3340
Eastern Europe & Russia
The Baltic Sea Connection
Gain a deeper understanding of Russia and the Baltics as you explore how the Baltic Sea, shared boarders and centuries-old traditions have shaped the story of this area.
Rating (5)
Program No. 3340RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
4,199
Flights start at
1,050
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15 days
14 nights
28 meals
13 B 4 L 11 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
In transit.
In Flight

Activity note: Depart North America on overnight flights to St. Petersburg, Russia. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information.

DAY
2
Arrival in St.Petersburg / Transfers / Orientation meeting
St. Petersburg
D
Helvetia Hotel

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

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before we gather before dinner and Orientation. At the scheduled time, we’ll meet our Group Leader in the lobby and proceed to dinner. Timing may vary based on arrivals.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have a plated 3-course dinner with appetizer or soup, a main course, dessert, and coffee, tea, and bottled water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation meeting (NOTE: this meeting may be moved to the next morning and the actual time will be announced upon your arrival at hotel). 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, involving walking 2+ miles per day, including from the bus to field trip sites and during field trips and climbing stairs at museums and historic sites (not all have elevators). This program is not suitable for wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or other mobility-assistance devices. Buses are not equipped for these devices. Be prepared to carry/roll your luggage as porter's service is not available on all sites. The program includes lectures prepared for this Road Scholar group on diverse topics (the final lecture schedule is subject to change); There will also be presentations by our local experts during included field trips. Periods in the daily schedule labeled “Free Time" and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, 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 travel 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.

DAY
3
Lecture / City Drive to the Peter-Paul Fortress
St. Petersburg
B,L
Helvetia Hotel

Activity note: Light walking during the city drive, including on cobblestone surfaces. Comfortable shoes are recommended. We use a small comfortable air-conditioned bus, no facilities on board. Rest stops are made.

Breakfast: Throughout your stay in St. Petersburg: breakfast buffet in the hotel dining room. Choose what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes hot and cold items plus juices, coffee, tea, and bottled water.

Morning: Begin your program with a general overview of "Russia Today" (or a similar topic), which will address Russian society, the political system, and issues of religion and ethnicity (presented by a university professor and followed by a Q&A session). After the lecture begin a motor-coach exploration of the city to see major architectural and historical landmarks. Have an inside visit to the Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral, the birthplace of the city.

Lunch: Lunch in a city restaurant: a 3 course pre-set meal, bottled water, coffee/tea. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continue your city drive: Stop to see the golden-domed St. Isaac’s Cathedral (exterior only) and the Bronze Horseman statue, a tribute to Tsar Peter the Great, the founder of the city. Drive along fashionable Nevsky Prospekt, passing by numerous palaces, gardens, canals, graceful bridges, and many more beautiful sights. Return to the hotel by approx. 4:30 pm. The rest of the evening is free to rest or enjoy the city on your own.

Dinner: Dinner on your own in the city or at the hotel.

Evening: Evening free to relax.

DAY
4
Hermitage Museum / Performance
St. Petersburg
B,D
Helvetia Hotel

Activity note: Extensive walking (2+ miles) during the field trip, including up/down stairs; comfortable shoes are recommended.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a comfortable bus with our local expert for a field trip to one of the most famous museums in the world -- the Hermitage Museum. Housed in 5 elaborate buildings, it is one of the world's greatest art galleries, boasting a dazzling collection of Old Masters, French Impressionists and post-Impressionists, as well as numerous art treasures of all eras from around the world. This morning we will explore the highlights of the main collection housed in the Winter Palace and the original Hermitage buildings.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in the museum café.

