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78 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 July 2019
    colin whitelock

    Good but has potential drawbacks

    Be honest with your physical abilities - this is advertised as a '6' (Challenging/tough)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Ascent of My Rysy - good mix of walk & scamble

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good at ensuring group member interests came 1st and were looked after. Coped well considering the large group size (16 people) and their varied demands

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Maximum group size of 16 could be uncomfortably large. With large groups there is the potential for a wider range of abilities/pace This is an issue when there is only 1 leader as the group has to stay together.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Unsure how the trip grading is calculated. The Exodus trip TVB 'High Peaks of Bulgaria' is rated as a '5' and for me it felt more demanding than this one.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Robin Hubbard

    ?

    Excellent -but group should have been smaller.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Summit of Ryzy

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Great fun - knowledgable - extremely helpful. Maybe a bit controlling but group was large with varying abilities

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fit enough and have a head for heights

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Optimal group size 8-12. 16 too large. My only real criticism. Otherwise route activities, huts and leader were all excellent
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Sally Williams

    Magical Tatras

    This was a truly magical week in the High Tatras. So different to the alps, more of a fairytale setting. Apparently this was the best winter they have had in 7 years and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. Loads of snow, blue sky, and although extremely cold you don’t stand still long enough to feel it. If like me, you can’t face a whole week of skiing, then this is a great opportunity to try some different winter activities and really appreciate the scenery and culture in a place that is not spoiled by mass tourism.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The dog sledging was fantastic. It was a fun, yet relaxed experience. The dogs were so friendly, and obviously enjoyed their work, it was a pleasure to meet them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was an inspiration. He obviously enjoys his work and his mountains. It was a real pleasure to meet him, to hear his stories and marvel at his many talents.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Vegetarian options are limited but it is possible to make up a meal of starters and sides. We did find a restaurant with a lovely veggie pasta dish but it did get a bit repetitive! Possibly take a little more Polish currency and about €100 less than recommended. There is very little opportunity for gift shopping. The best places are the souvenir shops where you do the cross country or downhill skiing. There is no kettle in the hotel room so if you’d like a hot drink before breakfast (or any other time actually) suggest you pack a travel kettle. And take some tea bags! Don’t expect bars and restaurants like in the alps. The place is very quiet which we enjoyed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The thermal baths were a bit of a disappointment, more like a very busy leisure centre. But it was nice to soak in the warm water following two days of activity, once you’d battled through the crowds. Don’t recommend dinner in the hotel even after the long day out. Better to brave the elements again for a good meal.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Diana Maynard

    Fun way to try out a variety of winter activities

    This trip provided a great introduction to a number of different winter activities at a relaxed pace (the days were very easy - only a few hours' activity a day - with plenty of free time).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Discovering that being nearly 50 doesn't prevent you from learning to downhill ski for the first time! Also that dog sledding is so much more fun that you might think!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dana was both extremely patient and efficient, coming up with alternative solutions when traffic and weather conditions prevented us from even reaching Zakopane for dog sledding. She also dealt with the one injury on our trip effectively. She was also very informative about each day's activities, making sure we knew what to bring and wear, and was very sociable. Nothing was too much trouble for her to arrange or advise on.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a selection of warm clothing with a number of layers - some activities you'll get hot very quickly and might only need a base layer and thin jacket, while others needed as many layers as you could get on! The evenings are long and can be boring, as can some of the bus rides, so bring plenty of books etc. Don't be scared to try new activities even if you're an old codger - we all managed everything, with varying degrees of success but an awful lot of fun! Contrary to the advice I received from the Exodus "expert", do bring proper ski trousers as otherwise you may not get your normal waterproof trousers over your ski boots (I could not!). However, a normal waterproof jacket will be OK if you have enough layers, so you don't necessarily need a proper ski jacket, though it's useful if you do have one. Also, do consider spending a couple of days in Krakow before/after the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Due to not making it to Zakopane, we went dogsledding in Slovakia instead on our rest day, and in my opinion this is a much better idea. Also, don't go over New Year, as everything is extremely busy, including the roads, and it's a pain.
  • 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 October 2018
    Anne Lane

    Excellent

    This trip was a challenging mountain walk with good mountain hut accomodation. Teresa was a great guide with Helena helping us slower ones. A great holiday even if I trailed 15 minutes later than guys half my age!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of Rysy in Poland

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Teresa was helpful, informative, attentive and enthusiastic and a great trek leader. Helena helped Teresa as second professional guide . Helena helped me as I was slightly slower to reach the top of Rysy and back down again.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be fit and able to trek well

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The return flight was late for those having to return to work the next day
  • Reviewed September 2018

    Great Trek with excellent mountain facilities and excellent guides

    Our guides Teresa and Helena were excellent and did a great job of leading the group, encouraging where necessary and making sure the trek went smoothly. The trek was as described in the trip notes, challenging with some great scenery . The mountain huts were of a good standard, with good Polish food to help us refuel at the end of a tough day. The tacks were busier than I had expected, and at times did provide a challenge for the leaders to manage the flow of our party and other walkers up and down the chains. Overall an excellent trek

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of Rysy

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent with a great sense of humour

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you read the trip notes in advance and are well prepared for a challenging/ tough week of trekking.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Rebecca Smith

    A worthwhile trek in a popular Polish tourist destination

    I had a great 8 day trip with exodus. Thus was my first trip with exodus and I was very impressed from the word go. The walking is tough, but aslong as you're used to long walks with lots of ascent and descent you will be ok. Don't expect to lose weight on this trip, you will eat more food than you thought possible!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of Rysy was a great feeling. To reach the summit we had a long steep ascent using chains for part of it, which made the feeling of satisfaction when reaching the top all the more worthwhile. We were lucky that the weather good and so the views at the top were breathtaking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Teresa was very helpful and always caring about the members of the group. She was able to organise any tours or visits we wanted for our free day in Krakow. During the trek she made sure she walked with different members of the group and got to know us all. She cared greatly about all members and it was a credit to her that everyone completed all 4 days of the trek.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    All the mountain huts we stayed in had points to charge phones and cameras so don't bother taking loads of heavy solar chargers. There were great drying rooms, so don't bring loads of clothes, making your bag heavy, just wash your clothes in the huts when you need to! Bring earplugs - we stayed in a 12 bed dorm and one very very loud snorer kept some of the group up for most of the night!!