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Discovering Eastern Europe

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Departure Dates

  • May 01, 2018 - May 17, 2018


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Discovering Eastern Europe

Join us on an exclusive 17-day journey throughout Eastern Europe. Our odyssey to this remarkable region spans five countries and weaves together the area’s deep history with the monumental events of the 20th century. We discover the charm of Budapest, Vienna, Warsaw, Krakow, Bratislava, and Prague, and explore significant cultural, historical, and scenic sites along the way. Highlights include touring Vienna’s majestic Schönbrunn Palace, and seeing Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish ghetto. We’ll explore the unique Wieliczka Salt Mines near Krakow, and visit the infamous concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. We enjoy dinner at the restaurant of a local family in Bratislava, and a private classical piano recital in Warsaw. We conclude our journey in Prague, with ample free time for independent exploration. Space for only 24 guests on this departure!

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May 2 & 3, 2018

Polonia Palace Hotel
Al. Jerozolimskie 45
00-692 Warsaw, Poland
Phone:  011-48-22-31-82-800
Fax:      011-48-22-31-82-801

Opened more than 90 years ago, the French-style Polonia Palace Hotel preserves the unique characteristics of early 20th-century architecture while incorporating many contemporary features.  The conveniently located hotel stands across from the Palace of Culture and Science and numerous shopping areas.  Hotel amenities include a restaurant, bar, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness center, and sauna.  Each of the 206 air-conditioned rooms comes fully equipped with a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, minibar, TV, and phone.

May 4 – 6, 2018

Hotel Pod Roza
ul. Florianska 14
31-021 Krakow, Poland
Phone:  011-48-12-424-33-00
Fax:      011-48-12-424-33-51

Located in the center of Old Town on beloved Florianska Street, this is Krakow’s oldest hotel.  The neo-classical building’s origins date to the 14th century as a private home; it became a hotel in the 17th century.  The hotel offers a restaurant, café, bar, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, fitness center with spa, laundry service, currency exchange, and safe deposit boxes.  Air-conditioned guest rooms feature contemporary amenities, including private bath with hair dryer, minibar, TV, and phone.

May 7 – 9, 2018

Hilton Budapest
Hess Andras Ter 1-3
1014 Budapest, Hungary
Phone:  011-36-1-889-6600
Fax:      011-36-1-889-6644

A unique Gothic building incorporating part of a 16th-century Jesuit college and a 13th-century monastery, the Hilton Budapest is located in the Castle District of Buda, next to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, and a brief walk to Buda Castle and the Hungarian National Gallery.  Hotel amenities include a restaurant, café, and lounge; internet access and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access; gift shop; laundry and dry cleaning services; and fitness room.  Climate-controlled guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, minibar, TV, and phone.

May 10 – 12, 2018

Hilton Vienna Plaza
Am Schottenring 11
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone:  011-43-1-313-900
Fax:      011-43-1-313-902-2009

The Vienna Plaza is located on the famous Ringstrasse, opposite the Vienna Stock Exchange and within walking distance of the city center.  Among its facilities:  a restaurant, bar, internet access, fitness center, sauna, massage treatments, whirlpool, solarium, and elevator and laundry service.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, minibar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.  Please note:  While you may be expected to pay for internet access at certain hotels throughout the course of your tour, the cost of internet access at the Hilton Vienna Plaza may be higher than most.

May 13, 2018

Hotel Devín
Riečna 4
811 02 Bratislava, Slovakia
Phone:  011-421-2-5998-5856

Set overlooking the Danube in the heart of Bratislava, the elegant Hotel Devín offers modern comforts in a historic, traditional setting.  The hotel’s amenities include an upscale French restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center with heated indoor pool, full spa, traditional Thai massage service, squash court, laundry and dry cleaning service, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Air-conditioned guest rooms include private bath, in-room safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities, minibar, TV, and phone.

May 14 – 16, 2018

Grand Bohemia Praha
Králodvorská 4
CZ-110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Phone:  011-420-234-608-111
Fax:      011-420-234-608-877

The 78-room Grand Bohemia Praha is ideally located in the center of Prague; as it sits within walking distance of Powder Tower, Old Town Square, Old Town Hall, and Wenceslas Square.  The hotel offers a restaurant, coffee shop/bar, laundry and dry cleaning services, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Each air-conditioned guest room has private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, minibar, TV, and phone.


