To say our Grand Tour has been a success is quite the understatement! We’ve had an incredible time touring and exploring Eastern Europe, more particularly because Zach created the itinerary and planned the entire trip which made it so much more memorable.
As I mentioned every night we’d talk over dinner about our experiences and now that we’re sitting on the high speed train from Munich to Berlin I thought I would quiz him as to his “Best of” list in the hope that many of you might check some of these out on your next European adventure.
So without further ado here goes… Zach’s list of the “Best of” from our Eastern European adventure:
- Best city overall – Berlin
- Friendliest city – Berlin
- Best walking city – Munich
- Best accommodations – Best Western Kaiserhof (Frankenberggasse 10, 04. Wieden, 1040 Vienna, Austria)
- Best breakfast – Best Western Kaiserhof (Frankenberggasse 10, 04. Wieden, 1040 Vienna, Austria)
- Best restaurant – Krčma (Kostečná 4, 110 00 Staré Město, Prague, Czech Republic)
- Best beer – Stiegl (Austrian), with a close second Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
- Best veal schnitzel – Krčma (Kostečná 4, 110 00 Staré Město, Czech Republic)
- Best bookshop – Saint Georges Bookshop (Wörther Straße 27,Prenzlauer Berg,10405 Berlin, Germany)
- Best museum – Topography of Terror (Niederkirchnerstraße 8,10963 Berlin)
- Most underrated museum – Hungarian National Gallery (Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014, Hungary)
- Best castle – Prague Castle (119 08 Prague 1, Czech Republic)
- Best view – Prague Castle (119 08 Prague 1, Czech Republic), Matthias Church (Szentháromság tér 2, Budapest, Hungary)
- Best bridge – Charles Bridge, (Karlův most, Praha 1 – Staré Město / Malá Strana, Prague, Czech Republic)
- Best church – St Vitas Cathedral (Inside Prague Castle – 119 08 Prague 1, Czech Republic)
- Best train station – Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Europaplatz 1,10557, Berlin, Germany)
- Best train journey – Munich to Berlin (honourable mention – Czech Rail – Prague to Vienna)
As you can see it’s an eclectic list of items that we’ve identified from our 16 days on the road, definitely some great recommendations in terms of accommodations and restaurants.
Zach loves European soccer and one of the many memorable experiences was his ability to seek out and find stores that sold soccer jerseys in every city that we visited, although slightly more difficult to find in some cities, but none the less he was like a bulldog when it came to successfully seeking them out. For example, in Prague we hiked across the river, up a steep mountain and through a park to the Sparta Prague field so we could check out the fan store and although the neighbourhood was a little rundown we found the store which had a ton of great items on hand.
In Vienna, we literally hiked across the city (yes, we made our 10,000 steps well before we found the stadium and subsequent store) from which Zach acquired a Rapid Vienna scarf and pins for his collection. The going was much more difficult in Bratislava to find a local jersey, not that he had much interest in the Slovakian league as its rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of European soccer, so even after finding it he didn’t end up adding to his collection.
During our visit to Budapest it was it was sort of similar to Slovakia, with teams spread over the length and breadth of the city he didn’t have the interest in tracking them down, which to be honest I was a little surprised with.
Nope, he saved it all up for Munich where his favourite club resides…Bayern Munich!
Not surprisingly, they have three Bayern Munich fan stores in the downtown core alone, but what was even better in Zach’s eyes was the fabulous sports store that we discovered which had jerseys from each of the German Bundesliga clubs. Yep, he was in heaven…okay I have to admit I also enjoyed tagging along and seeing all of the cool jerseys and paraphernalia that each team had.
Overall, he made quite the haul during our Grand Tour and added significantly to his collection, which he will be displaying proudly in his dorm room at McGill when he leaves for University next weekend.
As you know Sami and I will be doing this all again in two years’ time, although at this point she doesn’t have a firm idea of where she wants to spend her high school grad present exploring in terms of country or part of the world but I’m sure it’ll be just as memorable and even though perhaps not the Grand Tour in the traditional sense, but an incredible adventure no less.
It’s going to be difficult adjusting to not walking ten miles per day with my camera, and then meeting Zach in the afternoons to catch up on our adventures over some local fare and refreshing beers.
Our Grand Tour was such a memorable experience for both of us, and much like getting our matching tattoos on his 18th birthday will be something that we’ll both cherish for the rest of our lives.
We’re both hope that these tips will be useful for you on your next European adventure – until then…