This tour focuses on the diverse cultures, history, crafts, cuisine and people of two Eastern European countries. They have long histories, having been fought over and conquered many times.
You will have personable and well-educated local guides and a spacious air-conditioned bus to travel in comfort.
The itinerary provides many diverse experiences including visits to historic buildings of architectural significance such as castles, fortresses, churches, cathedrals, monasteries. You will see 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sights.
You will be served a variety of fresh local cuisine, see music and dance performances, as well as demonstrations of local crafts. You will visit story-book quaint villages, farms, and colorful local open-markets. You will be surrounded by glorious natural landscapes such as the Carpathian mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and rolling green countryside. Many parts of the Romanian countryside are like a scene in a fairytale! Even their haystacks create a worthy photo!
Thursday, May 3 – Depart US destinations
Depart from your gateway of choice for your overnight flight to Sofia, Bulgaria.
Friday, May 4 - Sofia, Bulgaria
Upon your arrival in Sofia (population 1.7 million), a transfer will be arranged to take you to our hotel. The remainder of your day is at your leisure with an evening rendezvous at our hotel to join your host, Christine Robison and enjoy a festive welcome dinner. Dinner and overnight in Sofia. (D)
Saturday May 5 – Sofia, Bulgaria
After breakfast enjoy a bus and walking tour of town about 2 hours. Then departure for a half day trip with a visit to Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Lunch on the way. Return to Sofia in late afternoon for dinner and overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)
Sunday, May 6 – Plovdiv, Bulgaria
After breakfast depart for Plovdiv, another UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Plovdiv is the 2nd largest city of Bulgaria, situated on the two banks of the Maritsa river. Lunch here. In the afternoon see the ancient Roman city which existed where modern Plovdiv now exists (including the theatre, stadium, forum, odeon, etc.) Visit the ethnographic museum. Wander through the old part of the city of Plovdiv, with its medieval streets, churches and mosques. Dinner on your own during free time. Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L)
Monday, May 7 – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
After breakfast, head toward Veliko Tarnovo about 78 miles from Plovdiv. On the way visit Kazanlak, the city of roses. You will be tempted by the myriad products they create from this product.
Veliko Tarnovo was Bulgaria’s ancient capital founded in the Middle Ages. This city is a candidate for the “European Cultural Capital” in 2019. Visit the most famous attraction: the 11th century medieval fortress “Tsaravets” which is situated on three hills, and was built during Bulgaria’s peak period. Veliko Tarnovo is now an architectural reserve and during excavations, the remains of more than 400 homes, 22 churches and 4 monasteries were found. Inside the walls of Tsaravets, the Bulgarian emperors (and the Patriarch) had their palaces. After lunch visit the citadel. Dinner and overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. (B, L, D)
Tuesday, May 8 – Brasov, Romania
Today you will have an early departure towards Romania, with a population of some 21 million and and some 5 million of whom are working abroad, we cross the Danube river (a natural border between Romania and Bulgaria) at Giurgiu/Ruse. The distance between Veliko Tarnovo and Bucharest is 100 miles. There is no highway, so the journey may take 5 hours including border crossing formalities and lunch.
Continue to Brasov, an ancient Transylvanian city ringed by the Carpathian Mountains. It is a whimsically enchanting place with fairy-tale turrets and cobbled streets. It is known for its medieval quality with Saxon walls and bastions, the towering Gothic-style Black Church and lively cafes. Enjoy a walking tour of the city. Dinner , musical performance and overnight in Brasov. (B, L, D)
Wednesday, May 9 – Brasov
Visit Prejmer & the citadel of Rasnov or “Bran Castle”. This is a national monument and landmark between Transylvania and Wallachia commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle.” This castle fortress is marketed as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad III of Wallachia, the putative inspiration.
