central Europe (June 2011) was a marvelous overview of the cities, villages, and countryside of this culturally and scenically rich region, and made particularly enjoyable due to the talents of our guide, Eric S.

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

1.  The Tatra Mountains were superb.  I must devise an excuse to return to this region for more hiking.

2.  Discovering an ethnographic museum in Krakow's city hall building, which has farmhouse rooms and workplaces, models of buildings and mills, hallways of embroidered folk costumes, and rooms devoted to every craft from woodworking to sheephering and spinning, etc.  This museum was a delight and unfortunately doesn't appear in any guidebooks I had, but is annotated on Krakow's "you are here" city maps which appear at key tourist sites.  It was looking in the lower middle of that map that enlightened me as to its existance.  And, it cost very little to enter, unlike the hugely expensive museums of Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. 

What did you think of your group leader?

Eric is a delight to travel with and his English is excellent.  He has enthusiasm for the region including of course his own beautiful nation of Slovakia, and appreciates the natural and cultural wonders each nation on the tour has to offer and is eager to share it with the group, but in a nice low-key way.  Eric is unflappable, kind of like having Buddha for a travel guide, and able to make time for everyone's questions or problems, and yet manage to handle it all.  He also seems to know where every ATM is in every town we visited and has restaurants to recommend according to budgets.  He will go far out of his way to try to solve travel dilemmas (for example, since I had to leave the group early to connect to another Exodus trip and was worried about some short connection times that changed on me at the last minute due to an airline's own problems, he researched and advised backup bus options in case my plane connections didn't work as planned).

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Bring a walking stick and good hiking boots for the Tatras hike.  I was warned by an earlier traveler who helped me pack correctly for the trip, and he was right, so I am passing it on.  Waiting until you get there is too late to get boots if you didn't bring them with you, although you can borrow hiking sticks from the hotel (if your hotel loans them, ours did) or buy them.  If you only bring trainers/sneakers or slick soled shoes, you might slip and fall so hiking boots or equivalent are really most helpful.  The trail is good, but rocky, and if wet at all could be even more treacherous.  But don't pass it up unless you are really infirm, because the views and waterfalls are spectacular!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for the excellent mix of Culture (musical concerts in halls and on a Danube River cruise, and assorted museums), superb Mountains (the Tatras for example), Castles and Fortresses, beautiful Cities (Prague for example), and many lovely Villages and Towns throughout the green farmland.  What a wonderful trip.

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