Emilee Hines Cantieri
Gerald Leroy Liedl
May 15 to June 6, 2018
Balkan Trip

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Day 1 May 15 Tuesday: Arrival Bucharest’s Coanda airport on DL/AF 8536 at 1:50pm.
Meet your local guide and transfer to your hotel in Bucharest. After you check into your room,your guide will lead a brief local orientation tour. Time to explore more of Bucharest or simply relax after your flight. Accommodation in Bucharest.

Day 2: May 16 Wednesday: BUCHAREST - CURTEA DE ARGES - SIBIU
After breakfast, departure to Curtea de Arges, the former capital of Walachia and visit Curtea de Arges Monastery. The Church of the Curtea de Arges Monastery was built by the Romanianruler of Wallachia Neagoe Basarab in 1512-1517. Connected to this church is the legend of Master Manole, who entombed his wife alive in the walls of the church so that they would never crumble. The Episcopal Church of Curtea de Arges houses the tomb of its founder, Neagoe Basarab, and of other members of the royal family including Kings Carol I and Ferdinand, and Queens Elisabeta and Maria. The road takes us through the spectacular gorge of the Olt River
and continues to Sibiu. This is arguably Romania’s prettiest city and has a distinct Saxon heritage. Overnight in Sibiu.

Day 3: May 17 Thursday: SIBIU - SIGHISOARA
Stroll through the pedestrian zone of the city, walking by the Plaza Grande, and Little Square, the Bridge of Liars, the Evangelical Cathedral where the son of Vlad Tepes is buried. Visit the Orthodox Cathedral modeled after the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Istanbul. Continue to picturesque Sighisoara founded in the 13th century by German immigrants and best known as the
birthplace of Count Dracula. Today the town retains a medieval ambiance. Buildings range from the 13th to the 19th centuries with a fine 15th-century Church with a superb altarpiece from 1490. Accommodation in Sighisoara.

Day 4: May 18 Friday: SIGHISOARA - BRAN - BRASOV
Depart in the morning from Sighisoara and our next stop will be at the Bran Castle, known as Dracula 's Castle, one of the most picturesque areas of Romania, built in the thirteenth century by the Teutonic knight Dietrich and restored in later periods. Continue to Brasov, one of the most charming medieval towns in Romania, stroll through its old District of Schei a neighborhood of narrow cobblestone streets and red tiled 17th century homes. The Biserica Neagra or Black Church is Romania's largest church in the Gothic style. See the city's ancient fortifications. Overnight in Brasov.

Day 5: May 19 Saturday: BRASOV - SINAIA - BUCHAREST
Departure to the winter ski resort of Sinaia at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains where we will tour Peles Castle. Set dramatically in the hills above Sinaia, this 160 room palace, built in German Renaissance style, was completed in 1914 for the first Hohenzollern king of Romania, Carol I. The castle was the king's attempt to imitate the styles of his former homeland, creating a Bavarian setting in the mountains of Romania. The castle's sculpture terraces, art displays, and historic armories make it one of Romania's most important and beautiful museums. The palace is ornately decorated inside and out with intricate woodcarvings and paintings of scenes from Wagner's operas. The art collection is one of the best in Central Europe. In the afternoon we’ll head to Bucharest and continue with a city tour which will give you the opportunity to visit Revolution Square the location of the 1989 anti Communist revolt that went nationwide. Visit the Romanian Patriarch’s Church or the Palace of Parliament, the world’s second largestbuilding, after the U. S. Pentagon. Accommodation in Bucharest.


After breakfast we change the cars and guides and continue your journey to into Bulgaria. Arrival into Bulgaria at Ruse on the border and continue to Veliko Turnovo the medieval capital of Bulgaria picturesquely located on 4 hills above the Yantra River. Free time for lunch. Continue to Tsarevets Royal Hill with the fortress, Samovodska Charshia Street of crafts. Late afternoon departure to Sofia for arrival after approximately 3.5 h. Check in at your hotel.

Day 7: May 21 Monday: SOFIA
Full day dedicated to Sofia with our first visit at the National Museum of History where you will see replicas of the oldest gold treasure in the world dating from 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC discovered near Varna as well as the world famous Thracian golden and silver treasures. There are precious mosaics, icons, and the ethnographic section. The museum is situated in the former residence of the communist government of Bulgaria, at the foothills of Vitosha Mountain. The building itself has a historical significance for today’s Bulgaria since it is here that the beginning of the transition period started in 1989. Later we will visit Boyana Church UNESCO site located
not far from the museum. Free time for lunch in downtown Sofia. After lunch continue visits in Sofia to the Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral, St. Sofia’s 6th century Basilica, the Parliament Square, National Theatre and the Old City Garden. Visit the Presidency, the former Royal Palace and the St. George Rotunda from the 4th c and the oldest building in Sofia.
Overnight at your hotel.