Lunch will be in a traditional restaurant. After lunch, return to Brasov, for free time. Dinner on your own and overnight in Brasov. (B, L)
Thursday, May 10 – Gura Humor
Very early departure from Brasov to North Moldova via Tusnad, Miercurea Ciuc and to the Red Lake. After lunch continue through spectacularly beautiful countryside via the Bicaz Gorges and Piatra Neamt (one of the most picturesque cities in Romania) to Gura Humor. Dinner and overnight in Gura Humor. (B, L, D)
Friday, May 11 – Gura Humor
Today will be dedicated to visiting four painted Romanian Orthodox monasteries of Bucovina in the Northeastern corner of the country near Ukraine. All are masterpieces of Byzantine art and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include: Moldovita with the famous “Siege of Constantinople” fresco, Sucevita with blue and green dominating the frescoes and with its famous “Ladder of Virtues”, Humor (the most tiny of the monasteries) with a depiction of the devil as a woman, and Voronet the “Sistine Chapel of Romania”. Lunch will be in Radauti, a 14th century town. See egg painting artisans. You may want to roam and enjoy your picturesque surroundings after dinner. Dinner and overnight in Gura Humor. (B, L, D)
Saturday, May 12 – Sighisoara
Early breakfast and departure to Sighisoara, in the heart of the province of Transylvania. En route you will pass the glorious eastern Carpathian mountains, and the medieval towns of Campulung, Vatra Dornei, and Bistrita Nasaud located in fairytale green countryside surroundings. After lunch continue through Targu Mures to Sighisoara for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)
Sunday, May 13 – Sighisoara to Sibiu
After breakfast enjoy a guided visit to the Citadel and then three hours of free time for strolling and free time for lunch on your own, in the medieval feudal citadel town of Sighisoara. You will be surrounded by pastel-colored buildings, stony lanes and gingerbread towers. Sighisoara is the only inhabited Citadel in Europe and is where Vlad the Impellor (aka Dracula) was born.
After lunch continue by bus to Sibiu (also in Transylvania). Stop in a Gypsy (Roma) village along the way and see their wares and unique architecture with elaborate tin roofs. In Sibiu you will have free time before dinner. Our hotel is in the very center of town making strolling around town most enjoyable Dinner and overnight in Sibiu. (B, D)
Monday, May 14 - Sibiu
Following breakfast, begin the day with a leisurely walking sightseeing tour of the old city of Sibiu, built in the 15th and 16th centuries. See the German church, the Orthodox church, the old city walls and streets, the town squares, and the medieval staircase leading to the lower town. You will see famous icons painted on glass with an unique technique.
After lunch you will have free time to enjoy more of your charming surroundings. Dinner on the outskirts of the town. Overnight in Sibiu. (B, L, D)
Tuesday, May 15 - Bucharest
Following breakfast, check out of our hotel and depart to Bucharest, the capital city of Romania (population 2 million). Enjoy lunch, independently, upon arrival.
You will have a day and a half to discover Bucharest by bus and on foot. Its architecture is a mix of neo-classical, interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist-era and modern architecture. In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite residents earned the city the nickname of “Little Paris”. Many buildings and districts in the historic city center were heavily damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes and Ceausescu’s program of systematization, yet many survived. In recent years the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom. We will visit some of the local museums. Note: The highly honored Museum of the Romanian Peasant is closed for renovation for the full year of 2018.
Dinner and overnight in Bucharest. (B, D) .
Wednesday, May 16 – Bucharest
Our touring of Bucharest continues throughout the day. A “Farewell Dinner” tonight. Overnight in Bucharest. (B, L, D)
Thursday, May 17 – Bucharest
Transfer to the airport for flights to US destinations.
Sofia: Best Western Plus
Bucharest: Intercontinental Hotel
NOTE on HOTELS: Traveling thru Bulgaria and Romania is best seen using small, local hotels that capture the countries’ charm and local flavor. Given that many of the above noted properties have limited capacity, Iconic Journeys Worldwide reserves the right to substitute similar properties to accommodate our groups.
Cost per person: $5,750 based on double occupancy.
Single supplement of $1,500.
What is included:
• All hotels with breakfast and meals included, as indicated by B, L, D, entrance fees at sites noted on itinerary, water with group sit-down lunches and breakfasts, English speaking guide and private vehicle and driver.
* Airport transs
What is NOT included:
* International airfare to Bulgaria and Romania* Gratuities to guides and drivers.
* Alcohol, additional beverages and any items of a personal nature.
* Travel insurance.
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