May 17 – 19, 2018
Hotel am Steinplatz
Steinplatz 4
10623 Berlin, Germany
Phone:  011-49-30-554-440

First opened in 1913, Hotel am Steinplatz has undergone a thorough renovation and was re-opened as a boutique hotel in 2013.  The distinctive Art Nouveau façade and desirable location in the center of Berlin have combined to make this hotel a landmark in Germany’s capital.  The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, spa and fitness center, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Each of the 84 individually designed guest rooms feature private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, minibar, TV, and phone.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018
DAY 1:  Depart the U.S. for Warsaw, Poland

Early this evening we depart the U.S. for Europe, with a connecting flight to Warsaw.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
DAY 2:   Arrive Warsaw

After reaching Warsaw late this morning and transferring to the hotel, there’s time to unpack, relax, or discover this fascinating city.  This evening we gather for a welcome dinner at our hotel, where we will have a chance to get acquainted with our fellow travelers and our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director.

Accommodations:  Polonia Palace Hotel
Meals:  Dinner

Thursday, May 3, 2018
DAY 3:  Warsaw

Devastated by World War II, Warsaw had to be virtually rebuilt from the ground up – a 15-year project that used every piece of authentic stone found amid the rubble.  We see the results on today’s morning tour, which includes the completely restored Old Town Square, a UNESCO Heritage site; and the Royal Castle, the official residence of the Polish monarchs located in Castle Square at the entrance to the Old Town.  We also explore the area of the former Jewish Ghetto and the Jewish Cemetery, the largest of its kind in Europe.  As we walk the streets that the Jews of Warsaw once inhabited, we can imagine the 1943 uprising when a small number of Jewish Resistance fighters inside the ghetto held out against Nazi forces for an incredible 22 days.  After some time at leisure, late this afternoon we enjoy a special treat:  a private classical piano recital.  Lunch and dinner are on our own today.

Accommodations:  Polonia Palace Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast

Friday, May 4, 2018
DAY 4:   Warsaw/Auschwitz & Birkenau/Krakow

This morning we board our motorcoach for a day-long journey to Krakow, the former Polish capital city.  Along the way we stop and enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant in the town of Oswiecim, better known by its German name of Auschwitz.  All over the world, Auschwitz, with its three main concentration camps and 45 satellite camps spread across southern Poland, has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust.  We then tour the actual concentration camps of Auschwitz I, used mainly to hold prisoners, and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, one of the main sites of the Nazis’ “Final Solution.”  Auschwitz was the largest camp established by the Nazis during World War II, and more than a million people – the vast majority of them Jews – died here between 1940, when it was built, and 1945, when it was liberated.  Both camps have been preserved as they were during the war, including the prison blocks, gas chambers, and crematoria.  We spend approximately three hours here, touring the sites and learning more about this horrific time.  After this somber visit, we continue our journey to Krakow, arriving late this afternoon.  Tonight we dine together at our hotel.

Accommodations:  Hotel Pod Roza
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Saturday, May 5, 2018
DAY 5:   Krakow

The country’s third largest city, Krakow escaped the devastation that obliterated other Polish cities during World War II, and its perfectly preserved medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is on the itinerary of this morning’s tour.  We also visit the Main Market Square, the largest medieval town square in Europe; as well as 14th-century Wawel Castle and Cathedral before returning to our hotel.  The remainder of the day is free to do as we please.  Lunch and dinner today are on our own.

Accommodations:  Hotel Pod Roza
Meals:  Breakfast

Sunday, May 6, 2018
DAY 6:   Krakow

This morning we tour the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is a virtual underground city, with galleries, lakes, chapels, and murals – all carved from salt.  The mine’s centerpiece is the Chapel of Saint Kinga, with its chandelier and mural of the Last Supper, carved by three miners over a period of 68 years. The mine has been a family tradition, with fathers passing their mining – and carving – skills on to their sons for generations.  During World War II, the Nazis actually used the mine to manufacture parts for their aircraft.  Though no longer a source of hard salt, the mine does extract and sell salt from ground water in the underground lakes.  After this fascinating tour we return to Krakow, where the remainder of the day is at leisure with lunch and dinner on our own in this historic capital.

