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Everything Viking "Passage to Eastern Europe" - Budapest to Bucharest


Peregrina651
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Your experience fits in with ours....our TM told us that sometimes they do and sometimes they don't require passport face checks and it has nothing to do with the cruise line or who they think might be on board...it's random and you got very lucky, while we got pretty lucky....9 a.m. is much better than 3 a.m.!!

 

I believe the passport check is because the ship traveled to non European Union countries before entering Hungary. This is not the case when traveling south on the Danube

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I believe the passport check is because the ship traveled to non European Union countries before entering Hungary. This is not the case when traveling south on the Danube

 

Don't think that's it because our trip started in Amsterdam, we boarded in Budapest and went south on the Danube to Constanta. From what I gathered from our TM, there was no rhyme or reason to the face checks and, as I said, we had face check when we were leaving Hungary, not arriving.

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Don't think that's it because our trip started in Amsterdam, we boarded in Budapest and went south on the Danube to Constanta. From what I gathered from our TM, there was no rhyme or reason to the face checks and, as I said, we had face check when we were leaving Hungary, not arriving.

 

I believe the face to face is only when leaving the European Union (Going North or South)

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Because the topic came up in another thread, I was thinking that end of December would be a good time to take a minute to check our passports to make sure that they aren't near to expiring and that there are enough blank pages. I've heard varying numbers on how many blank pages the immigration officials like to see in a passport--and the smallest number I've heard is 4.

Viking sez: Your passport’s expiration date must be at least six months after your return from your trip; if it is not, you must renew your passport. You will need a valid, up-to-date passport for each person in your party in order to accomplish the next two steps [on the Viking pre-trip check list].

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
I believe the face to face is only when leaving the European Union (Going North or South)

 

MAP-LRG_PassageEastEuro_2014_956x690_tcm21-9935.jpg

 

 

 

Serbia is the only country along the Danube that is not a member of the EU nor is not part of the Schengen Agreement, so it looks like there will be passport checks at the Hungarian/Serbian border.

 

The Schengen agreement allows travels to move across borders freely. Once you show your passport upon entering the Schengen area, you don't have to show it again until you cross the border into a non-Schengen country. EU members Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are working on becoming part of the Schengen area but have not yet met the criteria. A country does not have to be part of the EU to be part of the Schengen Agreement.

 

If you are sailing upstream from Budapest towards Austria and Germany, then you are still in the Schengen area.

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Andrea & Herb,

 

We did our own pre & post tours on our Viking Grand European Tour this past summer. We flew directly from the US to Prague and stayed at The Golden Prague Residence which had a one bedroom apartment run by Intercontinental Hotel which was next door. It was a good location for us to the city sites. We had a private tour guide for the 8 of us for 3 days using eva.trkalova@gmail.com that we got thru Trip Advisor and worked out great for us. We got to see quite a bit of Prague by walking with our guide as well as a day van tour outside the city.

 

We took a train from Prague to Budapest and stayed at the Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge which was within walking distance to the Viking cruise ship. We did a Viator tour on our own called the Danube Bend Day Trip that we enjoyed. After our 15 day Viking cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam we did our own post cruise trip by train to Brussels, Belgium. We used Viator for day trips to Antwerp, Ghent, Brudges, Luxembourg and Bastogne. Those cities are worth a visit.

 

We used our Capital One Visa card throughout our month journey without a problem and we had one person use his bank card to exchange for Euros at an ATM. We exchanged cash twice for the local currency and asked our guide for the best exchange places. Viator did not have listening devices like Viking had to our dismay. We are not big on souvenirs other than a Christmas ornament from various cities we have visited.

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Hey, Mr. TC--

 

Thanks for your reply. Lots of good information.

 

Timing was an issue for us on this trip and we opted to let Viking do as much as possible, especially in the planning stage. I'm not worried about the language barrier--any foreign language I try to speak comes out Spanish no matter how hard I try.

 

Do you remember where you ate in Prague? I like to hear about people's dining experiences, especially when they've had a good meal in a neighborhood restaurant. I like to hear about the places that aren't on the TA top 10 list. Any dishes you particularly liked?

 

The other question I like to ask is: when planning your time with your guide in Prague, is there anything you did that you would have done differently. A stop that you squeezed in that in hindsight was too much or not worth the squeeze? A stop that you really should have added or planned more time for? Any place that didn't, in your opinion, live up to the hype or just didn't "talk to you"? I like to ask the hard questions; I think that sometimes I learn more from listening to what people would have done differently.

 

I'm sure I'll have more questions as the trip gets closer --and once I start focusing on the trip and how we actually plan to spend our free time.

