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    Post #1 - August 17th, 2006, 11:25 am
    Post #1 - August 17th, 2006, 11:25 am Post #1 - August 17th, 2006, 11:25 am
    In a few weeks, Ms. Rev and I are taking a Bohemian tour of Europe for 3+ weeks. Flying into Prague, renting a car and driving around Czech Republic, Vienna, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. I would welcome any food, restaurant, or sightseeing suggestions.
  • Post #2 - August 17th, 2006, 12:14 pm
    Post #2 - August 17th, 2006, 12:14 pm Post #2 - August 17th, 2006, 12:14 pm
    In Vienna, Offenlach (sp?) is a very traditional place, several hundred years old. It's about a 10-minute walk west from St. Stephen's cathedral. Also, go get a slice of Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher's cafe for dessert.

    In Prague, we had a very good meal at V Satui (again sp?). The atmosphere is a little odd, but the food was fantastic.

    Google should help you find both places.
  • Post #3 - August 17th, 2006, 12:54 pm
    Post #3 - August 17th, 2006, 12:54 pm Post #3 - August 17th, 2006, 12:54 pm
    threadkiller wrote:In Prague, we had a very good meal at V Satui (again sp?). The atmosphere is a little odd, but the food was fantastic.


    V Satui is a winery in Napa. I don't believe that's anywhere near Prague. The place you're thinking about is V. Zatisi. Maybe his brother moved to California, Americanized his name, and planted some grapes. It's recommended in my Fodor's guidebook.

    In Vienna I believe the restaurant is Ofenloch. Sounds good. Thanks, I'll check these out.
  • Post #4 - August 18th, 2006, 12:52 pm
    Post #4 - August 18th, 2006, 12:52 pm Post #4 - August 18th, 2006, 12:52 pm
    Where in Romania? I can help with several cities. I can also dig up some Prague and Budapest recs if I can remember where I wrote it all down. You'll have a wonderful time; I envy you the trip.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #5 - August 18th, 2006, 7:04 pm
    Post #5 - August 18th, 2006, 7:04 pm Post #5 - August 18th, 2006, 7:04 pm
    Last year, I traveled to Prague, Krakow, Bratislava and Cesky Krumlov (in the Czech Republic).

    In Prague, I highly recommend David for a special occasion. It's a throwback to the old days, more formal in an intimate setting, with one server doing the whole room, tableside service for chateaubriand and flambeed desserts. Wine selection with a more decent selection of Czech wines, if you wanted to go there.

    For sightseeing and even more restaurant recommendations, I highly suggest, if you have not done so already, visiting the message boards on Fodor's. Do a search for your destinations and look especially for threads posted "trip reports." While some are too perky and/or nosebleeds, embedded in their sunshiney-ness are generally good travel tips as well as some of the pitfalls they've encountered (such as museum closures, etc.)

    I am not on my computer right now, but when I get back to it, I will pull up some of the threads I've saved - they might have some nuggets of information for you.

    As for me, I loved every single place I toured, but do try to visit Cesky Krumlov. It's about 2 hours outside Prague by car, and is the most picturesque castle town, nestled in the bend of a river, that you can imagine. It is also the heart of the Sudetenland and was the unfortunate recipient of Hitler's hospitality when he marched in and was photographed famously in their town square with a big Nazi flag hanging from the town hall.
  • Post #6 - August 20th, 2006, 7:16 pm
    Post #6 - August 20th, 2006, 7:16 pm Post #6 - August 20th, 2006, 7:16 pm
    Aschie, David looks very good. Thanks for the help. Cesky Krumlov was definitely on my list.

    Gypsy Boy, I'm planning on driving a circle route for a few days from Bucharest as far north as Sighisoara, over to Sibiu, and back to Bucharest. Maybe 3 days. Do I need to spend any time in Bucharest? what's your opinion of my itinerary? If I have the time, and feel like spending the money, I'd love to hit the Delta Nature resort. It was recently written up in Food & Wine, and the Tribune. http://www.deltaresort.com/delta_resort_intro.html
  • Post #7 - August 21st, 2006, 8:39 am
    Post #7 - August 21st, 2006, 8:39 am Post #7 - August 21st, 2006, 8:39 am
    RA,

    A place that is worth visiting for a beer and a schnitzel in Vienna is the Griechenbeisl in the old centre of town. Its a very old inn and worth seeing in and of itself. Amata and I were in Vienna about 10 years and had a meal there, enjoyed it very much; this info is, therefore, ten years old, but the whole point of places like this is that they don't change too much.

    http://www.griechenbeisl.at/page.asp/index.htm

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #8 - August 21st, 2006, 11:23 am
    Post #8 - August 21st, 2006, 11:23 am Post #8 - August 21st, 2006, 11:23 am
    Thanks Antonius, I will definitely check it out. I was hoping with all your European travels you would have some recommendations for me.
  • Post #9 - August 21st, 2006, 3:08 pm
    Post #9 - August 21st, 2006, 3:08 pm Post #9 - August 21st, 2006, 3:08 pm
    Can’t recommend Bucuresti highly enough. I love the city, though you’ve got to work a little at it. (FWIW, I’ll plug a couple travelogues I wrote that are easily accessible at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/27b80/35f/ (much of the country in nine longish parts; scroll down the page).)

