Third, our guide Sanel was wonderful, funny, articulate, knowledgeable. Tonight we'll rendezvous for a special dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Plitvice National Park with the unforgettable waterfalls, crystal clear water, lush trails in every shade of green, impossibly blue skies. After Prague, Kraków (Poland) and Budapest (Hungary) are eastern Europe's best cities. And another great memory was walking into our room on St. Katerina Island and gazing out our window at Rovinj's dramatic Old Town!". This morning we'll meet a local guide and wind our way through the story of Kraków. As much as I like spending time in the older part of cities, I also was awed by some of the scenery we saw and spent some time in, e.g., Tatras mountains, the winery outside of Eger, the lunch at a farmstead, Plitvice National Park, the island and swimming in the Adriatic.". Budapest was great and has beautiful views over the river. Loved: Katerina & Sam, our bus driver; beautiful & beautifully located hotels; very good & enjoyable restaurants/meals; interesting & do-able walks, historic sites, perfect City Guides, fun snacks, treats & "goodies", an easily usable "Tour Syllabus" , "Visiting the school in Eger, Hungary! they welcomed us with open arms and proudly showed us the display they had in their Fire House of "Uncle Robby", his crew and bits and pieces of the airplane from the 1940's.". Time in each city seemed about right. The Schindler Museum gave a very thorough background. Loved the history. The cities were quite beautiful as were the countrysides. Having been on a few RS tours prior to this one, I expected another quality experience but this one exceeded all my expectations. However, in the midst of such varied activities I believe the visit to Wawal Castle and cathedral would be that event. It was great. "I would have to say Plitvice, I'm a nature lover so that was the best, as was Rovinj and Lake Bled. ), "Being this was our first Rick Steve's tour, I can't say that there was just one/favorite "wow" moment. The occasional long bus travel is ample, "I found Krakow to be an enchanting city and the waterfalls of Plitvice National Park amazingly beautiful and abundant.". This tour exceeded my expectations. Our 2nd RS tour, this one was just as exhilarating as our Best of Europe trip in 2018. Every aspect of the tour - from the accommodations, to the iinery, even the transportation days was well thoughtout. This was our very first tour, Rick Steves or otherwise, and was something of a test. I also enjoyed walking through the narrow streets of quaint Rovinj; even doing laundry in town was an adventure to remember!". Just Awesome.". Ljubljana was charming and I think a night or two there would be great with a trip into the countryside. We are so happy that the extra day was added to Krakow, which was an unexpected highlight of the trip. Rick Steves ( writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. We will definitely consider doing another escorted trip with you guys. . "I can't pick just one, but I was most aurprised by and loved Lyubljana - the pedestrian zones, the fact that they honor poets, and the walking food tour was fabulous. Hotel Katarina was delightful.". As for Western, Southern, Central, or Eastern Europe that's up to each individual. "Lake Bled. You'll discover a mix of big cities as well as motivating landscapes, consisting of: Watch for $0.00 with Prime. ", "The Plitvice Lakes were beautiful, but I think seeing Lake Bled with low-hanging clouds was an unexpected treat. The towns, landscape, and the sea were just gorgeous. That got old. The communism museum in Krakow was eye opening and felt foreboding/Budapest was alarming too. Hotels were excellent. The wine tasting at the vineyard in the hills above Eger was entertaining and good fun.". Rick Steves has spent 100 days every year since 1973 exploring Europe. "Auschwitz was very powerful. Many had been on multiple tours which speaks volumes. "There were several high points, for me, during this tour. MAC_Misc_187.JPG Mary Ann Cameron/Rick Steves' Europe Show More Show Less 2 of 2 An economical beer-garden meal in Berlin will put you elbow to elbow with locals. The old town squares of Prague and Krakow are breathtaking at night as is the Parliament building and castle of Budapest at sunset on the Danube. I loved the uniqueness of hotels we stayed in -- each hotel (and even room within) had personality and was situated in a convenient location for our planned tour events as well as free time. "There were many wow moments on this tour. We can't tell you how happy we are that we chose this particular tour. We joyously laughed, sang, drank and ate our way through Eastern Europe. There were so many. Eger was a hidden gem.". He also kept our group exhibiting good manners with each other (e.g. With an excellent guide and wonderful tour members we couldn't lose! "Wow. "There were several but I would say a night cruise down the Danube River in Budapest was the top one.". We were so busy taking in history and sights at the beginning that it was nice to slow down the last few days and see the scenery. "The vacation from our vacation was our favorite. Hotels were great. I learned so much about history and cultures that I hadn't seen or experienced before. I enjoyed the tour (would rate it 8.5/10 overall), and that's coming from someone who's normally a reluctant traveler at best. "realizing that the island hotel in Croatia (which I had fully intended