 

Thanks.

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Hey, Mr. TC--

 

Thanks for your reply. Lots of good information.

 

Timing was an issue for us on this trip and we opted to let Viking do as much as possible, especially in the planning stage. I'm not worried about the language barrier--any foreign language I try to speak comes out Spanish no matter how hard I try.

 

Do you remember where you ate in Prague? I like to hear about people's dining experiences, especially when they've had a good meal in a neighborhood restaurant. I like to hear about the places that aren't on the TA top 10 list. Any dishes you particularly liked?

 

The other question I like to ask is: when planning your time with your guide in Prague, is there anything you did that you would have done differently. A stop that you squeezed in that in hindsight was too much or not worth the squeeze? A stop that you really should have added or planned more time for? Any place that didn't, in your opinion, live up to the hype or just didn't "talk to you"? I like to ask the hard questions; I think that sometimes I learn more from listening to what people would have done differently.

 

I'm sure I'll have more questions as the trip gets closer --and once I start focusing on the trip and how we actually plan to spend our free time.

 

Thanks.

 

All good questions and I only have one thing to offer. I don't know what your age group is and I'm guessing you're in pretty good physical shape, but be sure to leave some time to rest....to sit in a square eating an ice-cream or if you see a vender one of those cinnamon thingees on a stick and just watch the people and absorb the atmosphere. Free time has a way of just galloping by.

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  • 2 weeks later...
All good questions and I only have one thing to offer. I don't know what your age group is and I'm guessing you're in pretty good physical shape, but be sure to leave some time to rest....to sit in a square eating an ice-cream or if you see a vender one of those cinnamon thingees on a stick and just watch the people and absorb the atmosphere. Free time has a way of just galloping by.

 

Kitty, just spent a week in Lisbon and I thought of your post multiple times as we wandered around the city, sometimes quite aimlessly. Delicious! I want to be on the slow bus! We have found that planning 2 maybe 3 stops in a day is just the right pace for us--and leaves plenty of time for park benches and ice cream.

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Kitty, just spent a week in Lisbon and I thought of your post multiple times as we wandered around the city, sometimes quite aimlessly. Delicious! I want to be on the slow bus! We have found that planning 2 maybe 3 stops in a day is just the right pace for us--and leaves plenty of time for park benches and ice cream.

 

Glad to hear it..sometimes we get so involved with seeing everything that we don't get to experience anything.. one must always make time for park benches and ice cream!!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Andrea & Herb,

 

 

We used our Capital One Visa card throughout our month journey without a problem and we had one person use his bank card to exchange for Euros at an ATM. We exchanged cash twice for the local currency and asked our guide for the best exchange places. Viator did not have listening devices like Viking had to our dismay. We are not big on souvenirs other than a Christmas ornament from various cities we have visited.

 

We are just back from a trip to Lisbon --which I know is not the same as traveling in Eastern Europe--and I wanted to report on our credit cards and ATM.

 

We used a Capital One credit card (slide and sign) and an ATM only no chip debit card issued by our local credit union for the entire trip. I was kind of following the exchange rates as we went along, as they tumbled over the week from 1.18 to 1.12 but didn't really write them down so that I could compare the day by day drop to what I was actually charged on transactions. (I always think in terms of how many dollars I have to pay for a euro rather than in how many euros I get for my dollar.)

 

Our slide and sign credit card was accepted every place we went except for one museum--even the local mom-and-pop restaurants that we ate in. We made three withdrawals for cash and had one problem where it didn't like our card (but it was being fussy because we had already used that same machine). This was a test run for our new ATM card and it passed with flying colors.

 

CapOne converted our transactions at close to the daily rates we were seeing, maybe a penny or two more (so that maybe I paid 10 or 20 cents more for a $50 meal--that's not even close to a 2% transaction fee). There were no transaction fees on our ATM card -- not from the foreign bank and not from our bank. I've stopped obsessing about ATM fees when I travel. At home, I never use an ATM card for cash because of the fees; it's just as easy to cash a check at the drive-thru. When I travel, it's different and I just accept any fees as part of the cost of travel--like travel insurance and custom air fees.

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Been reading along since the beginning. Great thread!

 

Thanks Peregrina651 for coming back and posting valuable info for us who are yet to depart. We have a French river cruise with GC coming in May and our much anticipated Eastern Europe trip with Viking in August with a 4 day private tour in Transylvania. I must read your links on China...I think that might be 2016 :)

 

Thanks to everyone for all their great, informative posts!! And great questions, too. Love CC......

