July 4, 2017
|Duration:||15 Days / 14 Nights|
|Single Room Supplement:||Waived|
This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is opened up to OAT clients & could be co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.
DAY 1Depart U.S. You depart the U.S. for Vilnius, Lithuania.
DAY 2Arrive in Vilnius, Lithuania Meals included: D Accommodations: Mabre Residence Hotel or similar After an overnight flight, arrive at the Vilnius airport, where an OAT representative will greet you. Once we check into our hotel, we have an orientation walk, followed by a brief orientation session and a Welcome Drink, and meet travelers from the pre-trip extension to Krakow & Warsaw, Poland. This evening, enjoy an introduction to hearty Lithuanian cuisine during a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 3Explore Vilnius Meals included: B Accommodations: Mabre Residence Hotel or similar After breakfast, we embark on a tour of the Lithuanian capital. Although the exact location of its original capital city has been lost to time, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the first established state in this region. Vilnius distinguished itself as an important cultural center when Vilnius University opened in 1579, immediately attracting students from as far away as Sweden and Hungary. The 20th century proved a turbulent time for the Baltic city, but its historical buildings survived. We begin our exploration by walking the cobbled streets of the city's compact Old Town to admire the carefully restored Baroque buildings and medieval charm that earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. We'll also explore the linked courtyards of Vilnius University before taking a bus to view the magnificent stucco sculptures that adorn the Peter and Paul Cathedral. Following the city tour, enjoy your afternoon exploring Old Town on your own. Lunch and dinner are on your own today.
DAY 4Vilnius • Optional hot-air balloon ride over Vilnius • Excursion to Trakai • Experience Karai culture • KGB Museum visit OPTIONAL TOUR Meals included: B L Accommodations: Mabre Residence Hotel or similar This morning, join an optional hot-air balloon tour for a unique perspective on the medieval city and surrounding countryside. After, we'll take a brief journey outside of Vilnius to Trakai, considered the de facto medieval Lithuanian capital because Duke Vytautas the Great preferred the dreamy landscape punctuated by scenic lakes and islands over Vilnius. First, we take a short boat ride to visit the island of Trakai Castle, a red brick, fairy-tale fortress built by Vytautas and his father in the 15th century to fend off German knights. Then we'll meet with some local Karaims, who belong to the oldest Turkish tribe—Kipchaks—who were brought from Crimea to Trakai in the 14th century as bodyguards for the castle. During a cooking demonstration, they will share some insights into their culture with us and we'll enjoy a lunch of traditional Karaite specialties, such as kibinai or chebureki (savory meat pastries). We'll then depart for Vilnius by local train. Following our arrival in Vilnius, we'll take a tour of the Museum of Genocide Victims—commonly called the "KGB Museum" because it occupies the former KGB headquarters. For much of the 20th century, Vilnius was under brutal, communist Soviet occupation, both before and after a three-year Nazi occupation during World War II. While Lithuania was a state of the USSR, anti-Soviet resistance gained power and the people finally elected a government in 1990 that declared Lithuanian independence. The Soviets gave up the city the same way they had taken it—violently. We'll view exhibits that serve as a memorial to the victims of the atrocities that took place here, including a walk through the prison where the KGB held dissidents and freedom fighters. Following our visit, we enjoy a discussion with a local expert about Lithuania's struggle for independence. Dinner is on your own this evening.
DAY 5Rumsiskes Open-Air Museum • Kaunas • Travel to Klaipeda Meals included: B L D Accommodations: National Hotel Klaipeda or similar On our way to Klaipeda, we first stop at Rumsiskes. Here, we’ll explore a fascinating, open-air ethnographic museum. We’ll walk through a collection of 18th- and 19th-century rural dwellings and farmsteads, gaining an understanding of the history, lifestyles, and character of Lithuania’s four main regions. We’ll also visit an artisan workshop and a dwelling used by Lithuanians who were deported to Siberia by the communists. We arrive in Kaunas—Lithuania’s second-largest city—in time for an included lunch at a local restaurant. Kaunas served as Lithuania’s capital while the country fought to reclaim Vilnius from Poland after World War I. Upon our arrival in Klaipeda—Lithuania’s oldest city—we’ll have time to check into our hotel before gathering together for dinner in a local restaurant.
