Road Scholar : Home
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria

Program Number: 18351RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/8/2013 - 5/22/2013; 9/3/2014 - 9/17/2014; 9/24/2014 - 10/8/2014; 5/13/2015 - 5/27/2015; 9/9/2015 - 9/23/2015; 9/30/2015 - 10/14/2015;
Duration: 14 nights
Location: Albania/Macedonia/Greece/Bulgaria
Price starting at: $2,964.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 31; 13 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Explore the ancestral lands of Alexander the Great. As we make our way along the ancient Via Egnatia, a 2,000-year-old road built by the Romans to link Rome and Byzantium (Constantinople), we study local history and culture focusing on art, architecture and folklore. We discuss current events, meet locals in their homes and talk to university students about their dreams and aspirations.




Highlights

• Explore the 13th-century castle in Kruja, Albani, where attacks by the Ottomans were successfully repelled for 35 years.
• Journey around Lake Ohrid in Macedonia to the monastery of St. Naum, more than 1,000 years old and dedicated to a disciple of ninth-century Byzantine Christian missionaries.
• In Vergina, Greece, step into the Royal Tombs of the kings of Macedon and marvel at the golden crowns and splendid weapons buried for their journey to the underworld.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile a day on unpaved lanes, standing for up to one hour; some stairs without railings.




Date Specific Information

5-8-2013, 9-3-2014, 9-24-2014, 5-13-2015, 9-9-2015, 9-30-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Tirana (Albania), 3 nights; coach to Ohrid (Republic of Macedonia), 3 nights; coach to Edessa (Greece), 1 night; coach to Thessaloniki, 2 nights; coach to Bansko (Bulgaria), 1 night; coach to Sofia, 3 nights; departure.



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Tirana (Albania)
3 nights

In the Albanian capital, Tirana, a local expert outlines Albania’s efforts at assimilation into the international community, while U.S. exchange students discuss life in the country. Journey to Kruja to explore the 13th-century castle from which Albania’s national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, successfully resisted Ottoman invasion for nearly 35 years until his death.



Coach to Ohrid (Macedonia)
3 nights

Continue along the via Egnatia to Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia, where you explore Tzar Samuil Fortress and its gallery of icons, as well as the first Slavic university. In a meeting with a University Professor discuss the educational system in modern Macedonia. In Bitola, explore the second largest city in Macedonia as well as the ruins of ancient Heraclea Lyncestis founded by Phillip II.



Coach to Edessa (Greece)
1 night
Coach to Thessaloniki
2 nights

Travel to Greece and stay overnight in Edessa, the city rich with water, “the white coal” of the time before the industrial revolution. Discover the Royal Tombs in Vergina - the funerary site of Phillip II, father of Alexander the great. Travel to Pella to see the Archaeological Museum and see the ancient ruins of the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Then continue your journey to Thessaloniki, where you see the White Tower, the Triumphal Arch of Galerius, the remains of the city walls and UNESCO-protected Byzantine monuments.



Coach to Bansko (Bulgaria)
1 night
Coach to Sofia
3 nights
Departure

Enjoy a wine and cheese tasting in Bulgaria’s beautiful winegrowing region. Visit Rila Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox monastery founded in the 10th century, and the medieval Boyana Church, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Discover the lively capital city of Sofia, including religious and government buildings, on expert-led walks.
Visit a leading secondary school to interact with teachers and students and learn about the Bulgarian education system.




