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Highlights of Eastern Europe

15 days
Experience Eastern Europe in all of its complexity–from imperial palaces to World War II sites to cool clubs and cafes. Start in the lovely two-sided city of Budapest. Then journey west along the Danube, stopping in the art-inspired village of Szentendre. Continue on to Vienna, unrivaled for its beauty and majesty. Head north to see the castles and cathedrals of Prague. End your journey in Poland, with visits to medieval Krakow and modern Warsaw.

All tours include

Round-trip airfare

Airport transfers to & from hotels

Expert tour Director

Traditional local cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Guided sightseeing

All tours include

Round-trip airfare

Airport transfers to & from hotels

Expert tour Director

Traditional local cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Guided sightseeing

Your tour includes

  • Round-trip airfare & transfers

  • 13 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 5 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Select entrance fees

Overnight Flight1 night

Day 1

Your trip begins with a regularly scheduled overnight flight to Budapest aboard an internationally recognized airline.

Budapest3 nights Hotel info

Day 2

Included meals: Breakfast (in flight), Dinner

Welcome to Budapest, a city divided by the Danube River into its old and new sections (Buda and Pest). A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and then escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or begin acquainting yourself with the city. At an included dinner this evening, meet your fellow travelers.

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Parliament, Matthias Church

This morning’s included tour highlights the major landmarks of both Buda and Pest. Trace the stormy history of this fiercely independent nation on your stop at Heroes Square. Tour the lavishly decorated interior of the Parliament building, modeled after London’s Houses of Parliament. Then cross the Danube and arrive in Buda, where you’ll ascend imposing Castle Hill. The castle has witnessed several invasions, the most recent having occurred during World War II. After taking in the breathtaking views from Fisherman’s Bastion, visit the medieval Matthias Church, once the site of Hapsburg coronations.

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast

During your free day in Budapest, continue your personal exploration of the city. You might choose to browse through the shops on Budapest’s sophisticated pedestrian shopping streets, take a short journey outside of the city to the Vadaskert (Game Park) or tour the Jewish Museum. You may also opt to explore Budapest’s communist legacy on our optional excursion, A Walk Behind the Iron Curtain.

Optional Excursion - Budapest: A Walk Behind the Iron Curtain $69*pp Details

Discover the turbulent, tragic and heroic history of the communist period in Budapest on today’s excursion. Your guided sightseeing tour passes the Parliament building, which was the starting place of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and still shows signs of damage from the Soviet invasion. Visit the nearby statue of Imre Nagy, Hungary’s Prime Minister during the revolution, who is an enduring symbol of freedom. Liberty Square is just a stroll away, home to the U.S. Embassy, a statue of Ronald Reagan and the only remaining monument to Communist troops. From St. Stephen’s Basilica, take the historical Metro Line 1 up the iconic Andrassy Ave. Stop for an included coffee and piece of cake amidst the the Neo-Renaissance splendor of Book Café, the regular meeting place of the intelligentsia during the Soviet occupation. End the day at the House of Terror, where you will take a guided tour through this chilling museum and moving monument to the victims of communism and fascism in Hungary.

Vienna3 nights Hotel info

Day 5

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel west through the Danube basin, stopping in Szentendre en route, for a short journey to Vienna, home of chocolates, cafes, parks and pastries. After hotel check-in, you’ll have time to begin exploring the Austrian capital on your own. Dinner is included this evening.

Day 6

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Schönbrunn Palace

This morning join a comprehensive tour of Vienna, led by a local guide. Highlights include views of the Opera House, the majestic monuments of the Ringstrasse and the Hofburg, once the hub of Imperial power. Inside the regal Schönbrunn Palace, where Marie-Antoinette spent her childhood, view the private chambers of the Empress Maria Theresa and the lavishly decorated public rooms. Your afternoon is free for a stroll through the Stadtpark or a horse-drawn carriage ride to St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Tonight, opt to attend our traditional Viennese Heurigen evening. At this optional event, you’ll take a ride on the world-famous Prater Ferris Wheel and dine at a local restaurant, where you’ll enjoy wine made by the people serving your dinner.

Optional Excursion - Traditional Viennese Heurigen Evening $99*pp Details

After a brief drive, your first stop is Vienna's Prater Ferris Wheel. Take a breezy ride to the top, which offers a one-of-a-kind view of the city. Next, continue to the picturesque village of Grinzing. At a local restaurant, you'll indulge in a festive night of music, food and entertainment. Dinner will feature dishes typical of traditional Austrian Heurigens, or wine taverns. During your meal, you'll have the chance to try some of the tavern's own locally made wine—the perfect addition to your cozy Old-World setting.

