Countries covered: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia & Poland
Once having partnered with Austria to form one of Europe’s most powerful empires, later loosely a part of the “East” and now gradually transitioning itself while serving as a fully fledged member of the grander European Union, Hungary is home of culturally proud people who are ultimately unique to the region. Outside of the capital, provincial lifestyle characterizes the scene. Unrefined and vibrant Budapest is quite different, a place where the East, West, and Balkans all meet and make their presence felt.
Given its wealth of castles, chateaux, and medieval towns, and otherwise considering the allure of Prague, the Czech Republic is quite fortunate in having avoided most of the physical damage that centuries-long warring left behind in Central Europe. With most Czechs fully aware of their fortunes, the nation seems keen on preserving cultural and architectural heritage while adjusting to the times and its surroundings. Quite popular with Europeans and international travelers alike, for all the Czech Republic has to offer it is surprising just how relatively affordable it still is.
Poland truly is one of Europe’s most rewarding-to-visit destinations. Featuring architecturally stunning and nightlife-filled urban centers and home of a charming countryside dotted with wooden residences and churches, graced with mountains, hills, woodlands, lakes and rivers, and otherwise offering outdoor activities such as kayaking and canoeing, Poland’s attractions are undoubtedly quite diverse.
Continuing to lure the sightseeing type are Krakow, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Torun, Poznan, and Lublin, all of which have either been restored well enough or are in the process of being so. Devoutly Catholic yet also containing a rich Jewish heritage, Poland also draws in crowds intrigued by the country’s religious background. This Central European state also appeals to history buffs who wish to explore the many World War II-related monuments and museums. Not least are the Baltic Sea resorts, which are especially popular with families and the youth. Visit a country that is just as culturally rich and fascinating as anywhere in Western Europe but nowhere near as expensive.
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The best part about your travel books are the up-close-and-personal stories about your experiences in each country. Using what you said in your Central Europe itinerary, I was able to mimic my trip to be somewhat like yours: amazing! I even made friends with locals because of your advice on how the population behaves. Your research is what lead me to have one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t thank you enough, Charlie.
My biggest regret in life, at least for a few years, was the fact that I had never been to my family’s homeland to see the historical monuments and religious shrines of my ancestors. My husband and I tried planning a trip several times, but we would become overwhelmed by the sheer number of sites to behold. Until we bought your itinerary, we had no idea where to begin. You helped guide us from one side of the country to the other, and we felt like we really got to see the side of Central Europe we came to witness. Because of your hard work and research, my family and I were able to discover things about our ancestors we never knew.