BALTIC GEMS

    • Countries Visited: Croatia

Tour Inclusions:

    • Round trip airfare NYC/Tallin x Vilnius/NYC
    • Accommodations at first class hotels
    • Comprehensive sightseeing as per the itinerary
    • Transportation by a deluxe air-conditioned motor coach.
    • English speaking tour escort.
    • Baggage handling of one suitcase per person.
    • Select International Travel Portfolio

DAY 1: Depart USA

Depart your hometown on an overnight flight to Tallin.

DAY 2: TALLIN

Welcome to Estonia! Dating back to the 9th century, Tallinn’s auspicious maritime location was coveted by Vikings, Teutonic Knights, Hanseatic traders, Peter the Great, the Swedes, and eventually the Soviets. The continual shift of power throughout the centuries prevented urban growth and development in Tallinn. To this day, one of the purest examples of a European medieval city is found within these walls. We see layers of the cities tumulus history on a walking tour through the Old Town, meet with a clergy member of the new St. Bridget’s Convent and tour the remains of the original convent, which was established in the 15th century. Travel to Rocca-al-Mare to visit the open-air Ethnographical Museum, where 18th- and 19th-century farmhouses, churches, and a windmill depict a bygone era. Overnight Tallin. (D)

DAY 3 :TALLIN- TARTU

Tallinn’s Town Hall sits prominently on the old market square, its spire dominating the Old Town skyline. Learn more about the history and style of this unique architectural treasure, built in the 13th century, during a private tour with a local specialist. Departing Tallinn, cross forested areas and farmlands for the charming university town of Tartu. (B.D)

DAY 4 : TARTU- PARNU- RIGA

Founded in the 11th century, Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia and the intellectual heart of the country. The city features several distinctive neoclassical buildings, including Town Hall, painted purple and topped with a spire. Visit Tartu University, founded by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf in 1632, and attend a lecture presented by a professor on the history of the university. We then visit the summer resort town of Parnu for lunch. In the afternoon cross the border to Riga in Latvia. Dinner in a local restaurant with sampling of local delicacies. Overnight Riga. (B.D.)

DAY 5:  RIGA

Old Riga is considered the most cosmopolitan of the Baltic capitals. Once Russia’s coveted warm-water port it is the largest of the Baltic capitals. Riga is proud of its traditional architecture which we explore during a morning walking tour, observing the gabled homes, churches, and wooden storehouses of the Old Town, reminders of early wealthy merchants who settled and traded in this strategic port. Part of the city’s ambiance comes from the arts, including Europe’s greatest concentration of jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) buildings, which is sure to enchant most visitors. Depart for the Opera House for a fascinating private backstage tour.  Lovingly restored by funds from Latvian emigrants, the building closely reflects the 1863 original. Tonight, enjoy a cultural performance in the Dom Cathedral  also known St. Mary’s Cathedral with its 6,789 pipe organ. Riga is the place where the famous ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov got his start. Overnight Riga.  (B.D)

DAY 6: RIGA- SIGULDA

 

Today we visit Gauja National Park, Latvia’s historic nature preserve. We visit Gutmanis’ Cave, a 35 foot cavern bubbling with fresh spring water believed to have curative powers, and the ruins of Turaida Castle. We return to Riga in the afternoon for time at leisure. (B)

DAY 7: RUNDALE PALACE-HILL OF CROSSES-VILNIUS

A short distance south of Riga lies Rundale Palace, built by Rastrelli, the architect of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, which took more than 30 years to design. After visiting the palace and gardens, cross into Lithuania and stop at the Hill of Crosses, a sacred place of pilgrimage that dates to the 14th century, and symbolizes Lithuanian nationalism. Enjoy lunch at a farmstead in the small village of Berzini, in the Zemgale agricultural region of the country. Continue to Vilnius, arriving in the early evening. (B.L.)

DAY 8: VILNIUS

Vilnius has been a cultural center since 1323 when the grand dukes of Lithuania chose this site as the seat of their administration. We see the highlights of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the historic district, visiting the cathedral, which resembles a classical Athenian temple, and St. Anne’s Church, the gem of Lithuanian Baroque. We visit the Vilnius University, and the fascinating KGB museum. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore. Overnight Vilnius. (B.D.)

DAY 9: VILNIUS-TRAKAI

Today we travel about 20 miles outside Vilnius to Trakai, the medieval capital of Lithuania, set in a resort village surrounded by five lakes. Here we tour 15th century Trakai Castle, with exhibits commemorating the days when the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian stretched all the way from the Baltic to the Black Sea. After a turbulent history, Lithuania broke away from the Soviet Union’s communist grip in 1991 and today is a modern thriving, democratic nation. Savor the sounds of Lithuanian folk music performed this evening during your farewell dinner. (B.D)

DAY 10: RETURN TO USA

After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Optional visit to Helsinki visit for two nights is available.

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