HISTORICAL BALTIC STATES PRESENTED BY MICHAEL STRMISKA MAY 23 – JUNE 3

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Your Group Leader - Michael Strmiska, PhD in Religious Studies, Boston University   -Assistant Professor of World History, Department of Global Studies, SUNY-Orange (Orange County Community College), Middletown NY (2008 to present). -2017 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship.  -Author of Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, including chapter on Modern Lithuanian Paganism.    -American born, with Lithuanian and Czech ancestry.   -Multiple visits to Lithuania and Eastern Europe since 1996, author of published research articles about Lithuanian and Latvian religion, participant in numerous academic conferences in region from 1998 to present.   -Visiting Lecturer in Religion and History at Šiauliai University in Lithuania in 2004-05, as recipient of prestigious Fulbright Grant.     -Organizer of academic conference on Religious Heritage Tourism at Vytautas Magnus University in 2013.   -Visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Masaryk University in Czech Republic in 2015, as recipient of Czech Ministry of Education grant.

Your Group Leader – Michael Strmiska, PhD in Religious Studies, Boston University
-Assistant Professor of World History, Department of Global Studies, SUNY-Orange (Orange County Community College), Middletown NY (2008 to present). – 2017 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship
-Author of Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, including chapter on Modern Lithuanian Paganism.
-American born, with Lithuanian and Czech ancestry.
-Multiple visits to Lithuania and Eastern Europe since 1996, author of published research articles about Lithuanian and Latvian religion, participant in numerous academic conferences in region from 1998 to present.
-Visiting Lecturer in Religion and History at Šiauliai University in Lithuania in 2004-05, as recipient of prestigious Fulbright Grant.
-Organizer of academic conference on Religious Heritage Tourism at Vytautas Magnus University in 2013.
-Visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Masaryk University in Czech Republic in 2015, as recipient of Czech Ministry of Education grant.

 

Wawel CastleTrakai-Castle-in-Trakai.jpg

 

May 23 (Thursday) Depart New York
Depart from New York’s JFK airport on Finnair in the early evening

May 24 (Friday) Arrive Tallinn
Upon the arrival to Tallinn and arrangements in the hotel – a first acquaintance with the city.

May 25 (Saturday) Tallinn
The sightseeing includes touring around the walls of the Old town, visit to the site of the “singing field” where from started the independence of Estonian nation, Pirita suburb – the site of sailing competition of the 1980 Olimpics, of the ruins of St.Bridget Convent, Kadriorg Park and Palace, and finally, “Rusalka” an imposing monument for Russian battleship that sank in 1883 not far from Tallinn harbour. Мedieval Tallinn – the Upper and the Lower town, including the its medieval fortifications, the Toompea Hill and Castle and the Parliament building, Tall Hermann and Fat Margarete towers, Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Kiek in de Kok, Dome Cathedral, Pikk Jalg and Luhike Jalg connecting the Upper Town and the Lower Town, Dominican Monastery and finally one of the oldest City Halls in Europe and the Square around it. During the walking in the Old town of Tallinn one may feel the atmosphere of the medieval town, its fairs, crafts and architecture, enjoy dinner or snacks in the numerous restaurants, coffee shops and beer pubs of the Old town.

May 26 (Sunday) Tallinn – Soomaa National Park – Sigulda, Gutmamla Caves – Riga
In the morning visit Soomaa National park. It is famous for the paths in the forests and on the swamps. It will take us about 2 hours the walk through some of the main sights. On the ways short visit to Parnu an Estonian a resort on the Baltic sea. Will have a short sightseeing tour in the Old Part of Parnu and will have time for lunch there. Drive to the south in the direction of the Latvian border. Visit Sigulda the “Switzerland of Latvia” on the riverside of the Gauja river. Romantic ruins of Sigulda Castle, Gutmana caves – full of spring water and ald legends; Turaida Castle museum and beautiful stone art park. Upon arrival to Riga check in at the hotel.

