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Eastern Europe to the Black Sea 2015

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Pre-trip: Vienna, Austria

Explore Vienna, a magnificent Old World city that has lost nothing of its grace and charm—a city of museums and music, art and architecture. Wander among the city's Baroque palaces and stunning architecture, along the same streets that Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Freud strolled.

It's Included:
Accommodations: for 3 nights at the unrated Ramada Encore Vienna City Center or similar
3 meals: 3 breakfasts
Included tour: Vienna
Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
Now included for 2015:
Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers on your extension and all optional tours
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    Fly overnight to Vienna.

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    Arrive in Vienna, where a Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and you'll be transferred to your hotel. You’ll have the opportunity to relax after your international flight and join an orientation walk with your Program Director this afternoon. This evening, gather for a Welcome Drink with your fellow travelers.

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    After breakfast, you'll enjoy a tour of Vienna, including the Ringstrasse, one of the many achievements of the Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1857, the Emperor ordered the demolition of the ancient city walls, which were no longer needed as fortifications and which were impeding the growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile-long boulevard, encircling the Innere Stadt. The Neoclassical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution.

    You then walk to a typical Viennese coffeehouse, and stop in for coffee and cake. Our stroll continues along the city sidewalks, passing by the well-known Imperial Palace, home to many generations of the Habsburg family, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

    The balance of the day is free to relax or do some more exploring on your own.

    Or, join us this evening for an optional tour and dinner with local vintages in the Grinzing wine district at an authentic Heurigen restaurant. The Heurigen tradition began when Emperor Joseph II passed a law stating that small local winemakers were allowed to serve their vintages and food to members of the public so long as they sold only wine of their own making. Many people then opened the gardens of their own homes and small estates, and visiting one of these establishments became a traditional outing for the city dwellers. It's a rich tradition that is maintained today. After dinner, the return trip back to your hotel is by bus.

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    You have the day at leisure to relax, do some shopping, or explore this unique city on your own. Vienna has served as home and inspiration to some of the world's greatest artists, thinkers, and musicians. You'll see statues of Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler throughout the city, and see how music is such an integral part of Viennese life. The numerous performances of the Vienna State Opera House are the constant talk of the town, and its performers are treated like celebrities. The strains of waltz music emanate from the many cafes, and the entertainment moves outdoors to the sidewalks in good weather. You will be provided with a complimentary public transportation pass to aid in your explorations.

    Lunch is on your own today.

    Spend this evening as you wish.

    Or, join us for an optional Musical Vienna tour. Sit back and let the strains of classical composers carry you off to the former glory of this imperial city.

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    • Meals included:

    Enjoy more time to make discoveries at your own pace in Vienna. You might want to visit the Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg Palace. Formerly

    Enjoy more time to make discoveries at your own pace in Vienna. You might want to visit the Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg Palace. Formerly the residence of the Habsburg rulers, the Hofburg contains the 19-room state and residential apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth, which are open to the public. In an impressively staged exhibition, the Sissi Museum seeks to give the visitor an understanding of the myths and reality surrounding the figure of Empress Elisabeth. The Imperial Silver Collection is a fascinating museum containing the porcelain, glass, and silverware once used at the imperial table.

    Or, you may choose to join us for our Best of Vienna optional tour to get to know three completely different faces of Vienna.

    Begin by visiting the world-famous Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), built by the Emperor Franz Joseph and inaugurated in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The building was almost completely destroyed in the 1945 bombings but was rebuilt and presented its second opening in 1955 with Beethoven’s Fidelio. The new ornate Opera House follows the traditional Neoclassicism of the original structure, and has been the showplace of choice for world-renowned performers, such as Maria Callas, Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jessie Norman. Please note: When the Vienna State Opera is not available, a visit to another musical venue will be included.

    Then see another side of Vienna with a stop at the Naschmarkt, a spectacular multicultural marketplace that dates back to the sixteenth century. Located along and above the Wien River, which flows under the Naschmarkt, this is part marketplace and part bazaar with stalls and vendors offering everything from exotic fruits and vegetables to sidewalk art. There are also galleries, coffeehouses, and restaurants poking out of narrow alleyways. You’ll see and hear vendors from almost every corner of the world here in the Naschmarkt.

    Your optional tour ends with a traditional stop at famous Prater Park. This old-fashioned amusement park was given to the Austrian people by the Emperor Franz Joseph as a place to have fun. You’ll enjoy a thrilling ride on the Riesenrad, the park’s giant Ferris wheel. Built in 1897, it is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and became internationally recognized after the famous ride of Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton in the film The Third Man.

    This afternoon, you'll transfer via coach to Budapest to join your Eastern Europe to the Black Sea River Cruise Tour.