Day 7

Included meals: Breakfast

Spend the day at your leisure. You might wish to take a stroll through Vienna’s pedestrian zone, stopping at the Hotel Sacher for a taste of its world-famous Sachertorte, or view the elegant Lippizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School. Or, join an optional excursion to historic Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.

Optional Excursion - Bratislava $95*pp Details

Walk through Bratislava’s Old Town on a guided tour of the Slovakian capital. Stroll along cobblestone streets in the shadow of Brastislavsky Hrad, the hilltop 18th-century castle overlooking the Old Town. Then, tour the famous Hall of Mirrors inside the pink Primates’ Palace, where Napoleon and the Austrian emperor signed the Peace of Pressburg of 1805. Lunch is included. Please note: Depending on the day of the week, you may visit St. Martin's Cathedral instead of the palace.

Prague3 nights Hotel info

Day 8

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Depart Vienna this morning and enjoy a drive through the pastoral landscapes of Bohemia. Arrive later in Prague, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, where dinner is included this evening.

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Hradcany Castle, St. Vitus' Cathedral

On this morning’s guided sightseeing tour, discover why Prague is known as the City of A Hundred Spires. The pinnacles of the city’s churches and palaces create one of Europe’s most majestic skylines. Visit the spectacular Hradcany Castle, from which Charles IV governed the Holy Roman Empire and Vaclav Havel restored democracy. Later, admire the soaring Gothic vaults of St. Vitus Cathedral. During your free time this afternoon, you may choose to wander through the medieval lanes of the Old Town. Discover Wenceslas Square, Prague’s cosmopolitan heart, or cross elegant Charles Bridge and enjoy breathtaking views of the city. Later, opt for an optional walking tour of Prague’s fascinating Jewish Quarter, home to Europe’s oldest synagogue. Lunch is included on this optional excursion.

Optional Excursion - Walking Tour of Prague's Jewish Quarter $79*pp Details

Follow a local guide on a walking tour of Josefov, Prague’s Jewish Quarter, nestled between the Vltava River and Old Town Square. Discover the Quarter's remains, which survived devastation during World War II and oppression during the Communist era. Afterward, pay a visit to the Jewish Museum of Prague, housed in a collection of former synagogues, one of which displays the names of all the Czechs sent to concentration camps. Along your tour, learn about the Golem myth, a story forever entwined with Prague’s Jewish history. You’ll also see sights once frequented by Franz Kafka, the enigmatic author of The Trial and Metamorphosis, who made his home in Prague. Lunch is included.

Day 10

Included meals: Breakfast

With a free day in Prague, you might choose to relax at a welcoming sidewalk cafe or take a walk along the riverbanks. In the afternoon, choose to journey into the countryside for an optional excursion to the Château Sychrov for a concert and dinner.

Optional Excursion - Château Sychrov $139*pp Details

Visit Château Sychrov, a 17th-century Baroque estate north of Prague. Take a guided tour through the estate, paying special attention to the elaborate carvings along the stairway, in the chapel and in the dining room. Then, tour the gallery of French kings and the château's manicured grounds. Later, attend a private recital of classic Czech music and an included dinner. Please note: This excursion requires advanced booking and payment at least 20 days prior to departure.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Krakow2 nights Hotel info

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Depart Prague and travel east to Poland. Pass through the dramatic landscapes of Moravia before reaching Kraków. After hotel check-in, enjoy an included dinner.

Day 12

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Wawel Cathedral

Today’s guided sightseeing tour of Kraków introduces you to Wawel Hill, perched high above the Vistula River. Visit Wawel Cathedral, where Polish kings were crowned. Pope John Paul II once served as archbishop here. Stroll through Glowny Square, passing beautiful Sukiennice Cloth Hall and the Jagiellonian University. This afternoon, opt to visit the former concentration camp of Auschwitz.

Optional Excursion - Auschwitz $39*pp Details

This excursion takes you to some of the most chilling sites in Europe: the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. More than 4 million people were systematically exterminated in these camps by the Third Reich during World War II. Liberated by the Red Army in 1945, Auschwitz has been turned into a poignant memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Take a guided tour which includes views of chambers and prisoner buildings. Afterward, drive to nearby Birkenau, the second portion of the larger Auschwitz concentration camp complex. Embark on a guided tour before returning to Kraków.

