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21 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2019
    John Foote

    A Fast-Moving Cultural Tour

    As the trip notes make clear, this tour is intended to demonstrate the "cultural and natural heritage of central Europe". It seeks to achieve this by touring cities and sites of natural interest in 5 countries in just 13 days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A very difficult question since there was so much that was inspirational. The architecture and artistic cultures were repeatedly impressive throughout the two weeks of the trip. The fact that the complexity and creativeness of most of these had been hidden or difficult to access for decades during the 'iron curtain' era simply increased the revelation .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As previous reviewers have reported the leader, Peter Gbur, proved to be knowledgeable, thoughtful, and helpful to all group members. He supported the group over and above that required by the itinerary. His command of English was good, but there were sometimes problems with communicating the plan for the day or being heard by some group members when out on tour. Group members would have found it helpful to have the day's plans at breakfast, or failing that a notice at the hotel reception desk. When out touring it would be helpful for Peter to gather the group in front of him when explaining some historical or architectural point, rather than talking from the middle. An innovation Peter advised was the use of 24 or 48 hour transport tickets for use on either trams or metros which simplified movement around cities. This cost-effective solution saved time and effort with only one ticket purchase per day, and, given the frequency of both trains and trams, no real need to consult timetables.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a fast moving tour with no stop longer than two nights, Essentially, it requires living out of a suitcase for two weeks. The itinerary necessitates repeated changes of currencies, but group members had no difficulty accessing ATMs when required and the costs of living are low by western standards except in capital cities. Make sure you have change for use in public toilets which all require payment. Although the local custom is to make lunch the principal meal of the day there are plenty of restaurants serving dinner. It would probably be sensible to make lunch a snack given the short time available for sight-seeing, etc. Peter Gbur appeared to have a great repertoire of restaurants to book in and was always happy to make a reservation. He generally accompanied the group to evening meals.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The accommodation was usually 3-star hotels with a couple of 4-star establishments thrown in. The 3-star hotels tended to be quite plain, but all were comfortable. Those in cities were sometimes noisy. There were no instances of crime during our tour, but it would be wise to take precautions against pick-pockets in the major towns. All of the cities visited were as clean as equivalent British cities, and in many cases cleaner. Is this trip for you? If you have an interest in the history, culture and natural features of the region but no prior knowledge of it, then I would book without hesitation. If you are more interested in bars, nightlife, etc then there will be other trips that will suit your needs better.
  • Reviewed September 2019

    Patience Required

    The title of this trip “Highlights of Central Europe” would better described as “Historical Highlights of Central Europe”. Our guide Peter proved to be a very knowledgeable student of Central European history. This was clearly a passion and interest of his. However that was not true of every member of our group. The itinerary does not take account of this discrepancy. You get to see the capital cities of five countries in two weeks, so this is quite a busy schedule. If ticking those countries off is important to you, then this may be the trip for you. However the pace on many days can slow to a glacial crawl. There are endless stops on street corners, just as it looks like the pace was picking up, to recount historical facts, often seemingly at random. There are daily visits to restaurants for lunch - allowing you to sample the local food - which is inevitable 'heavy' and by the time people have paid takes two hours out of your schedule. (Baguette anyone?) Lunch is the main meal in these countries is seems... yet every evening a group meal at a restaurant would further expand your waistline. Taking an occasional trip on a country’s public transport system offers a great way to see the real lives of the people there. However, when the ‘occasional’ becomes ‘regular’ – where we are regularly dragging our luggage across cities, from buses to trams to trains, spending hours buying tickets, checking timetables, (dodging dog poo and dead pigeons everywhere in Budapest) – you start to feel that you are not on an Exodus trip, but a cheap student backpacking holiday. We were informed that this is a new approach by Exodus to use public transport where possible – to save the environment or some such?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It seemed to me that the less historical, more social / fun items on this trip were the highlights. A new trip to a small winery was a blast, and really helped bond the group, who were a great bunch, and what made the trip less dry. A rafting trip down a river similarly adds fun and moisture. Sadly these don't happen often enough.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Peter is very knowledgeable, capable, and goes out of his way to help everyone, with even the smallest of details. However, he can get lost in the minutiae, almost molly-coddling the group - which meant you needed to go off and arrange your own activities if you wanted to do anything vaguely exciting. He has a 'broadcast' style of transmitting information - which works for some, but could quickly switch-off others. Many mornings he struggled to explain options to the group in a concise manner, leaving many confused as to the options available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You can start to feel chateau-ed out as the umpteenth visit to the latest towns chateau looms - a genuine passion for this kind of history, or lots of patience is a necessary virtue on this trip.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Tom Roberts

