The tour takes in five of Central/Eastern Europe's historic capitals, allowing you to see as much as possible in the time available. Hotels are good. A few of the travelling days are longish, though not excessive, by Exodus standards, and by comfortable coach. A few of the places visited between the cities are, quite frankly, not worth it, and in one instance quite badly planned. Were it not for this I would rate the trip higher. There were floods during our visit, forcing us to make a few amendments, so there are some things I am unable to comment on. The Exodus staff handled these changes very well.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
I stayed an extra day in Krakow and was able to visit both Auschwitz and the museum that is now in what was Oskar Schindler's factory. Both were very moving, and the story of Schindler serves as something of an antidote to the horrors of Auschwitz.
We were offered tickets to orchestral concerts in Vienna. These were of popular classics, designed primarily for those unused to classical music. Those who went enjoyed it, but I was able to find tickets for a string quartet who play in a particularly beautiful small musical salon where Mozart lived and played. Once again, light and popular, but a remarkable ambience. I include a link http://www.musicofvienna.com/mozart-ensemble.htm
The day in the High Tatras made a pleasant change. Some relatively easy walks can be reached by funicular. One of our group even saw a bear (and was able to confirm that that which is often alleged that bears do in the woods is indeed true)
- What did you think of your group leader?
- Pieter was considerate and helpful, and several times put himself out to help us. He slipped up once or twice, I think by taking on too much when some of went off on optional trips, though I got the feeling he learnt by the experiences. He takes his responsibilities very seriously and was very likeable.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
The trip notes imply that there is no advantage in taking local currency. I have to disagree. I was glad I did take all the currencies with me, and those who didn't did have problems. The practice of hotels changing money seems to have ended, and there are frequent changes of currency - sometimes several in a day as you go in and out of countries.
Having a two day stop in Vienna in the middle of the trip might seem, as it did to several of us, the ideal place to get your laundry done. Unfortunately the Hotel Exe doesn't do laundry at weekends. There is a launderette a short distance up the road.
All electrical plugs are round two pin type. All the hotels have free wifi.
There was always an option for vegetarians, though once or twice the choice was a bit limited.
If you can I would recommend spending extra time at the beginning and/or the end of the trip. Both Prague and Krakow are fascinating and worthy of more time. In both cases the hotels Exodus use are comfortable and in walking distance of the city centres.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
The visit to Holasovice (day 3) is a waste of time. Two restaurants (closed), a rather dingy museum and a frankly ludicrous copy of Stonehenge.
Vikolinic (day 11) is worth a visit, but the trip notes do not point out that the bus cannot get all the way to the village, and the visit demands a half hour walk, on a road, steeply uphill. Some of our group coudn't do it.
One of the worst bits of planning I have seen on any Exodus trip is the proposed visit to Szentendre on day 10. It means leaving Budapest and returning in the evening. All our group wanted the extra time in Budapest, and as we actually passed Szentendre the next day, en-route to the Tatras we visited it then. This was at Pieter's suggestion. Exodus would be foolish not alter the itinery.