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 (4.83)
Program No. 15520RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
3,799
Flights start at
1,425
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15 days
14 nights
30 meals
13 B 6 L 11 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
US departure
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival in Tallinn / Arrival Transfers / Orientation meeting
Tallinn
D
Park Inn Central Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 pm. The RS program information for the evening will be posted in the hotel lobby. Meet the Group Leader at 6 pm in the hotel lobby.

Afternoon: Orientation meeting at the hotel. Meet the Group Leader and fellow Road Scholars. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a very active program with walking 2+ miles daily (excluding your personal walks). We will use a bus to field trip sites and during field trips, but be prepared to climb stairs at museums and historic sites (not all have elevators). This program is not suitable for participants using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or other mobility-assistance devices. Buses are not equipped for these devices. NOTE: Be prepared to carry/roll personal luggage, as porters are not available on most sites. We limit luggage to 1 pc/1 carry on. Group meals are fixed. Menu is announced in advance. Special diets cannot be guaranteed and must be clarified in advance. We will have lectures exclusively for our Road Scholars on various topics. NOTE: The details of all included performances are announced in this mailing. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time" offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, independently engaging in available activities, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Welcome Dinner: a 3-course plated meal, filtered water, a glass of wine/beer; other beverages for purchase.

DAY
3
Lecture / Walk in Old Town / Performance
Tallinn
B,L
Park Inn Central Hotel

Activity note: Extensive walking -- 2+ miles up/down hills on cobblestone surfaces (excluding your personal independent walks). Comfortable shoes are a must. Walking 2+ miles in a palace, parks, and a 10-minute walk to the concert. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Breakfast: Throughout the program a buffet breakfast is offered in hotel dining rooms, where you can choose what you like from hot and cold dishes plus juice, coffee, tea, and bottled water.

Morning: Lecture: "General overview of the Baltic States. Modern Estonia as a new member of the European Union", followed by a Q&A session (presented by a university professor). After the lecture we drive to Toompea -- the Old Town of Tallinn originally built as a fortress on the Gulf of Finland, now placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It has the features of a 15th-century trading town and the general look of a typically prosperous Hanseatic city. Tallinn was founded in 1154 and, now, after 863 years, is the oldest of the three Baltic capitals and is the historical, cultural, and political center of Estonia. Join our local expert for an informative walk through the Upper Town, learn about Tallinn's history, then see the Dome Cathedral, St. Nicholas Church, and admire the unique architecture of the city, with a stunning skyline accented by towers, spires, and red-tiled roofs.

Lunch: Lunch in Old Town: a 2-course plated meal, filtered water, and coffee/tea; other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: We continue exploring Old Tallinn: an expert-led walk brings us to 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. We see the Old Town Hall, called Raekoja Plats, and the Tower, both dating back to the 15th century. We spend time in Town Hall Square and at St. Catherine's Art Center before returning to the hotel for a short rest before the evening event.

Dinner: On your own at the hotel or nearby before or after the concert.

Evening: This evening we walk (about 10 minutes) to attend a concert of Classical music. Concert begins at 6pm (dress casual).

DAY
4
Open Air museum / Piriita area and Kadriorg palace.
Tallinn
B,D
Park Inn Central Hotel

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles on uneven terrain in the country and in the park, and up/down hill, also up/down stairs in the palace.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast we drive into the countryside to visit the Estonian Open Air Museum at Rocca al Mare. We see the recreated rural settlement and enjoy a folkloric show.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Rocca al Mare.

Afternoon: After lunch we see more of Tallinn's suburbs, driving to the site of the musical and choral festivals in Piriita and then visiting Kadriorg Palace. During this visit we learn more about Estonia's historical ties with Russia, Sweden, and Finland.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel: a 3-course plated meal, filtered water, and coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase.

DAY
5
Transfer to Tartu / Walk in Old Tartu / Lecture
Tartu
B,L,D
London Hotel

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

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast we 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. After hotel check-in we attend a lecture on the subject of Estonia-Russia relations.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant: a 2-course plated meal, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase.

Afternoon: After some rest at the hotel, join your local expert for a walk in the Old Town of Tartu and a visit to Tartu University. Later on, meet with university staff who will escort you through this prestigious university. Learn about its history and exciting present, in which old traditions are being revived in the new era of freedom and democracy.

Dinner: Dinner on your own.

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

Activity note: Expected travel time 3 hours (a rest stop is made if requested).

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet 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.

Lunch: In Sigulda: a 2-course plated meal, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase).

Afternoon: Join a local expert for a walk in the National park, and see the remains of Taurida Castle. Continue your drive to Riga, where we arrive in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant (a 3-course plated meal, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase).

Evening: Free time. Join your Group Leader for a stroll in 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 / School visit
Riga
B,L
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Walk about 2+ miles in museums and on cobblestone surfaces in Old Town during the included program activities. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Participate in a discussion on the subject of “Latvia today, the political and economic situation in Latvia, and its socio-demographic structure.” After the lecture we begin your city's exploration with a walk in Old Town: 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. Old Town of Riga: during our walk in Old Town and later during the city drive we will see many traces of this prosperity, reflected in the city's layout and well preserved architecture: among them are the remains of the Livonian Castle, the magnificent 13th-century St. Mary’s Church (the Dome), St. Peter's Church, the Swedish Gate, the 'Three Brothers', the Large and Small Guilds, the Freedom Monument, Old Town Hall, and many other historical and architectural landmarks.