    Highlights of Central Europe

    This was a fast paced tour that covered features and cities of 5 countries. I found this tour to be very interesting and gave one an insite into this part of the world. I would recommend this tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard question, but I would say the time we spent Vienna. The history ,as we all know, is amazing and it was great to see firsthand thus very beautiful city.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I found Peter to be excellent. He tried very hard to make our holiday as memorable as possible. Being a native to Slovakia, his knowledge of the history of the countries we visited was first rate. He was most helpful to everybody in this tour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a fast past tour covering some of the highlights of 5 Central European countries. This tour will provide you with a broad brush look and knowledge of these countries . In my case it has given me a reason for visiting some of the cities again to get a greater look at what they have to offer.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    jennifer turnbull

    highlights of central europe

    An excellent introduction to the countries visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The tour leader, Peter, plying and explaining the flute.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very pleasant knowledgeable man, with a good sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No, everything was as expected. In my case Not a critiscm but a personal choice. I like to make early morning tea, only 2 hotels had a kettle and 2 had coffee machines in the rooms, so a kettle could be handy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The tour ran Saturday to Sunday, I think an extra day would be useful, possibly in Vienna or a small place not easily accesible by 'weekend flights'
  • Reviewed August 2018
    David Hill

    Brilliant ... but

    I will deal with the 'but' first. This is definitely not a 1; leisurely; more a 2, moderate. The distances to walk are comparatively large and the surfaces (cobblestones mainly) are not conducive to fast walking even if you can, and, of course, as always, the speed of the group is governed by the speed of the slowest person. That said, it's a wonderful introduction to the cities and towns visited, their history and how their infrastructure works. The Tatra mountains are beautiful and welcome break. I will definitely go back to most of the cities. Each has a feel and charm of its own and, except Vienna, are cheap (for a Londoner) to stay, eat and travel in. This trip is great if you want to get a feel for central Europe; you see loads albeit the pace and itinerary don't allow time to dwell and ponder what you are looking at. You are in a region of wonderful and gory history and there are massive amounts to take in.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No particular inspirational moment, but the feel of the central market area in Krakow and the salt mines do stand out.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter our guide was brilliantly knowledgeable (much more than the usual excellent Exodus guides), very personable, was always there to resolve the inevitable issues but not firm enough on timing leading to people wandering off to the shops etc. thus delaying the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a couple of good comfortable walking shoes; there's a lot of it, and a good water bottle. The tap water is fine and freely available. Its difficult to work out what cash you'll need; and there are several currencies. If you travel abroad check out the right debit card with no commissions and commercial rates and credit card for the same reasons. There are lots of ATMs and that way you can pull cash as you need it (always use a 'bank' atm to avoid the 3rd party charges) and decline 'their' exchange rate; and/or use your CC where you can (charged in local currency). It'll save you sizeable amounts and not leave you with unnecessary cash you have to swap around.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Catherine Ellwood

    Highlights of Central Europe

    A great tour around really interesting capital cities and some lesser-known parts of the countries.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Prague, Budapest and Vienna in particular were really lovely, especially the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, cruising down the Danube and going to a classical concert in Vienna. Cesky Krumlow in Czech Republic is also beautiful, as is the Znojemska Rotunda Chapel and Szentendre in Hungary. You see a lot of castles!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was a really good leader, helping us out with activities on our free afternoons and making sure a restaurant was always booked for dinner, for those who wanted to go. He obviously has so much knowledge about all the countries that he wanted to share with us, although this sometimes made his explanations a little convoluted!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Temperatures varied (July) from really hot in Prague to raining in Bratislava, so take the right clothing! You can change money to the different currencies as you go along; I took Czech koruna and Euro, then changed the leftover Czech money into forint and that into Euro again. In Hungary most places advertised that you could pay in Euro although they would give change in forint. It might be worth getting some zloty in advance as you don't get to Poland until the evening of day 12 and banks are closed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really interesting trip, do go.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Paul Treece

