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Michael B. Baer
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This guide was very useful in planning a trip – hotels, attractions, restaurants, days per city - though it had some major, major flaws. The biggest complaint people seem to have about such multi-country guides is that they don't go enough into detail, but that usually isn't a problem in practice. There's enough in here to spend a week or more in most listed cities - working out the details once you arrive - and most people won't even have that much time per city. In fact, the brevity is quite appreciated, since, on your travels, it's far easier to carry around 50 pages per country than it is to carry around 450 pages per country.
That said, one huge flaw is that the date of publication is not indicative of how up-to-date hours and prices are. I visited places where the hours were set in stone - literally set in marble or granite stone, and not new - but completely different from those in the book. Off-season hours are especially unreliable; though some are given properly, other attractions have summer hours listed as year-round. This can really screw up with planning. Sure, in theory, it's best to double-check, but navigating multiple foreign-language websites to find hours - for those attractions that have websites in the first place - is much more difficult than having it all down in one place. (Contrary to expectations, this flaw is worst in the biggest tourist draws, where you'd think they'd work hardest to get things right.)
Another flaw is that the guide seems to favor 21st-century "experience" museums, regardless of quality. For example, in Poland, the Warsaw Uprising Museum and Oskar Schindler's Factory were both dreadful, full of unreadable text, distracting sounds, confusing layouts, and fractured narratives that emphasize style over substance. One room in Schindler's Factory had a comic-book-style description of a bombing aimed at Nazis, without any context at all about whether it was real or composite/fictional, what the aim was, who carried it out, etc. It didn't help that you entered the room from the right, which, I believe, was the end of the comic. What a lost opportunity.
I also had to learn the hard way that "most popular" indicates not that an attraction is the most desirable for the tourist, but that it's hardest to get a ticket for. Why not just something less vague like "first to sell out"?
Information about public transportation is spotty. Sometimes no information is given, e.g., whether you have to buy tickets at a store, at a station, at a stop, or on the bus/tram. This information would be extremely useful, since it can vary from city to city, even in the same country. Bus drivers expect you to know what to do, and have little patience for ignorant and illiterate foreigners.
The phrasebook is also rather selective. Ukrainian is there, but Russian is not, yet Russian is far handier for those visiting both Russia and Ukraine. (Most big-city Ukrainians can speak Russian. Few Russians can speak Ukrainian.)
Finally - and this is true of all Eastern European guides, but it always bothers me - German-speaking Eastern Europe is not covered, even those cities just an hour or two from those in the book. Visiting Prague without also seeing Dresden is an opportunity lost, in my opinion, but most people don't want to buy another guidebook, so they skip it. Likewise, omitting Vienna when Bratislava is practically a suburb is also unfortunate. (While this guidebook gives a list of Bratislava hotels, their Central European guidebook - which includes Austria - advises to just stay in Vienna.)