DAY 6Klaipeda • Curonian Spit • Hill of Witches Meals included: B L D Accommodations: National Hotel Klaipeda or similar Klaipeda is the gateway to a coastal stretch known as the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fragile sand dune peninsula—shared by both Russia and Lithuania—is separated by a protected lagoon on one side and exposed to the harsh Baltic Sea on the other. We begin our day with a brief ferry ride to the Nida Peninsula. First we’ll hunt for some of the amber—known as Baltic gold—that washes up on the beaches during winter storms. Then we’ll hike to the “Hill of Witches,” a forested path through the dunes filled with more than 80 unique wooden sculptures based on Lithuanian folk legends. After lunch in the private tavern of a local family, we’ll drive up to Parnidzio Dune, where we'll enjoy views of the Baltic Sea, Curonian Lagoon, and nearby Russia. Next, we’ll visit an amber workshop and gallery for a hands-on demonstration of the many uses for this beautiful fossil resin found along the Baltic Sea. Dinner is at a local restaurant this evening.
DAY 7Klaipeda • Hill of Crosses • Travel to Riga, Latvia Meals included: B L D Accommodations: PK Riga Hotel or similar After breakfast, we drive towards Latvia and stop to visit the Hill of Crosses, a grassy double hillock blanketed by several thousand crosses. Some say the tradition of planting crosses here began in the 14th century, and the area has long served as a place of peaceful resistance for Lithuanian Catholics, who used the site as a memorial to their fallen freedom fighters and as a way to stay connected to their roots and traditions during the long Soviet occupation. Despite several Soviet attempts to bulldoze the hill, determined locals would quickly rebuild the cherished place of pilgrimage. After leaving the Hill of Crosses we'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we'll visit the beautifully restored 18th-century Baroque palace of Rundale, which was designed by the architect of St. Petersburg's Hermitage, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Upon our arrival in the Latvian capital of Riga, we'll check into our hotel and enjoy our first glimpse of this enchanting medieval city with dinner at our hotel.
DAY 8Explore Riga’s Old Town Meals included: B L Accommodations: PK Riga Hotel or similar Set close to the mouth of the Daugava River, which travels from the Baltic Sea into Russia, Riga was historically an important trade port. Its prosperity also made it a target for conquerors; before Latvia declared itself an independent nation in 1918, Riga was claimed by Russia, Sweden, Lithuania, and Germany. As a diverse, thriving city with a prominent upper class, Riga experienced radical change under occupation by the Soviets and Nazis. Buildings from Riga's most prosperous eras—particularly the Art Nouveau period—still stand throughout the city. After breakfast, we'll enjoy a discussion about contemporary Latvia and its past. Then, we'll walk through Riga's Old Town, a dizzying collection of cobbled lanes, gargoyle-adorned buildings, and lovingly restored 17th-century architectural treasures under UNESCO World Heritage Site protection. We'll also wander through the city's Central Market. Located in converted German Zeppelin hangars from the 1930s, the market's pavilions encompass more than three-quarters of a million square feet of space and are also under UNESCO protection. After an included lunch in a local restaurant, you'll have free time to soak in more of Riga's timeless elegance on your own. Perhaps you'll view the Latvian Academy of Sciences, a rare piece of Soviet architecture known as “Stalin's birthday cake” to the locals. Or relax in a café and, if you dare, order a beverage with Riga Black Balsam—an herbal liqueur that Latvians celebrate as an invigorating cure-all for whatever ails you. Dinner is on our own this evening.
DAY 9Riga • A Day in the Life of Ligatne Village FOUNDATION VISIT Meals included: B L Accommodations: PK Riga Hotel or similar After breakfast, we'll depart for A Day in the Life experience at Ligatne Village. Located 45 miles outside of Riga within Gauja National Park, Ligatne is both a scenic and historical complex with a nearly 200 year old working paper mill surrounded by rolling hills, cliffs, rivers, and caves. First, we'll tour a private winery and then we'll meet with a representative of the village and have a discussion at the Ligatne Cultural Center. From there, we'll walk through the settlement of the paper factory, viewing the grounds of one of Europe's oldest paper mills. After that, our group will visit with a kindergarten class or a children's craft center before heading to a Home-Hosted Lunch within the village. Then, we head back to our hotel in Riga. Dinner is on your own this evening.
