Best of Eastern Europe
Dubrovnik, that beautiful walled town known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, is a wonderful start for this tour. From here we travel through the Balkans, feasting our eyes on sights and scenes still not that well known to many westerners.
Our journey takes us to Sarajevo, where the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand led directly to the outbreak of World War I, until we reach Belgrade.
After a complete day enjoying the attractions of Belgrade, one capital is exchanged for another as we motor through small villages and green mountains to the lively and beautiful Hungarian city of Budapest.
Continue north to experience the best of Poland, a land rich in natural beauty and contrasts. Starting with Krakow, the only major Polish city to escape devastation in the last war, then Czestochowa, home of the famous Black Madonna situated inside the 14th century Pauline monastery. Further north you arrive in Warsaw, the capital city. Before making our way to the Czech Republic, visit Wraclow, a charming city on the River Odra.
Like Rome, the city of Prague is built on seven hills and has acquired its distinctive Gothic imprint.
One final entrancing visit – perhaps the most important in an area which for centuries was a hot-house of European affairs, is Vienna. The Austro-Hungarian Empire may have gone, but its glory still remains in this majestic city. This is a worthy ending to a fascinating tour.
DAY 01: TORONTO – DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
Depart Toronto on a transatlantic flight to Dubrovnik.
DAY 02: DUBROVNIK (D)
Arrive in the beautiful “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Situated in the south of the Republic of Croatia, Dubrovnik has the atmosphere of a “Riviera” resort. Its climate and wonderful scenery contribute to the city’s popularity. Its great architectural and historical riches have contributed to the city becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, meet your Tour Manager and transfer to a centrally located hotel.
This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow group members.
DAY 03: DUBROVNIK (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, begin your full day guided sightseeing tour of Dubrovnik, founded in the seventh century. The most recognizable feature which defines the history of Dubrovnik and gives it its character is its intact city walls which have run uninterrupted for 1,940 meters encircling the city. This complex structure, one of the most beautiful and strongest fort systems in Europe is the main attraction to the city's visitors. Sightseeing will also include the superb Sponza Palace, the Cathedral, Old Town and the impressive Onofrio Fountain. Your tour ends with a breathtaking panorama of the city and its island from the top of Zarkovica Hill.
DAY 04: DUBROVNIK – MOSTAR – SARAJEVO (BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA) (B/D)
Breakfast at the hotel. After skirting the sea, we turn inland to see unlimited scenery, accented by the rolling mountains, rambling ravines, chalet type cottages clinging to the cliffs and cattle placidly grazing.
Arrive in Mostar and see the spectacular 16th century fortified bridge. It was built in 1566 and spans the Neretva River. The bridge was built by the Turks and noted for its graceful arches. Stari Most (Old Bridge) has been restored, following its destruction in 1993 during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
Continue on to Sarajevo where the shot was fired that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and triggered World War I. The River Milkacke, which flows through the city, is extended by several bridges. It was on the Principov bridge where this tragic event took place June 28, 1914. Sarajevo displays a pleasing blend of Near Eastern and European architecture and lifestyles. It’s one of the most interesting cities in Europe. There are balconied houses, mosques, minarets, an Oriental Old Town and an intriguing bazaar, world-famous for its craftsmen and artists in handicrafts. Enjoy a sightseeing tour upon arrival.
Dinner and overnight in Sarajevo.
DAY 05: SARAJEVO – BELGRADE (SERBIA & MONTENEGRO) (B/D)
Belgrade rises above the Danube and Sava Rivers. This capital city was founded by the Celts in the fourth century. Standing at the “crossroads” of East and West, Europe and Asia, its history is one of the stormiest in Europe. Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.
Dinner and overnight in Belgrade.
DAY 06: BELGRADE (B)
A sightseeing tour this morning includes the Kalemegdan Fortress and its beautiful park, site of significant historical monuments. We see the Herald of Victory monument towering over the river, the handsome Topcider Park and much more. After the tour, your afternoon is at leisure. You may want to further explore this historical city on your own. Perhaps a visit to the National Museum will keep history buffs happy for hours.
DAY 07: BELGRADE – BUDAPEST (B/D)
After breakfast at the hotel, continue northward towards Budapest, a lively and lovable capital city. With roots tracing back to the Bronze Age, Budapest has been highly prized for its natural hot springs and key location on the Danube. It has been stormed, plundered, burned, besieged, and just plain bullied by Celts, Romans, Huns, Turks, Mongols, and Russians. Budapest is perfectly set on the Danube, criss-crossed by lovely bridges; it is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Dinner and overnight is in Budapest.
DAY 08: BUDAPEST (B)
Your sightseeing tour today will feature Buda Castle which dominates the twin cities of Buda and Pest, separated by the broad ribbon of the Danube. Heroe’s Square which typifies the modern capital is another site to be explored, the old inns and wine cellars along the riverbank, Parliament, Margaret Island, Fishermen’s Bastion, the Royal Castle and the famous Matthias Coronation Church will also be seen through out the tour.
DAY 09: BUDAPEST – KRAKOW (B/D)
Early departure this morning from Budapest as you make your way to a new destination, Poland. It is a land rich in natural beauty and contrasts. Its landscape varies from rolling plains with slow-moving rivers, broad fields, and scattered villages to lakes, forests, and marshes in the north and jagged mountains in the south. Its major cities, with the exception of Krakow, had to be rebuilt after the destruction of World War II.
