"Being in and around Rovinj, Croatia. "Goodness, my favorite 'wow' moment is hard to pin down because there were so many. All of the waterfalls were absolutely stunning! And another great memory was walking into our room on St. Katerina Island and gazing out our window at Rovinj's dramatic Old Town!". "Plitvice Lakes National Park. "It may seem odd but the odd weather seemed to enhance the trip to Plitvice Lake National Park. Rok, our driver, was outstandingly good and obviously an experienced driver. I would like to visit for 3 weeks from DC and visit as many cities as possible. Prague is a beautiful city with much to offer, but it was so crowded that it was almost painful to move about. As usual, the Rick Steves tour was amazing (my 5th). Readers naturally want to know the Best, but it's just as important to know the Worst. To actually be on the site where so many atrocities were inflicted on the innocent citizens was a overwhelming. Our driver Sam told Ken we would be passing through the middle of Nizna Slana the next day! Thank for ordering up 15 days of sunshine!!! Jana was beyond fantastic, as was Sinisa the bus driver. I could easily have sat there for 4 hours. It exceeded our expectations and we were fortunate to enjoy the company of an extraordinary group of seasoned travelers. We came to learn and make discoveries of an area we didn't know that much about. A great tour to a part of the world that I had not visited before. All in all a fantastic tour! "My husband is of Polish descent and it was a WOW moment for me to hear him speak Polish so fluently. Written and hosted by best-selling guidebook author Rick Steves, each half-hour show takes viewers to Europe's most interesting places, from great cities to off-the-beaten-path discoveries. "The day trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau was powerful and a day I will never forget. The Plitvice National Park was one of the most scenic parks I've even seen, with waterfalls at every turn. In this guide, Rick covers the most effective of England, France, Germany, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, as well as Switzerland. We strongly recommend that tour guides pass out written information with some of the highlights of what we have been shown. "I'd been to Rovinj in the best, thanks to your guidebook. All great! This morning we'll hike along rustic boardwalk trails connecting the idyllic forests, travertine stone cliffs, clear blue lakes, and gushing waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. We were pleasantly surprised with an amazing tour! Our guide worked hard with each affected person to help them find alternative options. Rick Steves: The best and worst of Europe. And it was raining when we were there...more water! "Loved Prague and was pleasantly surprised by Krakow, Budapest, Plitvinica and staying on the Adriatic". Thank goodness we didn't. I posted pictures on social media while we traveled, and highly recommend this trip. It was great. The group dinner at Egar, Hungary, was outstanding. I would certainly recommend a Rick Steves tour to anyone willing to be part of a guided tour. Sleep in Budapest. Our cities were so unique and I enjoyed nearly all of them. Keep up the great work! Norway's Stavanger, famous for nearby fjords and its status as an oil boomtown, is a large port that's about as thrilling as...well, put it this way: Emigrants left it in droves to move to the wilds of Minnesota. We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. One other thing, the time given to our group to explore the cities on our own was very much appreciated. No paperwork! We had great weather the whole time, too! "I suppose visiting Auschwitz couldn't help but be a wow moment but all the other sights and information on the Nazi and Communist experience made my head go "WOW".". I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone! I can't say enough about the tour, the guide, the locations, the hotels, food, the prep through Rick's book. I felt it was educational in many ways and changed some of my perspectives significantly. We walked the whole park with minimal crowds. Loved seeing Budapest lit up at night, loved hiking in Plitvice National Park (been wanting to do that for years), loved how 'cozy' Krakow seemed. For sights it would have to be Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia; the crystal clear water and the colors. There was a lot of history to digest, both recent and of past centuries. Rick Steves has spent 100 days every year since 1973 exploring Europe. So glad there was something planned for us to do in Slovakia instead of just driving through I didn't go the Europe to meet Americans. It had it all...great food, diverse and interesting countries, fascinating histories, vibrant cities, beautiful landscapes, music, wine, pastry and as always, good company and great local guides. Reviewed in the United States on March 28, 2013. . I have always planned my trips prior to this one. I like the approach of a walking tour of a place