2017:10-day Bulgaria-Romania tour: Fiction, Legends and More...
2017: 10 DAY BULGARIA -ROMANIA TOUR:In The Footsteps of Dracula - Fiction, Legends and More...
2017 ITINERARY & PROGRAMME:
A mixture of culture, fiction and history, all in a Spiritual Journey as well as Physical one. Dive into a medieval world that Vlad the Impaler - Dracula once ruled with despotism and butchery close at hand. Explore Old Europe first hand. "What comes to your mind when you think of the word Transylvania, if you ponder at all? Yes, as I thought….wisely you don’t. But what comes to mind are mountains of savage beauty, ancient castles, werewolves and witches - a land of magical obscurity.
Starting day: Monday through Saturday in summer (15 May - 14 September) and Tuesday to Saturday in winter (15 September - 14 May)
Day 1 Arrival in Bulgaria/ Sofia
We will meet you at Sofia airport and assist for a transfer to your downtown hotel. Familiarization with hotel’s neighbourhood, panoramic city tour en route to your hotel.Check in, evening at leisure to overcome jet lag.T, Accommodation at the 4* hotel Thrakia Best Western for 2 nights.
Day 2 Sofia –Boyana church - Rila monastery – Sofia (250 km)
Today's highlights are 2 - you will visit 2 UNESCO cultural sites. The first one is Boyana church, located only 15 min drive from Sofia downtown, at the foot of Vitosha Mountain. The second one - Rila monastery, is located some 120 km to the south of Sofia, in the heart of the Rila Mountain. Founded in the 10th century, it has been the biggest spiritual and cultural centre in Bulgaria for hundreds of years. On a number of occasions it was destroyed and burnt down, only to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes.
The visitor's first sight of Rila monastery huge towering walls gives the impression of a fortress. However, a step through the archway produces a wonderful surprise.
Visiting the Monastery is a must. The Monastery's unrivalled architecture and murals will captivate you. Rila monastery is the largest in the Balkans and included in the List of World Cultural Heritage. Tour of the monastery includes a visit to the Monastery Church, which is of particular artistic value, for it was adorned by the foremost 19-century masters of the Samokov, Bansko and Debar schools of painting and woodcarving. In the Monastery's museum you can see the famous wood carved Raphael's cross. It took monk Raphael 12 years to finish the cross with its 140 biblical scenes and 1500 human figures, not larger than a grain of rice.Bulgarian welcome dinner in a typical local restaurant, featuring national cuisine.
B, D, Overnight in Sofia.
Day 3 Sofia - Plovdiv (160 km)
Following breakfast, you will leave Bulgaria’s capital and head to Plovdiv. Its location astride the river Maritsa, and its six hills, which are prominent features on the Thracian plane, indicates the strategic significance of the city. It is one of the oldest and most colourful towns in Bulgaria. No one can tell exactly when the foundation stone was laid here, although it must have been over 5000 years ago. Old Plovdiv on Trimontium hill is the center of Bulgarian national revival architecture at its height. You will enjoy a walking city tour including a visits to the Old Town, the 2000yrs old Roman Theatre, the Byzantine and medieval fortifications, the 15th century mosque. Walk along the narrow cobbled streets and admire the silence and tranquility of this historic town. Stop for lunch at the famous “Hebros” restaurant in the Old city.
B, L, Overnight in Plovdiv at the 3* hotel Dafi, or similar.
Day 4 Plovdiv Kazanlak Shipka Pass Etara Veliko Tarnovo (220 km)
Leave Plovdiv after breakfast and drive to the Valley of the Roses and Kazanlak. (Roses are in full bloom from mid-May to mid-June). Your sightseeing tour includes: the Thracian Tomb (replica), the Tyulbe (small Islamic mausoleum, 15th century), Museum of the Rose and Rose Oil. The Kazanlak Tomb is a Thracian Tomb from the late 4th - early 3rd century B.C. and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The funeral objects and frescoes depicting hunting scenes and the funeral suggest that a Thracian king was probably buried here. The frescoes are the finest masterpiece of ancient Thracian art.
Next, a pleasant quick stop in Shipka - the peak where the most decisive battles were held in 1877-1878 for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman domination. There is a monument on the top, a wonderful panorama of the Central Balkan Range and a very beautiful memorial church.
Stop over to visit Etara open-air Ethnographical Village museum. Everything surrounding the visitor brings him/her back to the period of Bulgarian Revival with numerous workshops where even today the craftsman work, using the same instruments and techniques. You can talk to the craftsman, watch them work and can even try to make something yourself.
B, Overnight at a 3* hotel "Gurko" downtown Veliko Tarnovo.
Day 5 Veliko Tarnovo
Morning sightseeing tour of Veliko Tarnovo, the capital city of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (12-14th c.). Visit the fortress on Tsarevets Hill, the hill where Baldwin's Tower still rises, and Patriarchal Church. Enjoy walking downtown in Samovodene market place, brought back to life by artists and craftsmen, who create and sell exquisite items in their small workshops. Enjoy having lunch in an old inn, restored and made one of the most popular gourmet places in Veliko Tarnovo. In the afternoon drive to the mediaeval museum village of Arbanassi, rich in churches, monasteries and old Bulgarian houses, dating back to XVII century, decorated with unique paintings and wood carvings.
B, L, Overnight at a 3* hotel "Gurko" downtown Veliko Tarnovo.
