I don't know where to begin blogging about the trip. I can't type every word of every adventure we had. Since I'm still relishing our modern American conveniences that are a stark contrast to our final hotel of the trip, maybe a few words about our accomodations.
Aquarius Hotel, London. They do say right at the top of the website that it's "budget price." But I have to tell you, the community bathroom at our hostel in Edinburgh was better than the private bathroom we had in this hotel. The shower curtan smelled like BO and it stuck to you because the shower stall was so small. Also, hot water ran through the toilet tank and both the hot and cold taps in the sink, but not in the shower.
Our room was a cupboard under the stairs, but the sound of people walking up and down all night didn't bother us at all. We couldn't even hear the footsteps, due to the train tracks that ran right outside our window. We slept from about midnight to 5:30 a.m., when the trains weren't running. Except for one night when they were working on the tracks during that time. The room had a tv with 5 English-speaking channels, which seemed downright luxurious.
The complementary breakfast was coffee, tea, Tang, and stacks of toast (freshly toasted when they saw you enter the dining room!) with an oddly large assortment of jams. Everything about this hotel was so cheap, but they had, like, 7 different jam choices for the toast. Between my hot cereal and rice cakes, my breakfasts there were on par with the rest of the trip. Mike's were disappointing after all the meat and cheese platters placed before him in Poland and Austria.
The best thing about this hotel is that it's walking distance from an Underground station and along two of the lines that take you straight into the center of London, and one of those lines also takes you directly to Heathrow airport and Kings Cross train station.
Budget Backpackers, Edinburgh. It's a hostel, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. The ratio of working bathrooms to beds was quite low, at least in our building. We were in a building of private suites, with 3 bedrooms around one bathroom. But that bathroom had the sink, toilet, and shower all in one room, so if someone was using one thing there, no one could use the others.
Also, there were very few working washers and dryers, and the dryers sucked. We really, really needed to do laundry by the time we got to Edinburgh and just resigned ourselves to waiting for the dryers all night long. We still ended up with damp clothes, but thankfully sunny weather the next day so we could hang the clothes in the room and everything dried out nicely, eventually.
The building itself was surprisingly quiet, but due to festival season there was a lot of street noise. Also, due to the terrible U.S.-sterling conversion rate right now, it wasn't as "budget" as we would have liked it to be. But it was centrally located in the heart of the old city, so you couldn't beat the ease of getting around to the sights.
They supply linens for the beds, but no towels! We ended up using our pillowcases to pat ourselves dry, then supplement with my hair dryer. Not terrible, once you get the hang of it. At least the showers were hot. And we had a private room with a lock on the door so we could keep our stuff strewn about with no worries.
There's a bus that runs between the airport and Waverly train station. You can walk from the train station to the hostel.
EuroPark, Fuessen, Germany. We only stayed one night here and it was a clean room with a decent shower. We were tired, though, and wanted a quiet night in of drinking wine and watching tv, but there was no tv. So we decided to enjoy the view for a bit. But the view of the river and forests couldn't be seen very well over the tall concrete balcony wall. Mike dragged the coffee table out onto the balcony and put a chair on top of it so he could enjoy the view.
We only got a few bites of breakfast. We were very politely trampled by a huge group of Japanese tourists, and the food started to disappear before we could reach it, then all these hotel people started asking our room number, and we decided to high-tail it out of there before we were told the breakfast wouldn't be free because we were very obviously not with the tour group. We checked out and rushed to the train station before they could catch us.
It's close to the train station but hard to find at first, so it's a good idea to take a taxi there and get your bearings straight, then easy to walk to the town center.
Hofwirt Hotel, Salzburg. Our guidebook and a few websites gave the decor at this hotel a bad review, but they've recently renovated. So the dark, heavy, wooden, 70s style has been replaced by uber-modern white, clean, cold, almost sterile decor. The room was neat and clean and had a good bathroom.
There was a computer with free internet in the lobby. The continental breakfast was pretty extensive. We watched The Simpsons dubbed in German every night before bed.
A bit of a walk from the train station, so a taxi is recommended. But so close to everything you want to see in Salzburg, you can walk everywhere.
Chopin Hotel, Krakow. This another where we stayed for only one night. We checked in around 10 pm, had a kind of gross dinner in the restaurant, then woke up early to a decent continental breakfast and checked out.
It's not quite as close to the old town as they'd like you to think it is, and there's some construction going on which made the walk a smidge longer, but it's still a pleasant walk. It's walking distance from the train station, but you need a bus or taxi from the airport.
I've saved the best for last! Kois Pension, Zakopane, Poland. Of course we're a smidge partial to this place because it's owned by my cousins, but take a look at the picture! There's no denying this was the most charming and most comfortable place we stayed. You can see by the comments page that they treat all their guests like family.
It's a bed and breakfast just outside the city center. A bus or taxi is necessary for transportation to and from the city center, where the train station is. Once you're in the city center, there's a lot to walk around and see. Some hiking trails in the Tatra Mountains are a short walk away from the house.
Beautiful mountain views from the rooms. We can't wait to go back!