    I’ve heard a rumor that it’s closed. If not, La Taifas - Strata G. Clemenceau 6 - behind the Athenée Theatre has a couple of small rooms, but they’re always crowded. The menu is written on blackboards and features traditional dishes. A warm, comfortable place that doesn’t take credit cards.

    Another favorite is Bistro Ateneu - Strata Episcopiei 3 – close to the Athenee-Hilton and the Atheneum, around forever. Very cozy, reasonable, very popular locally...if you like the environment, this is the place you would want to go. Open late, live music as I recall. (Reservations recommended).

    Hanul Maramures, str. General Berthelot 24 (set very far back from the street on the north side--I walked past it about five times without seeing it!), serving traditional food in a comfort-able setting at very reasonable prices

    Doina, Soseaua Kiseleff 8 - a pleasant drive and somewhat fancy. A wonderful outdoor terrace and garden and beautiful indoor setting for an excellent, if expensive, meal.

    Doi Cocosi, Soseaua Bucuresti-Targoviste 6 - a bit of a distance on the road to Targoviste, is also excellent. Don't let the touristy air throw you. The food is quite authentic. (And you will almost certainly enjoy the show!)

    Though some guidebooks recommend it, I didn't care for the Aquarium (str. Alecu Russo 4). It is a beautiful setting in an old villa, but too stuffy for me, too expensive, and a very limited menu. Food was fine but the experience has kept me away ever since. By the way, you can expect excellent traditional Romanian music at all of these places (Doi Cocosi even has a folk dance show). You can safely skip Hanul lui Manuc, an old caravanserai and sadly, Caru cu bere has closed after over a century. I’ve heard that Casa Capsa on Calea Victoriei has re-opened; if so, that’s a very old classic that’s almost certainly worth stopping in.

    The one thing I would note is that the restaurant scene is changing all the time; there are some truly excellent places to be found. Nose around.

    Sibiu is tough. It’s relatively small and you’ll have trouble spending two full days seeing what there is to be seen. That said, it’s got one of my favorite hotels of all times, the Imparatul Romanilor (the Roman Emperor). The dining room is what you’d expect and I have a hard time recommending anywhere to eat in Sibiu, sad to say. Still, it’s a beautiful Saxon town, worth the visit. Sighisoara, the same. It’s even smaller and, but for the medieval castle on the hill—which is easily worth a few hours of wandering around—there’s little here, including restaurants, unless things have changed substantially since I was there. Sadly, for all my enthusiasm about the country and the people, this shabby town is simply without much charm. The castle is worth every moment, but you won’t find much else.

    If your plans should include Brasov (likely), Iasi, or Cluj (both unlikely), let me know. I can easily recommend places in all three. If you planning on shorting Bucuresti, I wouldn’t. I may be overly fond of the city, but I could wander it for days. It’s a fascinating place and, if you don’t have time to see much of the country, I would definitely recommend a visit to the Village Museum (Muzeul Satului). They had a disastrous fire about five years ago, but it is an exceptional open-air museum with examples of architecture and homes from around the country. Absolutely fascinating.

    Budapest.

    Kispipa Vendeglo - wonderful Kispipa ('Little Pipe'). A small, out of the way restaurant serving mostly locals. Not fancy in the least and not very expensive. Our waitress spoke very little English but it didn't matter. We had a wonderful time ordering, watching other diners, and enjoying a truly great dinner. (Skip its sister place, whose name escapes me but has nowhere near the quality of food.)

    Gerbeaud’s - A pastry shop but oh what a pastry shop! It's a classic and every guidebook recommends it. So do I. It is readily accessible on Vörösmarty ter, at the end of Vaci utca (the main shopping street for tourists). It has a 'blue-haired old lady' feeling to it, but it's also irresistible. Fancy, very classy--even if the serving ladies aren't exactly friendly. Try the Hungarian classic, Dobos torte, with coffee. Or if there is something else that strikes your fancy, go for it! The selection is enormous, the food very good, and the prices even reasonable. What more could you want? (They even have tables outdoors for those days when you just have to sit outside.)

    Also the New York Café, if you have plenty of time but a desire to visit one of the classic turn-of-the-century cafes. Fabulous architecture. Budapest IMHO, suffers from an overabundance of middling quality places. The truly worthwhile places are hard to snuff out—at least they eluded me for the most part.

    Prague.

