15520
Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia: Baltic Road to Independence
Learn the complex story of the Baltics and their road to independence as you spend time with local experts, discovering what these countries share as well as what makes each unique.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 15520RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
3,645
Flights start at
1,425
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15 days
14 nights
28 meals
13 B 6 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
US departure
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival in Tallinn / Arrival Transfers / Orientation
Tallinn
D
Radisson Blue Olümpia Hotel

Activity note: Participants in this Active program with intense travel and independent exploration must be prepared to walk 2plus miles during included activities and walk up/down stairs. The program is NOT suitable for participants with wheelchairs or walkers. Be prepared to carry/roll personal luggage on occasion as porters are not always available. Group meals are fixed; a vegetarian menu(NOT vegan) is served if requested in your PIFs, other diets cannot be guaranteed and must be clarified in advance.

Afternoon: Orientation meeting at the hotel. Meet the Group Leader and fellow Road Scholars.

Dinner: Welcome Dinner.

DAY
3
Lecture / Kadriorg-Piriita / Walk in Upper Town
Tallinn
B,L
Radisson Blue Olümpia Hotel

Activity note: Walking 2plus miles in a palace, parks, and Old Town, up/down hills on cobblestoned surfaces. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Lecture: "General overview of the Baltic States. Modern Estonia as a new member of the European Union". Q&A session (presented by a university professor). Afterwards, drive to Tallin's suburbs to the site of the musical and choral festivals in Piriita and visit Kadriorg. During this visit we learn more about Estonia's historical ties with Russia, Sweden, and Finland. Drive to the Old Town of Tallinn, which is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It has the features of a 15th-century trading town and the general look of a typical, prosperous Hanseatic city. Tallinn was founded in 1154 and, now, at 861 years old, is the oldest of the three Baltic capital and is the historical, cultural, and political center of Estonia.

Lunch: Lunch in Old town.

Afternoon: After lunch begin a walk in Old town with your local expert. Learn about the medieval history of Tallinn (a fortress city on the Gulf of Finland) and admire its unique architecture, with stunning skyline accented by towers, spires, and red-tiled roofs. Stop at St. Nicholas Cathedral and ***enjoy an organ recital***.

Dinner: Dinner on your own.

DAY
4
Walk in the Old Town of Tallinn / Concert
Tallinn
B,L
Radisson Blue Olümpia Hotel

Activity note: Extensive walking - 2plus miles up/down hills on cobblestoned surfaces. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Drive to the Old Town. Continue your expert-led walk in the Upper and Lower towns. Have an inside visit to the Dome Cathedral.

Lunch: Lunch in a restaurant in Old Town.

Afternoon: Continue exploring Old Tallinn: an expert-led walk in the Lower Town to enjoy this charming blend of medieval tranquility and modern urban life. The medieval Old Town is a busy place with shops, galleries, souvenir markets, outdoor cafes and restaurants. Visit the Old Town Hall, called Raekoja Plats, and the Tower, both dating back to the 15th century, and spend time in the Town Hall Square and at St. Catherine's Art Center. ***Attend a concert.***

Dinner: Dinner on your own to explore local fare

DAY
5
Tallinn - Tartu Transfer / Tartu Walk / Lecture
Tartu
B,L,D
Pallas Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 2.5 - 3 hours. Throughout the itinerary you will travel on modern air-conditioned bus. Rest stops are made every 2 hours or on request. Light walking (1-2 miles) in Tartu.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast drive to the city of Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia and an important educational center. It is famous for its long history, medieval architecture, and the well-established Tartu University founded in 1635, one of the oldest in Europe. Arrive in Tartu by lunch time.

Lunch: Lunch in a Tartu restaurant.

Afternoon: This afternoon participate in an expert-led walk in the Old Town of Tartu and a visit to Tartu University. Meet with university staff who will escort you through this prestigious university, dating from the 17th century. Learn about its history and its exciting present, in which old traditions are being revived in the new era of freedom and democracy. Later in the day participate in a discussion on Estonian-Russian relations.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel or a restaurant in town.

