Cosmos Travel – Central Europe Tour – Part 2

Frankfurt's old town district with plenty of historic buildings, food outlets and tourists, even on this cold, rainy October day

Frankfurt’s old town district with plenty of historic buildings, food outlets and tourists, even on this cold, rainy October day

Central Europe tour itinerary

The Cosmos Central Europe tour is a 14-day whirlwind affair that starts and ends in Frankfurt.

Our itinerary was as follows:

  • Day 1:  Arrive Frankfurt, Germany
  • Day 2:  Frankfurt-Weimer-Berlin
  • Day 3:  Berlin
  • Day 4:  Berlin-Poznan and Warsaw, Poland
  • Day 5:  Warsaw
  • Day 6:  Warsaw-Jasna Gora-Auschwitz-Krakow, Poland
  • Day 7:  Krakow
  • Day 8:  Krakow-Budapest, Hungary
  • Day 9:  Budapest
  • Day 10: Budapest-Vienna, Austria
  • Day 11:  Vienna-Prague, Czech Republic
  • Day 12:  Prague
  • Day 13:  Prague-Munich, Germany
  • Day 14:  Munich-Nordlingen-Rothenberg-Frankfurt

The tour bus experience

This tour involves a lot of time on the bus.  You get to see many of the major cities, but the amount of time at each stop is limited.  Our Italian bus driver, Franco, told us the round trip is about 4,000 km.

There’s a washroom on the bus, but we were told to use it ‘only in an emergency.’  Franco usually stopped in the late morning for a 15-minute ‘comfort stop’, typically at a highway truck stop.  This 15-minute break for the driver is mandated by EU commercial driving regulations, and our stop was always 15 minutes, exactly.

Excellent 'dining' at a German (?) truck stop. I snapped this photo just as the woman behind the counter shouted, "No photos! No photos!"

Excellent ‘dining’ at a German (?) truck stop. I snapped this photo just as the woman behind the counter shouted, “No photos! No photos!”

Hotel accommodation

Most of the hotels were pretty good, ranging from new, modern hotels at or near the city centre (such as the one in downtown Berlin and the convention centre in Prague), to lovely, vintage ‘character’ hotels like the one in Budapest.  Our hotel in Munich was our least favourite – centrally located, but aged and surrounded by Middle Eastern business and restaurants.  We couldn’t find a restaurant with German fare on the menu after walking blocks and blocks and ended up dining on excellent kebabs.

The Cosmo brand is supposedly geared towards ‘economy’ travel, and the hotels are generally 3- and 4-star rated, and most often, but not always, located near town centre.

Hotel food

A typical ‘European’ buffet breakfast was provided at our hotel every morning.  These were all uniformly very good, offering an excellent selection of breakfast food for the European palate – sliced cheese, cold cuts, yogurt, musilix and often, grilled European style slices of sausage, which suited our taste.

Some typical European-style breakfast items, Hotel Swing, Krakow, Poland

Some typical European-style breakfast items, Hotel Swing, Krakow, Poland

They also provide the typical North American breakfast items – porridge, pancakes (but no syrup; the Europeans eat pancakes with yogurt and jam), scrambled eggs (surprisingly light and fluffy, not the heavy clods of eggs we get in North America), bacon, North American style sausages, etc.

Of course, the Europeans love their dark breads so there’s a good selection of dense, heavy bread, and there’s always a table of sweet breads and ‘desserts’, such as cinnamon buns, sweet croissants, fruit squares, mini donuts, etc.  A few of the hotels also had smoked salmon and pickled fish.

At a couple of the hotels with numerous Asian customers, savory noodle dishes and congee (rice soup) was available.

No complaints about breakfast.

Mediocre tour ‘included’ evening meals

If we had any major complaint about our Cosmos tour, it would be the five suppers included in our tour package.  To be kind, they were lackluster, mediocre at best.  None of the suppers seemed to highlight the national cuisine of the country we were in, and the quality of food would be typical of a low- to medium-cost North American buffet restaurant.  If we would have gotten this quality of meal in a restaurant, we all agreed we would have been disappointed.  This is one element of the tour where Cosmos Vacations has to make significant improvements.

Our very best tour 'included' meal was served at the Novatel Centrum hotel in Budapest, Hungary. Chicken and pasta - hardly an 'authentic' Hungarian dish. It was good, but not remarkable, and we noticed our Italian bus driver did not eat the pasta. What does that tell you?

Our very best ‘included’ meal was served at the Novatel Centrum hotel in Budapest, Hungary. Chicken and pasta – hardly an ‘authentic’ Hungarian dish. It was good, but not remarkable, and we noticed our Italian bus driver did not eat the pasta. What does that tell you?

Local tours and walking

In most major cities, we’re joined by a local guide who takes over any city tours on our bus and/or walking tours.  Our tour director Andrej also led many walking tours.  Most of the walking tours are included in the tour package; there are some optional (extra cost) tours such as the tour of Krakow, Poland and Schonbroon Palace in Vienna that use local guides.

Budapest, Hungary was our longest walking day. We logged some 16 km on foot that day

Budapest, Hungary was our longest walking day. We logged some 16 km on foot that day

 

Be prepared to walk.  We averaged about 5 km per day.  Our one ‘big’ walking day was in Budapest, Hungary where we logged a staggering 16 km in one day!

Next:  Part 3, Cosmos’ ‘optional’ (extra cost) excursions and final comments

 

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