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Jewels of Bohemia: Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary 2015

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Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: Berlin & Dresden, Germany

The imperial city that gave rise to the Third Reich before being split between East and West, Berlin is a hotbed of history which has blossomed anew in the era of reunification. And Dresden, Germany’s artistic hub for centuries before the destruction of World War II, has risen from the ashes, fully restored and gleaming. We’ll discover both these enduring cities and witness the fruit of their resilience.

It's Included:
Bus transportation from Dresden to Prague
Accommodations for 3 nights in Berlin and 2 nights in Dresden
10 meals—5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners
7 small group activities
Services of a resident, English-speaking OAT Trip Leader
NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
All transfers
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    After an overnight flight, an OAT representative will meet us at the airport and transfer us to our hotel. We'll enjoy Welcome Drink and short briefing from our Trip Leader, followed by a Welcome Dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.

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    Today, see Berlin’s highlights on an included city tour. The second-largest urban area in Europe, Berlin is an enormous city, but most of its most iconic sites are relatively close together. Divided at the end of World War II, blockaded by the Soviets during the Cold War, riven by a cruel grey wall, and finally delivered by the sledgehammers of freedom fighters, Berlin is once again a united city. We’ll discover many facets of history on our tour which includes the Berlin Wall Documentation Center, a look at the outside of the Olympic Stadium (made infamous by the 1936 Summer Olympics), and the exterior of pre-World War II Tempelhof Airport. Lunch is included today.
    Later, use your new-found knowledge of Berlin to explore the city at leisure. Perhaps you’ll like to explore Schloss Charlottenburg, the largest remaining palace in the city.

    Dinner is on your own tonight.

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    After breakfast, we continue our discoveries together in Berlin. Our tour spans the breadth of the city’s history, including the 775-year-old Nikolaiviertal neighborhood, and reminders of World War II including the Holocaust Memorial and the Topography of Terror, the outdoor museum on the site of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters. The post-World War II era defined by the city’s East-West split will be illuminated in our Checkpoint Charlie stop. And we’ll visit Museum Island, where five art institutions spanning 200 years have been restored and renewed for the 21st century, resulting in their designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    This afternoon, explore at your own pace. The city’s lakes and forests provide bucolic retreats in an urban setting, while its divided history has led to a truly unique collection of architectural styles. If you find yourself in the old Soviet sector of the city, keep your eyes open for extant Ampelmannchen, the “little traffic light man” who adorned East German traffic lights. The Reichstag, site of the final defense of the Third Reich, was rebuilt after World War II and now features an enormous glass sphere, emphasizing the transparency and openness of the new Germany. Like so much of Berlin, the future and past are inextricably mixed.

    Lunch and dinner are on your own this afternoon.

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    Following breakfast, we check out of our hotel and board a bus for Dresden. First, we stop in Wittenberg and enjoy a short orientation walk with our Trip Leader in this city is famous for its connection to Protestant leader Martin Luther. After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue to Torgau, where our Trip Leader guides an informative stroll including the scenic bridge, 16th-century castle, and the spot where American and Russian soldiers first met in World War II.

    A drive through scenic forests and farmlands brings us to Dresden in the early afternoon. Our Trip Leader will then lead us on a short vicinity walk after we check into our hotel. We enjoy dinner together tonight at a local restaurant.

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    This morning, we’re off to tour the city of Dresden and the Elbe River Valley by motorcoach. Situated in a broad floodplain, Dresden was founded in the twelfth century by Slavs. In the 16th century, the finest painters, architects, and musicians from across Europe began to flood the city, which remained a cultural hub until World War II, when Allied aircraft used incendiary bombs to burn Dresden to the ground. The city was completely destroyed, and thousands of civilians were killed. Kurt Vonnegut, himself a survivor of the air raids, chronicled these events in Slaughterhouse-Five. Following the war, Dresden was rebuilt from the ground up, an eternal reminder of the folly of war and strength of the human creative spirit.

    Explore Dresden on your own this afternoon and evening, perhaps enjoying Saxon cuisine on your own for lunch and dinner. Or, join us for our optional Meissen Tour. On this tour, en route to Meissen, we’ll stop first at Moritzburg Castle, a Baroque palace built for the Dukes of Saxony in the 16th century. Then we turn our attention to Meissen, the “cradle of Saxony.” During our tour, we’ll pay a visit to the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory—Europe’s first and oldest continuously running porcelain maker—to learn about its five-stage production process. Then, we’ll ride to the top of the hill in the heart of the city and stroll down to the historic town center. We’ll cap our discoveries on this optional tour with dinner in a local restaurant.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, we’ll board a bus for our transfer to Prague for our Jewels of Bohemia: Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary adventure. En route to Prague, we’ll pass through the lovely Elbe Valley and the dramatic sandstone landscape of Swiss Saxony. We’ll pause in Sudetenland and discover the flavor of life in southern Germany during a visit to a farmhouse and watermill. After lunch in a local restaurant, we enjoy a glimpse into agricultural traditions here during a bee-keeping presentation. Next, we pause for a somber reminder of the Holocaust, as we visit Terezin, the “model” Jewish ghetto which was more truly a concentration camp and departure point for death camps.

    We arrive in Prague late this afternoon and settle into our hotel to begin our main trip.