Multiple arrivals to Coanda International Airport in Bucharest. Meet and greet by your professional English speaking tour guide. The tour guide will wait with a name sign reading Compass Travel, visible right after you exit Customs. Transfer to your downtown Bucharest hotel with a short orientation tour. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner and a Folklore Show. The transfer to the hotel is included.
T D Accommodation at Hotel Berthelot **** (centrally located boutique hotel)
Day 2 Thursday May 2:
Bucharest Tour – Cozia - Olt River Gorge – Sibiu (Transylvania)
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. This morning take a city tour of Bucharest including the Revolution Square and the former Royal Palace, Cotroceni Quarter, the Palace of the Parliament - the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, the avenues, a view of the Ceausescu’s private residence as well as the Village Museum - one of the world's most interesting open air museums with century old original peasant households from all parts of Romania. On route to Sibiu, make a short stop to the 14th century Cozia Monastery built by Prince Mircea the Old. Drive along the picturesque Olt River Gorge crossing the mountains into Transylvania. Reach Sibiu. Brief orientation tour on the way to the hotel. Overnight in Sibiu's famous Romans' Emperor Hotel, first built at the end of the 18th century. Dinner on own. Suggested is Crama Sibiul Vechi, best cellar - restaurants in town, serving Transylvanian fares.
B Accommodation in Sibiu at Imparatul Romanilor Hotel ****
Hotel Imparatul Romanilor, located in the old part of Sibiu near the main square, in a 16th century building built in traditional Transylvanian Renaissance style, a former merchant's hall transformed into hotel in the 18th century, with many famous guests: Emperor Franz Joseph II, composers Franz Liszt, Johann Strauss as well as Prince Charles and many others.
Day 3 Friday May 3:
Sibiu Walking Tour & Open Air Market - Turda Salt Mines - Cluj Napoca
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Start your day with a leisurely walking tour of Sibiu, the chief city of the Transylvanian Germans. Walk in the Great and the Lesser Squares, view the old surrounding defense walls and the remaining guild towers. One of the landmarks of Sibiu is the Bruckenthal Museum assembled by Baron Bruckenthal, governor of Transylvania at the beginning of the 19th century and the second museum to ever open in Europe. View of the Evangelical Cathedral completed in its actual shape in 1520. The tour ends with the original Pharmacy Museum located in a 15th century pharmacy in use till 1977. Visit the bustling Sibiu Open air Central Market before departing for Turda for a guided tour of the recently opened Turda Salt Mines. The mines are very easy accessible and offer all modern facilities. Late afternoon arrival to Cluj Napoca, Transylvania’s largest city and one of the country's most important university centers. Orientation tour with the Helmer & Fellner Opera House, the Gothic St Michael's Cathedral and the main square, on the way to your centrally located hotel. Evening at leisure.
B Accommodation in Cluj at Hotel Siago *** (superior rooms)
Day 4 Saturday May 4:
Cluj Napoca - Baia Mare & Surdesti - Maramures Easter Celebrations
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. This morning you will enjoy a guided tour of the Ethnographic Museum. Later drive north towards Baia Mare and reach the splendid region of Maramures (northern Transylvania). Due to the relative isolation of their land, the people of Maramures developed a particularly strong community, with a unique personality, traditions, culture, fashion and lifestyle unspoiled for centuries. Visit the early 1720s Church of Surdesti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and until recently the tallest wooden church in Europe. This is a good opportunity to learn about the Uniates. Then stop in the villages of Giulesti for the dowry tradition and Mara for the wonderfully carved wooden gates. Continue to Sighet to the Anti Communist Memorial - a political prison in the Communist times. This is one of the main memorial sites of the continent, alongside Auschwitz Museum and the Peace Memorial in Normandy. The visit here provides a direct connection to Romania's most recent history. Next is the house of Nobel Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel who was born in town. Accommodation in a private home in the village of Iza. At your own leisure you may attent a small part of the Easter Service in the Village of Iza followed by a special home hosted Easter Dinner. This is an excellent opportunity to see the locals dressed in the Easter Costumes. Our hosts will join for dinner, this being a first hand cultural interchange.
B D Home stay accommodation (modern villa) two nights
Family home, with one section renovated into a modern villa with all modern facilities. The location is excellent, in a small village, quiet neighborhood, far away from the main street. The terraces offer a beautiful view on the village. Excellent home cooking.
Day 5 Sunday May 5:
Maramures: Iza - Sighetul Marmatiei - Sapinta Village
After a special Easter breakfast, take an exclusively designed walking tour of the village of Iza including an icon-on-glass workshop (and learn about the technique), the local ancient type plum brandy distillery and a Maramures typical whirlpool still used by the local women to wash heavy woolen blankets. Briefly attend church in the village and observe the local customs. Then drive to the nearby town of Sighet to mingle with the locals at the colorful fruit and vegetable market where you will have the oportunity to sample various produce. Continue west along Tisa River (very close to the Ukrainian border) and reach the village of Sapinta world famous for its "Merry Cemetery". Here each wooden cross carries a funny epitaph about the person's life. In the same village view the tallest wooden church on the World, Sapinta Peri Monastery. Late in the afternoon return to Iza for a home hosted dinner on an exclusively organized Maramures folklore show and then accommodation.
