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Christmas Markets Along the Elbe 2014

Pre-trip: Wroclaw & Warsaw, Poland

Expand your understanding of northern Europe on an extension that features two of Poland’s most charming cities. In Wroclaw, discover a cultural gem with a rich history and a graceful network of canals and bridges reminiscent of Venice. You’ll also explore the Polish capital, Warsaw, whose rise from the ashes of World War II is nothing short of astonishing. Stops in the medieval German town of Bautzen and the Polish city of Lodz, once one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, round out this discovery-filled journey.

It's Included:
Accommodations: for 2 nights in Wroclaw at the Superior First-Class Radisson Blu or similar and 3 nights in Warsaw at the First-Class Radisson Blu Centrum Hotel or similar
8 meals: 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 1 dinner
Included tours: Bautzen, Wroclaw, Warsaw
Exclusive services of a resident Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
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    Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Warsaw, Poland. Please refer to your personal air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

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    Arriving in Warsaw, you’ll be met at the airport and assisted to your hotel. Later, get acquainted with your Program Director—who will accompany you throughout your trip—and fellow travelers over a Welcome Drink at your hotel, followed by dinner in a local restaurant.

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    Once a vibrant and glorious capital, Warsaw suffered heavy damage during World War II, and the Nazis virtually destroyed it after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. Its rebirth and rebuilding since the end of the war is inspirational, as you’ll see on this morning’s city tour. You’ll visit the historic reconstructed Old Town, located on the left bank of the Vistula— the “Queen of Polish Rivers”—and surrounded by 14th- and 15th-century walls. Your walking tour follows the Old Town’s narrow, winding streets past charming houses, churches, and the cobblestone marketplace. Your walk will be enhanced by the fact that the Old Town is closed to all traffic except pedestrians and horse-drawn cabs. You’ll also travel down the Royal Road, from beautiful Lazienki Park to the Royal Palace, and stand before the Heroes of the Ghetto Memorial, a large but simple slab of dark granite in the heart of the World War II Jewish ghetto.

    The afternoon and evening are yours to explore a city where Art Nouveau buildings rub shoulders with sleek skyscrapers and parks and gardens abound. Perhaps you’ll visit the meticulously restored Lazienki Palace, a beautiful complex of 18th-century buildings and gardens that today serve as a museum.

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    You have an entire day at leisure to explore the wonders of Warsaw. One possibility is the Palace of Culture and Science, built by the Soviets and today a complex of museums, performances spaces, and the highest viewing platform in the city. Visit the National Museum for exhibits from antiquity to modern times. Or follow in the footsteps of native son Frederic Chopin. Palaces, gardens, and monuments throughout the city combine to offer the world’s largest collection of memorabilia relating to the great composer.

    In the evening, enjoy dinner on your own, or join us on an optional Preludes & Pierogi tour. Travel first to a concert venue in the city, where you’ll enjoy a cocktail as you listen to a private concert. Then, transfer to a local restaurant, where you’ll attend a cooking demonstration featuring Poland’s signature dish: the pierogi. You’ll also have the opportunity to sample these savory dumplings of boiled pastry stuffed with potatoes, meat, cheese, sauerkraut, or fruit during dinner.

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    After breakfast, board a motorcoach for your transfer to Wroclaw, pausing en route in Lodz, once one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.

    Lunch is included as your transfer continues on to Wroclaw. After settling into your hotel, you might explore the neighborhood with your Program Director, who can also offer advice on a good restaurant for dinner on your own.

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    On a guided tour this morning, you'll discover the charms of this university town, including beautiful, pastel-colored façades, an enormous market square, and more than 100 lovely bridges. You'll have time to explore independently—but be sure to join us when your Program Director offers everyone a warming shot of the local vodka.

    The remainder of the day is yours to pursue your own interests, with lunch and dinner on your own. You might spend more time enjoying the medieval atmosphere of the Old Town. While here, perhaps you'll also spot some of the hidden gnomes for which the city is famous. Or venture to Centennial Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, board a motorcoach for your transfer to Dresden. After crossing the German border, you’ll stop at the hilltop Saxon town of Bautzen, distinguished by its skyline of medieval towers. Enjoy an informative stroll through town with your Program Director before savoring lunch in a local restaurant.

    You’ll then continue on to Dresden, where you’ll join your fellow travelers on Day 2 of your Christmas Markets Along the Elbe River Cruise Tour.