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Authentic and Vibrant Tour in Romania, Moldova & Ukraine 01 -21 July 2018

Authentic and Vibrant Tour in Romania, Moldova & Ukraine 01 -21 July 2018

01 July - Day 1: Bucharest
Arrival in Bucharest and enjoying a panoramic city tour of Romania’s capital with the main points of interest: Government Palace, House of Free Press, Royal Palace, Revolution Square, Parliament House (former Palace of Socialism during Ceausescu’s dictatorship - second biggest building worldwide after the Pentagon), the Patriarchal church etc.  Typical dinner in a restaurant specialized in Romanian cuisine. Check – in to a 4* Hotel downtown

 

02 July - Day 2: Bucharest – Transfagarasan Road - Sibiu

Depart Bucharest and head to Transylvania. Today we will go over the mountains on world's best road according to Top Gear - Transfagarasan Road, considered one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It is 90 km long and rises to a height of 2134 meter with sharp hairpin turns, a challenge for every driver. On the way we will visit the only original Dracula Fortress. Closer to Sibiu we stop to the "Brancoveanu" Monastery from Sambata de Sus - famous for being a place of recovery, comfort and spiritual balm for visitors who halt or pray in this sacred dwelling. Dinner with a farmer family in a small village outside Sibiu. Check-in Hotel Forum 4* from Sibiu.

 

03 July – Day 3: Sibiu - Sighisoara

This morning we will explore the charming town of Sibiu, designated European Cultural Capital in 2007. The Big Square, the Small Square, the Ursuline Church, The Franciscan Church, the staircase Tower, the Tanners Tower, the Lier’s Bridge, and Bruckenthal Museum are the most important sights. Free time for lunch and continue our route to Biertan fortified church (included in the UNESCO Heritage List), a fortified medieval church, one of the biggest from Transylvania with three defensive inner walls. Late in the afternoon arriving in Sighisoara and city tour. The citadel of Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval cities from Europe is also called "the pearl of Transylvania". It was founded by the German immigrants in the second half of the 12th century and it was turned into a city in 1407. Its medieval aspect may be found both in the center of the city and inside the Fortress of Sighisoara. In this area, houses are built very close to one another, giving a sense of "crowdedness" (in order to occupy the least space possible). Overnight to a 300+ years old house, now a 4*Hotel

 

04 July - DAY 4: Sighisoara – Murder Lake - Bucovina
Departure to Bucovina. We will drive through the Hungarian counties of Romania. First stop at a genuine Gypsy/Roma family where you will discover their culture and style of life. Drive further through the most wonderful Gorge in Romania - Bicaz, stop at the “Red Lake”, later crossing Eastern Carpathian Mountains towards Gura Humorului. Accommodation in traditional houses at Roata Hotel Traditional dinner. Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, of heaven and hell.

 

05 July - DAY 5: Bucovina painted monasteries

Day dedicated to the famous painted monasteries. We will depart after breakfast and visit a local artist who paints the Easter eggs. She will demonstrate us the technique she uses and anyone can try its first steps in this art. We continue to Moldovita monastery and here we will meet Sister Tatiana who will present us the paintings. Free lunch near the Moldovita monastery. Afternoon we depart towards Sucevita Monastery, that boasts a magnificent depiction of the Ladder to Paradise. Red-winged angels in orderly rows attend the righteous on a slanting ladder to the heavens, each rung inscribed with one of the monastic virtues.

Voronet would be the last to visit, around 16.00, when we can have the full sun light on the main painting – The Last Judgement, comparable with Sistine Chapel from Vatican. Voronet Monastery (as well as Humor, Arbore, Sucevita and Moldovita) are UNESCO patrimony and preserve great outside and inside frescoes from XVI century. Traditional dinner.

Same accommodation.