Afternoon: Continue your exploration of the Hermitage treasures in the newly renovated, redesigned General Staff Building. In spite of its unexciting name, this is one of the most famous architectural monuments in St. Petersburg with its stunning crescent shape and central triumphal arch directly across from the Winter Palace. It now houses the Hermitage’s collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works as well as exhibits on Art Nouveau, French and Russian decorative arts. We’ll have an orientation to the museum followed by time to see what interests you most on a personal basis. Transfer back to hotel for a short rest before the evening program. Transfer to a city restaurant for dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at a downtown restaurant: a 3-course plated meal including bottled water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Transfer to an evening performance (details to be announced 4-5 weeks before program commencement in the 2nd mailing, avoid making plans for free evenings until then).

DAY
5
The Romanov Dynasty: Summer Palaces of the Russian Tsars
St. Petersburg
B,D
Helvetia Hotel

Activity note: Extensive walking 2+ miles in parks and palaces, including walking up/down stairs and on uneven terrain, and standing in some museums. Rest areas are available. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: The day is dedicated to the Romanov dynasty of Russian tsars. We’ll board a comfortable small bus and set out on a field trip through St. Petersburg and on to Peterhof. En route, a local expert will give a presentation on the city’s history, its founder Tsar Peter the Great, and the Romanovs who reigned from 1613 to 1917 — the longest-reigning Russian royal family. Peterhof is the stunning summer estate of Russian tsars on the Gulf of Finland. We’ll have an expert-led walking field trip in the Lower Park. Tsar Peter the Great himself sketched out what became one of the most extraordinary royal garden creations anywhere in the world. His successors (the Empress Elizabeth, his daughter, and Catherine the Great) continued to expand and improve these gardens. The Lower Park is considered a masterpiece of garden design incorporating living plants and trees, exceptional architecture, sculpture, and water features including the famous fountains — over 150 in number! — and other objects beautifully restored to their original splendor. (Note: inside visits to the Grand Palace and other museums on site are not part of the field trip).

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Peterhof.

Afternoon: Continue on to Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin). See the park and visit Catherine's Palace, an elaborate baroque palace commissioned in 1752 by Tsarina Elizabeth to honor the memory of her mother Katarina I. Later it became a favorite retreat for Tsarina Catherine II (the Great). See the Eighth Wonder of the World -- the extraordinary Amber Room -- decorated with six tons of solid amber carved and framed in gold leaf. The original room was mysteriously lost or stolen by the Nazis during WWII and later meticulously reconstructed by Russian artists (Note: on rare occasion, in peak season, for reasons of safety and due to heavy crowds, this visit may be replaced by a visit to Tsar Paul's Palace and Park, located nearby). On the way to the hotel make a stop at the WWII Memorial Museum dedicated to the defenders of Leningrad during the 900-day siege from 1941 to 1944 (see the exterior only).

Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in the city. Alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Return to the hotel. Evening free to relax or enjoy the city on your own.

DAY
6
Art museum / Free afternoon.
St. Petersburg
B,D
Helvetia Hotel

Activity note: Walking about 1-2 miles inside the Museum, including steps/stairs. Other activities in the city for the rest of the day are at your own pace.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.

Morning: This morning we will have a field trip to one of the Art Museums. (details are being finalized and will be reconfirmed 4-5 weeks prior to program commencement). Following this visit we’ll walk to the central part of the city for lunch on your own and personal explorations. Your Group Leader will walk with you along the main avenue of the city -- Nevsky Prospekt.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in the city.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and guidance to those who wish to explore on their own and return independently to the hotel. Others are welcome to return to the hotel with the Group Leader. For independent discoveries in the city we suggest you visit the State Russian Museum, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, the House of Books, and the Yeliseyevsky Deli, or take a boat ride along the city's famous rivers and canals. We all meet back at hotel for dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal, including bottled water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic/ other beverages are available for purchase.

DAY
7
St.Petersburg -Narva -Tallinn, Estonia / Concert
Tallinn
B,L,D
Park Inn Central Hotel

Activity note: Morning travel by comfortable, air-conditioned motor coach with onboard facilities. Expected travel time, including border crossing, 6-7 hours. Note: Bottled water is provided for all long inter-city transfers. Evening walk in Old Town, including on cobblestone surfaces and uneven terrain, up/down stairs and hills.

