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 (5)
Program No. 15520RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
3,799
Flights start at
1,425
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15 days
14 nights
29 meals
13 B 6 L 10 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. At 6 pm: meet at the hotel lobby for registration followed by dinner and orientation. RS program information for the evening will be posted 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 for 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. Be prepared to carry/roll personal luggage, as porters are not always available on most sites. Group meals are fixed. Special diets are not guaranteed unless cleared and confirmed in advance. Once confirmed they cannot be changed on the spot. 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
Tallinn
B,L
Park Inn Central Hotel

Activity note: Extensive walking -- 2+ miles, including up/down hills on cobblestone surfaces in Old Town. 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 at the hotel: "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 864 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 walk through the Town Hall Square and end our walk at St. Catherine's Art Center.

Dinner: On your own in the city.

Evening: Evening at leisure.

DAY
4
Open Air Museum / Piriita and Kadriorg Palace / Performance
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 where we will see a recreated rural settlement, now a museum of local lifestyle and folkloric traditions.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Rocca al Mare.

Afternoon: After lunch we drive to see the sites of the famous musical and choral festivals in Piriita and then have an inside visit to the Kadriorg Palace. We return to hotel to rest before the evening program. Performance details to be announced 4-5 weeks prior to departure from the USA (note: the date of the performance may be changed).

Dinner: Dinner at hotel's restaurant- a 3 course meal, filtered water.

DAY
5
Transfer to Tartu / Lecture / Walk in the Old Town of Tartu
Tartu
B,L
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 3.5 hours (a rest stop is made).

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
Lecture / Walk in the Old Town / Museum of Occupation
Riga
B,L
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Walk about 2+ miles on cobblestone surfaces in Old Town and walk in the museum. 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.” Following the lecture we begin exploring the city 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. During the walk in Old Town and later city drive we will see many traces of this prosperity reflected in the city's layout and well preserved architecture. We will see the remains of the Livonian Castle, St. Peter's Church, the Swedish Gate, the 'Three Brothers', the impressive structures of the Large and Small Guilds, the Freedom Monument, Old Town Hall, and many other historical and architectural landmarks. At the end of our walk we will have a special treat -- an organ recital at the magnificent 13th-century St. Mary’s Church (the Dome). Please note that the date of this recital may be changed.

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

Afternoon: In the afternoon we will drive for an expert led visit to the Museum of Latvian Occupation. The rest of the afternoon is free for personal discoveries in the city, or return to the hotel to rest.

Dinner: Dinner on your own in Old Town.

DAY
8
Lecture / Art Nouveau Architecture / Ghetto Museum
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 have a lecture on Latvia's cultural heritage, musical traditions, and national musical instruments (to be presented by university staff).

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, the rest of the afternoon free.

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

Evening: Free evening

DAY
9
Art museum / Free afternoon / Performance
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Light walking during the field trip, walking at your own pace during free time.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: This morning we will have an expert-led visit to the recently opened Art Museum.

Lunch: On your own in the city.

Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon to explore the city on your own and see what interests you most. Your Group Leader will be happy to assist and make suggestions for free time. We all meet at hotel's restaurant for dinner.

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

Evening: We attend a performance. Details will be announced 4-5 weeks prior to departure from the USA (the date of the performance may be changed).

DAY
10
Transfer from Riga to Klaipeda, Lithuania/ Hill of Crosses
Klaipeda
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Hotel, Klaipeda

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

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After hotel check-out, we drive to a local market for a walk through stalls displaying local produce; then we continue on to the seaport of Klaipeda. We 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 in Siauliai (2-course plated meal, coffee/tea, filtered water; other beverages for purchase).

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

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

DAY
11
Curonian Spit & Nida / Thomas Mann Museum
Klaipeda
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Hotel, Klaipeda

Activity note: Be prepared for a full-day field trip. Walk 2+ miles on uneven unpaved terrain. Comfortable shoes are a must. Evening return to the hotel.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel in Klaipeda.

Morning: After breakfast we 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. We 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 make a 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: In the afternoon we join a local expert for a walk in Nida exploring this quaint fishing village and enjoying numerous arts and crafts stands. A special stop will be made for an expert-led visit to a local amber gallery. Return to the hotel at the end of the visit.

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

DAY
12
Travel to Vilnius via Kaunas .
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel time 6-7 hours including stops. Walking during stops: about 1 mile total, including on cobblestone surfaces and on uneven, unpaved terrain.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast and hotel check-out, we begin our drive to Vilnius via the city of Kaunas. On the way to Kaunas, we will make a short stop at the Fort IX memorial (the site of a Nazi concentration camp) to pay respect to Lithuanian Jews who perished here during WWII (no inside visit is planned). Upon arrival in Kaunas, we will make a stop for a short rest and lunch before we explore the city of Kaunas.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Kaunas.

Afternoon: In the afternoon we participate in an expert-led city drive to enjoy this beautiful historic city, which served at one time as the capital of Lithuania. We will hear about the city's history, learn about its medieval architecture and local cultural traditions. We will see the ruins of the 15th-century Kaunas Castle, visit the Kaunas Cathedral and Vytautas Church, and learn about the city’s rich past and contemporary life. Later in the afternoon, we continue our drive to Vilnius, arriving at the program hotel by dinner time. 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
Trakai Castle / Social Visit
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Hotel

Activity note: Expected travel to Trakai about 40 minutes each way; Expected walking about 1.5 miles on uneven surfaces and up/down hills. Independent walk at your own pace.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning we join our local expert for a drive to the historic town of Trakai, and have an inside visit to the Trakai Castle. During this visit we will learn about the 1000-plus year history of Lithuania. The Trakai Castle, constructed in 1406 under Grand Duke Vytautas, is strategically situated on three islands in the middle of Lake Galve. The museum curator will speak about the historic events associated with Trakai Castle. For a short time in the medieval era the small town of Trakai was also the capital of Lithuania. We will view medieval objects on display here and enjoy a spectacular view of the lake.

Lunch: Time for lunch on your own.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free for independent explorations in the city: consider a visit to the newly opened museum dedicated to the glorious medieval era in Lithuanian history - The Grand Dukes palace - or other places, which may interest you, or... return to hotel to rest before the evening program.

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

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

DAY
14
Lecture / City walk / 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 participate in a talk on "Lithuania's integration into the European Union"......... This presentation is delivered by a government official and includes a Q&A session. Following the lecture join a local expert for a walk in Old town to see the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Church of St. Anna, the site of the ancient synagogue, the Gates of Dawn, and other architectural landmarks. Take time to admire stunning baroque architecture dating from the Middle Ages and now beautifully restored.

Lunch: Time for lunch on your own in Old Town

Afternoon: The last afternoon in Vilnius is free for independent explorations: Suggestions for independent visits will be offered by your Group Leader.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner and a 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. If you are an independent traveller, see "Ground Transportation from Last Location". Independent travelers are welcome to join the pre-scheduled transfers or arrange for a taxi at the hotel.

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

Morning: Transfer from the hotel to the airport. Vilnius Airport is the international airport of Vilnius, Lithuania; it is located 3 miles (5 km) south of the city. This transfer 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, or alternatively to arrange for a taxi at the hotel desk. All participants must arrive at the departure airport 2 hours before the scheduled departure flight time. We ask you to carefully check in advance your airline ticket against your scheduled transfer time. 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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