to visit on my vacation within a vacation day) was actually where we were going to stay. there was a great deal of variety,...big cities, small cities, festive moments, somber moments, cobblestone streets, creaky boardwalks, hustling activity, lakeside serenity, movement by bus, trams, boats, and feet... Written and hosted by best-selling guidebook author Rick Steves, each half-hour show takes viewers to Europe's most interesting places, from great cities to off-the-beaten-path discoveries. The Best of Eastern Europe was a wonderful tour but the experience was made much more enjoyable by our great guide Eszter. The tour provided a great mix of local expertise on historical and political perspectives so we could understand the sites in context. We had a great group of people with whom I very much enjoyed traveling and an outstanding guide. Cities big to small. Krakow is a real gem. We'll begin our morning with a drive through the scenic Tatras Mountains and the rolling hills of Hungary's famous "Bull's Blood" wine-growing region. Everyone was on time and respectful of others. But how to select the right destination? Thank goodness we didn't. Peter who made sure everyone was taken care of. Again, this is something we would have missed if we had done a similar trip on our own. A great tour to a part of the world that I had not visited before. We enjoyed all the places we saw and learned so much about the history of these beautiful countries. Our Guide Eszter was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and charming. I didn't pick up on it until after the fact. We also had a wonderful dinner in Krakow. Real positive experience and will do another Rick Steve's tour! Right out of a picture book. The food in Croatia was probably the low point if there was one. Hotel costs would seem to be the only reason for additional cost so if that is the case, then why does a solo traveler get such poor accommodations? This morning you'll have time to soak in Eger's Baroque beauty. This was in no small part attributable to the personal context, insights and wonderful guidance by Katerina and each of our local guides. All different and interesting.". Clad in multiple layers, virtually everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy our truly idyllic 6-mile trek through the park, awed by the natural beauty of countless waterfalls and lakes, accentuated by the lightly falling snow.". This was my first Rick Steves tour and it definitely will not be the last for me. She ensured we saw all the important sights and understood their political, historical, architectural, and artistic significance. I loved our tour group and would travel with them anywhere, even though our average age was 84 (only kidding). It added to my experience that Katerina had personal experiences with the history of the area and lived through the communism era. Jana also was tuned in to potential travel problems and alerted all of us of the bankruptcy of Adria Airways with helpful guidance on how to navigate this bump in the road for our return trips, "Every stop had a memorable marker. Take a "vacation from your vacation." I treasure the solemn experience of visiting Auschwitz & Birkenau. She made great recommendations for things to do or see, which either affirmed our ideas or provided new insights. The tour guide, George, was amazing. "So many to pick from. "A special side trip which was not on the original itinerary. "The visit to the Kolhari winery was the purest good time. I loved each of the cities and the smaller towns were fantastic as well! They were charming and comfortable. "Mostly every city was a delight....each had its own character, brought to light also by the guides. . I bought the Kindle version of this book to aid me on my long-term Europe trip, rather than buy each one of his country- or city-specific guides individually. I especially enjoyed taking in the beautiful architecture of Prague, Rovinj and Ljubljana. After breakfast we'll drive out of Hungary and into Croatia. Getting sick ( along with several other travelers ) the last few days made the tour less enjoyable then it could have been. The tour is heavily filled with old architecture (churches, buildings, etc) as it should be. ", BANG! "I loved every big city we toured and all the great public transportation. The tour had to cover so may things for all of the different people on the trip. While I enjoyed each of them, this tour surpassed the others in its combination of destinations (cities, mountains, seaside) and the quality of teaching by our tour and local guides. Something for everyone. I can't say enough about the tour, the guide, the locations, the hotels, food, the prep through Rick's book. 28 guests seemed to be too many - I would think that 22-24 would make for a better size. Listening to music in the Municipal House, and then taking a tour of that magnificent, Art Deco, building was a highlight for me. His driving was VERY skillful and comfortable.". Everything about it was above expectation. These are just my personal feelings after more than 100 months of European travel. All of the information, history, culture, navigation help was the best. Bus: 7 hours. Put this all together, and you have a super trip. Great to share the experience with our fellow tour member. Excellent decision! ): the ultimate medieval walled town in Germany (Rothenburg), prehistoric stone fortress in Ireland (Dun Aengus), Riviera port town (Vernazza), hike in England's Lake District (Catbells above Keswick), neighborhood pub in London (The Anglesea Arms), castle in North Wales (nope, I still can't pick just one)...and pedestrian market street in Paris (Rue Cler). All of our hotels, guides, group dinners and events were enjoyable and educational. Starring Rick Steves Subtitles English [CC] Audio languages English. Good group of traveling companions. So many wows". Tour guide worked tirelessly to ensure we were well taken care of and thoroughly informed about the areas we were traveling through. I also liked the balance of city exploration and non-city places (Croatia and Bled). Perhaps they were among my highlights. I enjoyed every event during the tour. Krakow was a very pleasant surprise - such a lovely Old Town area! This kind of trip, changing counties, currencies and any of the logistics would have been confusing, stressful and difficult on our own. We came to the opening and I think everyone in the tour all said, "wow" at the same time. I loved experiences we had in these countries with locals, especially the food and beverages. Our tours are physically active! Our tour guide, George, executed a complicated trip flawlessly and was able to convey the histories and cultures of each country. Peter and the local guides shared so much good historical and current information with a fun sense of humor. The Best of Eastern Europe in 15 Days Tour has become my favorite Rick Steves trip and I have been on many. Your time is better spent at Sognefjord, Norway's most spectacular fjord. "Night tour on the Danube in Budapest that included a full moon and lightening light show!". All of my reservations about this type of travel dissolved right away after the first meeting with Katya, our guide, and the lovely enthusiastic seasoned RS travelers!! Learning about the ancient history of that part of the world and the buildings, etc. The market square is great for a cultural experience, finding a souvenir or just people watching. I really appreciated Jana's historical back-rounding on each country with objective descriptions of contemporary politics. The Danube cruise was fun too.". See our FAQ | Call It was breathtaking.". 10 minute ferry ride took us to Rovinj.". The group dinner at Egar, Hungary, was outstanding. (Thanks, Rick!) The Central European countries we visited were beautiful and steeped in history, sharing devastations of wars and communism. That said, I would drop the castle visit (this applies to all three of the cities) in favor of other interesting things. Peter was excellent with everything about the Eastern Europe. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Good food. Readers naturally want to know the Best, but it's just as important to know the Worst. A well planned itinerary. Fantastic! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the cities we visited while soaking in all of the history in each city. "Krakow. Overall the tour was great, the few flaws were things that had absolutely nothing to do with the tour itself. Our guide Peter was amazing! A big thanks to our driver, Mitch! The getting to be buddies with the group was not a goal of this trip. I felt like this was the follow-up -- so much learning! I would recommend this tour to those who have travelled in Europe. "The trail through Plitvice Lake National Park in Croatia allowed us to see one waterfall after another, as well as burbling streams and lakes. "We love the stay in Rovinj on the island of Katerina. Our fellow tour members were delightful, which we find comes with being like-minded travelers and lifelong learners. Her knowledge and history of the area was profound. Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. George was excellent guide and provided a lot of historical context that enhanced my tour. The visit to Auschwitz / Birkenau was overwhelming and sobering. Na svidenje! "Although we enjoyed all aspects of the tour, my "wow" moment was Plitvice Lakes National Park. We were pleased with the range of sites visited, the activities, and the pacing, including time to explore on our own. I had no expectations and we were totally blown away. Great trip, great Guide, and overall above expectations. "Although there was no air-conditioning in this hotel, I was amazed to be able to watch the sky while lying in the bed.". This year we booked the Best of Eastern Europe (heart of Europe) last minute on a whim and we were completely blown away with how perfectly seamless it was set up. Her personal stories made the whole experience that much better. What a great group, guide, and driver. Your afternoon is free to hike to the castle and its panoramic viewpoint, take a scenic walk around the lake (stopping for a kremšnita cream cake), or rent a bike to explore even more. The morning hike at Plitvice Lakes National Park was next best, even with a downpour in the middle. First, we got perfect weather, not so for the groups a few days behind us. We learned so much and were impressed by the deep history and culture of each of the countries that we visited. They loved it. The Auschwitz-Birkenau visit was chilling especially seeing the rooms full of hair and shoes, the stand up jail cells and the acres full of chimneys at Birkenau. Their guides are amazing and have so much history to share. I loved this tour. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone! The work that goes into planning, preparing and executing never ceases to amaze me. We were wowed by it. Walking into the main square early evening was magical.". I bonded with several other members. Over the top great. We had arrived at our hotel and our guide said to meet at 7:45 to walk to dinner. Despite a light drizzle, the natural beauty and numerous waterfalls were incredible.". I wish everyone could have this same exposure that causes one to ponder how human beings could objectify others in such an inhuman way. Wonderful time. Although it rained and the mountains were hidden with clouds, we also enjoyed our extended private tour of the Julian Alps with Gorazd - the Nordic Center, the Russian Orthodox Chapel, the Church of St. Joseph, and the Kobarid Museum - in addition to a few views of the mountain peaks and the valley.". I can't say enough good things about our tour - outstanding guide, great itinerary, great hotels, great dinners! The priority among the majority of us is to have a peaceful world for ourselves and for all our descendants.". Overall, the diversity of environments on this tour was really amazing. His knowledge of Eastern Europe was exceptional. This is another reason Rick Steve's tours are so great: you have time to explore your own interests. 1 full day in Ljubljana would have been great. Our first view of the city across the water as we took our boat to the hotel was magical. Thank you Rick Steves but most importantly thank you Katka. Exceeded expectations (which were already quite high)! Rick Steves' The Story of Fascism in Europe; Travel Specials Vol. We must never forget.". It was very interesting to learn about Eastern Europe 30 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It just felt so wonderfully European. Who'd have guessed that we'd end up doing a little singing and dancing to top off our visit?". I am restrained from giving the top rating due to the fact that both myself and my wife were sick with head colds; she with a persistent cough. Later we'll visit a local school, where we'll sit down and chat with a teacher and enjoy lunch together in the cafeteria. :-)". Unbelieveably beautiful. Trael for the trip was well planned, logical. As we have found with a previous Rick steves' tours the quality of the guide is essential, Katarina was superb. The visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was unforgettable, shaking you to the core. This tour certainly met the Rick Steves' description of "travel as a political act! "There were so many but the evening river tour in Budapest with the grand beauty of the city and its history was a big "wow" on this trip. Super! (We were also traveling with some friends.) I loved its quiet beauty.". "There were many amazing moments and sites on the tour, we saw so much and learned so much. For sights it would have to be Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia; the crystal clear water and the colors. We easily navigated different currencies, languages, histories and cultural nuances thanks to Katka. "Having churched out at the beginning of the tour, going on a half day hike through the Slovokia National Park with all the waterfalls was the high point.". I loved this tour. Our tour guide Katka was the 'BEST'. "For me, there were at least five: Traveling through the spectacular High Tatras, the mountains separating Poland and Slovakia; cruising the Danube by night, taking in the magical sight of Budapest's illuminated landmarks; "Staying for 2 nights on island of St. Catherine. This tour was more of an "education" than a vacation as we gained insight into darker sides of history. Europe's most scenic train rides are Switzerland's top three: the Golden Pass, Bernina Express, and Glacier Express. And it can be a used book that is in excellent condition. The old maximum of 24 is better. In particular, our end of season swim in the Adriatic, at Rovinj in Croatia, was my "wow" moment. What a special moment that was, of everyone relaxed and happy and in complete trust and friendship with one another after less than 2 weeks together. Since this was our 5th Rick Steves' tour, my husband and I already knew how important and special the guide, the apprentice, the bus driver, and our fellow tour members would be to us. He is really excited about the heart of Europe and willing to share his knowledge. Our accommodations were always acceptable and mostly exceptional. Sam and Peter coordinated an unscheduled stop for a photo of us at the sign to the village! Each country has prospered differently through this 30 year period. Unexpectedly Linda and Jason, tour members sang and played the violin for us. I don't believe there was a single time that the tour was delayed or miss-timed despite how complicated it must have been to lead 28 people through 6 different Eastern European countries in only 2 weeks. "I have no favorite moment, there were so many and so varied in type. One thing that really surprised me was just how perfectly designed and executed it was. Our tour guide, Sanel, told us to look. Assuming that the cities represent their respective countries, I got an excellent feel for each country. Everyday there was a "wow" moment - each day when I woke up - it was "wow" look at all of the things I get to experience for the first time.". Our day will end with a Hungarian dinner near the town of Eger. I talked it up to many members. Being free to explore on our own for a significant time added to this. We just happened into the most congenial group ever! I did that on my own,when we had time in our own. Thanks for the fun speed tour through best & worst of Europe. The