DAY 10Travel to Tallinn, Estonia • Visit Cesis Castle Meals included: B L D Accommodations: Radisson Blu Sky Hotel Tallinn or similar On our way to Estonia, we stop for an included lunch in Cesis, a picturesque medieval town situated within the natural beauty of Latvia’s Gauja National Park. Cesis was the capital of Livonia during the Middle Ages, and we’ll revel in its authentic medieval ambiance and admire the well-preserved ruins of a 13th-century castle built here by the Knights of the Sword. We’ll also enjoy a brief stop in Parnu—a chance to stretch our legs and catch a glimpse of Estonia’s premier seaside resort—before arriving in Tallinn, the northernmost of the Baltic capitals—for an included dinner.
DAY 11Tallinn • Tallinn City tour Meals included: B D Accommodations: Radisson Blu Sky Hotel Tallinn or similar Estonia's capital and largest city, Tallinn sits on the Bay of Finland, directly across from Helsinki. We'll find both Scandinavian and Russian influences in the language, culture, and architecture here. As with most major Baltic cities, Tallinn was occupied by the Soviets, then the Nazis, and then the Soviets again, who forced Estonia into the USSR. Tallinn was the site of Estonia's “Singing Revolution”—a series of protests in the late 1980s where thousands gathered and sang for independence from the Soviet Union. After four years of singing and other acts of protest, Estonia achieved something remarkable—independence from the Soviets through a relatively bloodless revolution. Today Tallinn manages to preserve its history and quaint medieval buildings, while at the same time modernizing and thriving in the technology industry. As of January 1, 2011, Estonia's official currency is the euro—making it the first Baltic nation and only post-Soviet state to meet the European Union's criteria for adopting the currency. We begin our day in Tallinn with a city tour by bus. We'll drive out to the grounds of the Tallinn Song Festival, where the first of many singing protests took place. Then, we continue with a walking tour of the city's UNESCO World Heritage-designated Old Town, a tangled warren of cobbled streets lined with outdoor cafés and wonderfully preserved 14th- and 15th-century buildings. After that, you'll have time at leisure, followed by a discussion on Estonian independence. Dinner is at a local restaurant this evening.
DAY 12Tallinn • Kadriorg Park • KUMU Museum Meals included: B L Accommodations: Radisson Blu Sky Hotel Tallinn or similar After breakfast, we take a local tram out to Kadriorg Park to view the resplendent palace residence built by Russian Tsar Peter the Great for his empress Catherine I, and to walk its lovely, manicured grounds. (Kadriorg means “Catherine's Valley.”) Then we visit the KUMU, a modern art museum located on the edge of Kadriorg Park, featuring the leading names in Estonian art and sculpture from the 18th century to the present day, including an impressive collection of Soviet-era works. After an included lunch in Kadriorg, we take the tram back to our hotel (or back to Old Town). The rest of the day is yours to explore independently. You may choose to venture to the Rotermann Quarter. After Estonia gained independence, this run-down neighborhood experienced a great renewal. Now full of modern buildings, it's become a center for shopping and culture—whether you browse the open-air markets, relax in a café or drop into the studios in the Loovala art collective, it's an ideal place to absorb the revitalized spirit of the Estonian people. Or, to delve deeper into Tallinn's history, visit the Toompea Castle and Town Wall. These well-preserved 13th-century landmarks highlight the medieval realities of defending a town against attacks from the outside—plus, from atop the Town Wall, which is only reachable from the outside, enjoy a towering view above Old Town. Dinner is on your own tonight. Perhaps you'll sample kissell, a popular fruit soup that Estonians serve for dessert.