    I won’t add to what everyone who’s ever visited has no doubt told you. It’s fabulous. I’ll limit my recs to two: U Maltézských Rytírù (and some of the accents are missing because I can't reproduce them!--You should have heard me trying to pronounce it when I asked for directions!)(it means, 'At the sign of the Maltese Knights'): a wine cellar with niches carved into the walls where tables are set. Wonderful atmosphere. Very good food. A very nice experience and a great introduction to the city. U Matouse (At [the sign of] Matthew's [house]). This is a real neighborhood place that most tourists will never find, wonderful 'real' Czech food, very reasonable prices. But practice your Czech--no one spoke more than a few words of English (and no French and no German the night we were there!). The dinner was excellent, but even better was the experience of discovering it and being tourists in a place that rarely (if ever) sees them. Another, in a cellar, eludes me—but this is a place you will find it hard to have a bad meal. I never did.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #10 - August 22nd, 2006, 8:08 am
    Post #10 - August 22nd, 2006, 8:08 am Post #10 - August 22nd, 2006, 8:08 am
    Great post Gypsy. I'm printing it and taking it with me. Not sure how long we'll spend on our circle tour. If it's 2 days or 4 days it doesn't matter. We'll play it by ear. I will report back when I return.
  • Post #11 - August 22nd, 2006, 2:58 pm
    Post #11 - August 22nd, 2006, 2:58 pm Post #11 - August 22nd, 2006, 2:58 pm
    Here are some trip reports from Prague that I reviewed before going there (I wish I compiled one myself, but I didn't). Like I said, if you disregard some of the perkiness and useless editorializing, it can help to frame your trip by reading about someone else's:

    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadsele ... d=34514397 (This one includes quite a few restaurant recommendations.)
    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadsele ... d=34607332
    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadsele ... d=34536971 (This one also includes Vienna.)

    [Edit: Trip report links altered as old links did not work.]

    By the way, I highly recommend getting "pancaky" for dessert at every opportunity. Not as thin as a crepe or a pancake, my recollection is that they're fried doughnut-like concoctions topped any number of ways.

    In Cesky Krumlov, I ate at the restaurant at the Hotel "Old Inn" on the town square (where we stayed -- nice place by the way). A funny exchange occurred there after my Mom ordered a pork knee for dinner one night. In an effort to warn my mother, the waiter, trying to find the right words from his limited knowledge of English, tells her that the pork knee is "BIGGGGG."

    Mom: "How big? X grams?"
    The waiter: "Bigger."
    Mom: "XX grams?"
    The waiter: "Bigger."

    The guessing games goes on a few more times, each time the waiter telling her the pork knee is "bigger." Finally, the game abruptly ends after the waiter mentions also that its fifty percent fat, fifty percent meat. She chickened out and ordered something else.

    Anyway, pork knee aside, the food at the Old Inn is quite good by Czech standards (or at least it was when I was there). Don't hesitate to give it a try.

    Last edited by aschie30 on August 22nd, 2006, 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #12 - August 22nd, 2006, 3:11 pm
    Post #12 - August 22nd, 2006, 3:11 pm Post #12 - August 22nd, 2006, 3:11 pm
    In Prague, I also recommend Kampa Park on the castle side of the Charles Bridge. (I fear that my recommendations will come in multiple posts as my memory slowly trickles back. :roll: ) It's a little high falootin' and tries too much to emulate prototypical trendoid restaurant, but the setting on the river is fabulous. For Prague, the food is executed pretty well. And, for what it's worth, Jason Biggs of the American Pie franchise was sitting at the next table. Surely it must be good, then. :wink:

    http://www.kampagroup.com/en/

    There was also a pub off the main drag near the Old Town Square in Prague that served dirt-cheap, but really filling food. I'll have to look through my notes and see if I noted the name and location.
  • Post #13 - August 24th, 2006, 9:55 am
    Post #13 - August 24th, 2006, 9:55 am Post #13 - August 24th, 2006, 9:55 am
    Antonius already told you about our favorite place that we ate at in Vienna, but I’ll add a couple other notes.

    We were in Vienna ten years ago to attend my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. After their civil ceremony in the morning we all had a fancy lunch at Do&Co. The menu there is “eclectic” – I believe I had tortellini or something but there was also Asian-oid stuff on offer. As I remember the food was pretty good (I don’t know what it cost, though) but the real reason to go there is the spectacular view of the roof of St. Stephen’s cathedral from the seventh floor restaurant. [Note: in googling Do&Co before posting this I see that they now have a Do&Co hotel, with a bar on the sixth floor. Maybe a drink at the bar would be the best way to check out the view.]

    We were struck by how early places closed down in Vienna, except for the so-called “Bermuda Triangle” area by the river. By 10 pm the streets in the rest of the inner city were very quiet. We did find one bar open later that we hung out in, a low key place with good beer called Miljö (‘milieu’), but I bet that has closed in the years since, because nothing comes up on a google search.

    A good bet for food in Vienna (besides veal schnitzels) is food from the former Austrian-Hungarian empire. You’ll get plenty of Hungarian food in the later part of your trip, of course, but we had some good Hungarian dishes sitting outside in a place near the Opera section of the Ring Road. I also had some good cevapcici (don’t ask me the name of the restaurant) at another place with outdoor seating in the inner part of the city.