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We are just back from a trip to Lisbon --which I know is not the same as traveling in Eastern Europe--and I wanted to report on our credit cards and ATM.

 

We used a Capital One credit card (slide and sign) and an ATM only no chip debit card issued by our local credit union for the entire trip. I was kind of following the exchange rates as we went along, as they tumbled over the week from 1.18 to 1.12 but didn't really write them down so that I could compare the day by day drop to what I was actually charged on transactions. (I always think in terms of how many dollars I have to pay for a euro rather than in how many euros I get for my dollar.)

 

Our slide and sign credit card was accepted every place we went except for one museum--even the local mom-and-pop restaurants that we ate in. We made three withdrawals for cash and had one problem where it didn't like our card (but it was being fussy because we had already used that same machine). This was a test run for our new ATM card and it passed with flying colors.

 

CapOne converted our transactions at close to the daily rates we were seeing, maybe a penny or two more (so that maybe I paid 10 or 20 cents more for a $50 meal--that's not even close to a 2% transaction fee). There were no transaction fees on our ATM card -- not from the foreign bank and not from our bank. I've stopped obsessing about ATM fees when I travel. At home, I never use an ATM card for cash because of the fees; it's just as easy to cash a check at the drive-thru. When I travel, it's different and I just accept any fees as part of the cost of travel--like travel insurance and custom air fees.

 

Sounds like you had a great time....my experience with CapOne has been pretty much the same as yours, and with the ATM's as well.....and tend not to use them unless we're traveling.

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Been reading along since the beginning. Great thread!

 

Thanks Peregrina651 for coming back and posting valuable info for us who are yet to depart. We have a French river cruise with GC coming in May and our much anticipated Eastern Europe trip with Viking in August with a 4 day private tour in Transylvania. I must read your links on China...I think that might be 2016 :)

 

Thanks to everyone for all their great, informative posts!! And great questions, too. Love CC......

 

Firefall, welcome to the conversation. We need lots of voices here. Hurry up and book your China trip. It is a very popular itinerary. Also, it looks like VRC is not offering the Cultural Delights itinerary, the one we took in 2016.:( They have filled their calendar with the shorter itinerary which is the more popular one.

 

Portugal was my credit card/new ATM card test run for our trip in April. I was testing two things. First, working with a swipe and sign card in a pin and chip world and, second, how CapOne and my bank handled the conversions on my transactions.

 

I'm hoping I will find using my swipe and sign credit cards in Eastern Europe similar to my experiences in Portugal, but there is no guarantee. Each country is different. Pin and chip is becoming much more common in Europe and acceptance of the old technology is changing. Please, be care about accepting my small--very small-- experience as indicative of what it is like anywhere else in the world. As the saying goes, your mileage may differ.

 

Kitty, thanks. It was delightful. It was just the two of us and we did things at our own speed. It was our version of a week on the beach to unwind. Our April "Passages" trip will be a very different kind of trip; I won't be the pacesetter and I'll have to keep up with the pack!

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Do you remember where you ate in Prague? I like to hear about people's dining experiences, especially when they've had a good meal in a neighborhood restaurant. I like to hear about the places that aren't on the TA top 10 list. Any dishes you particularly liked?

 

We enjoyed the Kolkovna when we were there a few years ago. There are apparently a couple of them - we went to the one a block or two away from the central square.

 

We are doing "A Taste of Prague" when we go in May - so can report back on some different restaurants when we come back.

 

The other question I like to ask is: when planning your time with your guide in Prague, is there anything you did that you would have done differently. A stop that you squeezed in that in hindsight was too much or not worth the squeeze? A stop that you really should have added or planned more time for? Any place that didn't, in your opinion, live up to the hype or just didn't "talk to you"? I like to ask the hard questions; I think that sometimes I learn more from listening to what people would have done differently.

 

We are still planning our time in Prague. We have been there before - and did the Hradcany Castle area - so doubt we will tag along on the included tour again. Still researching some options. Did the Museum of Communism the last time we were there - so am looking for some other options.

 

Fran

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We enjoyed the Kolkovna when we were there a few years ago. There are apparently a couple of them - we went to the one a block or two away from the central square.

 

We are doing "A Taste of Prague" when we go in May - so can report back on some different restaurants when we come back.

 

 

 

We are still planning our time in Prague. We have been there before - and did the Hradcany Castle area - so doubt we will tag along on the included tour again. Still researching some options. Did the Museum of Communism the last time we were there - so am looking for some other options.

 

Fran

 

Fran....Would you recommend this cruise for one person? I would love to do a River Cruise with Prague as a destination.

