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Author: pammy

Joined: 4/13/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2002

January 21, 2013

 We are asking anyone who has taken the Best of Eastern Europe Land Tour to tell us exactly what sites you saw on the tour in Berlin. We are going early and will have  almost 2 days to see must see sights before the tour but we do not want to overlap what the tour takes us to. We are staying at the tour Ramada Hotel just because we do not want to move again. We would appreciate any tips on must see sights in Berlin as well as in the other cities that we have free time. Do you recommend we take all the optional tours? If anyone went early how do you suggest we get from the airport to the hotel? Any tips on food or souveniers?

Feel free to e-mail us at mpzent@nwi.net

Thanks

Author: lyn

Joined: 3/14/2010
Posts: 36
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2004

January 22, 2013

Pammy, We have not been on the Eastern Europe Land tour, but we did visit several areas that you will be visiting on our Elbe River trip.  You will want to see the Wieliczka Salt Mines that is offered as one of your optionals.  Truly an amazing sight!! The trip down to the mines is not bad at all and you will be fully escorted by a tour guide.  Everything is made from salt including statues, chandeliers, the floor, celing, steps, chapels and all sorts of carvings.  It was the highlight of our trip.  Warsaw and Krakow are very nice cities, especially the old city centers.  You will want to see the Shrine of the Black Madonna.  The trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau was very informative and sad, but we were so glad to have seen it.  If you get a chance you might want to see Schindler's Museum in Krakow.  We have also enjoyed Prague and Budapest.  I cannot give you details on Berlin as we were only there a short time.  Enjoy your trip and be prepared for the WOW factor.

Author: judy.marsh08

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 2
Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2012

January 22, 2013

We took the trip last May and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We did not sign up for the pre-trip in Berlin since they offer the sites we wanted to see on the city tour, i.e. the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Potsdam, etc.  We didn't just drive by in the bus; we got out and toured.  I think the city tour covers most items on your list. 

In re to the optional tours, we took all of them except the piano recital.  They were all great!  And I think the price is very good for all that you get.  Special memories for me are the Zappopane trip, the salt mines, and the special goulash cooking class that our guide added in Budapest.  But they were all great.  I heard the recital was okay, but nothing to get excited about. 

Don't fret about the food.  GCT includes so many meals on this trip you will probably have trouble eating everything!  We particularly liked that the dishes we were served were culturally specific to the country we were in and all very good.  The optional tours always include meals that are very good also.  Prices are so reasonable in that area (except Austria) that paying for additional meals is not a problem.  Enjoy your trip!

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 22, 2013

I took that trip in September of 2001.  In fact, right after 9/11 so things were somewhat confused. 

But of all the optional tours, the only one that was disappointing was the Chopin recital.  I don't know whether it was because we expected more from a concert in the country that Chopin came from or because the acoustics were very poor in the recital hall, but that was the case.

The meals on our own were very satisfying.  My friend and I were great soup lovers, and I still am.  And there was nothing more satisfying than a lunch of that wonderful thick soup and the coarse local bread.

Of course, you won't have to cope with border crossings as we did.  At that point, they all wanted to join the EU.  And they all welcomed us for coming right after 9/11.

There was no Berlin extension on that trip, so I can't comment on that.

 

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

January 22, 2013

This was my first trip with GCT and I think they have made several changes to the trip since the fall of 1999. Berlin was not part of the trip then. Also, keep in mind that activity schedules can change from year to year so you may want to ask about Berlin again after some people have come back in 2013. As for food, I agree with Pauline on the hearty soups. I especially remember the meal that was included with the optional salt mine excursion. That was the first time I had been served in bread bowl. I remember ordering it again at a lunch on my own in Prague. However, soup might not be as appealing on hot August day as it was on a cool October day. The other thing I remember about the food is that we were never served pork as part of our included meals even though it's common there. When I asked our PD why, he said that Americans don't like pork. Well, I grew up on a farm eating pork from the hogs I had had fed and watered. I think what he really meant is that some Americans don't include pork in theri diet.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 22, 2013

I do remember the salt mine optional.  One of our group didn't take it, because the description frightened her off.  I think she was afraid of falling on the steps.  But there weren't that many, and they were completely dry.  The soup in the bread bowl was delicious, and then we had piroshkis that were the best I've ever had. 

I don't remember not having pork.  In fact, we did go to lunch on our own in Prague one day and made that our main meal.  It was a Sunday at a somewhat luxurious restaurant, and we did have roast pork.  But the main thing about the restaurant, and the reason friends told us not to miss it, were the restrooms.  Talk about baroque!  They had to be seen to be believed.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 241
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

January 22, 2013

Pammy,

There is so much to see in Berlin that GCTdoes not take you to.  I'm going to list a lot of places that you can see.  Also, I googled Berlin Tours, go to Berlin-Tours.net.  You don't  have to take a tour, just look at the site and open the tour packages to see what there is to see in Berlin.

My husband and I were in Berlin in 1962, 4 months after the Wall went up the first time.  We were young miitary family from Heidelberg, so did not  have a car.  We walked and walked, but saw a lot. We went back in 1975 for a square dance festival, and by that year, the military were able to tour part of East Germany and East Berlin.  There is now a hop on and off bus tour you can take.

Where Einstein lived,   where JFK delivered his famous speech;   Charlottenburg, Schoneberg and Tiergarten castles.  The Victory  Column-see Wikipedia for all kinds of interesting information on this famous column.  Where it is located, it was on a long boulevard with trees on both sides, and we walked so very far to see it--have to see it from afar first, then walk up to it and even go inside climb steps. 

See the Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche (church) -the steeple was blown off during WWII, sat crumbled beside the church which was saved and they vowed it would be placed on top of the church when East Berlin (and Germany) was reunited with West Germany.  Later, I understand they decided not to put the steeple back on.  It is a memorial to the devastation to WWII.  You can go inside there is a chapel.

The memorial to the Berlin Airlift at Templehof is noteworthy - if I find more on it I will post another reply.  This is all in what was West Berlin.  See http://www.german-way.com/airlift.html and read about the airlift in 1948--Allies flew in food, gasoline and humanitarian supplies to West Berlin because it was blockaded by Stalin after WWII.  Interesting article, it is the first one on that site. 

Author: pammy

Joined: 4/13/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2002

January 24, 2013

 Thanks you to all who have replied. I have taken notes and really appreciate your suggestions.

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