DAY
6
Transfer from Tartu, Estonia, to Riga, Latvia
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 3.5 hours

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast, travel to Riga, Latvia. Latvia is located between Estonia and Lithuania on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Pass by green fields, flatland pastures, massive forests, lakes, and villages on the way to Riga. Make a short stop in Sigulda, Latvia's largest ski resort, near the Gauja National Park; take a walk to see the remains of Turaida Castle.

Lunch: Lunch on your own en route to Riga.

Afternoon: Afternoon arrival in Riga. Hotel check in.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant

Evening: Free time. Consider an independent stroll in the Old Town, located close to your hotel. Riga, founded in 1201 by the German bishop Albert, is the largest of the three Baltic capitals and boasts a real kaleidoscope of architectural styles.

DAY
7
Museum of Latvian Occupation / Old Town Walk / Organ Recital
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Walk about 2 plus miles on cobblestoned surfaces in Old Town during the program activities. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Participate in a discussion on: “Latvia today, the political and economic situation in Latvia, and its socio-demographic structure.” Begin your expert-led walk in Old Town. Have a stop for an organ recital in the Dome Cathedral.

Lunch: Time for lunch on your own in Old Town

Afternoon: Visit the Museum of Latvian Occupation, after which the exploration of the city continues: the Old Town of Riga is a living museum of well-preserved medieval architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Riga was a major center of the Hanseatic League and prospered from its trade with Central and Eastern Europe in the 13th to 15th centuries. During a drive through the city and a walking excursion of the Old Town of Riga you will see many traces of this prosperity, reflected in the city's layout and well preserved architecture. See the remains of the Livonian Castle, the magnificent 13th-century St. Mary’s Church (the Dome), St. Peters' Church, the Swedish Gate, the 'Three Brothers', the Large and Small Guilds, the Freedom Monument, the Old Town Hall, and many other historical and architectural landmarks. Later in the afternoon drive to the former Jewish area of Riga for an inside visit to the Ghetto Museum.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel or a local restaurant.

DAY
8
Latvian National Music / Art Nouveau Architecture / Concert
Riga
B,L
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1-2plus miles on cobblestoned surfaces in Old Town. Comfortable shoes are a must

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: During 2014, Riga was a cultural capital of Europe, and so we address the many cultural events taking place in the city. Later this morning learn about Latvia's cultural heritage, musical traditions, and national musical instruments (to be presented by university staff). Drive to the Art Nouveau district.

Lunch: Lunch in a city restaurant.

Afternoon: In the afternoon we explore the architectural treasures of Riga - the Art Nouveau district. Your licensed escort will take us for a walk to an area regarded by specialists as the capital of Art Nouveau architecture known as New Style ("Jugendstil" in German). Art Nouveau appeared in architecture and furniture in the 1890s. Art Nouveau buildings often have asymmetrical shapes, arches and decorative surfaces with curved designs. Nearly half of the buildings in the center of Riga were built in this flamboyant style, the most notable being the buildings of the Riga Law School and the Swedish School of Economics, which you will see during this walk (exteriors only).Return to hotel and after a short rest at the hotel, walk (10 min.) to ***a special concert of classical and local music***.

Dinner: Dinner on your own to sample local fare.

DAY
9
Transfer from Riga to Klaipeda, Lithuania / Hill of Crosses
Klaipeda
B,L,D
Radisson Blu hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time is 5-6 hours, including stops.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: After hotel check-out, drive to a local market for a walk through the stalls displaying local produce, then continue on to the sea port of Klaipeda. Cross the Latvian-Lithuanian border and stop at the Hill of Crosses, by the Lithuanian city of Siauliai. This is one of the most impressive sanctuaries in Europe, an extraordinary 'forest' of over 100,000 crosses, which come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Among them is a monumental cross donated by Pope John Paul II on his visit in 1993. It is believed that the first group of crosses was erected here in memory of rebels killed in uprisings against tsarist rule. Later crosses were erected in memory of deportees to Siberia who never returned home. In the Soviet period, the crosses were destroyed more than once, but were put up again and again in the darkness of the night and were standing tall the next morning. Today, the Hill of Crosses and a new monastery nearby attract many pilgrims.

