18351
Eastern Europe & Russia
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria
Discover the enduring legacy of Alexander the Great as you learn about defining battles, religious landmarks, preserved ruins and Byzantine monuments in this historic region of Europe.
Rating (5)
Program No. 18351RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
2,699
Flights start at
1,250
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15 days
14 nights
31 meals
13 B 8 L 10 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Departure for Albania
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival in Tirana & Program Orientation
Tirana
D
Rogner Hotel Tirana

Afternoon: After your flight arrives in Tirana, meet your Study Leader and transfer to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel and rest before an early evening orientation led by your Study Leader. We will gather in our private meeting room where the Study Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Enjoy meeting your fellow participants at the welcome dinner where wine and local specialties will be served.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Tirana & Albania National History Museum
Tirana
B,L,D
Rogner Hotel Tirana

Activity note: Walking for up to two hours whilst visiting the museum; There are steps to the first floor and steps to the main entrance of the museum.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: A local expert will lead a presentation titled, "Albania from Closed Country to Open Borders," which will discuss the recent political history of this interesting country. Following the presentation, meet students living in Tirana and discuss with them their perception of the country.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy a panoramic city tour of Tirana on which you will explore the Urae Tabakeve Bridge, the Mosque of Etem Bej, the Clock Tower, the tomb of Sulejman Pasha, as well as a visit to the National History Museum. Afterwards, we will return to the hotel for some leisure time.

Dinner: At a local restaurant with lively folklore music.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Discover Kruja
Tirana
B,L
Rogner Hotel Tirana

Activity note: Walking for up to two and a half hours whilst visiting the museum; There is a steep approach to the castle, steps to the first floor, and steps to the main entrance of the castle.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will depart by coach for Kruja, the hometown of Albania’s national hero, Gjerg Castrioti, widely known as "Skanderbeg." Enjoy a visit to the 13th century castle which Skanderbeg's army successfully defended from the Ottomans for 35 years.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: At leisure to explore Tirana or to relax.

Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Via Egnatia, Durres, Elbasan, & Ohrid
Ohrid
B,L,D
Royal View Hotel

Activity note: Walking for up to 30 minutes whilst visiting the church and Roman Theatre in Durres; There are some steps to the main entrance and inside. In addition, 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: We will depart Tirana by coach for Ohrid. Along the way, we will 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 will visit the remains of the Roman Theatre that could accommodate 15,000 spectators in its heyday. Following the 2,000 year old road, Via Egnatia, we will visit Elbasan (site of the ancient city of Skampa) and take a leisurely stroll around its ramparts. There will be an en-route lecture titled, "Ancient Civilizations from the Adriatic to the Aegean."

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Elbasan.

Afternoon: We will 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: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Ohrid Old Town & Family Hosted Meal
Ohrid
B,L,D
Royal View Hotel

Activity note: Predominantly flat and downhill walking, as well as standing for up to three hours whilst visiting the Old Town; There are uneven cobbled surfaces, steps inside the Citadel, and some steps to the main entrance of the churches and the cathedral.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy a presentation titled, "The Life of Balkan People: Past, Present, and Future." Afterwards, depart by mini bus for a walking tour of Ohrid to see the Old Town, visit Tzar Samuil Fortress and the Gallery of Icons, see the first Slavic University, the Antique Theatre, the St. John Baptist Church, and Cathedral Church St. Sofija.

Lunch: At a local family's home.

Afternoon: A university lecturer will give a presentation titled, "Education in Macedonia" through which you will explore the role and system of education in Macedonia. Afterward, return to the hotel for leisure time.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Prehistoric Dwelling & Monastery of St. Naum
Ohrid
B,D
Royal View Hotel

Activity note: Walking for up to 45 minutes downhill from the bus to the prehistoric site, some walking and standing for approximately one hour while visiting the Monastery of St. Naum; There is some walking up steps to the main entrance of the monastery. In addition, walking for up to ten minutes each way from the coach through the campus of the folklore group on cobblestone streets and uneven surfaces.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will depart by motor coach for a trip around Lake Ohrid where you will see the prehistoric settlement at Gradishte mentioned by Herodotus in his 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 900 A.D.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Assemble for a presentation titled, "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: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Bitola & Heraclea Lyncestis along Via Egnatia & Edessa
Edessa
B,L,D
Aigai Hotel