itinerary was the reason we booked this trip and it we got to experience everything that we had anticipated. I have always planned my trips prior to this one. We had nice amounts of free time to explore and eat on our own. It was everything I'd imagined. Although we had an excessive amount of rain during our trip, the entire group took it in stride and enjoyed each other's companionship and each destination's unique cultural experiences and historical sites. We'll leave the city and drive east into mountainous Moravia, stopping along the way to enjoy some free time for lunch and exploration. I think this was the major cause of one guy becoming very grumpy. Wonderful! As was my previous R.S. Our group was a lot of fun and added to the entire experience. It took a lot of work to figure out the logistics and making sure everything was planned out. I thought there was a great balance of organized tours and free time to explore and appreciated the lessons in using public transportation to get around and really explore. This part of Europe was high on my list to visit and I knew it would be best visited with a plethora of local guides and logistics taken care of. This was my wow moment to take the leap of faith and take a tour;". native of Prague and her perspective about the Czech Republic as well as the This event took all the WOW out of your tour.". She get 5 stars! She was a wealth of knowledge, told personal stories, was so well educated in the countries we visited, spoke all the languages, and taught us so much. much improvement has been made since the fall of communism. Her many kindnesses will be long remembered. My word of caution is you do cover a lot in a short time. I learned so much about Europe and the Velvet Revolution. When we were at a local winery, sampling wine, eating cheese and bread, listening to Tony play the violin with us singing along, I remember looking into my husband's eyes and we smiled knowing that this moment was perfect. We felt well taken care of and guided throughout the entire tour. Plus, the time exploring Rovinj the next day was magical. She also helped us find alternate travel plans from Slovenia to Munich when our airline, Adria, went bankrupt. Even in the individual time, the suggestions for things to due have been excellent. An extra half hour in the morning so that there was time to use the toilet, brush teeth, etc. Our guide Jana wins my WOW. Everything was well organized and taken care of for us. As we were leaving, the organist played one more song--Ave Maria. Jana, our guide, and each local guide shared not just their knowledge, but their life experiences. Oh, and Krakow, I loved. A little too much bus time. "Taking the boat to our hotel in Rovinj and then going on the "dolphin excursion," quite magical at sunset.". "Budapest at night on the river. No paperwork! It was difficult to enjoy Budapest outside of a toasty café due to the horrible weather, but I could definitely tell that it was a place I'd love to go back to. Although it was not part of the normal tour everyone was thrilled to share this experience with our fellow tour member.". She paid close attention to the needs of the group and individuals. "So much WWII history and the horrors the people endured. Upon our evening arrival at our Plitvice Lakes lodging in Croatia, we were greeted by the latest snow flurries in 23 years, which continued through our tour the next day. They were fabulous! ... 5.0 out of 5 stars Rick Steves is the best travel tour guide on the market. Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. The most important, single, reason for this incredible trip was our amazing guide, Jana. The lodging, meals, transportation, local guides, tour assistant, tour guide and tour participants was excellent! I think the most surprising was Krakow. It was sometimes a struggle to not be a "grump" but most people were positive, and the group was congenial and "clicked" easily. He set the tone for the tour of openness, friendliness and cooperation. Rick Steves' Europe is public television's most-watched, longest-running travel series. Where is that money applied to? We then went into the beautiful natural settings of Croatia (Plitvice, Rovinj) and Slovenia (Lake Bled). Sometimes there was too much information to process adequately, but I guess that happens when you're seeing 5 countries with 5 different currencies, and in 15 days. I really wasn't expecting the charm and beauty of Krakow. Different from any other trip I've taken--we saw the important sights but also learned about life under Nazi and Communist control and ongoing efforts to build democratic governments. "The waterfalls in Plitvice. My husband and I enjoyed a picnic lunch from the grocery store in town (Katka's recommendation!) A travel dream realized. But when we listened to the waterfalls at the national park after so much business I felt more on vacation even with the busy crowds there. Appreciated opportunity to hear about Holocaust from guides as well as guests. It was amazing. "The night cruise in Budapest was my favorite thing about the trip. "City walls through Prague, Krakow, and Rovinj. I enjoyed myself immensely, met some nice people and saw many fantastic locales. The best part of our trip was our tour guide Katerina. The tour group was exceptionally in its interaction with all participants. Stairs, and Prague. `` passport and with me is the attraction to Rue Cler WW2, up... 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