My wife and I and another couple asked this European travel company to plan a trip for us to Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest, with a stop in Cesky Krumlov and a separate visit by our friends to the High Tatras and Krakow. With the exception of a coupe of glitches in Berlin (the hotel, while very nice, was not near the central city, as portrayed, and a day trip for me and my wife to Potsdam was not what we expected and extremely disappointing, for which our agency reimbursed us), the trip was wonderful. We had requested well-located 3-4 star boutique hotels and Maggie and Lindsey of at our agency really delivered. The Abba in Berlin, in the main shopping area, was sleek and hip; the Am Stephanplatz in Vienna was quite nice and in an absolutely great location, directly across from the magnificent St. Stephan's Cathedral and within walking distance of everything to see in Vienna; the Century Old Town in Prague and the K&K Opera in Budapest were also great hotels located near many or most of the main attractions the Ruze (Rose) hotel in Cesky Krumlov was old, but the best in town. All of them included good service and excellent breakfasts. But it was in the tours that our agency really sparkled (Potsdam aside). We asked for individual tours rather than group tours, and our guides were either very good or outstanding, as were the drivers who took us from city to city (the difference in price between private cars and four Eurorail passes was not as much as we thought, and the drivers were anxious to act as guides as well, making the additional cost well worth it). Joe, our guide in Prague for two tours spoke fluent English, was trained as a lawyer, and had been part of the crowd that was fired on when the Russians moved into Prague in 1968. Not only was he full of stories and opinions, he was a cheerful and affable companion as well. Our guide of the Jewish Quarter in Budapest, Kata, was tenured professor who gave us tremendous insight into Jewish-Hungarian history and current European politics. We followed that tour up with an ourstanding traditional Jewish dinner at the home the widow of a rabbi of a congregation in Budapest. In addition to these tours, our agency arranged for fascinating tours of a food market (Budapest) and vineyard (also Budapest), and walking tours in Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Dresdan and Bratislava, the latter two as part of the drives between cities. We would not have changed a single one of these. As for our friends' extension to the High Tratas and Krakow, they said it was just as great as the part of the trip they shared with us.
There were many, but we thought that the tours we had with Joe (Prague) and Kata (Budapest) were real standouts. The sheer beauty of St. Stephan's Cathedral (Vienna) and the Benedictine Abbey in Melk were magnificent, as was the architecture in Prague and Vienna. And the dinner prepared by the Rabbi's wife was incredibly delicious. All in all, it was a most enjoyable trip.
We would request a hotel in Berlin that was closer to Central Berlin, and would take a private tour of Potsdam or explore more of Berlin, which is worth 4-5 days at least. Also, we had a private tour of Melk and the Wachau Valley; the next day, our friends were scheduled for a winery bike tour which, it turned out, covered exactly the same ground. Fortunately for them, the bike tour was cancelled, leaving them free to explore Vienna on their own. Other than that those things, there is nothing we would have changed.
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