Lunch: Lunch in the city: a 3-course fixed, plated meal, filtered water; coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase.

Afternoon: We drive to visit the Museum of Latvian Occupation. Following the museum visit we drive to a secondary (high) school for a special get-together with students and teachers (NOTE: the date for this visit may be changed). On the way back to the hotel we will see more of the city as we pass by various city landmarks.

Dinner: Dinner on your own in Old Town or at the hotel restaurant.

DAY
8
Lecture: Latvian Music / Art Nouveau Architecture / Opera
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles on cobblestone surfaces in Old Town. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel

Morning: Riga's cultural life is rich -- in 2014 Riga was proclaimed a cultural capital of Europe. This morning we learn about Latvia's cultural heritage, musical traditions, and national musical instruments (to be presented by university staff). After the lecture we drive to the Art Nouveau district.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in the city.

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). After this visit we drive through the (former) Jewish area and visit the Ghetto Museum. Return to the hotel for dinner and a short rest before the evening event.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase

Evening: We walk (about 10 minutes) to the State Opera House for a performance of the opera "La Traviata" (evening attire, but not formal, tie optional).

DAY
9
Transfer from Riga to Klaipeda, Lithuania / Hill of Crosses
Klaipeda
B,L,D
Navalis Hotel

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

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After hotel check-out, drive to a local market for a walk through 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 near 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 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: a 2-course plated meal, water, coffee/tea.

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

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel or a city restaurant ( a 3-course plated meal, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase).

DAY
10
The Curonian Spit & Nida / Thomas Mann Museum
Klaipeda
B,L,D
Navalis Hotel

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

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Begin your day with a short city drive to learn about Klaipeda. Then 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. On the way to Nida, we stop to see the memorial museum of famous German writer Thomas Mann, who spent many summers here.

Lunch: Lunch in Nida (2-course plated meal, coffee/tea, filtered water; other beverages for purchase)

Afternoon: Continue exploring the fishing village of Nida and its arts and crafts stands. Enjoy an expert-led visit to a local amber gallery. Return to the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant (a 3-course meal, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase).

DAY
11
Transfer to Kaunas / Kaunas city drive
Kaunas
B,D
Park Inn Kaunas Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 3-4 hours, including a stop at the Fort IX Memorial Museum (exterior only).

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel in Klaipeda.

Morning: This morning after breakfast and hotel check-out, we drive to Kaunas, making a stop at the Fort IX memorial where we learn about the fate of Lithuanian Jews during WWII. Arrive in Kaunas, a one-time capital of Lithuania, and today a quaint, bustling town.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Kaunas.

Afternoon: After lunch and hotel check-in, 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 contemporary life.

Dinner: A 3-course plated meal with local specialties, filtered water, and coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase.

DAY
12
Arrival in Vilnius / City walk.
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 2.5 hours. Walking in Old Town, 2+ miles, including on cobblestone surfaces.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast and hotel check-out, we begin our drive to Vilnius. We make a stop in the town of Trakai and visit historic Trakai Castle. The museum curator will speak about Lithuania, a country with a thousand-plus year history and the historic events associated with Trakai Castle. 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: Lunch on your own in Trakai.

Afternoon: Arrival in Vilnius, hotel check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel: a 3-course plated meal, including main course, dessert, filtered water, and coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase).

DAY
13
Lecture / City Walk / Free Time / Social Visit
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected walking about 2+ miles on uneven surfaces and up/down hills. Independent walk at your own pace.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning participate in a talk on "Lithuania's integration into the European Union". Meet with a government official and have a Q&A session. After that we join a local expert to 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 the city.

Afternoon: Continue your city walk. Free time for independent exploration or rest at the hotel. Suggestions for independent visits will be made by local hosts.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal with filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase.

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

DAY
14
Grand Dukes Palace / Free Time / Farewell Dinner
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected walking about 2 miles in the museum, independent walking at your own personal pace.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning we have an expert-led visit to a newly opened museum dedicated to the glorious medieval era in Lithuanian history: we will go inside the palace of the grand dukes of Lithuania - the (former) political, diplomatic, and cultural center of the state of Lithuania.

Lunch: Time for lunch on your own in Old Town

Afternoon: The last afternoon in Vilnius is free for independent explorations: consider visits to the Amber Museum, the KGB Museum, or the Jewish Museum. Other suggestions for independent visits will be offered by your Group Leader.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner and performance by a local folkloric group (a 4-course meal, one glass of wine/beer, filtered water, coffee/tea; other beverages for purchase).

Evening: Evening to pack

DAY
15
Departures
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 noon. Departure details will be announced 48 hours in advance by your Group Leader. Independent travelers are welcome to join group transfers if desired...ar arrange transportation from with the hotel's concierge. All passengers must arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to flight time.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel (a packed breakfast for early departures)

Morning: A transfer from the hotel to the airport is included for participants who made air arrangements through Road Scholar Travel Services. The Group Leader will announce the transfer schedule 48 hours in advance. Independent travelers whose travel plans coincide with the group transfer are welcome to join. Please communicate your departure flight schedule to the Group Leader... Or.. alternatively, arrange for a taxi at the hotel desk. All participants must arrive at the departure airport 2 hours before the scheduled departure flight time. NOTE: We ask you to carefully check in advance your airline ticket against your scheduled transfer time. Alert the Group Leader of any discrepancy. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys !






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