Day 8: May 22 Tuesday: SOFIA – PLOVDIV – SOFIA
Day trip to Plovdiv the second largest Bulgarian city which was once a capital city of Philip the 2nd of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. Enjoy a walking tour of the Old Plovdiv’s architectural reserve awarded a golden medal for architecture by UNESCO. We will visit the Ethnographic museum or “Royal House”, the National Revival houses, the Ancient Amphitheatre, the Djumaya Mosque Square and the ruins of the Roman Stadium located on the longest pedestrian street in the world. Continue to Kapana the artistic neighborhood of Plovdiv. Plovdiv will be European Capital of Culture in 2019. Late afternoon back to Sofia. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 9: May 23 Wednesday: SOFIA – RILA MONASTERY – SKOPJE
Morning departure to Rila Monastery a UNESCO site and Bulgaria’s most important and largest Monastery. Visit the monastery`s main church and museum with free time for lunch. Depart for 4.5 hour drive to Skopje where you are estimated to arrive between 4 to 5 pm.


Day 9, May 23 Wednesday: Arrival day – SKOPJE, MACEDONIA
Meet and greet the clients at the hotel in Skopje. In case of late arrival the clients will have a dinner and the sightseeing tour will be next day. Dinner in a traditional Macedonian restaurant in the Old Bazaar. Transfer back to the hotel and overnight.

Day 10, May 24 Thursday: Skopje- MATKA Canyon - STOBI - POPOVA KULA Winery
Sightseeing begins at the Old Rail Station built in 1938. At that time it was the most beautiful train station on the Balkans but demolished by a terrible earthquake in 1963. Today it is home of the city museum of Skopje with a permanent exhibitions representing the history of Skopje. We will visit the Memorial House of Mother Theresa opened on 30th of January 2009. The location of the Memorial House is not randomly chosen but is on the exact place where the old Catholic Church “Sacred heart of Jesus” used to stand. It is where Mother Theresa, than Gonxa Bojaxhiu was baptized just one day after her birth, on the 27th of August 1910. It is the place where she received her first communion and where she found her inner peace after her father’s death. Visit the lively pedestrian street “Makedonija” full of coffee bars and restaurants. Nearby on the main square there many monuments representing the old and rich Macedonian history with a central 30 meters high Statue of Alexander the Great. The Stone Bridge is the symbol of the city connecting the main square and the Old bazaar. According to certain data the Stone Bridge was built in the 6th century. Across the river we visit Kale Fortress, the Church of St. Spas with its intricately carved walnut iconostasis and the Museum of the Ilinden Uprising of 1903. At the Old Turkish Bazaar we explore the Ottoman monumental architecture of the beautiful Mustafa Pasha Mosque.
Continue to Matka Canyon, located near Skopje. The vast canyon is a protected natural reserve and home to several medieval monasteries, amazing caves and a wide variety of wildlife. We will have a boat trip and visit the Vrelo Cave. We continue to the ancient city of Stobi at the intersection of the Via Militaris and the Via Diagonalis. It is the most important archeological site in Macedonia and once the biggest Roman city in the Balkans. Archaeologists have discovered traces of an ancient Macedonian tribe as well as traces of the Hellenic, Roman, and early Christian periods. At the time of Philip of Macedon, it was already an important strategic military center and also a significant cultural, trade, and communication center. We will walk through the site and view basilicas, palaces, the Forum, Theatre, ancient synagogue, casino, and the museum. We continue to Popovo Kula Winery and check in at the hotel located on the winery premises. We will have a tour of the winery premises with an enologist who will present also the process of making wine. Later wine tasting with a lunch will be organized. Overnight.

Day 11, May 25 Friday: POPOVA KULA Winery – BITOLA - OHRID
After breakfast check out from the hotel and transfer to Bitola. En route we will visit the ancient archeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, just 2.5 km south of the modern town of Bitola. Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period and it was founded by King Philip of Macedon in the middle of the fourth century BC. The city was named after the Greek Hero Heracles. In the middle of the second century BC the Romans conquered the city and Heraclea retained its importance due to its location on the Via Ignitia connecting Durres in Albania to the Bosporus. The Roman Emperor Hadrian built the impressive ancient theatre which was both a stage for theater and an arena for performing animals. In later centuries the city was important as a Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman center. Bitola was founded by the Slavs and is the second largest city in Macedonia. It's definitely worth a stroll downtown down the main street because Bitola is noted for its unique centuries old preserved architecture with beautiful balconies and the usage of rich ornaments. Until 1912 the many European Consulates were located in Bitola, and it was once called the city of the Consuls. Visit the museum in the Old Barracks of the Military Academy with the memorial room dedicated to Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, who studied in Bitola as a young man. We will stop for lunch followed transfer to Ohrid. Arrival and check in at the hotel in Ohrid. Lake Ohrid covers 150 sq. miles and is over 500 feet deep

Day 12, May 26, Saturday: OHRID - UNESCO World Heritage Site
After breakfast we will have full day sightseeing tour of the most famous Ohrid amenities. We will start with Church of St. Sofia one of the most impressive medieval buildings in Ohrid. We continue to the Plaoshnik archaeological site an utterly unique phenomenon of Byzantine architecture, Tzar Samuel’s fortress, the Ancient Theater built on the hills of the old town of Ohrid in the 3rd century B.C. Later we visit the church of St. Jovan Kaneo located on one of the most beautiful spots in Ohrid. It was constructed in the 13th century and successfully combines the Byzantine and Armenian styles. After lunch we will explore the old Ohrid bazaar one of the liveliest parts of Ohrid especially on the so called market days. Especially interesting are the clay products, the old Macedonian musical instruments and the famous Macedonian embroidery. We continue with a short boat trip. Dinner and overnight.