Warsaw2 nights Hotel info

Day 13

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy a free morning to continue your exploration of Kraków. Later, transfer to the capital city of Warsaw. Your Tour Director will assist with hotel check-in, after which dinner is included.

Day 14

Included meals: Breakfast

A local guide leads a fascinating sightseeing tour of Warsaw, a city all but destroyed during World War II but painstakingly rebuilt since 1944. At Lazienki Park, behold the Chopin monument and the palace of Stanislaw Poniatowski, Poland’s last king. A guided walk through the Old Town brings you to Starego Miasta Square, lined with Renaissance facades and baroque townhouses. This evening, opt to attend a traditional Polish dinner in a Warsaw restaurant followed by a Chopin recital.

Optional Excursion - Chopin Recital & Dinner $99*pp Details

This evening, enjoy an exclusive private recital featuring the music of Frédéric-François Chopin. Born in 1810, Chopin is widely considered the world's best composer for piano, an instrument that's featured prominently in his compositions. Tonight, experience Chopin’s genius firsthand as a pianist plays some of his greatest masterpieces. Then, sample local specialties at one of Warsaw’s finest restaurants during an included dinner.

Day 15

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

If you are not continuing on our tour extension to Berlin, a Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your flight home.

Add Berlin, 3 nights $399 pp

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this city pulses with life. The cobbled streets of the German capital date back 750 years; yet a fresh vibrancy pervades the boulevards, the markets, the hundreds of trendy night spots and the thousands of pubs and restaurants. This revitalized Berlin—also known as the "New York City" of Europe—is an essential destination for every traveler.

Berlin3 nights Hotel info

Day 15

Included meals: Breakfast

Board your train to Berlin, once the gateway to Eastern Europe and now capital of reunified Germany. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the train station and then escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to begin exploring this historic city.

Day 16

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Pergamon Museum

A local guide leads today’s sightseeing tour. Stop at the infamous Checkpoint Charlie border crossing and see the scant remains of the once-towering Berlin Wall. View the Brandenburg Gate and the Rathaus Schöneberg, where President Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Behold the Reichstag Building, seat of the German Parliament, and the shell-scarred tower of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Then visit the impressive Pergamon Museum, home to the world’s finest collection of Babylonian antiquities. Later this afternoon, join a half-day optional World War II walking tour.

Optional Excursion - World War II Walking Tour $59*pp Details

Take a walk through history on this insider’s tour of Berlin during World War II, detailing the rise and fall of Hitler and the Third Reich. You’ll start in the Wilhelmstraße area and see the building that once housed the headquarters of Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe. You'll also view the former headquarters of the infamous SS and Gestapo, the massive Reich Chancellery and the Propaganda Ministry. Finally, stand directly above Hitler’s Führerbunker as your guide details the last days of World War II in Europe. Lunch is included.

Day 17

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy Berlin at your own pace today. Stroll along the glittery Kurfürstendamm, lined with upscale boutiques and inviting cafes. Choose to visit the acclaimed Egyptian Museum or explore the recently restored Potsdamer Platz. Alternatively, join our half-day optional excursion to Potsdam. Here, you’ll visit either the rococo Neues Palais or Cecilienhof Castle, where the Potsdam Conference took place in 1945, reshaping Europe in the wake of World War II.

Optional Excursion - Potsdam $69*pp Details

Travel to Potsdam, the residence of Prussian Kings and German Kaisers until 1918. Once the royal playground of Prussian King Frederick the Great, Potsdam was also the location where American, British and Soviet leaders drew up plans for the postwar administration of Germany at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. A local guide will escort you through Cecilienhof Palace, built by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany in the early 1900s and the site of the Potsdam Conference’s iconic photograph of Truman, Churchill and Stalin. After exploring the palace and gardens, your guide will introduce you to the historic center of Potsdam. Please note: This excursion requires advanced booking and payment at least 20 days prior to departure.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Day 18

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport to assist with check-in for your return flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Warsaw, Poland
  • Berlin, Germany
Temperature Precipitation
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  • MAR
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Passport & Visa

This tour includes the following countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Germany (on the extension). In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.

Health

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary or Germany. Be sure to check with your doctor or health care provider for the latest updates and overseas travel requirements.

