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  #11  
Old 12-03-2019, 03:01 PM
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Having been to Eastern Europe recently, Prague and Budapest were two of my favorite places. Rich with culture and architecture and history. Vienna was my least favorite of the places we visited (other than Bratislava, which was just dreary), but that's a hot take.

On my trip through Western Europe several years ago, I enjoyed Rome more than anything else.

I don't think you'll regret any of your choices, though.
I took a trip from Prague to Budapest, by way of Bratislava and Vienna. That was a few years ago, now, so my experience might be out of date. But I pretty much agree with NerdAlert.

I didn't like Vienna, except for the excellent food.

Actually, that's not fair. There is a ton of history there, and the reconstructed castles and gardens were nice. They have some excellent art, too. But there was an overwhelming feeling of "no longer important" in a place that still thinks of itself as the center of Europe. I was probably influenced by my Jewish heritage. Austria has taken zero responsibility for its part in the holocaust. Germany is full of really top-notch museums exploring the history of Jews in Germany, how Germany descended into the holocaust, etc. They are proud of the groups that resisted Hitler. As a nation, they have come to terms with having started a brace of really destructive wars. Austria? I looked for the Vienna holocaust memorial and was actually sitting on it when I pulled out a map to figure out where it was, since I couldn't find it. It's a block of concrete at bench height with the names of extermination camps engraved into the side. That's it. And there is still one synagogue, which you can't visit without a letter from your home temple because of ongoing security concerns.

I enjoyed Prague enough that I went back. (Okay, it mattered that I had friends living there for a year, who showed me around.) Prague is also beautiful, and has a lot of pre-war stuff that survived, and lots of nearby castles and stuff that are fun to visit. The nearby area has a lot of natural beauty, too. There are fewer English-speakers there than in, say, Germany or Scandinavia, or Netherlands. I didn't run into any issues, but I was staying with friends, who knew stuff like the local customs on buses. The food is NOT great there, although of course there are exceptions. But I went from Munich, where all the produce looked GREAT and made me jealous, to Prague, where the produce all looked tired and spotted, and my host warned me away from buying meat at certain shops.

The Czechs are less outgoing than people in some other European cultures. I went to a large social event there, and ended up mostly chatting with visiting Germans, not because of the language, but because that is a more gregarious culture. The Czechs even teach their dogs to keep to themselves. There are dogs everywhere. Well behaved dogs who are interacting with their families. But they never came up to sniff me or otherwise check me out. My friends said they were surprised by a friendly dog in a public park in Prague, and then saw that it was with a family of German tourists. But the Czechs didn't seem hostile or anything, just reserved. Perhaps that's been a useful national trait.

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Scandanavia is really nice. Denmark is lots of fun with friendly people, and Slartibartfast won an award for the fjords of Norway.
Agree re Scandinavia for natural beauty and easy interactions with the locals -- everyone learns English in school, and nearly everyone under 40 or so remembers enough to be comfortable chatting with you. And I also loved the midnight sun when I visited Finland near the summer solstice.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:02 PM
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Oh, and you don't mention Switzerland. Lots of lovely hikes through gorgeous mountains. Some of the most scenic train rides I've ever been on. Easy to navigate in English.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:14 PM
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Berlin -> Prague -> Munich was one of my favorite swings through Europe 15ish years ago.
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  #14  
Old 12-03-2019, 03:55 PM
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Austria has taken zero responsibility for its part in the holocaust. Germany is full of really top-notch museums exploring the history of Jews in Germany, how Germany descended into the holocaust, etc. They are proud of the groups that resisted Hitler. As a nation, they have come to terms with having started a brace of really destructive wars. Austria? I looked for the Vienna holocaust memorial and was actually sitting on it when I pulled out a map to figure out where it was, since I couldn't find it. It's a block of concrete at bench height with the names of extermination camps engraved into the side. That's it. And there is still one synagogue, which you can't visit without a letter from your home temple because of ongoing security concerns.
I'm glad to see some of my interpretations re: Austria's take on the holocaust validated. Mr. NA and I were at some Museum, I don't remember which one, and there was a little room that explored modern-day Austria, and they really glossed over the holocaust. And what they did mention, they put entirely on Germany. I remember saying to Mr. NA a few times how revisionist and surreal it all felt.
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Old 12-03-2019, 04:21 PM
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I'm glad to see some of my interpretations re: Austria's take on the holocaust validated. Mr. NA and I were at some Museum, I don't remember which one, and there was a little room that explored modern-day Austria, and they really glossed over the holocaust. And what they did mention, they put entirely on Germany. I remember saying to Mr. NA a few times how revisionist and surreal it all felt.
Yeah, if you go to the excellent holocaust museum in Prague, for instance, they certainly have some positive spin on the Czech Republic as compared to the German invaders, but they are pretty blunt about having played a role. And they don't downplay the level of destruction. Oh, and the old synagogues on display are truly gorgeous. Of course, I have a taste for churches and cathedrals, too.
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Old 12-03-2019, 04:28 PM
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Berlin -> Prague -> Munich was one of my favorite swings through Europe 15ish years ago.
That could be a fabulous trip. Berlin is one of the most exciting cities I have ever visited. It may have the most varied architechture of any city I've ever visited, too. They have some medieval stuff, some pre-war stuff, some soviet brutal stuff, and a lot of really nice high end modern stuff. All cheek-by-jowl. All kinds of cultural attractions. Interesting ethnic neighborhoods. Really, anything you might like when you visit cities you can find in Berlin.

Munich is more olde fashioned Deutchland, but there's a ton there. They may have the single best science & technology museum I have ever seen. (And I've visited lots.) You'll find a whole room of "drills", say, from old hand tools though modern computer-controlled tools, with everything in between. Nice gardens. History. Art. Really excellent food, including stuff you can grab while on the go. Oh, and terrific beer.
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  #17  
Old 12-03-2019, 04:40 PM
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For a trip of only a week, I would never consider Australia or NZ. Even in Europe I'd limit the number of destinations I'd try to cover in a week to only a few max.

If you think you will primarily hit major cities, I'd strongly recommend not getting a car. Parking and driving in big cities is a major hassle, and train travel between them is easy and convenient. If you do want to visit some lesser traveled spots, having a car can be a great way to get off the beaten tourist path.

Pick a country or perhaps 2 that would be highest on your list and I'm sure you will get some interesting itinerary suggestions.
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  #18  
Old 12-03-2019, 04:44 PM
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I'm not super well traveled but have been to all the spots in western Europe and lived in the UK. I'd be interested in something like Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Bucharest.

Also Portugal seems cool.
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Old 12-03-2019, 04:51 PM
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For a trip of only a week, I would never consider Australia or NZ. Even in Europe I'd limit the number of destinations I'd try to cover in a week to only a few max.

If you think you will primarily hit major cities, I'd strongly recommend not getting a car. Parking and driving in big cities is a major hassle, and train travel between them is easy and convenient. If you do want to visit some lesser traveled spots, having a car can be a great way to get off the beaten tourist path.

Pick a country or perhaps 2 that would be highest on your list and I'm sure you will get some interesting itinerary suggestions.
Oh Yeah this. If you have a week that is 5 days on site maybe less if you add in a recovery day from jetlag. No chance at AUS/NZ.
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  #20  
Old 12-03-2019, 04:55 PM
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I hear Nice is nice this time of year
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