 

06 July - DAY 6: Bucovina - Maramures
After breakfast we depart to another interesting zone, Maramures. The drive will take us all day but we will also see and visit many sites. First we see the village of Ciocanesti with their interesting painted houses, than we go over Prislop pass (1400m) to Maramures and enjoy the wooden culture they have. First we will visit Bogdana church, a wooden church dated from 1710, then Birsana Monastery and the highlight of today will be the Happy Cemetery from Sapinta. Finally, we arrive in a place called Bella Doina, a piece of Paradise, not only from the landscape point of view, but also services, food, and entertainment. Traditional dinner and accommodation to 4* Bella Doina pension.

 

07 July - DAY 7: Maramures
Today we continue to explore the Maramures region, not only the wooden churches, but also meeting a local hat - and plum brandy – maker, local artists etc. We will see a traditional wash machine, a mill and many other interesting things. One of the most beautiful and complete mural painting entities is found here in the church of St. Parascheva of Deseşti. The church was built in 1770 in traditional style with a very slender tower. The church displays a collection of 14 wooden painted icons of great artistic value. Due to the harmonious whole and the well-preserved paintings, the church has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is called the wooden cathedral of gothic style and is the most beautiful one of the 31 old wooden churches of the Maramures area. Traditional dinner with local music and dance where you will be invited to take part. Same accommodation

 

08 July - DAY 8: Maramures – Mukachevo – Ushgorod (Ukraine)
Departure to Ukraine - from Romania (Sighetu Marmatiei).

First stop in Ukraine will be in Mukachevo. City tour of Mukachevo including the castle “Palanok” (XIV-XVIII centuries). It’s one of the best-preserved castles in Europe at present. Located on the hill it’s been seen from almost any part of the town. It played very different roles in the region and used to be a home for nobles, a fortress, a prison, an agricultural college, today turned to a museum.

In the afternoon we go for sightseeing of Uzhgorod including its ancient castle dated XV-XVIII centuries. The Austrian reign gave Uzhgorod many architectural masterpieces, but the city’s biggest draw is still the ancient Citadel. It is one of the best-preserved fortifications in Ukraine.

Not far from the castle there is another unique landmark, the Trans-Carpathian Museum of Folk Architecture and Heritage. Original wooden buildings still stand here, representing the ethnic traditions of different nations that inhabited Zakarpatia.

Uzhgorod is known as one of the greenest cities in Ukraine. You can also find here the longest in Europe Linden Tree Alley, stretched out on both embankments.

Accommodation to a 4* Hotel downtown in Uzhgorod.

 

09 July - DAY 9: Uzhgorod - Lviv
After breakfast departure to Lviv. Arrival in the afternoon and guided Sightseeing Tour:

We will visit the Cathedral of St. George-masterpiece of Baroque architecture, Ukrainian-Catholic Metropolitanate of Western Ukraine, The High Castle Hill – place of Lviv foundation, from where one can enjoy magnificent view of the city, Lychakiv Cemetery - one of the most ancient landscape cemeteries of Europe, where you will be introduced to Art of famous Lviv sculptors of various styles and epochs. Next - the “Medieval Town” taking a view of Jesuit Church of St. Peter and Paul (XVII century), Roman Catholic Cathedral (XIV-XVIII centuries), Municipal and Royal Arsenal (XVI-XVII century), Jewish Quarter, Ruins of Synagogue “Golden Rose”, defensive walls, Dominican Cathedral, Pharmacy Museum, Armenian quarter and Cathedral (XIV-XVI centuries), Market Square (unique museum in the open air – all 45 buildings on the square are considered to be architectural monuments of XVI-XX centuries), Town Hall, Lviv Opera Theatre (which is viewed as one of the three most beautiful theatres of Europe), Boim’s chapel (XVII century), Bernardin Monastery of XVII century (today in the former monastery there is Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of St. Andrew, however the building of the Monastery is partially occupied by archives, where huge collection of autographs is being preserved of Peter I, Charles XII and others) etc. Accommodation in a 4* Hotel.