Krakow is said to be Poland’s most beautiful city. It was for almost 500 years the country’s capital. Today it is without a doubt its cultural capital. This afternoon, your sightseeing tour of ancient Krakow includes the Market Square, the 14th-century Jagiellonian University, St Mary’s Church, and Wawel Royal Castle.
DAY 10: KRAKOW – CZESTOCHOWA – WARSAW (B/D)
En route to Warsaw, you will stop in Czestochowa, home of the holiest shrine in a country that is more than 90% Catholic. Inside the 14th-century Pauline monastery on Jasna Gora (Light Hill) is the famous Black Madonna, a Painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa, attributed by legend to St. Luke. It was here that an invading Swedish Army was halted in 1655 and finally driven out of the country. Between Kracow and Czestochowa is the little town of Wadowice, birthplace of Pope John Paul II. Continue on to Warsaw where you will have dinner and Overnight.
DAY 11: WARSAW (B)
Warsaw was magnificently reconstructed after wartime destruction. Today its wide avenues are in striking contrast with the narrow lanes of the old section. This morning, you will get an excellent introduction through a sightseeing tour of the city. See the Old Town which houses Plac Zamkowy, the city’s oldest monument and the first to be rebuilt after the wartime devastation. Dominating the square is the Royal Castle (you may want to visit on your own), lovely Lazienki Park with its Belvedere Palace and statue of Frederic Chopin, Cathedral of St. John, the oldest church in Warsaw dating back to the 14th-century, the Old Market Square very charming and intimate, and of course the New Town. This district has a more elegant and spacious feeling about it.
Remainder of the day is at leisure.
DAY 12: WARSAW – WRACLAW (B/D)
Today you will continue your journey to Wraclaw on the River Odra, the capital of Lower Silesia. The city’s network of canals and 100 bridges impart great charm. The city also boasts Poland’s youngest population. This afternoon, your sightseeing tour includes the colourful Old Town with its 14th-century Town Hall and an eye filling view of the Market Square surrounded by attractive old houses.
Dinner and overnight in Wraclaw.
DAY 13: WRACLAW – PRAGUE (B/D)
Next you travel to Prague. The city has a wealth of Gothic and baroque architecture that perhaps inspired Dvorak and Smetana, both Prague composers. Since pre-historic times, Prague has also been an important trade center. Its location at the Vltava River in the center of Europe proved ideal. It became the political center of Bohemia, and in the 10th century, it also became a religious center. In the 14th century, Prague had become the most important city of Central Europe. After Emperor Charles IV had all the city gates' roofs covered with lead, Prague was dubbed the 'Golden City'. It would remain one of the most influential cities in Europe until the 20th century. Today 'the City of a Hundred Spires' is a magnet for tourists, with numerous magnificent towers and churches. Your afternoon tour features beautiful landmarks such as Prague Castle with St. Vitus Cathedral, Lesser Town Square and St. Nicolas Church, National Theater, Belvedere, Charles Bridge over Vltava river, Old Town Square and Prague´s Astrological Clock. Dinner and overnight is in Prague.
DAY 14: PRAGUE (B)
Entire day at leisure. You will have plenty of time to explore the city, walk along the banks of the Vltava River, visit the National Museum or the Prague Castle, a monumental complex which has witnessed the changing fortunes of the city for more than 1000 years.
DAY 15: PRAGUE – CESKY KRUMLOV (B/D)
Today you continue south to the city of Cesky Krumlov which was added to the list of the world’s natural and cultural heritage UNESCO sites in 1992. The city is dominated by the Castle of Cescky Krumlov, founded in the 13th century; it is the second largest in Bohemia. This complex of forty buildings and palaces is situated around five castle courts and a castle park spanning an area of seven hectares. After a guided tour, transfer to your hotel. Dinner and overnight is in Cesky Krumlov.
DAY 16: CESKY KRUMLOV – VIENNA (B/D)
Finally, this fascinating tour will end in Vienna, one of the world's most romantic cities and a cultural center for hundreds of years. The Viennese Court was benefactor to some of the world's greatest musicians; Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mahler, Rossini, Salieri, Schubert, and Strauss all made Vienna their home. In Vienna the possibilities are endless.
This evening you will enjoy a typical dinner at Grinzing.
DAY 17: VIENNA (B)
A full day guided tour will include sights such as the State Opera, Parliament, the Town Hall, Heroes’ Square to view the Hofburg Palace, an entire complex of administrative and princely buildings, the oldest of which dates to the 12th Century. Following the city tour, you will visit Schonbrunn Palace which stands in a majestic setting in a huge 500-acre, flower-garlanded park richly enhanced by magnificent statues and fountains.
DAY 18: VIENNA (B/D)
Day at leisure to fit in your personal plans.
This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with your group.
DAY 19: VIENNA – TORONTO (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, board the coach and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Canada.
Dimitris - Is That You?“That can’t be him.” - I said out loud looking over at the three bus drivers chatting away in the parking lot as I walked by. “No, the odds were too great for it to be him, … never in a million years could I be so lucky to run into him again, nah! -- I’d better run on.” I thought...