Accommodations
Tirana: Five-star hotel in heart of city. Ohrid: Hotel near Lake Ohrid. Edessa: Boutique hotel. Thessaloniki: Five-star hotel in heart of the city. Bansko: New hotel near old quarter. Sofia: Four-star hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Sheraton Hotel Tirana
  Tirana, Albania 3 nights
   Royal View Hotel
  Ohrid, Macedonia 3 nights
   Aigai Hotel
  Edessa, Greece 1 night
   Mediterranean Palace Hotel
  Thessaloniki, Macedonia 2 nights
   Hotel Martin Bansko
  Bansko, Bulgaria 1 night
   Radisson Blu Sofia
  Sofia, Bulgaria 3 nights
 Sheraton Hotel Tirana
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: The Sheraton Hotel Tirana is located in the tranquil heart of the city, near the National Park and also within the embassy and banking district of the city of Tirana. The Palace of Congresses and the Presidential Palace are a few minutes walk from the hotel, while all other places of interest are easily accessible. The hotel features the stylish "Infinity Bar" lounge offering a variety of cocktails as well as coffee and tea. The "Metropolitan" restaurant features international cuisine while honoring traditional Mediterranean and Albanian recipes.
  Contact info: Sheshi Italia
Tirana,   Albania
phone: +35542274707
web: www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1439
  Room amenities: Television, high speed internet access (for a fee), international direct dialing, telephone, coffee maker, electronic safe, hairdryer, satellite channels, shower and/or bath, mini bar, voice mail, radio, daily free newspaper, climate control, outlet adaptors, bathrobe and slippers, bidet in bathroom, down comforters, fruit basket.
  Facility amenities: Fitness facility, 24-hour room service, car rental, doorman, business services, laundry service, lauggage stoarage, copy/faxing service, disability accessible facilities, currency exchange, 24-hour concierge service, multilingual staff, massage treatments, dry cleaning service, 24-hour security, shopping adjacent to hotel, live entertainment, free wi-fi internet access in public areas, safe deposit boxes, ATM, wheelchair access, air conditioned facilities, jewelry shop, 24-hour front desk, business center, gift shop, shopping mall, indoor and outdoor pools and sauna.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Additional nights are available on request. Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services after you enroll.

 Royal View Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Beautiful views right from the balcony of your room. Features exquisite Italian marble flooring, and fine modern interior with wooden veneer.
  Contact info: 2 Jane Sandanski
Ohrid,  6000 Macedonia
phone: +389 (0) 46 26 30 72
web: www.royalview.com.mk
  Facility amenities: Turkish spa and Finnsh sauna, restaurant, high-speed internet
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Aigai Hotel
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: The newly built Aigai Hotel is located a short distance from the center of the city of Edessa on the motorway of the eastern entry from Thessaloniki Naoussa, Veria, facing the Rock of Edessa, the acropolis of ancient Edessa, the Mills, the Kanavourgheio and majestic waterfalls. The Aigai Hotel is surrounded by cherry trees and plane trees, offering visitors a tranquil setting for relaxation.
  Contact info: Near City Centre
Edessa,   Greece
phone: +30 2381029888
web: aigai-hotel.gr/
  Room amenities: TV, air-conditioning, direct telephone, room service, internet, hairdryer, minibar
  Facility amenities: Fireplace in lobby, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, pool bar, spa, sauna, restaurant
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Mediterranean Palace Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Situated in the heart of the city opposite the imposing entrance to the old harbour and the recently restored 'Ladadika' area with its bars, restaurants, tavernas and lively night-life, this five star neo-classical hotel offers spectacular view of the Thermaikos Bay.
  Contact info: 3 Salaminos & Karatassou Street
Thessaloniki,  54626 Greece
phone: +30-2310-552554
web: www.mediterranean-palace.gr/index.jsp?extLang=LG
  Room amenities: High Speed Internet Access, Air Conditioning, Telephone, Mini Bar, Hair Dryer, In-Room Safe, Clock Radio & Satellite Television.
  Facility amenities: 24-hour Front Desk, Bar/Lounge, Concierge Services, Conference Rooms, Currency Exchange, Fitness Equipment, Hair Salon, Limo or Town Car Service, Spa/Massage Services, Meeting rooms (small groups), Multilingual Staff, Restaurants, 24-hour Room Service, Safe-deposit Box at Front Desk, Sauna, Laundry Service, Fax Machine & Indoor/Outdoor Swimming Pools.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Martin Bansko
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: In the immediate vicinity of the town centre and the old quarter, in a quiet and noiseless street, is the Martin Hotel - a new and modern hotel offering its guests perfect conditions for recreation and tourism. The hotel is a successor of the long-famous Mir Hotel, but the building has been entirely redesigned and modernized. It is frequented by old clients since the very beginning of organized tourism in Bulgaria, and also by Bulgarian and foreign tourists and businessmen. English and Russian can be heard down the corridors at all times, and there are always guests from neighbouring Greece and other countries too. The hotel staff uses Bulgarian, Russian, English and French to serve its guests.
  Contact info: 28 Neofit Rilski Str.
Bansko,   Bulgaria
phone: +359 749/ 88301
web: hotelmartin.domino.bg
  Room amenities: telephone, TV, Internet, a mini-bar and a safe
  Facility amenities: With its four-star category forthcoming, the hotel offers its guests an amazing choice of services - a restaurant, a lobby bar, a SPA centre (a sauna, a large 10-person jacuzzi, a small swimming pool, massage, a fitness gym)
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Radisson Blu Sofia
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Enviably located in the heart of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, the Radisson Blu Grand Hotel offers both business and leisure travellers the ideal base for exploring the area's fascinating cultural and historical attractions. Surrounded by architectural gems set amid the famed yellow cobblestones of Naroldno Sabranie Square, this hotel in Sofia offers guests superb comfort and amenities.
  Contact info: 4, Narodno Sabranie sq. - 1000
Sofiq,   Bulgaria
phone: +359 2 9334 334
web: http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-sofia
  Room amenities: Free high-speed, wireless Internet and flat-screen LCD television with satellite channels. Additional amenities include coffee and tea provisions, a mini bar and an in-room safe.
  Facility amenities: Unwind at this spa hotel in Sofia which includes the following amentities: Cardiovascular equipment, Sauna Steam bath, Treatment room, Variety of aromatherapy and massage treatments, and weight-training equipment. Guest Services include 24-hour access to the in-house Casino Capitol (not operated by the hotel), 24-hour room service, Business Lounge with secretarial services, full technical support, drinks and light snacks, Car parking, Chauffeur-driven limousine service available, Concierge service, Currency exchange, Laundry and dry cleaning service, Shoe shine service, Transportation between the hotel and Sofia Airport.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Subject to change Contact Road Scholar for details.