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Fran....Would you recommend this cruise for one person? I would love to do a River Cruise with Prague as a destination.

 

Diana, we have done two river cruises now and both times, China and Ukraine, there were passengers traveling alone. Because of the nature of river cruises--smaller, more intimate, fewer tables for two--it is easy to meet people and get involved. I don't think it matters which itinerary you choose, so choose one that excites you.

 

Keep in mind that on this particular itinerary, Prague is a pre- or post cruise add-on. Prague is not a city on the Danube and therefore, it is a day's ride by bus to/from Budapest.

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Diana, we have done two river cruises now and both times, China and Ukraine, there were passengers traveling alone. Because of the nature of river cruises--smaller, more intimate, fewer tables for two--it is easy to meet people and get involved. I don't think it matters which itinerary you choose, so choose one that excites you.

 

Keep in mind that on this particular itinerary, Prague is a pre- or post cruise add-on. Prague is not a city on the Danube and therefore, it is a day's ride by bus to/from Budapest.

 

Diana: If you're interested in a river cruise that includes Prague you might check out one that Vantage has: "Cruising the Elbe River: Berlin, Dresden & Prague". It spends first 2 nights in Prague and then you bus to Melnik to board the cruise for 7 days, which ends in Potsdam and you bus to Berlin for 2 nights. Neither bus ride looks to be more than a couple of hours long and the buses have bathrooms and comfortable seats. We're actually planning on doing this cruise next year. As for traveling alone, you will not be left alone for long on a river cruise unless you spend entire trip in your cabin!!:D

Edited by Hydrokitty
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Diana: If you're interested in a river cruise that includes Prague you might check out one that Vantage has: "Cruising the Elbe River: Berlin, Dresden & Prague". It spends first 2 nights in Prague and then you bus to Melnik to board the cruise for 7 days, which ends in Potsdam and you bus to Berlin for 2 nights. Neither bus ride looks to be more than a couple of hours long and the buses have bathrooms and comfortable seats. We're actually planning on doing this cruise next year. As for traveling alone, you will not be left alone for long on a river cruise unless you spend entire trip in your cabin!!:D

 

Wow! That looks exciting! Thanks for the information.....I am going to look that up now. Actually my friend may join me.

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Diana: If you're interested in a river cruise that includes Prague you might check out one that Vantage has: "Cruising the Elbe River: Berlin, Dresden & Prague". It spends first 2 nights in Prague and then you bus to Melnik to board the cruise for 7 days, which ends in Potsdam and you bus to Berlin for 2 nights. Neither bus ride looks to be more than a couple of hours long and the buses have bathrooms and comfortable seats. We're actually planning on doing this cruise next year. As for traveling alone, you will not be left alone for long on a river cruise unless you spend entire trip in your cabin!!:D

 

And Viking also does an Elbe cruise with Berlin and Prague. I wouldn't be surprised if other companies like Uniworld or AMA did one also.

 

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Hi

Any tips for Transylvania?

 

Hi,

We did a 4 day, 3 night independent tour of Transylvania after our river cruise 2 years ago, and loved it! It's a fascinating area to visit. Our favorite places were Sibiu, Sighasoara, and Brasov. Don't miss the Pele Castle-it's beautiful.

We wished we could have spent more time in the area--it's really worth a week, at the very least.

Here's a good website: http://romaniatourism.com/transylvania.html

 

Enjoy!!

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Hi,

We did a 4 day, 3 night independent tour of Transylvania after our river cruise 2 years ago, and loved it! It's a fascinating area to visit. Our favorite places were Sibiu, Sighasoara, and Brasov. Don't miss the Pele Castle-it's beautiful.

We wished we could have spent more time in the area--it's really worth a week, at the very least.

Here's a good website: http://romaniatourism.com/transylvania.html

 

Enjoy!!

 

did you use a travel company/private guide for your independent tour of Transylvania. I would love to know your contact, if you could share it with me...

 

cg velocci at gmail dot com

 

thanks!

Carol

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And Viking also does an Elbe cruise with Berlin and Prague. I wouldn't be surprised if other companies like Uniworld or AMA did one also.

 

 

our recent Viking Elbe cruise was absolutely outstanding.... very interesting ports, fascinating history, --- as far as attention to detail and service, it was our best Viking cruise yet (our 3rd Viking cruise), and we thought nothing would ever top our Viking Grand European -Amsterdam to Budapest- cruise a few years ago!:)

 

Do try to spend extended time in both Prague and Berlin - we did our own independent extensions, we found hotels with breakfast included, very reasonable in both cities, as well as restaurants.

 

Carol

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