Day 1: Arrival into Bucharest. Welcome to Bucharest – the capital of Romania and the largest city between Berlin and Athens. Your tour guide will meet you at the Coanda International Airport. Transfer to your downtown Bucharest Hotel. Check in and time at leisure. In the evening enjoy a traditional Romanian welcome dinner and folklore show. Accommodation in Bucharest, at Hotel Berthlot****. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 2: Bucharest City Tour – Piatra Neamt. Hot buffet breakfast at hotel. As of the second half of the 19 century Bucharest was known as “The Little Paris of the East” because of its many Parisian aspects in the city lay out, architecture and nevertheless, lifestyle. Today you will drive on the grand avenues such as Magheru, Kiseleff and Victory Avenue. Stop in the Revolution Square and learn about the December 1989 Romanian Revolution. The visit the Palace of the Parliament (the second largest building in the world will put you in direct contact with Romania’s last years of its Communist power. Lunch on your own then leave Bucharest on the way north to Piatra Neamt in Moldova. Arrive to the hotel in the evening. Check in. Accommodation in Piatra Neamt at Hotel Central***. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Piatra Neamt – Bucovina Monasteries – Campulung. Hot buffet breakfast at hotel. Bucovina monasteries are gems of medieval Moldavian architecture and artistry. Each of them has a predominant color. Start your day with Voronet, the most famous out of all, known as the Sistine Chapel of the East. Voronet features one the best Last Judgment fresco in this part of the World. Receive a complete explanation of the fresco. Next is Moldovita. Get explanation of the outer frescoes. Moldovita Monastery is where the UNESCO Golden Apple Award given to the painted churches back in 1975, is kept. On the south facade of Moldovita is The Siege of Constantinople belonging to the 24 episodes of the Hymn to the Holy Virgin.
Drive to the nearby Sucevita Monastery, which is the largest of all, looking more like a mighty fortress than a monastery. The Ladder of John of Sinai is considered one of the best of the frescoes of Sucevita, rarely present in medieval Romanian art. In the village of Marginea visit the black pottery workshop - they use a technique called "oxygen reduction”, there is the same technique in Mexico only! In the evening enjoy an interactive egg painting demonstration and a home hosted dinner in the village of Vama. Drive to the nearby town of Campulung for overnight. Dinner on own. Accommodation in Campulung Moldovenesc at Hotel Eden*** (or similar). Includes: (B), (D)
Day 4: Campulung – The Borgo Pass - Bistrita – Targu Mures - Sighisoara. Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Depart to Bistrita over the picturesque Borgo Pass of the Eastern Carpathians with a stop over at Castle Dracula Hotel. This is where Bram Stoker placed the “residence” of his imaginary character: Count Dracula. You then pass through Bistrita heading south to Targu Mures, one of the important Central Transylvanian mid size cities and known for its wonderful architecture. View the Vauban citadel then visit the early 1900s Art Nouveau Palace of Culture in the centre. Continue south to Sighisoara – this is the only still inhabited medieval citadel in Europe.
It was developed by the German settlers as of late 12 C. It stands on a network of tunnels and catacombs and, according to one version of the myth; this is where the Pied Piper brought the children of Hamelin after their ungrateful parents refused to pay him his due. Walking tour includes the two squares of the Citadel (Upper Town), the Scholars’ Staircase, the Ducklings’ Square, the Tinsmiths’ Tower, the House with Antler, the Tower with Clock (climb up for a great view), the Torture Chamber and the Weapon Museum. Sighisoara is the place where the famous Vlad the Impaler Dracula was born in 1431. The Birthplace is today a restaurant and one of the main tourist attractions. Dinner on own. Accommodation in the Upper Town of Sighisoara at Hotel Sighisoara*** or House with Antler***. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Sighisoara – Biertan – Sibiu. Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Drive to the nearby fortified church of Biertan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a visit of the former Seat of the Lutheran Bishops between 1516 and 1867. Before noon time arrive to Sibiu: the chief city of the Transylvanian Saxons still surrounded defense walls and the remaining towers each belonging to a certain guild. Take a leisurely walking tour of Sibiu, the chief city of the Transylvanian Germans. Visit the old surrounding defense walls and the remaining towers each belonging to a certain guild. One of the landmarks of Sibiu is the Bruckenthal Museum assembled by baron Bruckenthal, governor of Transylvania at the beginning of the 19th century.
