184 Reviews of Slovakia Tours
HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL EUROPE August 20163.0
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)
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.
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.
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.
Operator Exodus Travels
CYCLING THE DANUBE - VIENNA TO BUDAPEST August 20162.0
Cycling into Budapest
Tobias introduced himself as the bag 'mover' between locations and gave a rushed briefing.
Look carefully at the detail (rather hard when it is in general terms in the advertising). Insist on detailed maps/instructions for negotiating entry and exit of cities.
Operator Exodus Travels
PRAGUE TO BUDAPEST RIDE August 20161.0
Cycling between two capital cities in one day: slightly blighted by the planned 70km day turning into a 100km hack on busy main roads due to having to backtrack to Vienna to avoid a flooded cycle track.
Anna was lovely and very helpful to me when it came to odering the correct food for my dietary restrictions. Her inexperience organising a cycle trip did frustrate and annoy others. There was no safety briefing; we were often dangerously bunched up in groups on busy main roads. There were no plans or intention to supply water given we started the trip during a heatwave which is basic negligance - on our insistence the bus driver agreed to carry and sell bottled water to us. Twice I was concerned and upset to be left behind with no map and no directions - Anna couldn't be contacted to ask her to wait as her phone was switched off. She had no way of organising fast and slow cyclists. On other trips faster cyclists are usually sent ahead to wait at a designated point whilst the guide remains with the slower cyclist to ensure they know the route. Each day's cycling felt like a race to get to the night's destination - I did not dare to stop to take photos for fear of being lost a long way behind. We had to constantly remind her of the need to organise an occassional break - after all we were on holiday not a cycling boot camp. Anna appeared not to receive any back-up from the company she was sub-contracted from. She was clearly untrained and often got lost. She also should have been informed in advance of road closeures folllowing the Danube floods.
Take ear plugs for the noisy hotels, bug repellant for the mosquitoes and keep your fingers crossed that your guide is better trained. Be vigilant of the busy roads in Hungary as they are very potholed and the motorists are intolerant and unforgiving to cyclists. The hotels were very clean, though at times very basic (my matress at the Grand Hotel Cerny Orel comprised of seats cushions squashed together - very uncomfortable). Food, beer and wine was very good and pleasingly inexpensive in the Czech Republic and generally a very good standard in all four countries.
The rolling countryside through the Czech Republic is beautiful and lovely to cycle. Some of the cycle ways can be very linear and the scenery repetitive. Plan an extra day in Budapest - its an amazing city.