DAY 13Tallinn • Travel to St. Petersburg, Russia Meals included: B L D Accommodations: Domina Prestige Hotel or similar Today we journey further east by coach across the border into Russia, stopping for an included lunch in Narva, Estonia. Upon our arrival in St. Petersburg, we check into our hotel and enjoy our first view of the city that Pushkin described as “Tsar Peter the Great's Window to the West” during an orientation walk. This evening we'll enjoy an included dinner at a hotel restaurant.
DAY 14St. Petersburg • Hermitage Museum • Optional Russian Ballet performance or Optional Russian Folk Show OPTIONAL TOUR Meals included: B L Accommodations: Domina Prestige Hotel or similar Today we explore the wonders of St. Petersburg, one of the world's most magnificent cities. It was built at the mouth of the River Neva early in the 18th century by Peter the Great, who wished to create a Russian capital to rival the splendor of Paris. Before the monarchy was overthrown in the Russian Revolution, the tsars and tsarinas of the empire lived the high life in St. Petersburg. They built colorful opulent palaces, inspired arts and architecture throughout the city, and created a virtual soap opera of betrayal, Faberge egg collections, and tidily handled peasant rebellions. Discover St Petersburg on a guided tour We'll see why St. Petersburg is called the "Venice of the North” as our visit reveals several of the city's picturesque islands, canals, and bridges, including a stop at St. Isaac's Cathedral, whose magnificent gilded dome dominates St. Petersburg's skyline. A hearty Russian lunch at a local restaurant should give us sustenance for our afternoon visit to the stunning gilt Baroque Hermitage Museum. Today, this one-time palace of the tsars—founded by Catherine the Great in 1764—is one of the world's largest and oldest museums, boasting a massive fine art collection. Dinner is on your own this evening. You may also take advantage of an optional excursion to take in a Russian ballet performance, right here in the cradle of the art form, where the dancing style was first developed to entertain the tsars. Or, when the ballet is not available, enjoy an evening of music and dance at the optional Russian Folk Show.
DAY 15St. Petersburg • Catherine Palace tour Meals included: B D Accommodations: Domina Prestige Hotel or similar The day begins with a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress, constructed in 1703 as the primary defense for the new city but mostly utilized as a prison for the likes of Dostoevsky, Trotsky, and even Peter’s own son, Alexei. Within the fortress walls—with its lovely spire and Baroque interior—resides Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, the final resting place of most of the Russian tsars since the city’s namesake was buried here, including the last Romanov family—Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children, who were murdered during the Russian Revolution. After lunch on your own, we'll venture to Tsarskoe Selo (the “tsar’s village”) for a visit to the magnificently restored Catherine Palace. Here, we'll walk the grounds, and see the Grand Hall of Mirrors, Marble Staircase, and even the legendary Amber Room. In the evening, we’ll all gather for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate our adventures.
DAY 16St. Petersburg • Return to U.S. Meals included: B After breakfast, travel to the airport for your flight to the U.S. Or, begin your post-trip extension to Moscow, Russia.
In order to qualify for the GWT Past Traveler Discount of 5% on the land portion of the trip, you must advise the reservation specialist at time of depositing on your 2017 trip which GWT trip you traveled on (date/name of departure and year) over the past 5 years.
Please note: A $25 documentation fee will be added to the final payment for this trip.
We limit our trips to small groups so we suggest you deposit early to guarantee your spot. View information regarding Air Travel & Transfers here.
Please note this departure is not exclusive to women but will be comprised of Gutsy Women Travel participants co-sharing the overall trip capacity with members of OAT resulting in a larger group size compared to the traditional Gutsy Women Travel trips designed exclusively for women.
This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is designed for GWT clients however if room block is not sold by 120 days prior to departure date, the trip can be opened up to OAT clients and could be co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.
Single Room - one person, traveling solo in single accommodation
Double Room - two people, traveling together in same accommodation
Shared Room - one person, traveling solo who would like to share with another passenger and pay the per person "Double" price
Air travel arrangements for Gutsy Women's trip participants are made independently as most women are traveling from various gateway cities within or outside North America. Gutsy Women Travel includes a group transfer (if travelers purchase airfare from our operator) or individuals can book private transportation if desired.
For further information and reservations call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
For online 24/7 booking capability go to gutsywomentravel.com.
Please note: Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.