Day 6: Veliko Tarnovo Ruse Bucharest (220 km)
After breakfast you leave to Romania, en route visiting yet another UMESCO site. The archaeological reserve Ivanovo rock-hewn churches (13th-14th c) was listed in the UNESCO 's List of World Heritage in 1979. Six of the monastery churches and chapels preserve frescoes from 13th-14th C. Admire the famous frescoes at the "Holly Mother" church, created in the middle of the 14th c by an anonymous Bulgarian author.
Enjoy a short walking tour of Rousse, the largest river port in Bulgaria and one of the cities with years-long European cultural traditions. Ruse has been even referred to as "Little Vienna" in the past, for its Neoclassicism style of buildings. Stunning and brilliant Austrian style architecture abounds, particularly around the city's main square which features the Statue of Liberty, erected in 1906 in honour of the Liberation (1878). Following a lunch break, cross the Danube border into Romania and meet your local Romanian tour guide in Giurgiu (Petrom gas station). Proceed to Bucharest. After check in, enjoy a panoramic city tour of Bucharest: you'll see among others the Athenaeum, the former royal palace, the Patriarchal Cathedral, the Stavropoleos church and other religious buildings, but also Ceausescu's megalomaniac legacy, nowadays known as the Parliament Palace. The ruins of the old royal court remind us of Vlad Tepes, a model for the literary character Count Dracula. The controversial Wallachian prince is rumored to be the founder of Bucharest.
D, Overnight at a 4* Hotel Europa Moxa or similar in Bucharest.
Day 7: Bucharest Cozia Sibiu (280 km)
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel, then drive to Sibiu. En route you stop to visit the Cozia Monastery with its beautiful frescoes from the 14th century in the pronaos of the church and frescoes from the 16th century in the small chapel. Proceed driving along the picturesque Olt River gorge, one of the oldest passing routes in the Carpathians.
An afternoon walk through the city center of Sibiu (UNESCO site) will take you along narrow alleys, old bargain houses, palaces, churches and towers. Among others you'll visit the following sights in the historical center: the Evangelical Church, the Council Tower, the Large and the Small Square, the Liars' Bridge, the Peasants' Market etc.Dinner is in one of the best restaurant in Sibiu where you will taste local cuisine with traditional Romanian dishes.
B, D, Overnight at a 3* hotel Ibis in Sibiu, or similar.
Day 8: Sibiu - Sighisoara - Brasov (215 km)
Following breakfast, you will continue your journey to Sighisoara, where you'll admire the most beautiful medieval cityscape in Romania (UNESCO site). You'll see the Clock Tower, the Church on the Hill, the Citadel, the former defensive towers and walls of the city and also the birthplace of the Walachian leader Vlad Dracul, who later became known as Count Dracula in the Gothic literature and film. Proceed driving to Brasov. During your city tour in Brasov you'll visit the market place and the historic monuments of the city. The main attraction is the Black Church, built in the 14th century in the Gothic style. Here you'll also find a large collection of Oriental carpets, which is quite unusual for a Protestant church.
There are often organ concerts in the Black Church in Brasov. You may elect to attend such a concert optionally (extra fee) should there be one during your visit. Dinner with folklore show.
B,D, Overnight at a 3* in Brasov - Curtea Brasoveana, or similar.
Day 9: Brasov - Bran - Sinaia - Bucharest (220 km)
Start your day with a visit to the famous Bran Castle. The Bran Castle Museum is located on the border between Transylvania and Walachia. Also known as Dracula Castle, it was built in 1377 to safeguard the trading route between Transylvania and Walachia, enlarged and restored a few times since then. This castle is known as the homestead of Vlad Tepes/Vlad the Impaler and it's the most visited site in Romania. The writer Bram Stoker brought the fame of the Dracula myth in our country at the beginning of the 20th century.
Proceed to Sinaia. In the Southern Carpathians, at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains, you'll find Romania's finest ski and health resort. Here you visit the Peles Castle, the magnificent summer residence of the royal family of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. The castle was constructed by order of the Hohenzollern prince and later King Carol I by the Viennese architect Wilhelm von Doderer, and it is reminiscent in its style of late medieval castles. The elegant rooms also house a fresco by Gustav Klimt.
You will reach Bucharest in the evening.
B, Overnight at a 4* hotel Moxa or similar in Bucharest.
Day 10: Bucharest
Breakfast, followed by time at leisure and saying “Good Bye” to Bucharest. Your guide will escort you to the airport (drop-off transfer).End of services.
You will visit 6 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites:
Historic Center of Sighisoara,Sibiu Historic Center,Ivanovo Rock Churches,Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak,Boyana Church,Rila Monastery.
2017 TOUR PRICE:
For a party of 4-6 persons - 1,995 US$ p.p. /3,491.BGN/
For a party of 2-3 persons - 2,599 US$ p.p. /4,548.BGN/
Single room supplement: 230.US$ p.p. /403.BGN/
Package Price Includes:
9 nights at four- and three-star hotels,
15 meals: 9 breakfasts, 1 welcome dinner in Sofia, 2 lunches in Plovdiv+Veliko Tarnovo, 1 dinner with folklore show in Brasov, 2 dinners in Romania (Bucharest, Sibiel),
Professional English-speaking guide in Romania and in Bulgaria,
Transport by car/minibus/bus (in case of 2 pax, the guides will be drivers as well),
Fuel & parking fees included,
All sightseeing tours & cultural connections,
Guide's & driver's expenses,
Admissions to museums, sites, churches as per itinerary,
VAT and local tax.
Package Price Excludes:
Other meals than stated,
Photo/video fees at sites and museums,
Gratuities of any kind,
Personal daily expenses,
Credit card payment bank fee.