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
At orientation in the late afternoon at the program hotel in Tirana. You will be staying at Sheraton Hotel Tirana that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast in Sofia at the program hotel. You will be staying at Radisson Blu Sofia the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. All participants must hold a passport valid for 6 months beyond the program end date. U.S. citizens do not require a visa prior to entering Albania, but those traveling without a visa may be charged a fee for an entry stamp at the point of entry, which is valid for a stay of up to 90 days. This fee has recently been waived, but Albanian law allows for collection of an entry tax up to 10 Euros, or the equivalent in any easily convertible currency, including U.S. dollars, and may be reinstated without notice. Visas are not required for Macedonia or Greece.
  Parking availability:
n/a
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Buses and taxis are available from the airport to the hotel upon arrival in Albania, and from the hotel to the airport in Greece.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Tirana
  Nearest airport:  TIR
  Transportation to site: A group transfer will be arranged for participants who booked their flights through Road Scholar and are arriving on the scheduled program arrival day. Independent travelers are welcome to join the group transfer at no additional cost if their flights coincide with the group flights. Independent travelers planning to take the group transfer should inform Road Scholar via your online or paper Personal Information Form. For independent travelers whose flights do not coincide with the group flights, Road Scholar can arrange a private transfer for an additional cost. There are also many forms of public transportation in this area, including taxi stands and the public and reliable Rinas Bus.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Sofia
  Nearest airport:  SOF
  Transportation from site: A group transfer will be arranged for participants who booked their flights through Road Scholar and are departing on the scheduled program departure day. Independent travelers are welcome to join the group transfer at no additional cost if their flights coincide with the group flights. Independent travelers planning to take the group transfer should inform Road Scholar via your online or paper Personal Information Form. For independent travelers whose flights do not coincide with the group flights, Road Scholar can arrange a private transfer for an additional cost.Taxis from the hotel to the airport are also available for about 20 Euro.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart the US for Albania
(Wednesday, May 8)
   
 Depart From: Depart from individual departure cities for overnight flight to Albania.