    We were outside a lot (it was hot in August!) and another pleasant memory is relaxing in a beer garden in a park by the Naschmarkt (food market) and flea market, where we had just gotten a very cool devil marionette (made in a Slovak village, as I recall). Too bad our pictures from back then are not digital, else I’d post one of Antonius making the devil hop around his glass of beer.

    We liked Vienna very much indeed – and your whole trip sounds great. Have fun!

    Amata
  • Post #14 - August 24th, 2006, 11:51 am
    Post #14 - August 24th, 2006, 11:51 am Post #14 - August 24th, 2006, 11:51 am
    Amata is certainly right about things shutting down early -- at least back then -- though I didn't find that all that surprising, given experiences in Germany where many towns and cities are pretty quiet in the late evening. Still, as a capital city, I expected more action, as it were... And the Bermuda Triangle wasn't all that exciting.

    But that's fine because it is a good city for walking and visiting museums and a long day with a couple of good meals and a few stops for liquid sustenance probably should end at a decent hour.

    Oh, yeah, the beer's good too.

    :D

    Were I to go back I'd spend some time trying to line up some restaurants where regional Austrian specialties are served. Of course, Vienna itself has its own distinct cuisine with quite a few famous dishes. The Schnitzels are great but I'd also keep my eyes open for some Brathuhn, Viennese fried chicken, Geselchtes (smoked pork), Schinkenfleckerln (noodles with ham), Fiakergulasch, a sub-version of the Viennese version of gulasch (coach-driver's style), which has sausage and eggs and pickles and breaddumplings added to the mix... Austria has a lot of interesting regional dishes and then Vienna, as centre of an empire, has a very interesting cuisine reflecting its old imperial reach.

    It does sound like it will be a great trip. Viel Spaß!

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #15 - August 24th, 2006, 9:21 pm
    Post #15 - August 24th, 2006, 9:21 pm Post #15 - August 24th, 2006, 9:21 pm
    Gypsy Boy, our driving plan was to head for Brasov and see Castle Bran, Sinaia, and anything else along the way. Spend the night in Brasov. Then we would head towards Sibiu, by way of Sighisoara, and spend the night. Then head back to Bucharest thru Curtea de Arges. Stay the night in Bucharest, sightsee all day, and try to get a late flight to Sofia, if there is one. What's your opinion of this plan?
  • Post #16 - August 25th, 2006, 7:01 am
    Post #16 - August 25th, 2006, 7:01 am Post #16 - August 25th, 2006, 7:01 am
    Brasov is well worth the time. I spent at least a couple days there seeing the sights. I guess I'm pretty hardcore about much of the "standard" tourist stuff (such as churches). The Black Church (Biserica Neagra) there is truly an amazing place--buy the tourist brochure (surprisingly good, as I recall) sit down and read while surrounded by the carpets brought back from the mysterious east by medieval merchants. The Church of Saint Nicholas (Sf. Nicolae) is a bit of a walk but again, a truly magnificent exterior. Don't forget to wander around the ancient graveyard as well. I even found the main synagogue there which was interesting, though it had been redone inside. Anyway...just walking around town...coffee on the Piata Sfatului (Town Square) is well worth it. (Although it was the only place in the entire country where Roma kids pestered me endlessly.)

    I ate out of town for my "splurge" dinner (a hair-raising cab ride up into the mountains to a lodge (I can find the name if you wish) in the ski resort of Poiana Brasov--good solid Romanian food) but, sadly, the best place in town was closed when I was there. If I return, it's number one on my list: I think it was called Cerbul Carpatin (the Carpathian Stag?).

    Nothing really in Sinaia except the King's summer palace. I am certain that it, too, is well worth the time but it was locked up tighter than a drum on my visit and I had a little confrontation with an armed guard. I remember eating in the hotel there...I think the word is uninspiring. Or perhaps dull. But perhaps things have changed. Spending a few hours in Sighisoara and spending the night in Sibiu sounds wise to me. Allot a fair amount of time to the castle there, though, and don't miss the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula). I found the small walled city to be absolutely fascinating and walked it over and over. And the people were so friendly. I had a long visit with an old woman who was just sitting outdoors, watching the grandson play.

    Have not been to Curtea de Arges or Bran Castle. I would say to make it a point to go through some of the small villages in Transylvania, but you won't have much choice. Do it for the view. The region is really quite beautiful and unspoiled and though you'll have a hard time finding restaurants, much less good ones, you can always stop at a small store and buy yourself very fresh provisions for little expense.

    Your plan sounds like a good one; wish I could go myself. FWIW, I stayed at the well-located and quite reasonable Hotel Coroana in Brasov, the cavernous and ridiculously cheap (about $12 six years ago) Hotel Caraiman in Sinaia. I've already mentioned the Imparatul Romanilor. I expect all have increased substantially in price, sadly.

