2013 THE ”ROMANIAN RHAPSODY” TOUR
OUR BEST SELLING ELEVEN DAY EXCLUSIVE CULTURAL CONNECTIONS TOUR
Itinerary: Bucharest Tour - Sibiu & Huniady Castle - Maramures Exclusive Programme - Bucovina Exterior Frescoed Monasteries - Bicaz Gorges - Transylvanian Highlights: Sighisoara & Brasov - Peles and Bran Castles
This is an original, premium quality tour of Romania based on thorough investigations and many years of touring Romania. It is also the Tours-of-Romania® best seller SINCE 2002. The tour is meant to be a Window into the Romanian Culture. The itinerary encompasses all of the historic regions of the country with a focus on Transylvania, Maramures and Bucovina. Conveniently paced, with centrally located and full of character hotels, including meeting with local artists and artisans, exclusive talks, music and local dining, no less than two folklore shows, you go “behind the scenes” to experience the customs, color, traditions and daily life of this beautiful country. The tour is further customizable to fit your needs, time and interests. Guaranteed departures with a minimum of one traveler.
Day 1: Bucharest, Romania
Arrival to Coanda International Airport in Bucharest. Meet and greet by your professional English speaking tour guide right after you exit Customs. Transfer to your downtown Bucharest hotel with a short orientation tour. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner and a Folklore Show.
T D Accommodation in Bucharest at Hotel Berthelot **** (centrally located boutique hotel)
Day 2: Bucharest Tour - Olt River Valley & Gorge - Cozia - Sibiu
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. This morning take a city tour of Bucharest including the Revolution Square, the Palace of the Parliament - the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, Cotroceni Quarter for its representative architecture, the Village Museum - one of the world's most interesting open air museums with century old original peasant households from all parts of Romania. Before leaving for Sibiu visit a typical 1930s downtown Bucharest Residence: an authentic example of the pre war architecture and city life style. On route later, make a short stop to the 14th century Cozia Monastery built by Prince Mircea the Old. Drive along the Olt River Canyon crossing the mountains into Transylvania. Reach Sibiu. Brief orientation tour on the way to the hotel. Overnight in Sibiu's famous Romans' Emperor Hotel, first built at the end of the 18th century. Dinner on own. Suggested is Crama Sibiul Vechi, best cellar - restaurants in town, serving Transylvanian fares and excellent local wines.B Accommodation in Sibiu at Imparatul Romanilor Hotel ****
Hotel Imparatul Romanilor, located in the old part of Sibiu near the main square, in a 16th century building built in traditional Transylvanian Renaissance style, a former merchant's hall transformed into hotel in the 18th century, with many famous guests: Emperor Franz Joseph II, composers Franz Liszt, Johann Strauss as well as Prince Charles and many others.
Day 3: Sibiu Walking Tour - Huniady (Corvin) Castle - Cluj Napoca
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Start your day with a leisurely walking tour of Sibiu (Hermannstadt), formerly the chief city of the Transylvanian Germans. The Great and Lesser Squares are the landmarks of the Old Town with the many merchant houses fearuring ""the sleepy eye" dormers. View the old surrounding defense walls and the remaining towers belonging to the merchant guilds. One of the landmarks of Sibiu is the Bruckenthal Museum assembled by Baron Bruckenthal, governor of Transylvania at the beginning of the 19th century and the second museum to ever open in Europe after the National Galley in London. Next is the Evangelical Cathedral completed in its actual shape in 1520 and featuring an exquisite fresco of the Crucifixion on the north wall of the choir dating from 1445. The tour ends with the original Pharmacy Museum located in a 15th century pharmacy. Before noon depart for Hunedoara for a guided tour of Huniady Castle - one of the most well preserved Gothic castles of Transylvania and home to the mighty Huniady royal family. This is one of the less visited castles of Transylvania but a gem of Gothic architecture. Late afternoon arrival to Cluj Napoca. Orientation tour followed by hotel check in.
B Accommodation in Cluj at Hotel Capitolina *** (or similar)
Day 4: Cluj Napoca City Tour - Baia Mare - Maramures
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. This morning you will have a choice between a stroll in the Botanical Gardens of Cluj and a guided tour of the Ethnographic Museum. Later drive north towards Baia Mare and reach the splendid region of Maramures (northern Transylvania). Due to the relative isolation of their land, the people of Maramures developed a particularly strong community with a unique personality, traditions, culture, fashion and lifestyle unspoiled for centuries. Make a first visit to the early 1720's Church of Surdesti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and until recently the tallest wooden structure in Europe. This is a good opportunity to learn about the Uniate Church (Greek Catholic). Then stop in the villages of Giulesti to learn about the local dowry tradition and Mara for the wonderfully carved wooden gates. Accommodation in a private house (not a B& B) in the village of Iza. Dinner (and plum brandy) is included so that people get deeper into the local culture. Our hosts will join for dinner, this being a first hand cultural interchange.