Day 2: Arrive Tirana & Program Orientation
(Thursday, May 9)
   
 Afternoon: Program Arrival and Orientation: Arrive in Tirana, meet you Study Leader and transfer to the hotel. Check-in to the hotel and rest before an early evening orientation led by your Study Leader. Meet your fellow participants, and learn about customs, currency and logistics on this multi-country program.
 Dinner: Wine and local specialties will be served during dinner.
   
Accommodations: Sheraton Hotel Tirana
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Tirana and the Albania National History Museum
(Friday, May 10)

Note: Afternoon: Walking for up to 2 hours whilst visiting the museum, steps to first floor and steps to main entrance of the museum.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Presentation "Albania from Closed Country to Open Borders": Led by a local expert, learn about the recent political history of this interesting country. Following the presentation, meet students living in Tirana. Enjoy this chance to talk to young Albanians about life in their country.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch in town.
 Afternoon: Field Trip "History of Tirana": Visit the National History Museum, followed by a panoramic city tour of Tirana: explore the Urae Tabakeve Bridge, the Mosque of Etem Bej, the Clock Tower and the tomb of Sulejman Pasha.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Performance "Albanian Folklore": This evening enjoy learning about Albanian folklore through a performance accompanied by lively music.
   
Accommodations: Sheraton Hotel Tirana
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Discover Kruja
(Saturday, May 11)

Note: Morning: Walking for up to 2 hours and 30 minutes whilst visiting the museum, steep approach to the castle, steps to first floor and steps to main entrance of the castle.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Travel to Kruja, the hometown of Albania’s national hero, Gjerg Castrioti, widely known as "Skanderbeg". Skanderbeg is known for his stoic defense of what is now Albania agains the Ottoman armies. Visit the 13th century castle which Skanderbeg's army successfully defended from the Ottomans for 35 years.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to explore Tirana or simply consolidate your thoughts and relax.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own to explore local flavors.
   
Accommodations: Sheraton Hotel Tirana
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Durres, Elbasan & Lake Ohrid
(Sunday, May 12)

Note: Morning: Walking for up to 30 minutes whilst visiting the church and Roman theatre in Durres, some steps to main entrance and inside. Afternoon: Walking for up to 15 minutes in Elbasan and in Struga on the shores of Lake Ohrid before arriving at the hotel in Ohrid.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Transit to Ohrid and Field Trip "Travel Along the Via Egnatia": This morning we transit from Tirana to Ohrid by coach. We first visit Durres, the most ancient city in Albania, once a major naval and military base of the Roman Empire at the most western end of Via Egnatia linking Rome and Constantinople. Here we visit the remains of the Roman Theater that could accommodate 15,000 spectators in its heyday. Following the 2000 year old road, Via Egnatia, we will visit Elbasan (site of the ancient city of Skampa) and take a leisurely stroll around its ramparts.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Elbasan.
 Afternoon: Presentation "Ancient Civilizations from the Adriatic to the Aegean" and Field Trip "A Walk through Struga": As you continue the drive to Ohrid, enjoy a presentation led by your Study Leader about the peoples who inhabited these regions throughout history. Cross the border into Macedonia near Qaf Thanne and stop in Struga on the shores of Lake Ohrid before arriving at the hotel in Ohrid.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Royal View Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Discovering Ohrid
(Monday, May 13)