    Finally, speaking of food, get used to soups (ciorba). You'll see the same three or four everywhere, most especially ciorbă de burtă (tripe) and ciorbă de perişoare (meatball). That doesn't mean you won't find some real exemplars, though. And it's a meat-and-potatoes country, except the potatoes are mamaliga (aka polenta). Be sure to try some mamaliga cu brinza (covered with a feta-like cheese...excellent!), sarmale (stuffed cabbage), tochitura moldoveneasca (Moldavian...stew, for lack of a better word), the omnipresent mititei (usually called mic--pronounced meech)--garlicky grilled little beef/lamb /pork sausages. And don't miss the tuica (pronounced tsweeka), also known as horinca or palinca. Home-made fruit brandy (usually plum, but also in other varieties). Oh to be in Transylvania, now that autumn is approaching!
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #17 - August 25th, 2006, 10:01 am
    Post #17 - August 25th, 2006, 10:01 am Post #17 - August 25th, 2006, 10:01 am
    Gypsy, according to Fodors, the best hotels and restaurants are in Poiana Brasov. They rate the Tirol as the best hotel and Sura Dacilor as their favorite restaurant. Seems like the ski town is the place to stay.
  • Post #18 - August 25th, 2006, 1:50 pm
    Post #18 - August 25th, 2006, 1:50 pm Post #18 - August 25th, 2006, 1:50 pm
    But what is there to DO in Poiana? (besides ski, which isn't likely to be exciting this time of year). I can't comment on the accommodation aspect but beyond Sura Dacilor (which you'll enjoy), are there enough other places to eat or things to do? And if you don't mind the drive up and down the mountain, by all means, because there ARE things in town. I'm just inclined to think that there's little going on there. But Fodor's probably knows better than I do--and God knows they've been there more recently, I guess. And if you're only there a day or so, it probably isn't a big deal.

    Ask me something I can answer! :oops:
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #19 - August 26th, 2006, 5:48 pm
    Post #19 - August 26th, 2006, 5:48 pm Post #19 - August 26th, 2006, 5:48 pm
    Gypsy Boy wrote:
    Ask me something I can answer! :oops:


    Are the White Sox going to be able to hang in and make the playoffs?
  • Post #20 - August 27th, 2006, 9:39 am
    Post #20 - August 27th, 2006, 9:39 am Post #20 - August 27th, 2006, 9:39 am
    I actually DO know the answer to that question. I'm sure you can therefore understand how much it pains me to have to say that I am not at liberty to disclose the answer publicly. :lol:
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #21 - August 27th, 2006, 2:55 pm
    Post #21 - August 27th, 2006, 2:55 pm Post #21 - August 27th, 2006, 2:55 pm
    By the bye, if in Vienna, one really should try the heuriger-- a very fresh wine, sold in many pubs/restaurants identified by the sign with the green glass. It's a wonderful refreshing drink, uniquely Wienerart.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #22 - August 27th, 2006, 11:32 pm
    Post #22 - August 27th, 2006, 11:32 pm Post #22 - August 27th, 2006, 11:32 pm
    Another suggestion for Romania: the gorges of Bicaz. Beautiful! I have no hotel recommendations, since we stayed in private homes, mostly. But I will say that the best tomatoes I have ever eaten were in Romania. Do not miss them.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #23 - September 12th, 2006, 4:13 am
    Post #23 - September 12th, 2006, 4:13 am Post #23 - September 12th, 2006, 4:13 am
    Greetings from Europe! I was hoping to post earlier but couldn't get an internet connection till Budapest.

    After a rocky start, we are enjoying the sights of this beautiful city. Our flight into JFK was diverted to Allentown, Pa. delaying us by 2 hours and missing our Czech Airlines connection to Prague. They moved us to Alitalia, with a flight to Prague via Milan, but by the time we got to the gate, that was closed. Great work by Delta. No wonder they’re in financial trouble. But things looked much better when they reticketed us to Prague via Paris on Air France! We were traveling business class on free tickets and had the benefit of enjoying the Air France lounge, which serves Moet ’99 Champagne, nice cheeses, excellent pastries, and wonderful mini sandwiches. The food on the flight matched that of the lounge. Our appetizer was a large chunk of foie gras-the real deal, not some pate. There are some things they do right. However, since we always fly carry on, we were really concerned about our checked luggage, which proved prescient as when we finally arrived in Prague, 7 hours late, no suitcases. And I had lost the luggage tags during our sprints thru the airport. We filed our report and headed to the hotel, extremely depressed. This had the potential to ruin the entire trip.

    That first evening we wandered around looking for clothes, and stopped into a local, Czech restaurant. Neither of us had much of an appetite but we ordered some Czech specialties-pork, pork, and pork. MsRev had roast pork with prune sauce while I had a combo plate-smoked pork, pork knuckles, and sautéed pork cutlet. They all came with dumplings, and red and white cabbage. White cabbage is sauerkraut. All the pork was so much more flavorful than pork we generally eat at home. Mine was served with delicious brown gravy and the prune sauce was delicious. The cabbages were great.