Transportation / Walking on tour

Round-trip flights arrive in Budapest and depart from Warsaw. Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach (and by train on the extension to Berlin). In your free time, you may wish to explore the cities by public transportation. Budapest has an all-inclusive transportation system, with links between the metro, “green trains,” yellow trams and red trolley buses. Purchase tickets from newspaper stands, vending machines or metro entrances. Vienna has a similar system and is even more efficient. You can purchase tickets in singles or in bulk for S-bahn (above ground), Ubahn (underground), tram and bus lines. The waiting time for trains and subways is usually no more than five to 10 minutes. Prague, Warsaw and Kraków are all well-served by trams, local buses and taxis, if you need to explore beyond the main attractions. Otherwise, they’re best accessed on foot. In Berlin, an extensive system of S-bahn, Ubahn, tram, train and bus lines serve every corner of the city. One ticket covers all types of transportation.

Clothing & Packing Tips

To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).

Baggage Allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.

Cuisine

In Austria, thick soups of paprika and onion, veal, beef and venison with cranberries are popular, as is the renowned Wiener Schnitzel. Fish lovers will find excellent wild trout, carp and crayfish. But perhaps the most memorable aspect of Austrian cuisine are the desserts—strudels made with all kinds of fruit and nuts, soufflés and elegant chocolate cakes, such as the world-famous Sachertorte. Hungary boasts goulash as its national dish, but also is known for its excellent salamis, cheeses, nut-flavored pancakes, freshwater fish and preserved fruits. Czech food is hearty, and you’ll find large portions of veal, beef and potato dishes. Some of the world’s finest beers are produced here, including the original Budweiser and Pils. German food is hearty and substantial. Among the specialties are rich dumpling stews and sauerkraut cabbage, tasty thick sausages and smoked cheeses, dark breads and tempting chocolate cakes. Germany also produces some of the world’s finest and purest beers, while white German wines are exceptionally good.

Currency

The euro (in Austria, as well as Germany on extension), Polish zloty, Czech crown and Hungarian forint are the currencies you’ll be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in your destination countries, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise that you take credit cards and ATM/bank cards. All are widely accepted in the major cities, with some exceptions. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/ CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 6/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 10

From: NJ

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Lots of Fun!

I had a great time on this tour due to the other members of the group, the tour director, & the itinerary. History was never one of my interests before, but now I find myself wanting to know more about all the amazing things we saw & heard about. Our tour director was very knowledgeable, well-organized & efficient. The high quality of the included food & that some of the meals were in local (not touristy) restaurants was a nice surprise. Hotels were well-located and most exceeded my expectations.Optionals & tour director tours were expensive; in some instances we saw ads for the identical tour, including pick-up at our hotel, for significantly less money than we had paid. Train transportation to Berlin for the extension was hot, crowded & uncomfortable. There is not enough room in one car for 6 people & all their luggage. My suitcase was ripped & ruined by being forced to fit under a seat.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 7/7/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Great tour for History Buffs

This was a wonderful tour and go-ahead provided us with a great experience in 4 star hotels/ great tour director and bus driver. We were very happy. If you are interested in history, esp., WW1 and 2, Art, Architecture and cities then this is a great tour for you. This is pretty active, if you want, so bring your walking shoes and go exploring.

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1 / 1

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/7/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Best Tour and Best Tour Director

From the moment I met Tini, she was so eager to please, friendly, joyful and attentive to everyone's needs. Her knowledge of each city, location of currency exchange, best places to see on our own, use of public trams, places to eat and shop were so valuable. It made our trip so much more enjoyable. She suggested some delightful extra trips, eg cruise and dinner on the river, folk concert added to our enjoyment. She made herself available in the lobby each day to share city maps, and point out places of interest. She took out the "work" part of our free time by enabling us to explore on our own. At each new hotel, check in was simple and smooth and our luggage was handled expeditiously. Having all the entrance fees at each tour took all the "work" away from us and we were able to begin the tour without delay. Our bus driver, Gregor, was a gentleman, helpful and very friendly, besides being a very safe driver. May I suggest a better hotel in Budapest. It was just OK.

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1 / 2

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/9/2013

Number of Past Tours: 7

From: MD

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

So much to see

Every GoAhead tour has been wonderful and this one was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Budapest was absolutely beautiful. Seeing the double rainbow during the Danube River Cruise and watching the lights on the banks of Buda and Pest light up was breath taking. Walking in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna with the sun shining through the stained glass and the colors dancing on the columns was a very spiritual experience. See for yourself what wonderful people and sights await you.

