Eastern europe by train, the Iron Curtain tour
Description of Eastern europe by train, the Iron Curtain tour
This Iron Curtain Tour is a popular route taking in the best of Eastern Europe by train in just one week. You’ll visit four capital cities and will have ample time to get a feel for the culture, nightlife and history of each one. If you do feel you need a little more time, extensions can be easily arranged.
Your adventure begins with a walk from West to East Berlin, crossing Checkpoint Charlie along the way and learning more about the history of the Berlin Wall. Then there’s time to check out the city’s edgy bar and club scene (perhaps visiting the famous Berghain, if you can make it past the long queues and notoriously picky bouncers) before moving on to the fairytale beauty of Prague. You’re sure to be impressed by the intricate gothic architecture as well as the underground bars and clubs, not to mention the very reasonably priced local Pilsner beer.
Chic Vienna is next on the agenda, and highlights include sampling the local cakes (including the legendary Sacher Torte) at one of its many old-fashioned cafes and visiting grand palaces and imperial buildings. Like Berlin, Budapest is another city with an alternative vibe, and there will be plenty of opportunity to party, be it in a local ruin bar or at one of the city’s famous spa parties. Don’t forget to imbibe some Tokaji, the local wine!
1 Reviews of Eastern europe by train, the Iron Curtain tour
Reviewed on 04 Dec 2019 by Deborah Linton
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Dinner at the TV tower in Berlin; listening to a Mozart concert in the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna;
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Don't worry too much about booking things before you get there - tours, cruises and commercial walking tours are especially unreliable and hard to predict. Look our for local advice at your hostel and get a public transport pass instead. Invest in a decent padlock & keep your valuables (esp your passport!) with you at all times. My locker was broken into, and while the theft was only a
moderate inconvenience, it could have been much worse.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Using public transport especially helped!
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Great! Relaxing and exciting at the same time.
PlanetTravelling by rail is the greenest way to go, and Europe’s network of trains are among the most extensive and environmentally friendly in the world. Making the same journey, trains provide a much lower-carbon alternative to flying, which makes this short and sweet trip a lot better for the environment than jetting out for a beach holiday! We also encourage the use of public transport within each city that you visit within your travel pack, promoting ways of getting around that produce lower carbon emissions.
For this particular trip, if you would like to lower your carbon footprint even further, just let us know and we can tailor your trip to start and/or end in the nearest city to your home. That way, you won't have to fly at all, and all rail travel to and from home will also be arranged!
In terms of minimising our carbon footprint and waste production, we will never send out printed communications like brochures or newsletters; we provide these digitally on the website, and are more than happy to email you a copy if you like. In the same way, all quotes and trip information (with the exception of your travel pack) are sent by email. With this in mind, please take care to consider the environment before printing any copies of our communications!
Our travel packs are printed on recycled paper and in turn, are 100% recyclable themselves. We also only use Xerox Solid Ink to print our materials, which generates up to 90% less printing waste than more commonly-used laser printers! To minimise waste production, we send one travel pack per group of 1-3 or 4 people, which is plenty to go around! We can also send you multiple copies of your travel pack digitally if you prefer, so do let us know if you'd like this option.
When you are travelling, we encourage you not to use bottled water – there really is no need! Every hostel and hotel we use has drinking tap water so why not pour yourself a bottle and leave it in the fridge overnight ready for the next day? In our office, water bottles are banned so we only use tap water too.
Many of our hostel and hotel suppliers have environmental policies geared towards minimising their impact. For example, our partner hostel in Berlin does the following:
• They purchase green electricity from the power company, which comes from 100% alternative energies that are C0² free.
• All papers is recycled.
• Approximately 80% of lamps are fitted with energy-saving light bulbs.
• Lights in the hallways are fitted with timers to reduce unnecessary usage.
• All departments in the hostel, hotel and apartments have implemented a strategy to reduce unnecessary waste, especially when it comes to packaging.
• All waste created is separated for recycling.
• None of the houses have air-conditioning, and this is a deliberate policy. We believe that in a city with the climatic conditions of Berlin it is an unnecessary burning of resources.
• The hostel and the hotel buildings have a combined heating and power unit which utilises waste heat to increase energy efficiency and reduce the need to purchase electricity.
• Solar voltaic panels have been installed on the roof of the hotel to generate electricity.
• Their rooms and apartments have no mini-bar, which saves energy.
• Their bathroom products are supplied by a small, traditional organic manufacturer I+M Naturkosmetik.
• The full renovations of the hotel building (2008) and the hostel (2010) allowed them to improve the wall insulation and the energy-efficiency of the windows.
Our partner hostel in Interlaken employs a state of the art energy recycling technology to minimise their energy usage. The heat from wasted hot water is used to heat fresh water (while ensuring that there is no contamination between dirty and fresh water). Their building is insulated to the highest standards, ensuring comfortable temperatures for guests without costing the earth.
Our rail suppliers place the environment at the top of their priorities. In addition to being the most eco-friendly way to travel as it is, almost all rail companies within Europe have electrified their lines, reducing the need for diesel powered trains, which contribute towards significant air pollution issues. The Netherlands’ railway operator has even managed to power their entire rail network using renewable energy, with Deutsche Bahn not far behind.
PeopleFirst and foremost, we are highly aware of the potential impact of mass tourism on local communities, which is why we always aim to encourage sustainable travel, whilst promoting travel as a means of building cultural understanding. We do not oversell destinations which suffer from too much tourism. We have a certain number of hostel beds available and once these spaces are filled we stop offering the destination to ensure that we don't contribute to the issue of over tourism. This benefits both our customers and the suppliers we work with. Customers trust us to offer them an honest service and suppliers trust us to give them a reliable but responsible level of business.
We always endeavour to provide ‘less touristy’, locally owned destinations and suggestions for sightseeing in each city that you'll visit. We have taken the time out to meet with and forge strong personal relationships with our partner hostels and hotels on this trip, in order to benefit both you as a customer, as well as local businesses. Through them we recommend locally based tours, excursions and activities which provide income to local businesses. We encourage travellers to sample the local cuisine, stay away from global chains and speak to locals for the best recommendations. These are listed in your personalised travel pack you receive. As a result, not only will you get a more authentic travel experience, but you'll also have the power to support locally-run businesses and truly get to know local people.
We particularly encourage solo explorers and small groups of independent travellers to try our trips, ensuring that their cultural experience isn't marred by the dynamics that larger organised group tours can lend themselves to. This also helps to discourage waves of mass tourism in increasingly popular travel destinations.
Lastly, we also encourage our customers to travel with an open, respectful attitude towards other travellers and local residents. We provide basic language essentials in each of our travel packs to help foster cultural immersion, and encourage getting off the beaten track to gain a truly authentic experience of each city that you visit.
Back at the office, staff are encouraged to pursue charity projects and volunteering which contribute to the local community. We are very happy to offer flexible hours to accommodate these projects. In the past year three of our staff have undertaken and continue to undertake regular volunteering, including teaching English to refugees living in Leeds, providing mental health coaching and support in to girls in a local primary school and helping with rehabilitation projects in a local prison. In addition, staff are encouraged to participate in charity fundraising. In 2017 a team of staff members took part in Race for Life to raise money for Breast Cancer UK.
We employ a range of people living in the Leeds and West Yorkshire region. All employees are paid above the living wage, and we are also happy to offer Work Experience opportunities to local students. Employees benefit from flexible working hours, with an hour for lunch every day and two additional hours a week to undertake exercise or sport. Training opportunities are provided regularly, and staff are regularly consulted on their progress and ambitions for personal and professional development through twice yearly appraisals.
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