    After a sleepless night and an hour on hold with Air France, a knock on the door brought salvation. Our suitcases were delivered to the hotel. Let the party begin. Our hotel was the charming Hoffmeister in the Mala Strana once a Le Relais et Chateau.

    Lunch was in the Old Town at Maestro, specializing in pizza. Pizza is ubiquitous in Prague. Wonderful pizza with a cracker thin crust, baked in a wood-burning oven. Czech beer is more highly acclaimed than German and my first Pilsner Urquell didn’t disappoint. Dinner was at David, recommended by Aschie30, and quite a dinner it was. We started with a simple green salad and sautéed foie gras on fresh lettuce leaves with apple vinaigrette and fresh apples and nuts. Wow. It was time to try to unclog the arteries so we opted for 2 great fish dishes- Grilled black sea bass fillet with black truffle cream and rice timbale and halibut fillet baked with white asparagus and baby spinach with crayfish tail cream sauce and cornmeal polenta. You’ve never had white asparagus taste like this unless you’ve picked it yourself. Dessert was no less wonderful with little Czech pancakes with hot blueberries and whipped cream. Chocolate torte with chocolate roof and strawberries was ethereal. Thanks Aschie! Total including a bottle of Czech wine and 2 glasses of after dinner wine $100.00!

    Thursday was a wonderful stroll around the old town and Jewish quarter, with a quick stop for a Budweiser and pancocky-a delightful fruit filled crepe. This Bud bears no resemblance to the crap served at home. Not as fizzy and full of flavor. This Bud's for You!
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    . Dinner was in the Mala Strana at U Kachnicky( Blue duckling), an inviting, intriguing restaurant with interlocking rooms and low vaulted ceilings. It looked so old world. I had a typical Czech potato soup with wild mushrooms while MsRev had grilled foie gras with grapes and rosemary. Delicious. We followed with Grilled wild duck breast with port and pureed potatoes and rabbit in garlic with spinach and potato dumplings. Duck here has so much more flavor than the farm raised back home. A nice finish was apple strudel with ice cream. We loved this place .Great local red wine and only $80.00 for meal.

    Drove to Dresden today. Much of the old city has been rebuilt to its previous beauty. The city center is still a large construction zone. Great tour bus route where you can get on and off at any of 22 historical sites at your leisure. We had a late lunch at Café Zur Frauenkirsche, in the shadow of the rebuilt grand cathedral. MsRev had sautéed chicken livers with a ragout of bean sprouts and roasted onions and Saxon potatoes. I had Dresdner Sauerbraten with raisin sauce, red cabbage and potato dumplings. We followed with apple strudel and a mixed berry torte. Very moderate prices.
    Sauerbraten and german melons
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    Berry torte
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  • Post #24 - September 12th, 2006, 12:37 pm
    Post #24 - September 12th, 2006, 12:37 pm Post #24 - September 12th, 2006, 12:37 pm
    I'm so glad you enjoyed David! I've recommended it to several people and have never heard any bad comments. Your pics make me nostalgic. I was in Prague exactly one year ago today.
  • Post #25 - September 13th, 2006, 8:11 am
    Post #25 - September 13th, 2006, 8:11 am Post #25 - September 13th, 2006, 8:11 am
    On our way to Vienna we stopped in Cesky Krumlov, a beautifully preserved medieval town with a large castle overlooking the town and narrow, winding cobblestone streets. Aschie’s recommendation for lunch at the Old Inn on the square was perfect. Beautiful sunny day, outdoor seating, a band playing in the square, crispy roast duck, and wonderful Czech beer. We hated to leave, but it was on to Vienna.

    Cesky Krumlov
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    Vienna rates at or near the top of any great European city. Incredible architecture befitting the seat of one of the longest ruling and most powerful empires-the Hapsburgs. Very sophisticated and clean and pedestrian friendly. Unfortunately, we had only planned 2 nights, and arrived too late for dinner. However, we wandered to the Sacher Hotel for dessert and champagne. The café is pretty touristy and they’ve made a huge business out of their namesake dessert, but I must say, it was the best Sacher Torte I’ve ever had. However, I would guess that most of the sacher tortes in Vienna would be light years tastier than any in the US.

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    We planned for lunch the next day at Greichenbeisl, irrespective of the warnings by our concierge of the dreaded tt(tourist trap). When we arrived to see 2 large tour buses unloading their guests, we decided to head to Weiner Wurstl, a large cart serving sausages in the square. My first real Vienna hot dog was great, however no poppy seed buns.

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    Dinner was at Plachutta, which is famous for boiled beef. I was expecting the tasteless stuff you find in a fondue restaurant, but this beef is boiled in an incredible broth, which is served a soup with noodles as a starter. Another appetizer was boletus with cream-not your standard campbell’s white mushrooms. MsRev had wonderful wiener schnitzel with the most amazing boiled, butter potatoes we’ve ever enjoyed. This was a dinner of superlatives as my sides of creamed spinach and onion potatoes were also ethereal. Dinner was about $120. with a bottle of wine. Dessert was rich ice cream on the square.

