You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest: The ones that are most aged usually hold the best stories. And so it is with the countries of Eastern Europe. Historic treasures—medieval cathedrals and walled cities—are peppered with evidence of the more recent past. At first blush, it seems a shame such magnificent historic treasures have been mired by war. But it is through these tangible details that a vivid story unfolds.
Exploring the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets on foot, rather than from the seat of a motor coach, is truly the best way to understand the cities’ dynamics, but it’s the authentic first-person narratives you get from Classic Journeys local guides that truly bring these destinations into vivid Technicolor reality.
Classic Journeys guides Martin and Zsófi were born during the Cold War, when their hometowns Vienna and Budapest, respectively, were separated by the Berlin Wall. Martin grew up in the “free” West, while Zsófi knew only the isolated East. When the wall came down in 1989, their worlds collided and have been integrating ever since. Taken together, their cultural tours through Vienna, Budapest, Prague and the immaculately preserved medieval town of Český Krumlov deliver an immersive history lesson.
Classic Journeys Prague trip package includes all the sites and experiences you’d expect but it’s the unplanned detours and unexpected encounters— cruising the Danube, enjoying a lunch of homemade specialties with a local craftsman, and walking through vineyards to Durnstein Castle where Richard the Lionheart was held captive during the crusades — that give Classic Journeys vacations texture and detail. On a recent tour, for example, Martin’s group and a few dozen locals were invited into a small, historic theater in Český Krumlov for an impromptu opera performance.
Veering off course and off itinerary isn’t just something we tolerate; it’s something we encourage to help our guests experience the special stories and characters that hide between the pages of the history books.