My daughter lives in Berlin, so my wife and I are going to see her in April. We'd really like to see the Czech Republic for a few days by rental car, but above mentioned daughter is attempting to discourage us.
Says the roads are bad, we can't rent a car in Germany to go there, can't get insurance, crime is bad, they'll steal the tires, we won;t be able to find our way around and won't like it.
Well, we are determined to go. My wife, who is from Germany has heard that there are parts of the republic that look just like the Black forest villages of 40 to 50 years ago and wants to see this. She has anted to see parts of the republic all her life.
Anyone here have any idea where that might be? We have heard it is certain river vallies. We intend to head down from Berlin, look at Bohemia primarily, then head towards Pilzen and Germany.
Any advice you have about driving in the republic would be great, suggestins of things to see and places to go. Places to stay and how to order food.
What are average rates for hotels and meals?
Call me crazy, but I want to avoid Prague due to the difficulties in using a car there, parking, expense, etc.
We don't have a lot of money and are blowing savings on this trip.
The Czech Republic is an amazing place... I understand your reason to avoid Prague, and it's probably a smart descision. However, if you are going in April, then there won't be as many tourists as there would be if you were to go in June, July or August.
If you are looking for great places to go, I would strongly recommend Cesky Krumlov!! It has equally as much culture and history as Prague, but it skips the huge city factor, and there aren't as many toursits.
It's to the south of Prague, and there are a couple hostels there, as well as Pensions, B&Bs, Hotels, etc... Accomodation is cheap, as well as food, and you will find it incredibly cheaper than Germany or any western European country. Any smaller town in the Czech Republic will be evidently cheaper than Prague.
The Czech Republic uses the Czech Krown and the currency (last summer!!...it may have changed!!) was 20 Krowns to $1 Can.
As far as roads and driving goes, I was bicycling around the Czech Republic, and I didn't find it extremely busy or difficult to travel on. The highways weren't huge and overwhelming like Canadian or North American ones. They are much smaller, and there are alot less cars traveling on them.
I hope you decide to make your journey through the Czech Republic, as it is such a unique country and wherever you go, you will find extremely friendly, welcoming people.
Have a great trip!
I'll second the remark about the Czechs: friendly, helpful, eager to meet visitors for the most part. Only in Prague, where those who serve tourists are increasingly overwhelmed during the high season, would I say there was an exception to my experiences elsewhere. And even in Prague, I thought the shopkeepers, waiters, tour guides, etc., handled the stress of dealing with large masses of clueless visitors very well.
Don't miss Prague. Like you, I wouldn't drive there either. But find a pleasant suburb on one of the tram lines (a little online research should help you dig those out), and take mass transit into the city instead of a car. It's a beautiful city, rich with history and incredible architecture. One of the lovlier European cities, I'd guess.
But Prague is not Czechia. You mention Bohemia. I heartily recommend it. A beautiful section of the country, with dense old forests and majestic hills and mountains, splendid river valleys. The roads through that area seemed better than many I've encountered in the US, actually. And the further you get from Prague, the more eager the Czechs are to be of help to you in visiting their country.
I stayed for a week in a lovely town called Jindrichuv Hradec, interesting in itself, and centrally-located to a number of other worthwhile places in the area.
As to language: The Czechs seem to understand that almost no one but them speaks their language. However, if you can manage a little German mixed in with simple English, chances are you'll communicate fine.
There are lots of postings in travel websites that talk about crime and gypsies and pickpockets in central and eastern Europe. Read all of those with skepticism. Bottom line: if you're comfortable in any large city, and if you exercise the care and caution that you should when surrounded by large numbers of people, I doubt you'll have any problem you can't foresee and resolve easily.
Enjoy Berlin, as well. I'm returning there for a week this spring. My second-favorite town on the planet. The Berliners don't, however, think much of the Czechs, in my experience, so hear your daughter's remarks with that in mind.
official tourism website. You can find all info. here.