Breakfast: Early breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After early breakfast and hotel check-out, board a private motor coach to travel from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Tallinn, Estonia. A stop is made in the town of Narva for customs and border-crossing formalities.

Lunch: Packed lunch / water en route to Tallinn.

Afternoon: We will arrive in Tallinn in the afternoon. After hotel check-in we rest and freshen up before the evening program. In the early evening we **walk to Old Town to for a concert**. We will walk back to hotel through Old Town -- a busy place with shops, art galleries, souvenir markets, outdoor cafes, and restaurants.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic/other beverages are available for purchase.

DAY
8
Modern Estonian Politics / Walk in Old Town
Tallinn
B,D
Park Inn Central Hotel

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles in Old Town on cobblestone surfaces and up/down steps.

Breakfast: Throughout your stay in the Baltics: breakfast buffet in the hotel dining room, choose what you like from the buffet that includes hot and cold items plus juices, coffee, tea, and filtered water.

Morning: Attend a talk on a general overview of the Baltics and focusing on Estonia, its economy and social and political issues in the aftermath of Estonia's admission into the European Union. Following the discussion, we join a local expert for a city walk to learn about the history of Estonia and the architecture of the Old Town, which is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It has all the features of a 15th-century trading town and the general look of a typical, prosperous Hanseatic town. We see Toompea Castle, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Dome Church, and other interesting sights in the Upper Town.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Old Town.

Afternoon: Continue our expert-led walk in Lower Town: we will see the Old Town Hall, called Raekoja Plats, and the Tower, both dating back to the 15th century, pass by St. Nicholas Church, cross Town Hall Square, and end up at Catherine's Arts and Crafts Center. We will have time to explore Old Town on our own before returning to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Evening free to relax.

DAY
9
Drive to Kadriorg-Pirita / Transfer: Tallinn to Riga
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: We use a smaller, comfortable air-conditioned bus for a group under 15. Expected driving time 4-5 hours. Rest stops are made every 2 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After hotel check-out we take a drive through the nearby seaside suburbs of Kadriorg- Piriita, a popular recreational area by the Baltic Sea and a venue famous for mid-summer singing festivals and active holidays. Then, we continue our drive to Riga, Latvia. On the way to Riga, we will enjoy the Estonian countryside, the picturesque Baltic coastline, and numerous hills and lakes. We'll drive through Paarnu, a major seaside resort town in Estonia, and pass by some small towns en route.

Lunch: Lunch on your own at a café en route.

Afternoon: Late afternoon arrival in Riga. Founded in 1201 by the German Bishop Albert, Riga is the largest of the three Baltic capitals; it boasts a kaleidoscope of architectural styles, a busy seaport, and a rich cultural life. Check-in at the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner at the program hotel: a 3-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic/other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: If desired, join your Group Leader for a short walk in the hotel's neighborhood to get orientated in Old Town.

DAY
10
Lecture / City Walk / Social visit / Ghetto Museum
Riga
B,L
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Be prepared for extensive walking (2+ miles) on cobblestone surfaces in Old Town, on uneven terrain, and up/down stairs.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Lecture: “Latvia today, the political and economic situation in Latvia, and its socio-demographic structure.” Following the lecture join a local expert for a walk in the city and learn about the 800-year history and architecture of Riga's Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage site).

Lunch: Lunch in a city restaurant: a 2-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: In the afternoon participate in a social visit. After that we drive through the (former) Jewish area of the city. Visit the Ghetto Museum. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy Old Town or return to hotel.

Dinner: Dinner on your own.

DAY
11
Latvian Culture & Music / Art Nouveau District / Concert
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Expected walking up to 2 miles. Be prepared to walk on cobblestone and unpaved surfaces and to walk up/down steps. Actual performance date may be changed. Avoid purchasing tickets for independent visits until final information is announced.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Attend a presentation on Latvian national music. Learn about Latvian folkloric traditions and musical instruments. Following the presentation join a local expert for a drive through the Art Nouveau district famous for its Jugendstil architecture.