B D Home stay accommodation (modern villa) or Casa Maramures **** in Sighet (on request) two nights
Family home, with one section renovated into a modern villa with all modern facilities. The location is excellent, in a small village, quiet neighborhood, far away from the main street. The terraces offer a beautiful view on the village. Excellent home cooking.
Day 5: Maramures: Iza Village Walking Tour - Sighetul Marmatiei - Sapinta Village
After breakfast, take an exclusively designed walking tour of the village of Iza including an icon-on-glass workshop (learn about the technique), the local ancient type plum brandy distillery and a typical whirlpool still used by the local women to wash heavy woolen blankets. Enter the new Orthodox church of the village which in 2011/2012, will still be in the process of getting painted in fresco. Then drive to the nearby town of Sighet to mingle with the locals at the colorful fruit and vegetable market where you will have the oportunity to sample various produce from cheeses to sausage. Continue to the Anti Communist Memorial - a political prison in the Communist times. This is one of the main memorial sites of the continent, alongside Auschwitz Museum and the Peace Memorial in Normandy. The visit here provides a direct connection to Romania's most recent history. Next is the house of Nobel Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel who was born in town. Continue west along Tisa River (very close to the Ukrainian border) and reach the village of Sapinta world famous for its "Merry Cemetery". Here each wooden cross carries a funny epitaph about the person's life. Before returning to Iza view what is the tallest wooden church in the world: Sapinta Pari. Late in the afternoon return dinner on an exclusively organized Maramures folklore show and accommodation.B D Home stay accommodation (or hotel on request)
Day 6: Maramures: Iza Valley, Barsana & Ieud - Ciocanesti - Campulung - Gura Humorului (Bucovina)
Following breakfast continue exploring Maramures along the picturesque Iza Valley – an excellent oportunity to witness daily life in this corner of Europe and also meet locals. Stop in the village of Rozavlea for a visit to a famous master carver in his own workshop. He represented Romania at the 1999 Smithsonian World Folk Festival in Washington, DC. Next is the exquisite Barsana Nunnery, a great example of Maramures wooden church architecture. Visit Ieud, the oldest wooden church there is dating back from the 14th century. Depending on the day of the week, visit a local animal market. In the village of Dragomiresti tour the local museum located in a 235 year old house. Cross the Carpathian Mountains through the picturesque Prislop Pass into the northern part of Moldavia called Bucovina and driving throught the village of Ciocanesti, famous for its unique house decoration. In the town of Campulung enjoy an exclusively organized interactive egg-painting demonstration by a local artist in her own home, this being one of the local traditions of the area. You will also have the chance to admire painted eggs from all over the world. After arriving in Gura Humorului, check into the hotel. Evening at leisure.
B Accommodation in Gura Humorului at Hotel Best Western Bucovina **** (two nights)
Day 7: Bucovina Painted Monasteries Excursion (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
A la carte breakfast at hotel. Bucovina monasteries are gems of medieval Moldavian architecture and artistry. Begin your day with Voronet, the most famous out of all, known as the Sistine Chapel of the East and featuring one the best Last Judgment fresco in this part of the World. The newly open Customs and Traditions Museum of Gura Humorului is a must. Next is Moldovita Monastery where the UNESCO Golden Apple Award given to the painted churches in 1975, is kept. As a cultural connection, enjoy a traditional Bucovina lunch in the picturesque village of Sucevita. Later continue to the nearby Sucevita Monastery, which is the largest of all, looking more like a mighty fortress than a monastery. The Ladder of John of Sinai is considered one of the best of the frescoes of Sucevita, rarely present in medieval Romanian art. In the village of Marginea visit the black pottery workshop - they use a technique called "oxygen reduction", there is the same technique in Mexico only! End your day with the Monastery of Humor, the only one without a belfry tower. Return to the hotel.B L Accommodation in Gura Humorului at Hotel Best Western Bucovina ****
Day 8: Gura Humorului - Piatra Neamt - Bicaz Gorges & Red Lake - Sighisoara
A la carte breakfast at hotel. Begin your day with a drive south to Piatra Neamt for a tour of the only wooden synagogue in Romania (dating back from the 17th century) and built half underground. The same morning take a cable car ride from the town to Cozla Mountain. Later reach Bicaz Gorges where the surroundings are dramatic. Oportunity for a short hike. Next is the Red LAke, former by a mountain sliding in the 1830s. Optional lunch in the resort (restaurants here specialize in naturally grown trout). Once passing the Red Lake you are back to Transylvania passing through an area inhabited mostly by the Hungarian Szeklers community, which actively maintains its peculiar culture and even script. In the village of Praid tour the local salt mine (the mine has an easy access by vehicle). Afternoon arrival to Sighisoara - World Heritage Site and the only still inhabited medieval citadel in Europe. Accommodation in either one of the three hotels in the Upper Town. Suggestion for dinner: the Birthplace of Vlad Dracula.