    Highlights of Central Europe

    We picked this trip to pack the best of five countries we had never previously visited into two weeks, and were not disappointed. The tour gave us a taste of everything from grand palaces and capital cities to pretty market towns and high mountains. Our guide and driver were excellent, as were the hotels, and most of the food too. It was a hectic schedule with so much to see, but very enjoyable, and highly recommended if you appreciate discovering history and architecture.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights for us were the excellent and entertaining concert in Vienna, the hugely impressive Schonbrunn Palace, and our visit to the High Tatras National Park (helped by the beautiful weather).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very knowledgeable, friendly and extremely dedicated to making the tour the best it could be for all of the group, some of whom often wanted to do their own thing. He tried hard to accommodate the different personal interests and attitudes within the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be ready to pay most of your food and entrance fees in cash - and take some of each of the four currencies. Four wallets would be a good idea for this tour. Also take shoes that are comfortable as there is lots of walking.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was our second very successful trip with Exodus. There is so much to see around the world, but all the best of central Europe in one trip is good going by anyone's standards.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Gyan Fernando

    Fast-Tracking Central Europe

    We all met up in Prague, a lovely city, and very soon (too soon!) found ourselves in Bratislava. Supposed to be the smallest of the capital cities that we saw, Bratislava was never-the-less surprisingly nice. We then moved on to the Fairy-Tale town of Cesky-Krumlov....Ahhhhh! Then we got to Vienna and first sailed down the Danube before listening to "Sailing Down The Beautiful Danube" by Strauss as the finale at an evening concert (optional extra). Then there was the spectacular Schonbrunn Palace (optional extra) Rapidly moving on to Buda-Pest we found the Danube again. Our time in this lovely city seemed to be too short! We then moved into Slovakia again but this time to the striking Tatra Mountains with mountain railways, funicular railways, treks and even a waterfall. Our final city was Krakow, Poland. What a nice city! I was glad that I had booked an extra two nights in this lovely city.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I suppose sailing down the Danube and later in the day listening to "Blue Danube" and in Vienna was probably the most inspirational moment!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Apart from being a group leader, Peter Gbur also happens to be a ski instructor and a keen photographer. Being a Slovak and from the Tatra Mountain region, he was enthusiastic about his country. Although he could have left us to our own devices on the free afternoons, he always organised somethings for us and also accompanied the majority sub-group. Most of us were very grateful to him for this as it was beyond his remit, particularly because different people had different ideas. He always had his meals with us explaining the menu and sorting out difficulties with our bills caused by our ignorance! He was very considerate about the weaker members of the group and tolerant of the boisterous!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to walk for a long time on the walking tours of the cities. In the Tatra Mountains, although it is a leisurely walk, it is best to wear suitable footwear. If you have the time and the money, do book extra nights at the start and at the end of the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As mentioned before, some of the walking tours in some cities (Prague) was strenuous. Knowing this, our leader Peter suggested that we buy 24 hr Metro tickets. That helped us a lot.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Maureen Honeyman

    Highlights of Central Europe

    Great trip, gave an overview of several capitals and could not fit much more in really. Wished I had visited this part of the world long before now. Hotels better than expected and well situated for sightseeing. Happy and interesting trip with nice group of fellow travellers. Plenty of activity too and a superb walking day in the Tatras.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Impossible to say as architechture, sights and scenery all rich in history and scenic - lights at night gave a different dimension to cities and camera buffs in group loved this.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Really spot on! Well organised. Understanding of individual preferences regarding options and meals. He made the trip really because he was so knowledgeable, reliable and competent in several ways - spoke local languages, fit physically and also made me a walking pole for going downhill. Got on with everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Trip good but not restful! Too much to see and do.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Catherine Bryan

    Highlights of Central Europe

    This tour has it all, palaces, castles, stunning cities, incredible scenery and amazing food, wine and beer! You pack a lot in, however it never felt rushed, and it has left me with a great desire to go back and investigate further. The hotels were good with those in Cesky Krumlov and Krakow really standing out for their fabulous views. I'm so glad I did this trip. Central Europe has so much to offer and it gave me a real insight into the region.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is probably a three way split between the concert in Vienna, listening to Strauss and Mozart, the walk in the high Tatra mountains and standing at the top of the Petrln Tower in Prague with it's amazing views out over the city.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour leader was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the region and combined this with the ability to accommodate requests for additional sightseeing in a seamless manner. He also had a great ability to find fabulous restaurants with amazing food that captured the flavour of the countries and cities that we visited.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Please remember that you will need four different currencies and to order this in advance of your trip as this really helps the trip to go smoothly. ATM's and banks are plentiful but not always available when you really want them and the exchange rate can be less favourable!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only other thing to be aware of is that central Europe not only has fabulous food and amazing beer but also no portion control, servings are generous and dessert can be a stretch!!!!