In the 180 days we are in school, we follow a set routine: go to school, come home, and engage in extracurricular activities within a two-mile radius of our homes, over and over again. These invisible confines limit our vision of the world. With school over, travel is one way for us to expand our horizons and recharge our batteries.
When I visited Central Europe, we joined GoEUGo Tours— a unique tour company in that it allowed us to travel in a circular route. Tours begin in one location and travel clockwise, hitting major cities in different countries along the way by bus; they return to the starting position weekly all year round.
Since the tour countries are small and neighbor each other, a circular route is an effective way to master sightseeing in a small amount of time. In addition, tourists fly in from different parts of the world, so they may choose to start their tour in a big city in a different country, such as Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Lucerne, and Zürich.
Travelers are not required to visit every country on the itinerary and can leave whenever they want, which is another positive aspect of this flexible tour, as it enables international visitors to hop on and off.
This package offers sightseeing of seven countries— Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland— over seven days at 73€/per day, including daily breakfast, three-star hotel, transportation, and tour guide service (visit http://www.goeugo.eu/ for more information).
In those seven days, I enveloped myself in pleasant aromas, gourmet chocolates, sweet music, and best of all, magnificent sights. I transitioned from country to country, comparing how different their cultures are. It was truly an unforgettable adventure that everyone should experience.
One piece of advice: it’s best to do some research on each country at home before leaving for the tour because the tour guide might be hard to understand. Also, it is a quick tour, so less information is given at each site to spare time. If you have limited time and budget and want to experience the highlights of multiple countries in a week, this is the right tour for you, but if you want to integrate yourself into the local culture with in-depth travel, this tour will not suit you.
Prague, one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world, is home to many famous castles and cathedrals. A walking tour took us from Prague Castle to Charles Bridge and then to Old Town Square.
Charles Bridge is the ultimate spot for couples to walk and gaze at the sights together. In the summer, musicians play romantic tunes. However, since we visited in the winter, it was snowing, and no one wanted to be out on the streets!
The Old Town Square has the astronomical clock and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, beautiful landmarks to visit and take pictures. The astronomical clock attracts hundreds of people near the hour, for it displays its intricate workings of the icons of the sun, moon, and Earth.
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, situated on the edge of the beautiful Danube. There are many historical sites in this old town.
The Bratislava Castle stands on a hill above the old town, offering gorgeous views of Bratislava and the Danube.
St. Martin’s Cathedral was previously used for coronations, as 11 Hungarian kings and queens were crowned here from 1563 to 1830.
We stayed in Bratislava for only a few hours, qualifying it as a quick tour destination.
Next, we moved on to Hungary’s capital Budapest, which is actually divided by the Danube River, making Budapest a world-renowned twin city. Buda is on the west bank of the river, while Pest is on the east bank. Nine bridges connect the two cities, with Chain Bridge being the oldest.
On Buda, go-to sights include Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and especially Gellért Hill. Gellért Hill provides a comprehensive view of this magnificent city.
On Pest, two popular attractions are Parliament and Heroes’ Square.
Music is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about our visit to Austria. The great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg and lived in Vienna, the next destinations on our tour. Here, Mozart’s house is open to the public.
Written on the walls, paragraphs inform visitors about Mozart’s life, and displays include sheet music, paintings, and even a lock of Mozart’s hair.
In Salzburg, Mozart’s childhood home can be viewed, now a museum. Visitors can tour the halls this legend once walked, including his birth room. No pictures are allowed inside, however.
This city is also worth lingering over because Oscar-winning film “The Sound of Music” was shot on location here.
Next, we were off to Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world, having a population of merely 37,000 and matching the size of Irvine, Calif. Despite its small size, Liechtenstein is very wealthy.
One hallmark of the country is that it is landlocked by other landlocked countries, Switzerland and Austria. A remarkable attraction to visit is Vaduz Castle; royalty still lives there, so visitors can only take pictures outside.
Snowy mountains and skiing are commonly associated with our next tour stop, Switzerland.
The Swiss Alps are simply breathtaking. The Alps encompass 537 mountains, and the best one to visit is the impressive Mount Titlis. Its snow is as white as a pearl and, coupled with the blue sky, the summit is a stunning place for both skiing and taking in the breathtaking sights below. The gondola ride up the mountain rotates 360 degrees to allow riders to take aerial shots of the slopes.
After Lucerne and Zurich, the circle completes itself in Frankfurt, Germany.
On the way to Frankfurt, the Black Forest is definitely a stop to bring out the camera. Since I am from sunny California, seeing the snow-powdered black trees towering over me was a pleasant and surprising change of landscape.
In addition to the spectacular forest, Lake Titisee astonished us, as it was completely frozen over.
A nearby village had many shops with souvenirs, such as cuckoo clocks that were mesmerizing. Next to the shops were many cafes and restaurants serving authentic Black Forest cake. The cake was very rich, with chocolate, whipped cream, and cherries, and it was the perfect dessert to cap off our excursion.
These stops were the highlights of our trip, and not all sights were included in this article. For more pictures, please watch the video below.