 

10 July - DAY 10: around Lviv
Breakfast at the Hotel. Transfer to the Town of Zhovkva, where we will discover a unique Renaissance town with lots of monuments of architecture from XVII-XX centuries. Next – the Ukrainian-Catholic monastery in the village of Krekhiv (11 km away from Zhovkva). The monastery in Krekhiv is an interesting sample of a fortified monastery construction of XVII c. Located in the woods, it represents a very quiet and peaceful place. Return to Lviv. Excursion to Lviv Brewery Museum, first one in Ukraine with a total area of 500 sq.m. Main purpose of the Museum is to perform to every single visitor an unquenchable deepness of the BEER WORLD. To visit the Museum means to approach the mystery of the beer birth, learn by experience the History of its genesis, meet with the tradition of the production & consumption of "Lvivske» brew and to feel deeply its great taste!  Dinner with Ukrainian music and national performances. Overnight in the same hotel.

 

11 July - DAY 11: Lviv – Verhovyna (the capital of Hutsuls)

Depart from Lviv towards Hutsul area. In Yaremche we’ll find a unique craft market where you can find many treasures. Later arrival in Verkhovyna which can be fairly called the heart of Hutsul traditions. Here you can enjoy the tremendous beauty of Sub-Carpathians forests, talk to the local people, and see their close-to-nature style of life. We shall visit several museums like Embroidery Museum, Hutsul music instruments museum, Cheese Museum and also have dinner in the Hutsul Traditions Museum where we will learn about their cuisine. Overnight in Verhovyna to a 4* Hotel.

 

12 July – DAY 12: Verhovyna – Kolomya – Chernivtsi


Breakfast in the Hotel. Check-out. On the way stop to visit the Easter Painted Egg Pysanka Museum from Kolomya. Continue to Chernivtsi former capital of Bucovina, part of Moldova and later Romania, taken by Stalin in 1945. Full Guided Sightseeing Chernivtsi Tour. Six hundred years old in October 2008, Chernivtsi was once the chief city of Bukovina (Beech Tree Land) in old Moldavia (now Moldova). It belonged to the Habsburg Empire in the 19th century. After WWI, it rested temporarily within Romania. Today, the city remains the ‘capital’ of the unofficial Bukovina region, but its past Jewish, Armenian, and German communities are now just ghostly present. Walking tour around Chernivtsi – “Small Paris in the Carpathians”, visiting of four main squares of the city : Central Square, Philarmonic Square, Theatre Square, Cathedral Square, Olha Kobylianska Music Drama Theatre, Main Cathedral, former Armenian Church erected in 1875 by the project of the architect Josef Hlavka (now – Organ Hall), George’s Church (wooden church of the XVIIth century), St.Nicholas Church (original church with twisted domes of the early XXth century) and other architectural and historical monuments.

 

Excursion to Chernivtsi national university (former residence of metropolis of Bucovina). Overnight in a 4* Hotel in the main square

 

13 July - DAY 13: Chernivtsi – Hotin – Kamenetz Podolski
On the way Guided Tour to Khotyn Fort - a massive fort of epic proportions overlooking the Dniester River. This 12th-16th century structure rests a top a man-made platform 33 feet deep, a remarkable example of ancient engineering genius. Its 50 meter walls are still the tallest in all of Europe.

Arrival to Medieval Kamenetz'-Podilsky, and afternoon, half day guided sightseeing tour at Kamenetz’-Podilsky Fort. Excursion down the old town visiting also the Russian and Polish estates, the Cathedral and Dominican Catholic churches, the unique Town Hall, the Armenian wall and Bastion, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic church with minaret – this city eats, sleeps, and breathes history...Free time. Accommodation in a 4* Hotel

 

14 July - DAY 14: Kamenetz Podolski – cross border to Rep of Moldova- Taul Manor– Pocrovca village (lunch) – Soroca

Today we leave Ukraine and cross the border at Briceni to Republic of Moldova. We will stop on the way and visit an impressive Manor located in the village of Taul. We continue by visiting and have lunch with the old believers in the village of Pocrovca, where they do an impressive raspberry jam, and continue to Soroca, not before having dinner with one of the local gypsies’ leader. If dinner cannot be arranged, we will have a coffee there, and a very interesting chat with his family. Dinner included