to acclimate and then allowing free time for me to visit whatever sites were appealing based on information received on the walk (or to rest if needed). Our group was a lot of fun and added to the entire experience. "Probably the beauty of the natural surroundings in all the countries forests, mountains & lakes.". Our tour guide, Katka, was amazing, full of knowledge, able to give an interesting history lesson on most anything. It is an active trip, lots of miles covered, structured time, free time to explore and plenty of good walking exercise. It took a lot of work to figure out the logistics and making sure everything was planned out. Having stuck my neck out to say all this, I must add that it's always fun — and necessary — to reassess opinions (mine have certainly changed over the years). Nearby: Glastonbury and Wells; Cotswolds. This is another reason Rick Steve's tours are so great: you have time to explore your own interests. She made this tour exciting and educational in a fun way. Plitvice National Park was a definite wow and a good break after being in some big cities. I would have to say our guide, Katka, was a WOW moment the whole trip. Upon our evening arrival at our Plitvice Lakes lodging in Croatia, we were greeted by the latest snow flurries in 23 years, which continued through our tour the next day. The itinerary was the reason we booked this trip and it we got to experience everything that we had anticipated. Having been on a few RS tours prior to this one, I expected another quality experience but this one exceeded all my expectations. This was my first trip to Europe; it was so nice to not have to think about planning hotels & transportation. Excellent hotels and destinations and special activities. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning. Definitely outstanding! A well planned itinerary. What a great group, guide, and driver. The hike up the 189 rickety steps to the top of St. Euphemia's bell tower was an a highlight, and our day ended with fireworks over the bay.". The Holocaust memorials in several places were very moving. The Best of Eastern Europe in 15 Days Tour has become my favorite Rick Steves trip and I have been on many. Then the amazing raw beauty of Plitvice followed by the spectacular beaches and resort of Rovinj on the Adriatic. You also travel through the French countryside, the Swiss Alps, and the Tuscan region of Italy. It was difficult to enjoy Budapest outside of a toasty cafÃ© due to the horrible weather, but I could definitely tell that it was a place I'd love to go back to. If you want a Swiss city, see Bern or Luzern instead. Our guide Eszter balanced the pace well and her enthusiasm was infectious. They loved it. The visit with the school children in Eger was also very memorable. Just a few comments are listed below. ", Fabulous guide!!! This was a typical Rick Steves tour: superb guide, great itinerary, and companionable fellow travelers. The countryside was very scenic on the drives from Krakow to Budapest and on to Croatia and Slovenia. Lighthearted time spent in the Szechenyi Baths and very somber time spent in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Walking thru Plitvice Lakes National Park is the best walk I've ever taken. Another WOW moment I need to include was walking around Lake Bled. Thanks to Katerina the tour was comfortable, entertaining, and wonderfully informative. It was magical.". tour experience the tour was great. He is kind, exceedingly fluent in English. At first I was disappointed when it started snowing but we embraced the snow, geared up and it became my "WOW" moment. Wandering through the narrow streets of Rovinj was a special surprise and "wow" moment.". It was fast paced and did involve some long days of travel, but that was to be expected given the itinerary. Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. I LOVED Budapest and would have loved an extra half day there.". Boat: 1 hour. absolutely beautiful to see the cathedral in the distance on the mainland and to see the sky turning golden at sunset.". So unexpected and stunning.". "The night cruise on the Danube. Hard to believe hat they have been free of dictatorships for only 30 years. This event took all the WOW out of your tour.". We had watched many Rick Steves travel episodes on television and then found out from an acquaintance about the tours. Props to our guide Sanel for switching the days for our harbor meal as we had perfect weather at sunset. How had I never recognized that their WWII lasted from 1930s - 1980s? We enjoyed all the guest guides -- all were very knowledgeable. Tour guide worked tirelessly to ensure we were well taken care of and thoroughly informed about the areas we were traveling through. Good amount of structured vs free time. I didn't pick up on it until after the fact. Rather the question should be what was the most emotional moment? I've found that very useful, for an example in Germany, one would say: Everyone was flexible and adaptable, even though we dealt with