Accommodations:  Hotel Pod Roza
Meals:  Breakfast

Monday, May 7, 2018
DAY 7:   Krakow/Slovakia/Budapest

We enjoy the scenic beauty of the Tatra Mountains as we travel by bus from Poland to Hungary via Slovakia, where we stop for lunch.  Boasting the highest elevations in the Carpathian mountain range, the Tatras count as a popular winter sports destination.  Early this evening we reach the Hungarian capital of Budapest and our hotel, located in Buda’s lovely and historic Castle District.  A Hungarian king originally built Buda Castle in the aftermath of a 13th-century Mongolian invasion.  Destroyed in a 17th-century siege, rebuilt, and decimated once again in World War II, the castle complex was reconstructed according to the original medieval design in an extensive post-war project that lasted through the 1980s.  This evening is at leisure for dinner on our own in this sophisticated city.

Accommodations:  Hilton Budapest
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
DAY 8:   Budapest

Our half-day tour introduces us to this great city, home to one in every five Hungarians.  We begin with a visit to Matthias Church (Mátyás Templom), the symbol of Buda’s Castle District; followed by a stroll around Fisherman’s Bastion behind our hotel for spectacular views of the Pest side of the city across the river.  Looking out over the Danube to Pest we can see the Chain Bridge – the first permanent bridge across the Danube – connecting Buda with Pest; Margaret Island, a public park since 1908; and the huge neo-gothic House of Parliament, seat of this democratic nation’s government.  Our tour also includes an inside visit of the Dohány Synagogue with its rich but tragic history.  Built in 1859, it is the largest synagogue in Europe and the world’s second largest.  During the German occupation, Nazis used the synagogue as a stable and a radio base; in 1945, some 5,000 murdered Jews were buried in a mass grave in its courtyard where a Holocaust Memorial now stands.  On days that the Synagogue is closed, we take an inside visit to the House of Parliament.  After lunch on our own, the afternoon is free for independent exploration.  Tonight we enjoy a typical Hungarian dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations:  Hilton Budapest
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
DAY 9:   Budapest

Today is free to explore the “Paris of the East” on our own.  Our tour director is on hand to offer suggestions and assist with any special arrangements.  The city’s riches include the ornate Opera House, one of Budapest’s most spectacular buildings and among the top opera houses in Europe.  There is time to take a guided tour of the Opera House, or even enjoy an evening performance there (the season runs from September through June; performances usually start at 6 or 7 p.m.).  Or visit the Thermal Bath at the Hotel Gellert, with pools of varying temperatures, steam rooms, and an outdoor artificial-wave pool; or the Museum of Fine Arts, displaying Central Europe’s most important collection of foreign art.  For an outdoor experience, walk one of the many trails in the Buda Hills or take a leisurely stroll on Margaret Island.  Lunch and dinner today are on our own.

Accommodations:  Hilton Budapest
Meals:  Breakfast

Thursday, May 10, 2018
DAY 10:  Budapest/Danube Bend/Vienna

We travel by bus to Vienna today, and take time to visit a few of the small towns that lie along the scenic Danube Bend.  Our first stop is Szentendre, a tiny town packed with artisans’ shops; here we visit the fascinating museum showcasing the works of Hungarian ceramic artist Margaret Kovács.  We continue to Neszmély, a picturesque village along the Danube where we meet the friendly inhabitants and sample outstanding cuisine for lunch.  Then we continue on to beloved Vienna.  After arriving in the Austrian capital late this afternoon and checking in to our hotel, the remainder of the evening is free.  Dinner is on our own tonight; this is the perfect opportunity to sample some of Vienna’s acclaimed cuisine.

