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Prague and Budapest 12/12-12/22, where to go/stay/eat?

dusty

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Right now the main thing is to find decent hotels for a reasonable price ($100-200 double), though restaurant and off-the-beaten-track attractions are welcome as well. Also, what about tailoring or shoemaking opportunities (note: I'm not even close to being able to afford Vass)?
 

dusty

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Uh ok, trying this one more time
 

Concordia

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Me too. I'm staying there for a week in January. It will be a pretty scripted 7 days but there will be opportunities to poke about.
 

jase12

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Not sure if i can help you out with accommodation because i stayed in backpackers. however on the attraction side of things... in Prague you can do a day trip to a place called Kutna Hora. There is not a lot there, it is a nice little czech village, but they have a church that is decorated with the bones of like 500 people. im talking bone chandeliers, skull pyramids and the like. its an awesome place and the reason it was created is rather macabre but not sinister so dont stress. i did an organised day trip that included an english speaking guide, bus there and back, and a nice lunch at a local tavern.

in budapest i would HIGHLY recommend going to the roman baths. you strip down, put on a little nappy thing and go back back 2000 years. there are baths of various temperatures, including one that is at 2 degrees, there are massuers and various steam rooms. it honestly feels like your back in roman times, there is nothing inside that gives away that its the modern era, plus there is all these old guys sitting talking in groups in the steam rooms etc, really makes you feel like your hanging within julius and his mates. if your a female there are womens baths but they are seperate. was great fun and i spent about 3 hours there all up
 

balder

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Originally Posted by dusty
Right now the main thing is to find decent hotels for a reasonable price ($100-200 double), though restaurant and off-the-beaten-track attractions are welcome as well. Also, what about tailoring or shoemaking opportunities (note: I'm not even close to being able to afford Vass)?

Had a bad experience on First visit to Prague with lousy hotel in run down area we arrived from the airport at 10 am and surly man told us that we could not check in till 2 am and we could not leave our cases there untill then.We were only there for a long weekend so did not want to waste any of it-anyway we went to a hotel called the "Esplanade" in (I think)Wilsonova,at top of Wenceslas square,great hotel.Prague itself is an amazing city and lives up to its reputation,though I must say I found the Czech's a little on the dour side,this surprised me as I had worked with a Czech girl who was very friendly and bubbly-she played the saxophone!Still thought it was a great place-enjoy.
 

Star

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Food in Prague is wonderful however avoid eating at the restaurants at the Old Square unless you want to pay 4 times the price for a meal you can get elsewhere in town.

Avoid the 'independent' money exchange booths. They are run by shady characters and the way they quote the exchange they will legitamely give you a bad rate. Only change money at a Bank.

When on the Charlse Bridge avoid the statue of St. John of Nepomuk. You will see tourists gathered around it because they believe it to be the place where this martyr was thrown off the bridge and supposeldy brings luck. This is a fraud perpetuated by tourist operators. The real spot where the saint was matryred is further down from this statue and is marked by from memory a small brass plaque. The brass plaque is where the local school kids go to make a wish because every Czech child knows that this is the 'real' spot.

Good luck
 

dusty

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Thanks for the advice. Did you guys find it easy to get around in these cities? Is it better to walk or take the Metro?
 

binge

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I was in Budapest for 4 days in summer of 2007 and enjoyed it immensely.

I stayed in the perfectly adequate Carlton Hotel on the Buda side of the river. Looking at their currently posted prices shows that it's in your price range. It has a good location for the touristy stuff on the Buda side, and it's not that far of a walk to either a metro stop, or just walk over the bridge and be on the souther end of the main shopping/tourist area of Pest.

Budapest is easy to get around on foot and via the Metro. At least in the summer. The winter might be a little less fun on foot. I recommend buying a Budapest card from one of the tourist info centers, if just for the free metro pass it provides.
 

balder

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Originally Posted by dusty
Thanks for the advice. Did you guys find it easy to get around in these cities? Is it better to walk or take the Metro?

The centre of Prague is very compact so you can walk anywhere-my wife will barely walk her own length and she did'nt mind at all!!
 

Master-Classter

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Only been to prague, for a few days but did a lot. I did two free walking tours the first day (east and west side of the river) which will give you a good orientation of the city and an idea of where the main sights are. Go to any hostel and they'll have maps with information.