a few more weather challenges than we had on our first trip. Truly an outstanding tour! We'll guide you through the region's biggest and best cities, and introduce you to its charming small towns: Czech Republic. The tour was amazing. "I cannot select just one. This tour was amazing as well as both physically and mentally challenging. We are already discussing which tour we want to go on next and how long it will to take to save for the next one. Our tour guide Katerina was outstanding and our tour group was great. London, York, Bath, and Edinburgh are the most interesting cities in Britain. "So many, but 2 very equal moments. and enjoy the tasty lunch in the school canteen. A great way to end a busy tour. This was our third Tour with Rick Steves and it was by far the fastest paced. Our day will end with a Hungarian dinner near the town of Eger. The shorter Best of France guidebook focuses on France's top destinations and sights, is in full color, and is updated every other year. We are so happy that the extra day was added to Krakow, which was an unexpected highlight of the trip. Group meals were also excellent. The cities are each unique and steeped in history with all of it's triumphs and tragedies. This was an amazing tour--the perfect mix of interesting and fun travel companions; five countries, five languages, five currencies; a mix of large cities, smaller cities, small towns, seaside, countryside, a national park, and Auschwitz in its own category; along with expert guidance with free time; all made possible by our exceptional guide, Peter, and our expert driver, Sam. It is incredibly beautiful to the point that it makes one wonder if it's real.". Plitvice Lakes National park as well as Rovinj, Lake Bled were a nice change from large cities, we enjoyed it all!". 28 guests seemed to be too many - I would think that 22-24 would make for a better size. Bus: 7 hours. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Hotels were excellent. "We walked into the St Vitus Cathedral and seeing all the stained glass. "Sunsets and lake views. Any time between April and October is a good time to take a Best of Eastern Europe tour. Our tour was fantastic from beginning to end. Our guide, Peter, made the trip even more wonderful. The logistics went flawlessly. Her knowledge and history of the area was profound. Our guide, Peter, was outstanding; and our fellow travelers were fun and friendly-just what we've come to expect from a Rick Steves tour. Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Loved Peter our tour. It was great to visit so many countries in one trip. "Wie sagt man XYZ auf Deutsch?" Later we'll visit a local school, where we'll sit down and chat with a teacher and enjoy lunch together in the cafeteria. Sleep in Prague. I felt like this was the follow-up -- so much learning! The market square is great for a cultural experience, finding a souvenir or just people watching. "Beautiful" is an inadequate description.". Good food. "The day we spent in Rovinj was a definite experience not to be missed. The exquisite artwork and statuary in the churches and synagogues that we visited prompted similar "wow" expressions.". All the lights on the bridges and historic building was overwhelming!". Great tour, very enjoyable. The most recent immigrants from the region came from the 'Astro-Hungarian Empire' The history shared by our guides became a way of trying to piece this old, but obscure, part Europe to our understanding of the larger European story. The group melded well. Learning about the ancient history of that part of the world and the buildings, etc. The tour members were all great people with which to share the experiences. Is this thing worthwhile? While it's famous, name familiarity is a rotten reason to go somewhere. Nearby: Windsor and Stonehenge; Bath. It is one thing for a hotel to be run down, another thing for a hotel to be dirty. "When we crossed into Slovenia, I was in aww of how pretty it was. We'll take an orientation walk to the lively, historic market square and enjoy a traditional Polish dinner together. "My favorite time was spending the morning in Rovinj, which reminded me a lot of Venice (without the crowds) and spending the afternoon swimming in the Adriatic by Katarina Island (where our hotel was).". Our tour guide Sinel was very nice too! What a special moment that was, of everyone relaxed and happy and in complete trust and friendship with one another after less than 2 weeks together. It ultimately depends on your interests and your tastes — and what your experienced travel writer tells you. We crested a hill, and all of the sudden, there was a gorgeous lake.". This part of Europe was high on my list to visit and I knew it would be best visited with a plethora of local guides and logistics taken care of. First, we love that the tours are smaller than some. This is our 3rd tour w/ Rick Steves and, as usual, it was excellent! Our most ambitious tour, with stops in six countries, met our every expectation. The second half of