Note: Morning: Predominantly flat and downhill walking and standing for up to 3 hours whilst visiting the Old Town, uneven cobbled surfaces, steps inside the Citadel, some steps to main entrance of churches and the Cathedral.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Presentation "The Life of the Balkan People" and Field Trip "Ohrid Ancient City of Natural Beauty": This morning, enjoy a presentation led by your local expert about everyday life and cultural history of the Blakan People. Then, enjoy a morning walking tour of Ohrid to see the Old Town. Visit Tzar Samuil Fortress and the gallery of icons, the Church of Holy Mother of God Perivleptos, the first Slavic University, the Antique Theatre and St. Sofija Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of only 28 sites to be listed for both Cultural Heritage and Natural Beauty.
 Lunch: Enjoy snack lunch at a local family home.
 Afternoon: Presentation "Education in Macedonia": Walk through the streets of beautiful Ohrid to the nearby Ohrid University to for a presentation and discussion with a local professor. Learn about the role and the system of education in Macedonia before returning to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Royal View Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Prehistoric Dwelling and the Monastery of St. Naum
(Tuesday, May 14)

Note: Morning: Walking for up to 45 minutes downhill from the bus to the prehisoric site. Some walking and standing for approximately one hour while visiting the Monastery of St. Noam. Walking up steps to main entrance of the monastery. Afternoon: Walking for up to ten minutes each way from the coach through the campus of the folklore group on cobbled streets and uneven surfaces.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Field Trip "Discovering Prehistory": Enjoy a morning trip around Lake Ohrid where you will see the prehistoric settlement at Gradishte mentioned by Herodotus in this Fifth Book of Histories. Continue to the monastery dedicated to St. Naum, the disciple of Cyril and Methodius. The monastery dates back to the year AD900.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch on your own to explore local flavors.
 Afternoon: After lunch, rejoin the group and be part of a presentation called "Folk Traditions and Heritage" at the campus of a local folklore group. See the traditional dances and costumes and have the chance to interact with the young dancers.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Royal View Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Transfer from Ohrid to Edessa along Via Egnatia. Visit Bitola, Heraclea Lyncestis & Edessa.
(Wednesday, May 15)

Note: Morning: Walking for up to 2 hours and standing whilst visiting the museum, steps to first floor and steps to main entrance of the museum, flat walking through the centre of town to the restaurant. Afternoon: Walking and standing for up to 2 hours whilst visiting the archaeological site, uneven terrain, dirt path. Throughout: Riding in coach bus along route between Ohrid and Edessa with time to stop and stretch your legs at historic and interesting sites.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Presentation "Alexander and Phillip: Father and Son" and Field Trip "Bitola, City of Consuls": While en route to Bitola, enjoy a presentation called given by a local expert. Learn about the relationship between Alexander the Great and his father Phillip II. Arrive in Bitola and discover the second largest city in Macedonia. It was the city of the consuls during the Ottoman time and. Bitola was an important trading center on the Via Egnatia, an ancient Roman road which linked Rome with Constantinople.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a restaurant in Bitola offering traditional local dishes.
 Afternoon: Field Trip "Heraclea Lyncestis": After a short jaunt on the coach, discover the ancient town of Heraclea Lyncestis founded by Phillip II Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. The town was first mentioned in documents dated back to the 4th century B.C. You will view the towns famous mosaics and antique ruins.
 Afternoon: Field Trip "The City Rich With Water": Finish the day's journey and discover Edessa, "the city rich with water". Water was considered the "white coal" of the time before the industrial revolution - towns relied on it for all energy needs before coal came about. Discover the city through a short sightseeing trip before checking into the hotel.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Aigai Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Transfer from Edessa to Thessaloniki. Discover the Royal Tombs in Vergina, and Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
(Thursday, May 16)

Note: Morning: Walking and standing for up to 2 hours whilst visiting the Royal Burial Ground, some steps and ramp down and up. Afternoon: Walking and standing for up to 2 hours whilst visiting the museum and archaeological site in Pella, steps to first floor and steps to main entrance of the museum.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Presentation "Alexander: The Later Years" and Field Trip "The Royal Tombs": En route to Vergina, enjoy a presentation led by your Study Leader about Alexander the Great. Morning coach trip to Vergina where you will discover the Royal Tombs, the funerary site of the father of Alexander the Great, Phillip II.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own at a self-service restaurant in Vergina.
 Afternoon: Presentation "Alexander: The Early Years" and Field Trip "Birthplace of a Great Man": On the coachbus, enjoy an expert-led presentation describing the life of young Alexander before he was known as "the Great". Discover the ancient site of Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great, and the new archaeological museum. Board the coach and continue the drive to Thessaloniki.
 Dinner: Check in to the hotel and have some time to relax before enjoying a leisurely dinner at the hotel restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Mediterranean Palace Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Thessaloniki
(Friday, May 17)