The Evangelical Cathedral was completed in its actual shape in 1520, but inside, there is an exquisite fresco of the Crucifixion on the north wall of the choir dating from 1445. View the Passage of Stairs linking the Upper town to the Lower town, the 1859 Liar's Bridge and the Byzantine style Orthodox Cathedral, a replica of St. Sophia in Constantinople. The tour will end with a visit to the original Pharmacy Museum. Overnight in Sibiu's famous Romans' Emperor Hotel, first built at the end of the 18th century. Your own dinner. Accommodation in Sibiu at Imparatul Romanilor Hotel****. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Sibiu – Fagaras – Brasov. Hot buffet breakfast at hotel. Start your day with a tour of Fagaras with its mighty fort. Continue to Brasov, which also was developed by the Saxon colonists as of the late 12th century and the Old Town is a true gem of medieval architecture. The walking tour of Brasov includes the famous 14th century Black Church with its 4,000 pipe organ and over a hundred Anatolian prayer rugs, the Council Square and Weavers’ Bastion. Next is the old Romanian district known as Schei for a tour of St Nicholas Church then view the narrowest street in South – Central Europe. Hotel check in and time at leisure. Tonight you will enjoy a dinner with Gypsy music in one of the traditional restaurants in the mountain resort of Poiana Brasov. Accommodation in Brasov at Boutique Hotel Casa Wagner***. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 7: Bran Castle - Sinaia Resort and Peles Castle – Bucharest. Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Morning visit to the busy Brasov Central open air fruit and vegetable market. The attraction of the day is the well known Bran Castle also known as Dracula Castle. The castle was built in 1377 to safeguard the trading route between Transylvania and Wallachia, enlarged and restored a few times since then. A guided visit of the castle is included. Free time for souvenir shopping. Cross the mountains into Wallachia and reach Sinaia mountain resort. Named after St. Catherine Monastery on Mount Sinai, Sinaia became the unofficial capital of the Kingdom of Romania towards the end of the 19th century.
Once the famous Orient Express train use to regularly call here and it still does once a year on its way from Paris to Constantinople. Visit one of the most important tourist attractions of the country: Peles Castle the royal residence of King Charles I of Romania and known as one of the most beautiful summer royal residences in Europe. This castle alone is worth your entire trip to Romania. We then continue back to Bucharest arriving in the late afternoon. Board your overnight train (two berth cabins) for Sofia, Bulgaria (single compartments ARE available). Accommodation in First Class Sleepers. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Sofia - Morning at leisure and an afternoon city tour. Early morning we arrival to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital city. The Bulgarian tour guide and bus driver will meet you at the train station and assist for a transfer to our downtown hotel where a a hot and cold buffet awaits. We spend the morning at leisure and refresh after the train ride. In the afternoon we will enjoy a city sightseeing tour of Sofia, a city with 7000-year long history (approximately two and half hours). Sofia highlights include the National History Museum, displaying the gold and silver Thracian treasures, and the Boyana Church, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, one of Bulgaria's most significant historical treasures dating back to the 13th century. Other points of interest during the tour will be the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Rotunda of St George, the St Nicholas Russian Church and the Banya Bashi Mosque as well as a view of the Great Synagogue. In the evening enjoy a Bulgarian Welcome Dinner. Accommodation in Sofia at Hotel Princess ****. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 9: Sofia - Koprivshtica - Plovdiv. Leave Sofia for Plovdiv. En route we will stop over for a visit of Koprivshtica, a museum town of the Bulgarian National Revival architecture, a town where the past seems to come alive. Situated at an altitude of some 3,000 feet above sea level amid lovely meadows and pine forests, the town has long had a magnetic appeal for tourists. Our walking tour includes visits to the beautiful old Bulgarian-style houses of Oslekov, Debeljanov and Kableshkov, which will fascinate you not only with their original architecture but also with their interior 19-century decoration and furnishing. Every single house here is part and parcel of Bulgaria’s history. It is a miracle that Koprivshtica itself was spared destruction and survives in its original appearance. Early afternoon we arrive to Plovdiv, the main city of the Thracian Valley. Plovdiv’s location astride the river Maritsa, and its six hills, which are prominent features on the Thracian plane, indicates the strategic significance of the city.