the trip was the best. A must, "Wow moments- Night time boat ride on the Danube. Great experience. But, we also found joy. The overall tour experience rating of very good instead of outstanding is due to the weather. The quality and professionalism of the Eastern Europe tour was exceptional. Being free to explore on our own for a significant time added to this. Sleep in Budapest. "For some time now I wanted to see in the flesh Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady With An Ermine". "The evening boat ride on the Danube in Budapest was excellent.". The sunsets on the Danube river in Budapest, and on the harbor restaurant in Rovinj were gorgeous. I don't think we could have had a better introduction to Eastern Europe. "For myself I really enjoyed the Plitvice Lakes National park. Itinarary was good and the exellent tour guide Peter made a big difference to make the trip more special. Despite having read much about the war, myself, his was the best and most neutral explanation I have heard or read. How about touring a castle and leaving a church as an option? Number 2 would be the time spent with the middle school children. The pace of the trip was very good. Join Rick as he experiences the local culture, cuisine and fun in some of Europe's most interesting places. Rick Steves' The Story of Fascism in Europe; Travel Specials Vol. Peter is an absolutely perfect guide. This was my first Rick Steves tour and my wife and I enjoyed it very much. Music surprise at Prague dinner. Totally optional. Also the Plitvice National Park. Rick Steves is your perfect travel partner, guiding you through his favorite European cities, villages and off-the-beaten-path destinations in this popular series. Thanks so much for a wonderful, unforgettable trip. This allows folks to spread out on the bus. Last summer, on a ferry between Oban and the Isle of Mull in Scotland, I met a family from Texas. That said, I would drop the castle visit (this applies to all three of the cities) in favor of other interesting things. The tour performed at our highest expectations. Krakow is a real gem. But I'd say the average American visitor who's seen more than three trees in one place would prefer Germany's Romantic Road and Bavaria, or the Rhine and Mosel country — all high points that cut the Black Forest down to stumps. "Wow. We learned so much about an area of Europe we really knew very little about. ", Jana does an excellent job with all the logistics of moving around six different countries, each with its own language. Our tour guide and the mix of fellow travelers were definitely a highlight. It was extra special because of our guide, Eszter! The boat ride to the island, the hike up to the Castle, and the walk around the lake were all great experiences.". I remember the first time walking into Prague's Old Town. One of the reasons that we chose the Rick Steves Eastern European Tour was the widely dispersed geography and complicated travel logistics which were comfortably addressed with the bus transportation provided for this tour. I appreciated the way he adapted to the needs of the other guests and engaged all of us to make sure our expectations were being met. The countryside was beautiful!! I really felt a part of Eastern (Central) Europe then!". I am thinking big cities...now if you ask smaller towns or villages I would have tons...those are my favorite places. ), "Being this was our first Rick Steve's tour, I can't say that there was just one/favorite "wow" moment. This is out fifth tour and it was definitely up to the Rick Steves' standard of excellence. I have to say I was so pleased with the time we spent with the school children in Eger, What a great way to get a feel for people in another nation.". Very educational and enjoyable at the same time. "Rovinj and Lake Bled were beautiful. I loved every minute of it. It's hard to describe the beauty and solemnity of the Parliament House and Buda Castle when viewed from the river at night.". Hotel accommodations and locations were excellent. The difficult part was the exceptionally long bus days. There are so many places I'd love to go back to and further explore. I had never been to these countries and I'm so pleased we visited.Prague and Budapest were beautiful and fascinating, as was so much of the trip. Everything about it was above expectation. "I would have to say the night cruise on the Danube River in Budapest, and going to Lake Bled, Slovenia were my highlights. Getting sick ( along with several other travelers ) the last few days made the tour less enjoyable then it could have been. "I really can't pick a favorite "wow" moment because there were so many. Food, wine, accommodations, tours! and still enjoyed a fair amount of free time! Covering so much in that amount of time, I know that there was so much we couldn't see. In 15 days, we visited six countries, had so many different experiences, learned so much . "A special side trip which was not on the original itinerary. In Spain, "como se dice XYZ en espanol?" ", Our