Accommodations:  Hilton Vienna Plaza
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

Friday, May 11, 2018
DAY 11:  Vienna

The grandeur of the Habsburg Empire comes to life today as we embark on a half-day tour of the city that was the cornerstone of Habsburg rule for centuries.  A drive along the Ringstrasse, the city’s famed boulevard, gives us a wonderful overview of Vienna.  We pass the Hofburg, the former Imperial Palace; city hall; the Parliament; and the National Museum.  We stop to enjoy a guided tour of the storied, ornate Opera House, one of Europe’s grandest theaters.  Next we drive to Schönbrunn Palace for a guided inside tour of the Imperial Apartments and a stroll through the surrounding gardens.  After returning to our hotel, lunch is on our own and the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.  There is time to walk through the pedestrian-only Kärntnerstrasse, a bustling shopping street that features all the best shops, restaurants, and coffeehouses.  We gather in the early evening for a traditional Wiener Schnitzel dinner at a local restaurant.  Afterwards we attend a classical music concert in this most musical of all cities.

Accommodations:  Hilton Vienna Plaza
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Saturday, May 12, 2018
DAY 12:  Vienna Woods

This morning we enjoy an excursion to the Vienna Woods, the eastern tip of Alpine Europe.  The Vienna Woods gained fame during the heyday of the Austrian Empire, and infamy as the site of the Mayerling hunting lodge, where in 1889 the mysterious deaths of Archduke Rudolf and his mistress changed the course of European history.  Recently uncovered letters from Mary Vetsera, Rudolf’s mistress, indicate that she and her lover (the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire) had entered a suicide pact.  With Rudolf’s death, the empire’s stability (and public perception) crumbled.  Succession passed to Rudolf’s uncle, and then to his uncle’s son—Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose famous 1914 assassination at the hands of the Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip precipitated World War I.  Our first stop in this history-laden region is the medieval abbey of Heiligenkreuz, Austria`s second-oldest Cistercian monastery (c. 1133) with Babenberg tombs, a chapel with a Romanesque nave, High Gothic choir hall, Baroque choir stalls, and Early Gothic cloisters.  We continue on past Mayerling to the medieval spa town of Baden, where we take a brief stroll through the city center and then have some free time.  We return to Vienna early this afternoon and the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration.  There is time to visit the Lipizzaner Museum; shop along the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse; visit the home of Sigmund Freud; or tour the acclaimed Museum of Fine Arts or Museum of Natural History.  Both lunch and dinner are on our own today.

Accommodations:  Hilton Vienna Plaza
Meals:  Breakfast

Sunday, May 13, 2018
DAY 13:  Vienna/Bratislava

Mid-morning we depart for Bratislava, capital of the independent nation of Slovakia and the world’s only capital to share borders with two countries, Austria and Hungary.  Soviet-era buildings intermingle with classical and medieval architecture in this rapidly growing city straddling the Danube.  Upon arrival we embark on a mini-train and walking tour of the historic Castle area where various peoples – Celts, Romans, Slavs, and Slovaks – have built fortifications since the Stone Age.  Bratislava Castle underwent many renovations throughout the centuries until fire destroyed it in 1811; reconstruction began in the 1950s and continues today.  We also visit the 18th-century classical-style Archbishop’s Palace, now the Bratislava mayoral residence.  After our touring, we enjoy lunch on our own, then check into our hotel just across the street from the Danube.  We have time to refresh before enjoying dinner tonight at the restaurant of a local family.

Accommodations:  Hotel Devín
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Monday, May 14, 2018
DAY 14:  Bratislava/Prague

This morning we leave for Prague, proud capital of the Czech Republic, filled with art, medieval architecture, historic churches, and cobblestone streets.  We reach Prague late afternoon and have the rest of the day to discover this wondrous city on our own or to join our tour director on a short orientation walk of Old Town (Staré Mĕsto).  Walking is really the only way to explore Prague; most of the oldest areas are walking zones where motor traffic is limited or prohibited.  We discover Prague’s Old Town, whose ancient streets are lined with many stately buildings, churches, shops, and theaters; and 14th-century Charles Bridge, Prague’s most celebrated structure linking Old Town and the Castle District across the river.  All roads eventually lead to Old Town Square, a focal point of Czech history and politics.  Here we can see the historic Astronomical Clock – at the top of the hour a mechanical parade of saints and sinners performs for passers-by.  Tonight we have time to enjoy dinner on our own.