May 27 (Monday) Riga
Tour in the Old Town, the Dome Cathedral built in 1211 and its extraordinary organ with 6781 pipes. The Great and Small Guilds houses and economical history of the city, the Swedish gate and the Beer-brewers street, Cats’s house and the superstitious legend, the “Three Brothers” – architectural development example, the House of the “Blackheads” – single merchants guild, St. Peter church and its tower. The outstanding collection of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture in the streets of Riga. Visit to the biggest Central market in the Baltics located in 5 huge hangars; continue to “Maskavas forstadt” a former suburb of Riga developed by foreign merchants coming to trade on the Market. Later on this are became a house for the first Jewish settlement in the area of Riga. Memorial – ruins of the Great Synagogue. Wall of Righteous among the Nations. Jewish School founded in the 19th cent. Ghetto territory – the Small Ghetto and Reich’s Juden Ghetto. Synagogue on Moscow street, Hospital Bikur Holim, Old Jewish Cemetery. Visit to Rumbula and Bikierniki Memorials, where Nazis murdered thousands of Jews from Latvia, Germany and Czechoslovakia. Salaspils – the memorial site of a concentration camp.

May 28 (Tuesday) Riga – Basuka, Rundale Palace – Siauliai, Hill of Crosses – Klaipeda
Morning depart for Lithuania. Our first stop is still in Latvia – at the wonderful Baroque Rundale Palace, built by the famous Italian architect B. Rastrelli for the Duke of Kurland. Next stop will be at the Hill of Crosses near Siauliai, a symbol of Lithuanians’ resistance against the foreign rule, with its over half million crosses. City tour of Siauliai including city center, Jewish neighbourhood, Chaim Frenkel tannery and synagogue. Continue to the Lithuanian sea coast. Visit Palanga resort. There is a beautiful Botanic Park and a former estate of Tishkevitz noble family. Today it houses a biggest Amber Museum in the Baltic States. Continue to Klaipeda for a check in at the hotel.

May 29 (Wednesday) Klaipeda – Nida – Klaipeda
Today we spend at the nature sights. Vsit to Neringa National Park on the Curonian Spit (1 to 4 km. wide peninsula, included in UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites). Walking at the Hill of Witches, a vivid example of Lithuanian folk art, continue to Nida, a lovely summer resort with its 60-meter-high sand dunes. Driving to Klaipeda the only Lithuanian seaport. A sightseeing of the Old Town of Klaipeda distinguished for its German influenced medieval architecture, including a theatre square, Klaipeda market, Stock Bridge and Meredian Ship Bar. Walk along the old port to the curonian golf.

May 30 (Thursday)  Klaipeda – Kedainiai – Kaunas
Morning drive to Kaunas (Kovna), the interim capital of pre-war Lithuania. En route a short visit to Kedainiai, a citadel of Radziwil family, one of the most powerful nobility in late middle age Lithuania and also a town where the Vilna Gaon lived and studied and where 3 synagogues have been remained. Walking in the Old Town of Kaunas with its art galleries and cosy cafes. A. Mapu and L. Zamenhoff streets. Drive to Kaunas, the second large city of the country. The Old Town of Kaunas with its Catholic churches, narrow streets and cobbled squares, cozy cafes and art galleries. Continue walking along the main pedestrian street, Laisves aleja, with its 2-3 storey buildings just as they looked before the war. The Art Gallery of M. K. Ciurlionis, the outstanding Lithuanian painter and composer.

May 31 (Friday) Kaunas – Vilnius
Visit Slobodka (Vilijampole), a Jewish suburb of pre-war Kaunas, where the famous yeshiva was functioning till June 1941. At the site was the ghetto of Kovna during WWII. The Seventh and the Ninth Forts – the murder sites of thousands of Jews from Lithuania, France and Germany. The Holocaust museum and the Memorial of the Ninth FortDrive to Vilnius. En route a stop at Zezmariai (Zhezhmer), where a remarkable Jewish community settled before the war. A large wooden Synagogue has been survived there.