Accommodation in 3* Hotel Central in Soroca

 

15 July - DAY 15: Soroca – Old Orhei – Cricova - Chisinau
After breakfast, we will visit the fortress which is a unique monument of defensive architecture of Europe. Later we will arrive in Old Orhei. You’ll visit the most fantastic sight" in Moldova - an Orthodox cave monastery called “St. Maria Dormata” expanded and modified inside the cliffs by the monks over the centuries ago and preserved in a functional state. Lunch accompanied with Moldovan folk music will be served in Trebujeni village in a local house. Next stop at Cricova winery, which is a real underground wine city with wide streets, warehouses, tasting rooms. The total length of its galleries is 120 km. The constant annual temperature of +12C and 82-95 % humidity are perfect conditions for aging quality wine there. Cricova is also well known for brilliant sparkling-wines produced by the classic French technology. Excursion and wine- tasting Overnight in a 4* Hotel from Chisinau.

 

16 July - DAY 16: Chisinau– Calarasi area - Chisinau

Want to learn how to cook Moldovan traditional food? Today is your lucky day!!!  At "Casa Parinteasca" Craft Centre from Palanca village, you will get to know not only the Moldovan traditional costumes and ethnographic customs, but you will also learn how to cook the best known Moldavian dish – “placinte”. The group will be split in 2 teams: one will make Moldovan pies with cheese. The second team will do the same, but with potatoes. After we prepare everything, the lady of the house will put them in the oven for 3 hours at least, meanwhile we will visit the Honey Museum from Raciula, learn about the life of bees, taste different kind of honey and other honey products. Later we visit several families who produce different kind of liquors, one family who produces different kind of cheeses, and the third – producing different products made from the apples of their own orchard -red, yellow, sweet, aromatic, fizzy, fresh, baked or preserved, in cakes or tarts, juice or jam - we find here all kinds of apples, this being the house’s specialty.

Coming back to”Casa Parinteasca” Museum we will enjoy a very special lunch, trying also the “placinte” we have made. Traditional dishes will be served with the best local wine, while the organic herbal tea, accompanied by quince jam will surprise you with its amazing taste.

After lunch we might visit 1-2 monasteries from the region, and continue to Chisinau, free dinner and same accommodation.

 

 

17 July - DAY 17: Chisinau – MIMI Wine Castle - Tiraspol
Check-out. Chisinau city tour - The capital city of Moldova will surprise you with a lot of green spaces and trees, giving you a feeling that you are not in a capital city but in a resort. The city tour includes: visit to the Museum of Natural History and Ethnography, the Central Park and the Alley of Moldovan literature classics, the monument of Steven the Great and Saint, Great National Assembly Square, the Triumph Arch, the “Nativity” Cathedral, the Organ Hall, the Market of souvenirs, etc.

Departure to MIMI Castle, which is currently listed among the most beautiful architectural masterpieces in the world of wine. The story of the castle begins in 1893 when Constantin Mimi, the last governor of Bessarabia, planted the first grape vines on the place that would become legend over the years. The area of Codru, where the winery is placed, has a unique microclimate and a very good terroir, as a result having intense and aromatic wines. Excursion, wine tasting and lunch in the castle.

In the afternoon you’ll visit Transnistria - the State that doesn’t exist. Explore TIRASPOL (capital of Transnistria and the second biggest city in Moldova after Chisinau) - where the old USSR is still alive. Here you’ll see the symbols of Soviet times – hammer, sickle and red star reflected on the coat of arms of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic. City tour includes: Supreme Soviet Building (Parliament), V. Lenin monument, Square of Soviet Constitution, walk down the main avenue, World War II & Afghanistan War Memorial, etc. For dinner, let’s go to the Noul Neamt Monastery, quite an experience. A local monk will guide us around, showing the monastery library, give us wine from the Monastery Cellars and explain us how religion survives in the Last Soviet Frontier of Europe. Accommodation in Tiraspol, to a 4* Hotel.