Note: Morning: Walking and standing for up to 30 minutes whilst visiting the Church.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Field Trip "Overview of Ancient Thessaloniki" and Presentation "Alexander: The Rise to Power": Take a panoramic tour of Thessaloniki. View many unmissable sites: the White Tower, the university areas, the Rotunda and the Triumphal Arch of Galerius, the remains of the city walls, UNESCO protected Byzantine monuments, and the churches of St Demetrius and Sofija. Throughout the visit, enjoy an expert-let lecture about Alexander's rise to Greatness.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own in Thessaloniki to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a leisurely afternoon on your own. We suggest you visit the Achaeological Museum Chronologically. Your guide will show you the entrance to this museum during your morning tour and can help arrange transport there for you this afternoon.
 Dinner: Take this time to explore the flavors of Thessaloniki tonight for a dinner on your own.
   
Accommodations: Mediterranean Palace Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11: Transfer from Thessaloniki to Bansko. Explore Melnik on the way.
(Saturday, May 18)

Note: Riding in a coach bus for about 4 hours during the transfer from Thessaloniki to Bansko.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Transit to Melnik, Presentation "Bulgaria Today: From Communist Country to the European Union" and Field Trip "Exploring Melnick": On the ride to Melnick, your study leader will provide an expert lecture on his home country, Bulgaria. Feel free to ask questions about his country. Arrive in Melnik and take a short walking site visit before lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Melnik.
 Afternoon: Presentation "The Wines of Bulgaria": Led by a local wine maker, learn about Bulgarian wines. Enjoy some local specialty cheeses as you learn about local wines. Continue on to the hotel, and have time to relax before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Martin Bansko
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Transfer from Bansko to Sofia. Visit Rila Monastery.
(Sunday, May 19)

Note: Morning: Walking for up to 2 hours whilst visiting the monastery, cobbled stone surface inside steps to first floor.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Field Trip "Panoramic Bansko" and Field Trip "Impressive Art and Architecture at the Rila Monastery": As we leave Bansko, enjoy a short panoramic tour of the main sites. On the way to Sofia, visit the Rila Monastery and walk through the monastery complex. It remains one of the most impressive monasteries on the continent due to its unique architecture and abundance of frescoes. Admire the 1,200 mural paintings at the Blessed Virgin Church, and see the Hrelyo Tower, built in 1335, as well as the Monastery’s museum collection.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant featuring local specialties.
 Afternoon: Check in to the hotel and enjoy time to relax before dinner.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Blu Sofia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Discover the city of Sofia, the Boyana Church and the National Museum of History
(Monday, May 20)

Note: Afternoon: Walking and standing for up to 3 hours around Sofia steps to enter the crypt at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, predominantly flat terrain.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Field Trip "Boyana Church": Take a field trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Boyana Church surrounded by trees over a hundered years old. Enter the church and be astounded by the frescoes, probably painted in 1259. Be amazed by the lively characters, and how the seperate frescoes become a whole.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Field Trip "A Walking Discovery of Sofia": Discover the city of Sofia by walking tour. Enter the crypt at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and see culturally significant sites such as the St. Sofia Basilica, the Parliament building, the Synagogue, the Royal Palace, the National Theatre and St. Georges Rotunda.
 Dinner: Explore the diverse flavors of Bulgaria on your own.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Blu Sofia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 14: Bulgarian Education System and Sofia on your own.
(Tuesday, May 21)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel
 Morning: Presentation and Hands-On "Education in Bulgaria": Visit one of the leading secondary schools and meet with last-year students of about 18-19 years of age. A teacher will deliver a short presentation about the educational system in Bulgaria following which participants may interact with the students over a drink.
 Lunch: Explore Sofia for lunch on your own to find the perfect local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. We suggest you visit the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum. Ask your group leader for details on how to get there.
 Dinner: Your farewell dinner will be at the hotel. Take this opportunity to exchange contact information with your fellow travellers and enjoy your final night in Bulgaria.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Blu Sofia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15: Return to US
(Wednesday, May 22)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Mini bus transfer to the airport for flight departures.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Concise History of Bulgaria