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    Before shoving off the next day for Budapest, we wandered the Naschmarket, a large, open market with a large variety of delicacies. It is appropriately named after the Yiddish word nosh. After grazing in the market we headed to Demel, famous for desserts, and inhaled a couple marvelous tortes.

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  • Post #26 - September 13th, 2006, 8:43 am
    Post #26 - September 13th, 2006, 8:43 am Post #26 - September 13th, 2006, 8:43 am
    Andy,

    Amazing posts and pictures! Looks to be a wonderful time, thanks for sharing the experience.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - September 13th, 2006, 3:26 pm
    Post #27 - September 13th, 2006, 3:26 pm Post #27 - September 13th, 2006, 3:26 pm
    Budapest is another beautiful Danube city with gorgeous architecture. The people are very friendly and it’s fun to just walk and walk. Our first dinner was typical Hungarian at Rezkakas. Everything was top notch, including the gypsy band playing in the background. Our appetizer was mandolas grilled goose liver with Williams pear tart. Entrees were leg of rabbit rolled with asparagus served with mustard and pureed vegetable sauce and dumpling slices, and of course-veal paprikash with cabbage potato dumplings. Dessert was baked noodles with sweetened cottage cheese and poppy seeds. Dinner was about $125 because of our $40 bottle of Hungarian wine and 2 glasses of their marvelous sweet dessert wine-Tokaij. We ordered 1 with 5 puttonyas and the other with 6 puttonyas(6 being the most expensive).

    Veal Paprikash
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    Lunch the next day were some Hungarian sausages purchased at the covered market and dessert at the gold standard in Budapest-Gerbeaud. We had a dobos torte and a gerbaud’s torte. Wonderful.

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    Our first disappointing meal on the trip was dinner at Nosztalgia, another Hungarian restaurant. We had another goose liver appetizer (goose liver is ubiquitous in Hungary), but it was just fair. The soups were the best part of the meal-Hungarian goulash spiced with bay leaf, and villager potato with spicy sausage of Mako. Chicken paprikash was overcooked and the sauce not as luscious as the previous night. Tenderloin strips with marjoram also were dried out. A crepe and an apple strudel were ok.

    Lunch our last day here was more Hungarian sausage and goose liver. We really needed to have something other than meat so as we wandered around Castle Hill, a restaurant called Apetito beckoned us with a dinner menu containing a variety of seafood options. We had catfish with paprika sauce and lake pike with a hollandaise type sauce. Both dishes were cooked perfectly and were quite enjoyable.

    We’re headed to the Danube Bend, north of Budapest for a night and then into Romania. I will post if I can but internet may not be available till Bucharest.
  • Post #28 - September 19th, 2006, 12:39 pm
    Post #28 - September 19th, 2006, 12:39 pm Post #28 - September 19th, 2006, 12:39 pm
    We drove north out of Budapest to explore the ancient, picturesque towns of Szentendre, Visegrad, and Eztergom, sight of the first original Hungarian capital founded in the 10th century. I discovered a few spots on my arteries that were not hardened with plaque so we stopped and had the Hungarian version of fried bread, called langos. We had ours with sour cream and as with most fried foods, it was quite tasty.
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    We then drove south to Lake Balaton, which is the Lake Geneva of Hungary. We drove thru several quaint resort towns and spent the night in Balatonfured. We had dinner at a cozy restaurant in the woods outside of town called Koloska Csarda. We started with cold goose liver in its fat and then dug into wonderful, spicy, fish soup with carp. Balaton fish comes highly recommended and it didn’t disappoint. Pike perch fillet Bakony style with dumplings, creamed mushroom sauce and paprika was terrific, as was my whole roasted trout with almonds and roast potatoes. Dessert was strudel with cherries and poppy seeds. The tab was about $60 with wine.
    The bowl of cold goose fat with some pieces of goose interspersed
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    On to Romania and the report long awaited by Gyspy Boy.
    The first thing I will say is that driving here totally sucks. There are no autobahns and therefore lots of trucks on the 2-lane roads. Added to that are the many horse-drawn carts sharing the streets. While they are quite charming, when you add in the crazy Romanian drivers, it makes for very slow, frustrating driving.
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    We arrived in Sibiu after a 12 hour drive at 9pm and checked into the Imparatul Rominalor. Gypsy, this may have changed since your last visit as the hotel was quite worn and tired. With a fresh makeover this could be the grande dame of Sibiu. The hotel is indicative of everything we have seen in Romania. Once beautiful buildings and towns, old and rundown, badly in need of restoration. 40 years of communism has taken quite a toll on the country and they are sorely in need of foreign capital. While the ancient towns are beautiful and quite well preserved (Sibiu, Sighisoara, Brasov), the tourist facilities are lacking. Construction and rehab is happening all over, but it will take years to catch up to their neighbors, including Bulgaria. We did like the food and it was quite inexpensive.
    They've learned something about tourism. Here's Vlad Tepes(aka Dracula) birthplace!
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    Fortunately, restaurants are open late and we were able to dine at Gypsy Boy’s recommended spot in Sibiu-Crama Sibiul Vechi. Everything was wonderful, including the atmosphere. Bean soup with bacon (amazing), cucumber and tomato salad (oh those vegetables!), chicken schnitzel, pork fillet stuffed with mushrooms, peasant potatoes, plum dumplings, and jam pancakes. With wine the bill was $35.