B Accommodation at Hotel Sighisoara *** OR The House with Antler *** (two nights)
Day 9: Sighisoara & Biertan - Gypsy Village Tour and Home Visit
Before starting your walking tour of old Sighisoara attend an exclusive lecture on Vlad the Impaler - Dracula, what is truth and what is fiction. Sighisoara is one of a kind. It was developed by the German settlers as of late 12th century. It stands on a network of tunnels and catacombs and, according to one version of the myth; this is where the Pied Piper brought the children of Hamelin after their ungrateful parents refused to pay him his due. The walking tour includes the two squares of the Citadel (Upper Town), the Scholars' Staircase, the House with Antler, the Tower with Clock (climb up for a great view), the Torture Chamber and the Weapon Museum. Sighisoara is the place where the Vlad the Impaler Dracula was born in 1431. The Birthplace is one of the main tourist attractions. Then driverive to the fortified church of Biertan, a World Heritage Site for a visit of the former Seat of the Lutheran Bishops. Afternoon Optional Trip: Exclusive Visit a Gypsy village followed by a home hosted dinner in a Gypsy home: this is an unique opportunity to learn about this less known yet controversial ethnic group, about its culture, identity and lifestyle. You will have the chance to try fares of the Gypsy cuisine as well as get acquainted to their traditional costumes.
B Accommodation in Sighisoara
Day 10: Sighisoara - Brasov - Dracula's Castle in Bran - SinaiaHot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Leave Sighisoara in the morning. Journey south through the picturesque Transylvanian Plateau for a tour of medieval Brasov to admire the 14th century Black Church with its 4,000 pipe organ and over a hundred Anatolian prayer rugs given to the church as gifts by the rich Brasov merchants. Visit Schei Quarter and the First School in the Romanian language. Brasov has a wonderful pedestrian area around its Council Square. Time at leisure. Drive to the nearby village of Bran and enjoy cheese tasting. The locals are famous for the various types of cheeses from the smoked one to the cheese in wood bark. The attraction of the afternoon is Bran Castle also known as Dracula Castle. Initially a fortress by the Teutonic Knights, the castle was built in 1377 to safeguard the trading route between Transylvania and Wallachia, enlarged and restored a few times to become a royal residence for Queen Marie of Romania as of the 1920s. Later continue to Sinaia mountain resort. Named after St. Catherine Monastery on Mount Sinai, Sinaia became the unofficial capital of the Kingdom of Romania towards the end of the 19th century. The orientation tour of the resort includes a view of the famous Casino, inspired by the one in Monte Carlo. Evening at leisure in the resort.B Accommodation in Sinaia at Palace Hotel **** (or similar)
Day 11: Sinaia: Peles Castle - Bucharest
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. In the morning take a guided tour of the Peles Castle and Gardens in Sinaia, the royal residence of King Charles I of Romania and known as one of the most beautiful summer royal residences in Europe. After the visit drive to Bucharest Coanda Airport for your return flight OR take our BULGARIA EXTENSION OR THE BLACK SEA & DANUBE DELTA EXTENSION. The tour is further customizable on request.
- 8 nights at three and four star hotels
- 2 nights home stay in Maramures (or three/four star hotel on request)
- fully insured sedan/minivan with climate control, for the entire distance
- fuel & parking fees
- all sightseeing tours & cultural connections
- informal talks on: Vlad the Impaler - Dracula, Ceausescu and His Times, The Gypsies and Their Journey (all by the tour guide)
- 14 meals: 10 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
- a professional English speaking tour guide (driving) to accompany you throughout
- an exclusively organized folklore show in Maramures
- an interactive egg painting demonstration in Bucovina
- cheese tasting in Bran
- Bucharest city tour, including a guided tour of the Palace of the Parliament
- all transfers
- admissions to museums and sites as per itinerary
- porterage (except for Customs Areas)
- map of Romania.
Freestyle Add - Ons:
- half a day trip to the Ukraine to the village of Solotvina (from Maramures)
- afternoon excursion to a Gypsy village including a home visit & home hosted dinner (from Sighisoara)
- full day trip to Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi, Bulgaria (from Bucharest, requires extra day)
- two day Black Sea & Danube Delta Extension with private delta cruise accompanied by certified skipper ( from Bucharest, requires an extra two days)
- three day Bulgaria Highlights Extension (from Bucharest, requires an extra three days; flight out of Sofia, Bulgaria)
You'll visit 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Sibiu's Historic Center, Maramures Wooden Churches, Bucovina Exterior Frescoed Monasteries, Historic Center of Sighisoara, Biertan Fortified Church.
- other meals than stated
- alcoholic beverages
- photo/video fees at sites and museums.
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