Author: R.J. Crampton


Description: A highly readable, illustrated introduction to Bulgaria's history from medieval empire to Ottoman rule, revival and modernization, to the fall of Communism.



Balkan Ghosts, A Journey through History


Author: Robert D. Kaplan


Description: Kaplan interweaves the history, art and culture of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece with his travels in this portrait of the region.



Balkans South-East Europe Map


Author: Freytag & Berndt


Description: A nicely detailed regional map, showing the route of the Danube from Budapest to the Black Sea, at a scale of 1:2,000,000.



Broken April


Author: Ismail Kadare


Description: In this best-known novel by the contemporary Albanian writer, a bereaved mountaineer and a young anthropologist couple both wrestle with the age-old traditions of the high plateau.



Bury Me Standing


Author: Isabel Fonseca


Description: This marvelous portrait of the Roma, also known as the Gypsies, offers insight into their music, foods, religions and folk traditions, and also examines their influential but complex relationship with Eastern Europe.



Byzantine Art


Author: Robin Cormack


Description: A scholarly introduction and survey of the art of the Byzantine empire in the Oxford History of Art. With 127 illustrations, 82 in full color.



Eyewitness Guide Bulgaria


Author: Eyewitness Guides


Description: This visually rich guide features outstanding maps, essays and travel information.



Fado


Author: Andrzej Stasiuk


Description: A tribute to the culturally rich landscapes, literature and history of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Albania by the Polish writer, poet, essayist and literary critic.



Fire From Heaven


Author: Mary Renault


Description: The first installment of Renault's trilogy of historical novels on the life of Alexander the Great, displaying the author's extensive background in ancient history. This volume focuses on Alexander's life up to the age of 20, when he assumed the kingship on his father Phillip's assassination.



In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great


Author: Michael Wood


Description: An illustrated account of Alexander's ten-year conquest of 4th-century cities from Macedonia to Egypt, Persia, Central Asia and India.



Lonely Planet Western Balkans


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: A compact, practical guide to the region from Slovenia and Croatia, to Bosnia & Hercegovina, Serbia & Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.



People of the Storm God, Travels In Macedonia


Author: Will Myer


Description: A sobering account of a 1994 trip to the politically and culturally complex Republic of Macedonia.



Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950


Author: Mark Mazower


Description: Mazower chronicles the history and culture of Thessaloniki from Byzantium to Ottoman rule, and the terrible devastation of WWI in this inviting book, part history and part travelogue.



The Balkans, A Short History


Author: Mark Mazower


Description: A brief, provocative survey of the complex and often contentious history of the Balkans. With eloquence and insight, Mazower addresses the issues of geography, nationalism and modern nation-building in the region.



The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History


Author: John Haldon


Description: Princeton historian Haldon charts the political, social and economic history of the medieval empire in this succint resource with over 100 maps.



The Virtues of War, A Novel of Alexander the Great


Author: Steven Pressfield


Description: A first-person historical novel told from the perspective of Alexander the Great.



The Way of Herodotus, Travels with the Man Who Invented History


Author: Justin Marozzi


Description: A Penguin Classics edition of The Histories in hand, Marozzi journeys from Herodotus' home town of Heliacarnassus, now known as Bodrum, to Baghdad, Babylon, Egypt and Athens, weaving tales of his hero with erudite and entertaining modern travel.





You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.


As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.



Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:


© Road Scholar 2014 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768