It is one of the oldest and most colorful towns in Bulgaria. No one can tell exactly when the foundation stone was laid here, although it must have been over 5000 years ago. Old Plovdiv on Trimonzium hill is the centre of Bulgarian national revival architecture at its height and is full of charm and artistic character. Enjoy a tour including a visit to the Old Town, the 2000 years old Roman Theatre; the Ethnographic Museum and the Byzantine and medieval fortifications, the 15th century mosque. Walk along the narrow cobbled streets and admire the silence and tranquility of this historic town, visit workshops of local artisans to learn about Bulgarian crafts, especially pottery. Hotel check in. Evening at leisure. Accommodation in Plovdiv at the Famous House Hotel*** (or similar). Includes: (B).
Day 10: Plovdiv - Valley of the Roses - Veliko Turnovo. After breakfast we drive North to Kazanlak, the main city of the famous Rose Valley. This valley has been a centre of rose oil production and export for centuries. We visit the Rose museum to find out why Bulgarian rose oil is an essential ingredient of top-quality perfumes. Recently, the Rose Valley has become known also as the Valley of the Thracian Kings. The Thracians were the earliest recorded population in the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula, in what is today Bulgaria. It was at the end of the Late Bronze Age that the Greek authors, Homer in particular, called the territories north of Greece by the name of Thrace. The Thracians had an exceptionally original culture and created an amazing civilization.
We visit the Thracian beehive tomb in Kazanlak, a unique monument of the Thracian Culture, included in UNESCO's List of World Heritage. The region around Kazanlak is dotted with dozens of Thracian burial mounds. Here, in summer 2004 Prof. Kitov and a team of fellow archaeologists unearthed an ancient gold funeral mask that they say is as important a discovery as the treasures of Agamemnon and Tutankhamen. This extremely precious discovery is displayed in the local museum. Cross the Balkan Range at the Shipka Pass and visit the gold-domed Shipka Memorial Church. The view from the top of the pass over the Thracian Plane is really spectacular.
We proceed with a visit of the open-air Etara Ethnographic Museum. The 18th – 19th century crafts and lifestyle will come to life in front of you as you visit this famous open-air museum. Next stop is Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s old capital city. Picturesquely situated on the three hills circled by the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo still preserves the typical 19th century architecture with its houses perched one above the other along the sloping hills. Past glory with fortress walls and palaces creates an amazing background for a joyful contemporary life of this University town, full of young people. Evening at leisure. Accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo at Hotel Gurko***. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Veliko Tarnovo: City Tour – Troyan - Sofia. Breakfast at hotel. Take a morning walking a tour of this town, full of history. The capital of Medieval Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, is one of the most picturesque historical settlements. Located on the hills above the meandering river Yantra, this city, once a glorious medieval capital (1186 – 1393), is now attracting thousands of romantic travelers with its irresistible atmosphere. Mixing the legends of the past with bursting joy of hundreds of young students – this is Veliko Tarnovo today, the second most important University City after Sofia. Start exploring the city with the Tsarevets Royal hill. Our guide can tell you more than any of the thick books will.
Then go to the Samovodska market place, with its narrow cobbled streets, where every stone tells a story. The neighboring Arbanassi museum village is a genuine gallery of art. Apart from a gorgeous view over the city of Veliko Tarnovo, there are two musts here: the 15th century Church of the Nativity, repainted in the 17th century, and the house of Konstantsaliev’s- a fortress-like stone building, excellent examples of the 18th century architecture at its height. Travel back to Sofia via the beautiful Danube Plain. Today we cross the Balkan Range at Troyan Pass, another spectacular views waiting ahead and visit the nearby Troyan Monastery, Bulgaria's third largest. Arrive to Sofia and check into your hotel. Accommodation in Sofia at Hotel Rodina. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Sofia – Rila Monastery - Sofia. Hot and cold buffet breakfast. We travel to the famous Rila Monastery. Founded in the 10th century, it has been the biggest spiritual and cultural centre in Bulgaria for hundreds of years. On a number of occasions it was destroyed and burnt down, only to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes. The Monastery’s unrivalled architecture and murals will captivate you. This monastery is the largest in the Balkans and included in the List of World Cultural Heritage. Our tour of the monastery includes a visit to the Monastery Church, which is of particular artistic value, for it was adorned by the foremost 19-century masters of the Samokov, Bansko and Debar schools of painting and woodcarving. We visit the Monastery Museum featuring a rich collections of precious artefacts from the monastery’s thousand-year history. Monks still live and practice here. We drive back to Sofia. Evening at leisure. Accommodation in Sofia at Hotel Princess****. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Sofia Departure. Breakfast at hotel. (Boxed breakfast will be provided for the early departures). Multiple transfers to Sofia International Airport for your return flights.
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