Activity note: Walking for up to two hours and standing whilst visiting the museum; there are steps to the first floor and steps to the main entrance of the museum. In addition, walking and standing for up to two hours whilst visiting the archaeological site on uneven terrain and dirt paths.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will depart by coach with an en-route lecture titled, "Alexander and Phillip: Father and Son" given by a local expert. You will learn about the relationship between Alexander the Great and his father Phillip II. Upon arrival, discover Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia. It was the city of the consuls during the Ottoman time and was an important trading center on the Via Egnatia, an ancient Roman road which linked Rome with Constantinople.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Bitola offering traditional local dishes.

Afternoon: 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 town's famous mosaics and antique ruins. Afterwards, discover Edessa, "the city rich with water." Water was considered the "white coal" of the time before the industrial revolution. Enjoy a short sightseeing trip before checking in at the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
The Royal Tombs & Pella
Thessaloniki
B,D
Mediterranean Palace Hotel

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to two hours whilst visiting the Royal Tombs; there are some steps and a ramp. In addition, walking and standing for up to two hours whilst visiting the museum and archaeological site in Pella; there are steps to the first floor and steps to the main entrance of the museum.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: En-route to Vergina, enjoy a presentation led by your Study Leader focusing on Alexander the Great. Upon arrival, discover the Royal Tombs, the funerary site of the father of Alexander the Great, Phillip II.

Lunch: On your own at a self-service restaurant in Vergina.

Afternoon: 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. Afterwards, we will board the coach and continue the drive to Thessaloniki, where we will check in at the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
B
Mediterranean Palace Hotel

Activity note: Riding in a coach bus for the panoramic tour of Thessaloniki.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will depart by coach for a panoramic tour of Thessaloniki. View many unmissable sites such as: the White Tower, the university areas, the Rotunda, the Triumphal Arch of Galerius, the remains of the city walls, UNESCO protected Byzantine monuments, and the churches of St. Demetrius and Sofija. There will be an en-route presentation titled, "Alexander: The Rise to Power" led by a local expert.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Enjoy some leisure time. We suggest you visit the Achaeological Museum. Your guide can assist you with arrangements.

Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Bansko
Bansko
B,L,D
Hotel Martin Bansko

Activity note: Riding in a coach bus for about four hours during the transfer from Thessaloniki to Bansko.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will depart by coach for Bansko. Along the way, your study leader will provide an expert lecture on his home country, Bulgaria. Feel free to ask questions. We will have a short walking visit in Melnik before lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy a presentation titled, "The Wines of Bulgaria." Led by a local wine maker, learn about Bulgarian wines. Delight in some local specialty cheeses as you learn about local wines. We will then continue on to the hotel for some leisure time before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Sofia & Rila Monastery
Sofia
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Sofia

Activity note: Walking for up to two hours whilst visiting the monastery; there are cobblestone surfaces and inside steps to the first floor.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: As we leave Bansko, enjoy a short panoramic tour of the main sights. We will 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: At a local restaurant featuring local specialties.

Afternoon: Check in at the hotel and enjoy time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Sofia, the Boyana Church, & the National Museum of History
Sofia
B,L
Grand Hotel Sofia

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to three hours around Sofia; there are steps to enter the crypt at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and predominantly flat terrain.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will depart on a field trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Boyana Church surrounded by trees over a hundred years old. Enter the church and be astounded by the frescoes, thought to be painted in 1259. Be amazed by the lively characters and murals painted on the walls.

Lunch: At a local restaurant

Afternoon: 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. George Rotunda.

Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Bulgarian Education System & Free Time in Sofia
Sofia
B,D
Grand Hotel Sofia

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: 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 and afterwards, participants may interact with the students.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. We suggest you visit the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum. Your Study Leader will be able to assist with directions.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Departure
In Flight
B

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Mini bus transfer to the airport for flight departures. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!