Day 13, May 27, Sunday: OHRID- St.Naum Monastery - Bay of Bones Museum After breakfast we will visit the Bay of Bones Museum on the southern coast of Gradiste Peninsula. Bay of Bones is a recreation of a Neolithic fishing village on the shores of the Lake. It is an authentic reconstruction of a part of the pile-dwelling settlement, dating back between 1200 and 700 BC. A Roman military fortification at Gradiste was reconstructed on the hill above the Bay of Bones at the same time. We continue to the Monastery of St. Naum also on the shore of the lake. St Naum died in 910 AD and was buried at the monastery. He is said to have performed many miracles for the faithful. The Monastery is most famous for the impressive wood-carved iconostasis from 1711, the despotic icons by painter Constantine, the royal doors by painter Michael, and the frescoes showing St. Naum's miracles in the funeral chapel, painted by artist Trpo in 1799-1806. Naum was one of the disciples of saints Cyril and Methodius from Bulgaria who brought Christianity to Macedonia and created the Cyrillic alphabet in Ohrid.


Day 14, May 28, Monday: OHRID - ALBANIA
After breakfast check out from the hotel and transfer to the Macedonian – Albanian border crossing point. The trip will continue to Albania.

Day 14 May 28, Monday: Arrival Korca
Early morning meeting at St. Naum cross border where your new driver/guide will be waiting for transfer to Korce the social and economic capital of southeastern Albania. Sightseeing according arrival to make a few visits in Korce which would include the Medieval Arts Museum, the Bratko Museum of Asian Art, and Mirahori Mosque. The first schools in Albania were started in Korce. There are also many beautiful Byzantine churches in the area. Korce is exceptionally rich in prehistoric sites and the spectacular scenery it shares with Macedonia with the lakes Prespa and Ohrid. Overnight at hotel Life Gallery

Day 15 May 29, Tuesday: Korca, Gjirokastra, Saranda
Morning departure to Saranda on the Ionian Sea. The route to Saranda is via the picturesque towns of Gjirokastra and Permet. Lunch in Permet, known for its wines. Later in the afternoon we visit Gjirokastra the birth place of the dead dictator Enver Hoxha. In the Citadel which towers over Gjirocastra visit the fortress with its Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of ancient armory. The surrounding mountains evoke the symbol of Albania, the eagle. Continue to Saranda a short distance away on the coast and overnight at Hotel Butrint overlooking the Ionian Sea and the island of Corfu.

Day 16, May 30, Wednesday: Saranda, Butrinti, Saranda
After breakfast drive to Butrint National Park the most important archaeological site in Albania. Legend has it that Butrint was established as a refuge by the Trojans after their disastrous defeat in Troy. The drive from Saranda takes you through beautiful terraced hillsides and fragrant orange groves. Optional lunch at local restaurant in Ksamil on the Ionian followed by an afternoon visit the Blue Eye springs. Overnight at Hotel Butrint.

Day 17May 31, Thursday: Saranda, Vlora, Berat
Departure from Saranda traveling north along the scenic mountain road of the Albanian Riviera. We leave the coast for a bit and travel inland to Llogara National Park nestled in the woods. Continue from Llogara to visit Ali Pasha fortress at Porto Palermo bay and make a short stop in Vlora at the Independence House. In 1912 Albania proclaimed independence from the Turks in this very house. Suggested Lunch Vlora. We proceed to Berat in central Albania known as “The city of Thousand windows”. In the afternoon visit the Citadel, built on the top of a rocky hill with the ruins of about 20 churches. Visit Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the Onufri Museum and the Church of St. Mary of Vllaherna (13 C). The church and the museum contain the 16th century mural paintings by Onufri, Albania's most famous Medieval painter and iconographer. Overnight at hotel Mangalemi or similar.

Day 18 June 01, Friday: Berati, Durres, Kruja, Tirana
After breakfast depart for Tirana via Durres, Albania’s largest port where we visit the RomanAmphitheater and Archaeological Museum. Just a short distance away we stop in Kruja to visit the Museum of Skanderbeg and the Ethnographic Museum. The old bazaar in Kruja has some of the best shopping in Albania. Continue to Tirana the capital city for sightseeing. Visit the National Historic, the mosque of Et’m Bey and more. Overnight at Tirana International or similar.

June 02 - 05, Saturday - Tuesday: Durres beach
Relax on beach – overnight at Sandy beach resort

June 05, Monday: Durres beach / Airport hotel 16.00: Transfer from Durres beach hotel to hotel near the airport Overnight at Best Western Premier Ark Hotel (100 meter from airport) DeLuxe room on BB

June 06, Tuesday: hotel / airport
04.00 am: transfer to airport for departure back home by AZ/DL 0507 at 5:40am