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1 / 1

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/26/2013

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: TX

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Tour Director - Paul

This was a terrific tour and Paul was the very best. Since history is his love, it made the trip even more special. Paul was excellent at seeing that we were the first in at any site we were visiting which kept us moving instead of being stuck behind other groups and this gave us more free time. All the local guides were wonderful and gave us a good overview of the history of each area. Seeing the places that were behind the Iron Curtain and visiting the concentration camps was a riveting experience. We all know what happened but were so far removed that you could never experience how these people lived through these years from the Nazis through the Russians without being there. This is a trip I had wanted to take for a long time and I am so glad I did. A big thanks to Paul for making it a wonderful experience and for taking such good care of everyone in the group. Joan Lovejoy, Comfort, TX

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 9/26/2013

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: OR

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

History with a passion....

If you've wondered what it could have been like and have an adventurous spirit... then this is the tour for you. You will be immersed in an endless bathing of history, one you can only imagine from history books.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 8/12/2013

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: IL

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

The Jewel of Europe

This has been a rather exceptional tour for me throughout this part of Europe. These are truly elegant cities with a tragic past. Since WWII, these cities have shown unquestionable resilience in their ability to rise above the stigma and financial hardships of war that had left this part of Europe almost desolate and isolated from the rest of the European Union. Having survived the Nazi Regime and the fall of Communism, Eastern Europe is now thriving once again and is truly a must see for any avid tourist who prides themselves on international travel. One cannot truly appreciate Europe without visiting these remarkable cities. Budapest was absolutely fabulous, with its many unique bridges, fascinating architecture and truly amazing cuisine. Vienna is even more elegant, home to the Habsburg Royal Family, it is every bit as decadant as the Habsburgs themselves. While it is a small city in Austria, it does boast many amenities that will suit tourists of any demographic, especially those who love to indulge in fine cuisine, classical music and picturesque landscapes. Poland and Prague were equally nice and Berlin truly was the crown jewel of the entire trip, boasting the most impressive display of Renaissance Architecture that has survived the war. The museums were excellent, as well as the beer and cuisine. I have enjoyed this trip so much and will not soon forget it. After taking this tour, I have a stronger appreciation for Eastern Europe and look forward to visiting them again in the future. I highly recommend this tour.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/1/2013

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: AL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

very nice tour

I loved this tour! We saw some very beautiful cities and I definitely think it was worth going!

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 7/1/2013

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: AL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Wonderful Tour director

Our tour director was wonderful. He took a personal interest in developing a report with the participants. By the end of the trip, we knew a lot about him and about his family. He was very knowledgable about what we saw and did and arranged a lot of wonder things to do that were not included as optionals. He seemed to know his group and found things for us that appealed to everyone. It was nice to have someone who did not just stick to the basics.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 4/22/2013

Number of Past Tours: 7

From: MD

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

A Brush With History

This trip was unbelievably educational and enjoyable, if not a bit too rigorous. There was plenty to see and do and Paul, our tour director, provided even more opportunities. Budapest, Vienna, Krakow and Warsaw were highlights for us with Prague being a bit "oversold." Fortunately and unfortunately we signed up for all of the optionals and participated in the additional ones Paul suggested. While this made for a jam-packed trip, it was a bit exhausting due to the amount of walking involved. Among the best highlights for us are always the fellow Go Ahead travelers. We met and enjoyed drinks and dinners with very interesting, fun people - you know you are!! Another highlight was the deep understanding we gained of the WWII and Communist eras in these countries and people suffered through. This will remain in our memory for sure. We also were surprised and delighted by the concerts we attended - the musicians were top notch and we could not resist purchasing their CDs - a great way to preserve the memory. Paul was an excellent tour director with a vast amount of knowledge of each of the areas as well as adding his own experiences living under the Communist regime. With the exception of Krakow, the hotels were comfortable, safe and conveniently located. On the flip side the long bus trip from Prague to Krakow should be replaced by a rail trip. Why not? European rail travel is reasonable and readily available. Another improvement would be the included group dinners. The food was mediocre at best and extremely SALTY. Not being used to that diet, we had adverse effects about three quarters of the way through the 2-week trip. Even food in local restaurants seemed to have been over-seasoned with salt. Be warned. Finally, while Vienna and Budapest back to back presented a nice portrait of the Hapsburgs, that bit of history distracted from the WWII and Communist themes. Vienna is a destination on many Go Ahead trips. In our opinion it should be dropped in favor of an additional two days in Warsaw - a city that was surprisingly interesting despite its newness. And the people there were welcoming and very friendly with much more to do there than time allowed. We love Go Ahead and recommend it highly, but we will be looking at optionals with a more experienced eye on our next (8th) trip.

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