guide was outstanding - Jana is a wonder! The hotels were comfortable and the breakfasts very good. Loved every minute. I learned so much about Eastern and Central Europe in terms of the history, geography, and cultural aspects of the area. Thank you to Mitch and Katka. We also had a wonderful dinner in Krakow. I bonded with several other members. ", "Entering the central square of Krakow at night.". We had one of the most beautiful sunsets ever, and I don't say that lightly. Enjoyed the group a lot. Love Lake Bled. I enjoyed the "off the beaten" path stops, Kohlari Winery in Hungary and a visit with a beekeeper in Slovenia were wonderful. All the history was so interesting and Peter was so informative. She went above and beyond with her kindness. Liked the various strategies he used to help group relax. So much to see and it definitely wasn't what I was expecting from former Communist countries, in a great way. "Rovinj was a great discovery, which we would not have known about except by using your tour. The memories will stay with me.". So interesting to see so many small countries that have only recently been under communist and previous German and Soviet control. I also loved Rovinj, Katerina Island and of course Lake Bled!". "Taking the boat to our hotel in Rovinj and then going on the "dolphin excursion," quite magical at sunset.". ), "There were many but maybe, after days of moving around in cities and a bit of 'cathedral overload,' arriving in Rovinj on the Adriatic coast, specially lovely hotel and Italianate city across the water for a day's exploring.". We were both delighted with our guide, George. We had such a great time, even on the lengthy bus trips. Boat: 1 hour. Rick Steves France, the complete guide, offers more coverage of more destinations in a mostly black-and-white format, and is updated annually. Bus time was fun too, seeing the countryside was a treat. Jana, our guide, and each local guide shared not just their knowledge, but their life experiences. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Wander through the narrow streets, watch local fishermen bring in the day's catch, or head to the beach for sun and a swim. "So many! "Near the end of the tour, in Rovinj Croatia, all 28 of us got together for a happy hour and shared stories of each other and our "buddies" that we had learned over the past 12 days. I thought there was a bit too much "on your own" time toward the end of the trip. We cut our vacation short and flew home the day after the tour. Also Lake Bled was gorgeous. The entire trip exceeded our expectations. We joyously laughed, sang, drank and ate our way through Eastern Europe. Loved Krakow, especially the old town square with the markets. George was excellent guide and provided a lot of historical context that enhanced my tour. Amazing buildings. "My WOW moment occurred every day. I was particularly impressed with our guide Eszter. I guess it would have to be Krakow. Another great Rick Steves' tour. I enjoyed the tour, our guide Peter was very attentive and easy to travel with. This was our "day off" from the tour, staying at a lovely resort, and exploring the delightful city of Rovinj. I really enjoyed Prague and it's musical and cultural history. The quality of our guide, Sanel, was truly impressive. The old town squares of Prague and Krakow are breathtaking at night as is the Parliament building and castle of Budapest at sunset on the Danube. The small town feel of wandering in old Prague, the National Museum in Krakow, the overwhelming feeling of loss of Auschwitz, the camera obscura in Eger, the bustle and ease of movement in Budapest along with a philharmonic concert at the art deco Liszt museum, the hike in Plitvice Park, the Roman ruins in Pula, delightful small town Ljubliana, and exquisite Lake Bled. As an educator, I also appreciated the school visit in Eger.". I have always wanted to see Poland!". Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Wonderful and very educational. Tour members were generally fine with me asking to go somewhere with them but I always had to do the asking. "Mitch driving that huge bus around hairpin turns as we looked down into the valley of beautiful farmlands on our way to Bled. And the walk through Plitvice National Park with all the beautiful waterfalls.". We like the time the tour gives to explore on our own. This, my fifth Rick Steves tour, went on without a hitch. :-)". The countryside on the bus rides stunning. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Eastern Europe guidebook. The sun came out and was shining brightly, we were enjoying the beautiful weather and seaside activities while sipping refreshments. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the cities we visited while soaking in all of the history in each city. Our guide, Katka, was knowledgeable, helpful and fun to be with. We'll tour the impressive St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, and the Golden Lane. 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