Accommodations:  Grand Bohemia Praha
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
DAY 15:   Prague

This morning we tour Prague’s celebrated Castle District (Hradčany).  This hilltop complex encompasses many houses, towers, churches, courtyards, and monuments.  We visit the key sites of St. Vitus Cathedral and the Royal Palace, then have the afternoon free to explore at our own pace.  The historical core of the city – Hradčany, Malá Strana (Lesser Town), Staré Mĕsto (Old Town), and Václavské námĕstí (Wenceslas Square), site of the demonstrations that led to the Velvet Revolution – covers about two square miles and is pedestrian-friendly.  The afternoon and evening are free to enjoy our choice of restaurants in this dazzling city.

Accommodations:  Grand Bohemia Praha
Meals:  Breakfast

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
DAY 16:  Prague

This morning we join our tour director on a walk to Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter, located entirely within Staré Mĕsto.  After entering this historic district (our tour director will provide us with entrance tickets), we have the chance to explore this region that has seen concentration, resistance, and rebirth for nearly a full millennium.  Led by a local guide, we have access to the following sites within Josefov:  Maisel Synagogue, now serving as the exhibition space for the Jewish Museum; the Spanish Synagogue, the “newest” synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, built in 1868; Pinkas Synagogue, where a haunting collection of paintings and drawings by children from Terezín concentration camp is on display;

Klausen Synagogue, exhibiting Jewish traditions and customs; and the Old Jewish Cemetery and the adjacent Ceremonial Hall.  This afternoon is free for lunch on our own and individual pursuits before tonight’s special farewell dinner together.

Accommodations:  Grand Bohemia Praha
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Thursday, May 17, 2018
DAY 17:  Return to U.S.

Early this morning we transfer to the airport for our connecting flight to the U.S.

Meals:  Breakfast

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Thursday, May 17, 2018
DAY 17:  Prague/Berlin
This morning we depart Prague via train for our transfer to Berlin.  We arrive in Berlin early afternoon and are met at the train station by a local guide, who takes us on a panoramic tour of Germany’s cosmopolitan capital.  After checking into our hotel late afternoon, we are free to explore Berlin at our leisure, and dine on our own tonight in this bustling city.

Accommodations: Hotel am Steinplatz
Meals:  Breakfast

Friday, May 18, 2018 & Saturday, May 19, 2018
DAYS 18-19:  Berlin
We have two days on our own to discover one of the most exciting, interesting, and historical cities in Europe, and the options are limitless.  Guests looking for shopping will have their hands full.  Berlin boasts the Kaufhaus des Westens (“Department Store of the West,” abbreviated KaDeWe), continental Europe’s largest department store with over 640,000 square feet of selling space.  In addition, don’t miss the Kurfürstendamm, Berlin’s answer to the Champs-Élysées, a broad boulevard teeming with high-end shops and eateries.  Nature lovers will rejoice, as both the Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest park; and the Berlin Zoo, the most diverse in the world (with over 1,500 different animal species) are located in downtown Berlin.

Hail a cab or utilize Berlin’s underground subway (the “U-Bahn”) to experience everything else Berlin has to offer. History buffs will enjoy some of Europe’s most compelling sites – the imperial Reichstag Building, sobering Holocaust Memorial, towering Brandenburg Gate, and eye-opening Berlin Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie.  Art and culture abound, as the city boasts over 170 museums, five of which are clustered on the appropriately named Museum Island, which sits in the middle of Berlin’s Spree River.  Berlin is Germany’s top culinary city as rated by the Michelin guide, but the city doesn’t only cater to high-end dining – quick-service restaurants and food carts are plentiful, and immigration from Asia and the Middle East has given rise to a number of quality ethnic dining options including sushi, Thai, doner kebab, and falafel.  Take in this great European city at leisure, and don’t forget to sample the local beer.

Accommodations: Hotel am Steinplatz
Meals:  Breakfast daily

Sunday, May 20, 2018
DAY 20:  Return to U.S.
Early this morning, we take an included transfer to the airport for our connecting flight to the United States.
Meals:  Breakfast

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