Lunch: Lunch on your own.

Afternoon: Continue exploring the city by motor coach. Drive to the Latvian Occupation Museum, featuring numerous items and documents related to Latvia’s struggle for independence in various periods of the country's history. Return to the hotel for a short rest before the evening program.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic/other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Attend an evening performance ( detail to be announced 4-5 weeks prior to program commencement; avoid making plans for free evenings until then).

DAY
12
Transfer: Riga - Pilsrundele, Latvia - Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius
B,L,D
Novotel Vilnius Centre

Activity note: Total expected driving time 4-5 hours. Light walking during the stopover for lunch and an excursion.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning we spend some time at a farmer's market in Riga to view displays of local farm produce. Later in the morning, we drive to Vilnius, Lithuania. We stop along the way in the town of Pilsrundele for an inside visit to the baroque palace of Rundele, the former summer residence of the Duke of Courland.

Lunch: Lunch in a Pilsrundele restaurant: a 2-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: Arrive in Vilnius in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Later in the evening take a short walk in the neighborhood led by your Group Leader (if desired).

DAY
13
Trakai Castle / Free Time / Social visit
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Centre

Activity note: Walking on hilly and unpaved terrain. Rest areas are available.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning is dedicated to Lithuania's 1000-plus year-old history. Drive for an excursion of historic Trakai Castle. From a museum curator learn about the history of Lithuania and the historic events associated with the castle. For a short period in the Middle Ages, Trakai was the capital of Lithuania. From the castle you have a magnificent view of more than 30 glacier-made lakes. The 15th-century castle, constructed in 1406 by Grand Duke Vytautas, is strategically situated on three islands in the middle of Lake Galve. The Castle History Museum features many medieval objects and Lithuanian period furniture of the 18th-20th centuries.

Lunch: Lunch on your own

Afternoon: Return to the city. The afternoon is free for independent explorations. Check with the Group Leader for suggestions or just wander the city on your own.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant: a 3-course plated meal including filtered water, coffee, and tea. Alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Evening program. Cultural connection: a get-together with local families.

DAY
14
Lecture / City Walk / Farewell Dinner / Performance
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Centre

Activity note: During the morning walk be prepared to walk 2+ miles on cobblestone surfaces and uneven terrain; comfortable shoes are recommended.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. Check-out.

Morning: This morning participate in a lecture by a university professor focusing on the Baltic States' geographical and political position and on Lithuania's integration into the European Union. After the lecture, join a local expert for a city walk, focusing on the city of Vilnius and its history and baroque architecture: walk through the university campus, see the rich interiors of the Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Church of St. Anna, admire the medieval Gates of Dawn, and make a stop at the site of the ancient synagogue. Have a walk in the famous Vilnius University courtyards.

Lunch: Lunch on your own

Afternoon: The afternoon is free to enjoy the city on your own. Suggestions for interesting visits will be made by the Group Leader.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner at a city restaurant: a 4 course plated meal including a glass of beer or wine; also, filtered water, coffee, and tea. Other beverages are available for purchase ***Folklore show***.

DAY
15
Transfers To Vilnius Airport
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. Program travel details regarding transfers will be announced in 2nd mailing 45 weeks prior to program's commencement. Independent travelers, may join one of the pre-scheduled Group transfers or arrange for a taxi at the hotel's concierge. All assengers must arrive at the airport 2.5 hours prior to flight time. The transfer schedule will be announced 48 hours in advance.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. Those with early departures can have a packed breakfast.

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. IMPORTANT! All participants are asked to verify the announced transfer schedule with their actual tickets and/or to alert the Group Leader of any discrepancy. 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. 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! Program ends, transfer to the airport for flights home. Independent travelers are welcome to join group transfers.






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