B D Home stay accommodation
Day 6 Monday May 6:
Maramures: Iza Valley & Ieud - Campulung - Gura Humor (Bucovina)
Following breakfast continue exploring Maramures along the picturesque Iza Valley – an excellent oportunity to witness daily life in this forgotten corner of Europe. Stop in the village of Rozavlea for a visit to the workshop of a famous master carver in his own workshop. He represented Romania at the 1999 Smithsonian World Folk Festival in Washington, DC. Next is the exquisite Barsana Monastery, probably the best example of Maramures wooden church architecture. Then visit the wooden church of Ieud (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the oldest in the area dating back from the 14th century. The last stop on the Iza Valley is in the village of Dragomiresti at a 235 year old original complete household. Cross the Carpathian Mountains thru the picturesque Prislop Pass into the northern part of Moldavia called Bucovina. In the town of Campulung enjoy an exclusively organized interactive egg-painting demonstration by a local artist in her home, this being one of the local traditions of the area. You have the chance to admire painted eggs from all over the world. After arriving in Gura Humorului, check into the hotel. Dinner is included at the hotel.
B D Accommodation in Gura Humorului at Hotel BW Bucovina **** (two nights)
Day 7 Tuesday May 7:
Bucovina Painted Monasteries Excursion (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
A la carte breakfast at hotel. Bucovina monasteries are gems of medieval Moldavian architecture and artistry. Begin your day with Voronet, the most famous out of all, known as the Sistine Chapel of the East and featuring one the best Last Judgment fresco in this part of the World. Next is Moldovita Monastery where the UNESCO Golden Apple Award given to the painted churches in 1975, is kept. As a cultural connection, enjoy a traditional Bucovina lunch in the picturesque village of Sucevita. Later continue 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! End your day with the Monastery of Humor, the only one without a belfry tower. Return to the hotel.
B L Accommodation in Gura Humorului at Hotel BW Bucovina ****
Day 8 Wednesday May 8:
Gura Humorului - Piatra Neamt - Bicaz Gorges & Red Lake - Sighisoara
A la carte breakfast at hotel. Begin your day with a drive south to Piatra Neamt for a tour of the only wooden synagogue in Romania (dating from the 17th century) and built half underground. Reach Bicaz Gorges where the surroundings are dramatic. Optional lunch in the resort of Lacu Rosu (restaurants specialize in naturally grown trout). Once passing the Red Lake you are back to Transylvania. Exclusive Visit to a Gypsy village followed by a Gypsy home visit: this is an unique opportunity to learn about this less known yet controversial ethnic group, about its culture, identity and lifestyle. Afternoon arrival to Sighisoara - World Heritage Site and the only still inhabited medieval citadel in Europe. It was developed by the German settlers as of late 12th century and 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. The walking tour includes the two squares of the Citadel (Upper Town), the Scholars' Staircase and the Tower with Clock. Sighisoara is the place where the Vlad the Impaler Dracula was born in 1431. The Birthplace is one of the main tourist attractions. Accommodation in the Upper Town. Suggestion for dinner: the Birthplace of Vlad Dracula.
B Accommodation in Sighisoara at The House with
Day 9 Thursday May 9:
Sighisoara - Dracula's Castle in Bran - Cheese Tasting - Brasov Walking Tour & Evening at leisure
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Leave Sighisoara in the morning. Journey south through the picturesque Transylvanian Plateau for a tour of Bran Castle also known as Dracula Castle. This medieval structure was built in 1377 to safeguard the trading route between Transylvania and Wallachia, enlarged and restored a few times to become a royal residence in the 1920s under Queen Marie of Romania. After the visit enjoy cheese tasting. The remainder of the day is spent in Brasov, another of the important Saxon town with a rich heritage. The tour will reveal the Old Town with a view of the late Gothic Black Church, Council Square, Catherine’s Gate, the Guild Towers, Schei Quarter with the First School in Romanian language, the narrow Rope Street as well as a view of the impresive 1901 synagogue. Hotel check in with the remainder of the day in the lovely pedestrian area of the Old Town with its many restaurants and outdoor cafes.
B Accommodation in Brasov at Hotel Casa Wagner ***
Day 10 Friday May 10:
Brasov - Sinaia: Peles Castle - Bucharest
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Morning scenic drive to 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. The orientation tour of the resort includes a view of the famous Casino building, with its architecture inspired by the one in Monte Carlo. Then take a guided tour of the Peles Castle and Gardens in Sinaia, the royal residence of King Charles I of Romania and known as one of the most beautiful summer royal residences in Europe. After the visit drive to Bucharest Coanda International Airport for your afternoon return flights. or take our BULGARIA EXTENSION OR THE BLACK SEA & DANUBE DELTA EXTENSION (FOR MINIMUM TWO PARTICIPANTS).
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