    Lunch the next day was in Sighisoara in the courtyard of the Burg Hostel. Greek salad with cucumber, tomato, onion, paprika, hot pepper, feta, olive, corn, and tzatziki. They left out the sink. We also had pizza with tomato sauce, prociutto, cheese, and mushrooms. It was enjoyable. Dinner was in Poiana Brasov at another great restaurant called Coliba Haiducilor. Animal pelts line the walls and a gypsy band roams the room. An appetizer platter included blood sausage, deep fried pork fat(it was underfried for our taste, not like chicharones), smoked fat, pig knuckles in aspic, and a fish mousse(it must have been lost). We didn’t enjoy the fat but the other items were good. We had a tomato and cuke salad and then followed with a mixed grill of pork, beef, lamb, lamb sausage, pork sausage, pork fat, and potatoes. After all the meat, dessert was out of the question. However, a good cardiologist would’ve been wonderful. It was delightful roaming the narrow medieval streets of these old towns and spotting ancient castles up on the hills while driving thru beautiful Transylvania. Now it’s Bucharest or bust.
    Romanian pupu platter
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    Where's the beef?
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    They call Bucharest the Paris of the East, but it could’ve been Paris, Texas as far as I was concerned. Yes, there are a lot of beautiful art nouveau and belle époque buildings, badly in need of cleaning, but also interspersed with ugly, Soviet towers that make Cabrini Green look good. And of course miserable traffic because of all the squares and traffic circles that Ceaucescu laid out. Unlike other European capitals, there’s no charming pedestrian zone. Actually, there wasn’t much charming about Bucharest in general. Our worst meal of the trip was at Burebista, near our hotel. Fried chicken livers, dried, overcooked duck in sour cherry sauce with polenta, dried, tough wild boar fillet in nondescript red wine sauce with mushrooms, and pancakes with nut and honey flamed in Cointreau. There’s so much potential in Romania, and I know they’re trying, but we couldn’t wait to leave.

    We were expecting more of the same, if not worse, in Bulgaria. Imagine our surprise, after spending 20 minutes getting grilled by a border guard trained during the dark days of Stalinism, to get on a well maintained road with few carts, few trucks, and the ability to drive at high speeds on 2 lane roads. Unlike Romania, the towns seemed cheerier and less rundown. In Romania, only the tourist towns had any dining facilities. In Bulgaria, every town we drove thru had shops and restaurants we would easily have stopped at. Of course drab Soviet architecture is everywhere, but Bulgaria appears to have progressed much further and faster.
  • Post #29 - September 19th, 2006, 7:29 pm
    Post #29 - September 19th, 2006, 7:29 pm Post #29 - September 19th, 2006, 7:29 pm
    So sorry to hear about the Imparatul Romanilor. I have such wonderful memories of it--and it wasn't all that long ago. But I guess a few years can be a lifetime if upkeep and money aren't available. I'm sorry to have steered you wrong. I am glad, on the other hand, that the restaurant turned out well. I understand your reaction to much of what you saw; it's hard to know how and how much things have changed since my last visit. Coincidentally enough, I had dinner tonight with a former student (from Romania) at a Romanian place here in Chicago, Nelly's. Excellent dinner, albeit a small menu. And much of our conversation turned on what has been happening in Romania both for better and for worse.

    Bucharest is a tough city to eat in. It's very easy to be taken for a ride. And that, I suspect, has only gotten worse since my last visit. The gems are there, but you have to know where. And that's not always an easy thing. Part of the problem that I think you've identified is that Romania is still not really seen as a tourist destination by much of anyone. For those that have the time and the patience and the inclination, there is much there. But it takes more time than it should, I guess. Or maybe I just have a high tolerance for mediocre food. I don't know. I do take comfort in the fact that you seemed to enjoy the scenery--which I often find quite stunning--and that the food, on balance, was quite good and inexpensive.

    I do wish you'd had some better luck though.

    Thanks for the report.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #30 - September 21st, 2006, 2:24 pm
    Post #30 - September 21st, 2006, 2:24 pm Post #30 - September 21st, 2006, 2:24 pm
    Andy,

    It's highly enjoyable to be able to 'ride along' on your Eastern Europe vacation. Though, if you think about just how amazing it is that you take a picture in Bulgaria in the afternoon and, by nightfall, people in Chicago, or all over the world for that matter, are seeing it, the mind boggles.

    Amazing, simply amazing.

    Talk to you soon, hello to Lana.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow

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