 

18 July DAY 18 Tiraspol – Purcari and Etcetera winery

In the morning we will tour Aquatir, a large sturgeon-breeding and black caviar-processing industrial complex from Tiraspol, and then cross again the border towards south of Moldova where we will discover the best region for producing red Moldovan wines. First winery to be visited - Purcari. Centuries-old traditions in viticulture and winemaking of Purcari area formed the basis of a modern wine-making enterprise, which is the only owner and keeper of Purcari zone elite wines production. The Purcari wine-making enterprise looks like a real chateau and it is the only place where people can get a notion of peculiar natural conditions along with the knowledge about the history, secrets and traditions of making legendary wines. You’ll be impressed by the combination of the chateau’s royal-like interiors and Hi-Tech. Excursion, wine tasting and lunch.

An another adventure will be visiting the vineyards of ’Et Cetera ‘, that were planted in 2003 in the village of Crocmaz, Stefan Voda region, a unique micro-zone, ideal by its climatic condition for growing best vineyards. The winery was built in 2009 and at the moment it is surrounded by 50 ha of vineyards, giving a picturesque view to the visitors. The owners of the winery are two brothers - Alexandru and Igor Luchianov, professionals and real amateurs of their work.  Etcetera is one of the best wineries in Moldova, if not the best one, as in 2016 they won second price at Decanter with their Chardonnay. Traditional dinner, wine tasting and accommodation at Purcari and Etcetera wineries.

 

19 July - DAY 19: Etcetera – White Fortress – Shabo - Odessa
Check-out. Departure to Odessa.

On the way we will stop to the last fortress that Stephen the Great from Moldova built in 15th century along the Dniestr River, the White Fortress.

Let’s recap:

Hotin, Soroca, Tighina in Bender and now this one.

Than we continue to a winery build by French speaking Swiss in 1830!!!! An entire village left Switzerland to come in Shabo, and they were prosperous, till the Red Revolution came and they had to run away from the communist paradise!!!

Visit this special, now reborn winery.

Afternoon we will drive on a nice road to Odessa, a piece of land which is the border between Dniestr lagoon and Black sea.

Around 4 PM we will arrive in Odessa.

Check-in at the local 4* hotel in the downtown of Odessa. Free Time.

 

20 July - DAY 20: Odessa

Spend an unforgettable day discovering Odessa city from Ukraine. From Etcetera winery to Odessa are 70km, and the border is quite easy to be crossed by cars, so it will be a pity not to do it. Upon arrival - Full Guided Sightseeing Odessa Tour. Odessa is acknowledged Ukrainian intersection point of diverse cultures, languages and trades. You will be able to witness masterpieces of architecture, such as famous Opera and Ballet theatre, designed by Viennese architects, Potiomkinskaya Stairs, Primorskiy boulevard, the One-wall building. You will also enjoy the view of Sea Port Terminal, get acquainted with Odessa Port’s history, its present life and prospects from the upside, and see the Monument to Duke De Richelieu - the founder of Odessa, Catherine the Great empress-the founder of Odessa etc. Overnight in the same Hotel.


Optional:

Guided Tour to Odessa Catacombs. Odessa underground tunnels (catacombs) were created nearly 200 years ago during mining of building materials that were used to build the city. Currently it is the maze of 2,500 km (4000 km according to some records) underground, in a real parallel world, with hundreds of entrances, exits, caves, and tunnels. During the World War II, in 1941, when German and Romanian army occupied Odessa during the war, the Soviet Military headquarters gave the order to organize the partisan resistance. And Odessa catacombs were chosen as the camp for the unit of partisans. The provisions and weapons was enough there so the unit could stay underground for half a year. The partisan unit was fighting with Nazi and Romanian army during all the period of occupation.

21 July - DAY 21- Departure home

Check-out. Transfer to the airport.