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The Great Rivers of Europe 2015

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Pre-trip: Prague, Czech Republic

Join us on our optional post-trip extension and visit the “City of a Hundred Spires,” the name given to Prague for its many hilltop neighborhoods, where rows of steeples stand out against the city’s skyline. This is an ancient city that is a new cultural capital for Eastern Europe. Prague is now a vibrant city, but much of its Old World charm remains. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes. Experience the museums and cathedrals that make Prague stand out as one of Europe’s finest cities.

It's Included:
Accommodations: for 4 nights at the First-Class Dorint Hotel Don Giovanni or similar
6 meals: 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner
Included tours: Bratislava, Slovakia; Prague; Prague Castle & St. Vitus
Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
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    Depart from the U.S. on an overnight flight to Prague, Czech Republic.

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    Today you’ll arrive in Prague in the early evening. Get to know your fellow travelers and your Program Director over a Welcome Drink. Then, your Program Director will be happy to suggest a restaurant where you can enjoy dinner on your own tonight.

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    Take advantage of a guided tour through the city center. This morning’s tour will focus on two of Prague’s most memorable landmarks: its ancient castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. The Gothic cathedral and its enormous rose window sit entirely within Prague Castle, a centuries-old defensive structure that ranks as one of the largest castles in the world.

    Prague’s regal beauty spreads on both sides of the winding Vltava River, connected by 16 picturesque bridges. Like Rome and San Francisco, the city is built over a series of hills, and its varied architecture spans many centuries. You’ll receive a subway ticket so that you may explore the city the modern way and catch the rhythm of daily life in this cosmopolitan gem.

    This afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Lunch is on your own.

    Or, join us for a Charm of the Czech Countryside optional tour. You’ll head to the village of Nosalov, where you’ll be immersed in traditional Czech culture. After viewing local handcrafts, you’ll sit down for a three-course meal and a dancing show. Once the professionals clear the floor, you’re free to cut a rug yourself! Then it’s back to Prague.

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    Spend the day exploring Prague on your own. As it was during the zenith of the Bohemian kingdom, Prague still ranks as the thriving center of the country, with an artistic community reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s. Here you’ll find some of Europe’s best jazz venues, excellent opera, and innovative theater groups. Dinner is on your own tonight.

    Or, you might want to join our optional tour of Sychrov Castle, the 18th-century residence of a noble family. During the last ten years or so, an extensive reconstruction and restoration of the manor house’s exteriors and interiors, as well as of the nearby park, has returned the Castle of Sychrov to its former glory. After a drink to welcome you, enjoy an organ concert in the chapel of the palace, followed by a guided walk through the palace. You’ll have the opportunity to view the magnificent woodwork and lush interior of the huge manor. Relax with us over dinner before returning to the hotel in late evening.

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    Today you can continue exploring Prague at your own pace.

    Or, join us on an optional excursion to visit the town of Terezin, site of the World War II concentration camp of Theresienstadt. This sobering visit will give you insight into the elaborate subterfuges and propaganda that the Nazi regime used to camouflage its “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” The first transport of Jews was sent to Terezin in November of 1941. Over the course of the war, the town was transformed into a “model” ghetto called Theresienstadt. In reality, it served as a transit point to the Nazi death camps, and 135,000 people were sent here. Of the 135,000 people sent to this “model” ghetto, 33,000 died from starvation, torture, and disease. Another 87,000 inmates were transported to the death camps, and only 5% of these survived. Only 93 of Theresienstadt’s 15,000 children survived the war.

    Many of these people were among Europe’s most gifted composers, writers, and artists, and despite inhuman living conditions, they struggled to create a thriving cultural community. The art, music, and literature created by the inmates of Theresienstadt serves as a permanent memorial to all those who were eventually killed. During the war, this community of talented artists served as a showplace to the world of the Nazi’s “humane” treatment of Jews. Gardens, playgrounds for children, and an outdoor music pavilion were constructed and used for a propaganda film and a humanitarian visit from the International Red Cross.

    You can spend the rest of the afternoon pursuing your own interests. Enjoy an included dinner tonight at a local restaurant.

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    • Meals included:

    After an early breakfast, you’ll travel by motorcoach to Bratislava, where you will enjoy a walking tour of Slovakia’s capital city and lunch after arriving early in the afternoon. After some free time to explore this charming town, set on both sides of the Danube, you’ll return to your motorcoach and continue on to Vienna to join your Great Rivers of Europe River Cruise, arriving in the late afternoon.