Charles bridge at night is great! Also, definately take the long walk up to the castle, it can take a whole day jsut to walk around up there. Really cool. I think you can also go up the tower for a city view.
There's a wall with a john lennon statue, the jewish quarter is pretty cool too. The main square has some awsome food vendors (when I was there a few months ago). I also saw a blacklight show (just near the bridge there's a theatre), a bit expensive and kindof weird but an "interesting" experience (ie I paid money and don't quite get if I got anything in return).

Highly recomend the aforementioned daytrip out to Kutna Hora (More like 20-30 THOUSAND bodies). I took a train and walked to the church, there's a small village as well but otherwise not much to see or do. It took a bit of asking around, if you can do a tour, go for it.

I walked the whole city, you can also take trams for pretty cheap. Cabs are around but just watch out because they will rip you off big time. Always agree on a price beforehand, or make sure the meter is running.
Food - you get what you pay for... if it sounds cheap and it says meat and dumplings, that's all that's on the plate. just a warning.
Do drink the beer. Do keep money seperately somehwere else. Don't talk to strangers if it seems dodge, etc. (all the usual advice)

More Info - http://wikitravel.org/en/Prague
 

Droog

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I was in Prague last December. PM me and I'll let you know what I learned.
 

Fabro

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The baths in Budapest are not to be missed: http://www.spasbudapest.com/tartalom.php. I highly recommend Rudas, but you should get to as many as you can because they are all have their own personalities. Honestly, if I had a few hours layover there and could choose only one thing to do, I wouldn't hestitate to choose the baths (yes, even over the shoes, and for me this is saying a lot: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=48398).

Sounds like a great time to be there. I really like seeing other cities just before Christmas. Hungarian food is excellent, and it will really complement the weather which I would imagine will be brisk around then. I'll check my notes and see if I can come up with some restaurant recommendations. I ate very well when I was there last year.

Enjoy the city. It's become one of my favorites in Europe.
 

dusty

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Binge - Thanks for the hotel rec, I just reserved a room. Thanks everybody else for the advice. I'd love to hear your restaurant picks, Fabro.

This is more venting than anything else, but yesterday I bought the plane tickets from a student airfare search, specifically choosing a European carrier (and paid extra for it at the forum's advice), and when I get the itenerary in the email, I find out that almost every connection has been contracted out to United. Am I correct in assuming the service standards will not be raised to meet those of the European carrier?
 

SalinaA

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Originally Posted by binge
I was in Budapest for 4 days in summer of 2007 and enjoyed it immensely. I stayed in the perfectly adequate Carlton Hotel on the Buda side of the river. Looking at their currently posted prices shows that it's in your price range. It has a good location for the touristy stuff on the Buda side, and it's not that far of a walk to either a metro stop, or just walk over the bridge and be on the souther end of the main shopping/tourist area of Pest. Budapest is easy to get around on foot and via the Metro. At least in the summer. The winter might be a little less fun on foot. I recommend buying a Budapest card from one of the tourist info centers, if just for the free metro pass it provides.
We went last year in November and stayed in the Carlton as well - its a cute place and very nice... We walked around pretty much everywhere - there's loads within walking distance but we also went on the metro (it was very different) LOL! Oh and we got cabs around at night too.... We ate some of the best food ever whilst out there and also shopped and grabbed some bargains and wonders
 

Concordia

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Originally Posted by Fabro
The baths in Budapest are not to be missed: http://www.spasbudapest.com/tartalom.php. I highly recommend Rudas, but you should get to as many as you can because they are all have their own personalities. Honestly, if I had a few hours layover there and could choose only one thing to do, I wouldn't hestitate to choose the baths (yes, even over the shoes, and for me this is saying a lot: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=48398).

Sounds like a great time to be there. I really like seeing other cities just before Christmas. Hungarian food is excellent, and it will really complement the weather which I would imagine will be brisk around then. I'll check my notes and see if I can come up with some restaurant recommendations. I ate very well when I was there last year.

Enjoy the city. It's become one of my favorites in Europe.


I have no idea what the authentic experience is, but one of my best spa memories came from Banff (or some nearby place in the rockies). There was a swimming pool filled with 100'degree water, and instead of being one of those sitting-around type pools, it was 5 or 6 feet deep. Which meant you could walk around and completely free up your back and joints in a weightless environment. I felt mellow for three days after, and this was with my parents and three sisters in the van.

Anyway-- are there deep hot pools at any of the spas, or is it so standard that I shouldn't look stupid by asking?
 

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