Lunch: Lunch en route to Klaipeda

Afternoon: Arrive in Klaipeda in the late afternoon. Hotel check-in.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel or a city restaurant

DAY
10
Drive to the Curonian Spit and Nida / Thomas Mann Museum
Klaipeda
B,D
Radisson Blu hotel

Activity note: Be prepared for a full-day excursion. Walk 1-2 miles on uneven terrain. Evening return to hotel.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Drive to the Curonian Spit (a UNESCO World Heritage site of cultural landscape preservation). We cross the Curonian lagoon by ferry and learn about the history and strategic importance of the area's unique geography and enjoy the breathtaking landscape and dunes. Continue on to Nida, the municipal center of the Spit and today a spectacular fishing village and ocean resort famous for its striking maritime architecture, with many buildings protected by the state as historical and architectural treasures. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Curonian Spit, its dunes, and the waves of the Baltic Sea.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in a Nida.

Afternoon: Continue exploring the fishing village of Nida and its arts and crafts stands. On the way back to Klaipeda, stop to visit the memorial museum of famous German writer Thomas Mann, who spent many summers here.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant.

DAY
11
Transfer to Kaunas / Kaunas City Drive
Kaunas
B,D
Park Inn Kaunas Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 5-6 hours, including a stop in Palanga

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel in Klaipeda.

Morning: This morning we Drive to Kaunas, a one time capital of Lithuania, today, a quaint bustling town.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Kaunas.

Afternoon: After lunch have an expert led city drive. Learn about the history, architecture, and cultural traditions of Kaunas: see the ruins of the 14th-century Kaunas Castle, visit the Kaunas Cathedral and Vytautas Church, founded by Grand Duke Vytautas in the 14th century. Learn about the city’s rich past and its contemporary life. Hotel check in for overnight.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant, featuring local specialties and a cooking show.

DAY
12
History of Kaunas / Fort IX Museum / Arrival in Vilnius
Vilnius
B,L
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 3-4 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast and hotel checkout, begin driving to Vilnius. We make a stop at the Fort IX memorial museum to learn of the fate of Lithuanian Jews during WWII and then continue to Vilnius.

Lunch: Lunch in Vilnius.

Afternoon: Hotel check in. An afternoon walk with your local host to get orientated in the city. After that explore the Old town on your own.

Dinner: Dinner on your own.

DAY
13
Lithuanian History / Trakai Castle
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected walking about 2 miles on uneven surfaces and up/down hills.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning we learn about Lithuania, a country with over a thousand-year history. Drive for an excursion of the historic Trakai Castle. From the museum curator learn more about the history of Lithuania and the historic events associated with Trakai Castle when Trakai was the capital of Lithuania in the middle ages. The area offers a magnificent view of more than 30 glacial lakes. The 15th-century Trakai Castle, constructed in 1406 under Grand Duke Vytautas, is strategically situated on three islands in the middle of Lake Galve. Trakai's pride is the Castle History Museum, which features many medieval objects and Lithuanian period furniture of the 18th-20th centuries.

Lunch: Time for lunch on your own in Trakai

Afternoon: Late afternoon return to Vilnius. Short rest.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Evening: Cultural connection: Spend an evening with local residents.

DAY
14
Lecture / City Walk / Free Time / Farewell Dinner
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected walking 2 plus miles on cobblestoned surfaces in Old Town.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning participate in a talk on "Lithuiania's integration into the European Union". Meet with a government official and have a Q&A session. Explore the Old Town of Vilnius during an expert-led city walk. See the Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Church of St. Anna. Walk through the Gates of Dawn and see the site of the ancient synagogue. See stunning baroque buildings dating from the Middle Ages and now beautifully restored.

Lunch: Time for lunch on your own in Old Town

Afternoon: Free time in Old Town for independent museum visits: consider visits to the Amber Museum, the KGB Museum, or the Jewish Museum.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner and performance.

Evening: Evening to pack

DAY
15
Departures
In Flight
B

Activity note: Transfers are arranged for all participants holding air tickets issued by Road Scholar.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Program ends. Transfers to the airport for flights home. Independent travelers are welcome to join a designated group transfer to airport. Transfer schedule(s) to be announced 24 hours in advance.