Diary of My 2007 Trip To Vienna (Austria), (Prague) The Czech Republic, And Budapest (Hungary)

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Hi Guys! I apologize in advance for the limited information I am about to give you in this post. This was one of those summer trips spontaneously planned by my sister and I don’t remember much of what I saw. However, I promise to give you some observations which may serve as helpful and a jumping off point in your planning process. So here goes:

When my sister planned this East Europe trip, she combined these three countries because she felt they were small and close enough to cover in a short period of time. While I taught in school and had summers off, she didn’t have that luxury of time.  Previously our traveling mantra has been to focus on one country at a time and see everything but to be honest there is not much to see outside Vienna (and Salzburg, which I cover HERE), Prague, and Budapest. If we had more time and money, then exploring the villages and castles outside these major cities may not have been a bad idea. Interestingly enough, each country offered a similar architectural, but very different cultural experience. Vienna is culturally vibrant and “rich”, with historical buildings beautifully preserved and traces of musical roots everywhere; Prague offers beautiful vistas and red-roofed buildings; whereas, Budapest still showed signs of decades of wreckage and fire from wars fought before. It’s not a typical affluent European city, but still worth the trip.

Logistically, we planned to fly to Austria and then travel on trains between countries. The trains leave daily from each major city and we had no trouble getting from one place to another, although I always recommend booking your tickets in advance. This helps ensure you don’t run the risk of tickets being sold-out and also pre-booking your airline tickets and train tickets are a great starting point to structure the itinerary.

In terms of getting around, we had no trouble taking city trams and trains. I don’t remember a language barrier. However, I remember having trouble pronouncing names of buildings and landmarks because they did not follow the American English spelling structure (if that doesn’t make sense, please do not be offended). I highly recommend getting a guidebook. Frommer’s and Lonely Planet have never done me wrong. Frommer’s guidebooks are no longer in print, so Rick Steves (See HERE and HERE) and Lonely Planet (See HERE and HERE) are your best bets. In case you get lost, just follow a crowd of tourists and you are bound to stumble upon something with significance. Obviously, don’t blindly follow someone; always stay in crowded areas and well-lit areas.

Food is nothing spectacular there. I wasn’t eating halal at the time so I don’t remember any issues. However, do not expect to find salads here. These are big meat countries, but there are always vegetarian options. Salads, pizzas, you name it–it’s here. I am not much of a risk taker when it comes to food so I always try to eat in one of the restaurants at Europe’s famous plazas. The selection of restaurants is marvelous so you are bound to find a place you will like; it’s safer; and although it can be pricey, one can’t compete with the pulsating views and people-watching experience. So when in doubt, find restaurants in plazas or platz as they are usually called in this region.

In case, you are wondering what we saw, here is the list:

Austria (Vienna)

  • Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens
  • St.Stephen Cathedral
  • Hofburg Palace
  • Belvedere Palace
  • Rathaus
  • Austrian Parliament Building
  • Karlskirche
  • State Opera House
  • St. Peter’s Church
  • Rathausplatz
  • The Spanish Riding School

Czech Republic (Prague)

  • Old Town
  • Charles Bridge
  • Old Town Square
  • St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Castle District
  • State Opera House
  • Josefor District

Hungary (Budapest)

  • Parliament Building
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • St. Stephen Basilica
  • Mathias Church
  • Chain Bridge
  • Hero’s Square
  • The Great Synagogue

Have Travelling!

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