June 1 (Saturday) Vilnius
We will commence our tour of Vilnius from its cradle – Gediminas Castle Hill and the remnants of the upper castle. Will continue to the Cathedral square where one can observe the beautiful Neo-Classical Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus. Then we will whisk out through the narrow street to another square to observe the Presidential Palace and the Old Vilnius University, founded in 1579. Will walk along medieval Castle street in the heart of the Old City. One of most breath-taking sights is “gothic triangle” which includes St. Anne’s church. Russian orthodox Church of Blessed Mother God and the former Russian city, which today houses the artists’ republic of Uzupis. Will continue some sightseeing outside the borders of the old historical part by driving to the pearl of Baroque architecture in Vilnius – St. Peter and Paul’s Church – which has more than 2000 statues and bas-relieves as its interior decoration. Will drive to Gediminas boulevard with the Parliament and a former KGB building. Then back to the Old City to see City hall square, Pilies street with the oldest housing in Vilnius, numerous art and amber galleries, linen and souvenir shops. Will reach the southern end of the ones walled city with the Russian monastery of Holy Spirit, Greek – Catholic church of Holy Trinity and the zenith of Christian Vilnius – “Gates of Dawn” – The Chapel in the City Gate which contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, believed to have miraculous powers.

June 2 (Sunday) Vilnius – Trakai – Vilnius
Walking in the medieval Jewish Quarter of Vilnius, called Lithuanian Jerusalem. Jasha Heifetz music school, ORT school building and history, Tarbut Gimnazia and nowadays JCC. Former Yiddish theatre, rabbis’ council and Theodor Hertzel visit to Vilnius. Jewish quarter, its lanes and courtyards, the history and the sad fate of the Great Vilna Synagogue, the personality of the Gaon of Vilna the greatest spiritual figure in the Jewish history. The Small and the Large Ghettos, where more than forty thousand of Vilna Jews were concentrated, the building of the Judenrat on the Rudninku street, the activities of the F.P.O. – the United Partisan Organisation under the leadership of Itzik Vitenberg and Abba Kovner. Medieval Ghetto streets and Vilna Gaon’s house; the Great Synagogue spot, butcher’s street, Judenrat office, hiding place in the cellar, Ghetto theatre. Visit Ponar Forest near Vilnius, where more than 100.000 people, mostly Jewish were murdered by the Nazis. Continue to Trakai, the ancient capital and the residence of Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Visit to the 14th century insular castle and the museum of Lithuanian history in it. Visit to the Karaite museum and the story of this small ethnic group, confessing Judaism, brought from Crimea peninsula over 600 years ago. Continue to Rudninku forest; the story of the Jewish partisan units, who fought against the Nazis in the area of Vilnius.

June 3 (Monday) Vilnius Departure
Transfer to airport for you flight home on Finnair. Arrive at New York’s JFK airport around mid afternoon.

PACKAGE PRICE – $2850.00 PER PERSON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY/ SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $500.00

TOUR PACKAGE INCLUDES:

    • Round trip ticket on Finnair with one free checked luggage
    • Accommodations in 4* centrally located Hotels
    • Breakfast Daily
    • Welcome & Farewell dinners;
    • Folk show in Vilnius by the  Jewish music band “Klezmer Klangen
    • English – speaking local guide services through the route;
    • Coach according the itinerary (incl. parking, fuel, etc.);
    • Ferry to Nida
    • Entrance fees - Vilnius University, Old library, Vilnius Grand Duke castle, Vilnius Gaon Jewish State Museum,  Trakai Castle Museum, IX Fort Memorial & Museum, Kaunas Ciurlionio Museum, Rundale Palace,  Riga Dome – CONCERTO PICCOLO,  KUMU Art Museum,  Dome in Tallinn,  Tallinn Synagogue

 

 

Deposit of $500.00 due by February 22, 2018. Contact Professor Michael Strmiska,   Email  mstrm1960@gmail.com, Phone 203 326 1832. Or contact Rimas at Vytis Tours, Phone 1-800-778-9847 ext 1001 or email info@vytistours.com