Trains & Travel

P.O.Box 312

Portola CA 96122

chris@traintrips.biz (Rail Tour Manager)

1-800-359-4870 (USA)

1-800-752-1836 (Canada)

1-800-266-8751 (Fax)

1-530-836-1944

europe

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

TOURIST TOUR

JUNE 23-JULY 3, 2020

 

Absorb the unique blend of culture, ancient tales and architectural treasures on this fascinating voyage aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express. Meandering through verdant landscapes and along turquoise coastlines, this exclusive rail cruise delivers a captivating exploration of the Balkan nations and their surrounding countries.

 

cities visited

 

Venice - Trieste - Ljubljana - Zagreb - Sarajevo - Mostar - Dubrovnik - Belgrade - Skopje - Thessaloniki - Sofia - Plovdiv – Istanbul

 

Day 1 Tuesday June 23 Venice:

Arrivals day in Venice where you will be met and transferred to the luxurious five-star Danieli hotel for a two-night stay. The legendary hotel enjoys a spectacular location and is only a short stroll from St Mark’s Square, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. Today is at leisure for all guests to explore this wonderful city. This evening we will enjoy a welcome reception and dinner, giving you the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers.

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Day 2 Wednesday June 24 Venice:

Venice is a truly captivating city of romance; its unrivaled beauty takes away the breath of first time visitors and regulars alike. Today we will have the opportunity to take a walking tour around the highlights of this spectacular city. Walk through the winding lanes beside the Grand Canal to St Mark’s Square, which for 1,000 years was the heart of Venetian life. We also see St Mark’s Basilica and stroll through the Rialto Market.

 

Spend the rest of the day exploring this magnificent city. For a truly iconic experience, take a gondola ride in the Basin of St. Mark’s and along the Grand Canal followed by a short stroll through the artists’ district of Dorsoduro, where we will stop to take in the city’s most breath-taking views from the Academia Bridge, before returning to your hotel.

 

Day 3 Thursday June 25 Trieste:

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

This morning we transfer from the hotel, by boat, directly to Santa Lucia station on the Grand Canal.  Here our private train, the Golden Eagle Danube Express, is ready to receive us.  Mid-morning the train will thread its way out Santa Lucia station onto the 3-mile causeway over the Venice Lagoon and on to on our first stop at the Italian port city of Trieste, for an afternoon tour.  We stop at the vast Piazza Unita d’Italia, the main town square, and can climb the hill to the famous Church of San Giusto built around a medieval complex that dates backs to the 13th century. We will go inside the church for a close-up view of the splendid Byzantine-style architecture enriched with precious mosaics.

 

Day 4 Friday June 26 Ljubljana & Zagreb:

Ljubljana is a delightful city, a combination of ancient architecture and a youthful culture. Our morning city tour includes visits to Preseren Square, Three Bridges, Dragon Bridge and Plecnik Market. We enjoy lunch back onboard the train as we travel onwards towards Croatia’s elegant capital Zagreb. 

 

This afternoon we will tour Zagreb, a central European city with over 900 years of documented history. We will take a walking tour of the upper town and ‘Kapitol’ (the ancient town centre), which abounds in Baroque atmosphere and cultural monuments. We will also see the ornate buildings of the lower town and its wide boulevards.

 

Day 5 Saturday June 27 Sarajevo & Mostar:

Early morning arrival into the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo which is an intriguing blend of Eastern and Western culture; it has mosques and minarets, an ancient bazaar and an atmospheric old Turkish quarter. Discover the city’s poignant history through a truly absorbing tour detailing the horrors of the Balkan War. Sarajevo suffered from the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. The scars of war are still evident as we travel past war-torn buildings and we make a special visit to the Tunnel Museum under Sarajevo Airport. Your guide, who lived through the 1992-1996 conflict, brings to life in touching fashion the struggles the citizens of Sarajevo faced during the siege of the city.

 

Following a light lunch in Sarajevo, this afternoon we travel along a very scenic line to the historic city of Mostar, the crossroads of many civilizations, cultures and three religions. Mostar was one of the most important cities of the Ottoman Empire. The town’s renowned stone arch bridge linking the Christian and Muslim areas was re-built in the summer of 2004. We also visit Turkish House and the mosque before walking through the narrow, bazaar streets, where you can shop for traditional souvenirs and handicrafts. From here, we travel onto Dubrovnik by coach where we stay for one night.

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Day 6 Sunday June 28 Dubrovnik:

Since its foundation in the 13th century Dubrovnik has been attacked many times but it is now restored as one of the great cities of the Mediterranean, essentially unchanged for 700 years. We will tour the city traveling through Ploce Gate to visit the Franciscan Monastery with one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, the Old Harbor, St Laurence Fortress and the Rector’s Palace.  We have lunch overlooking the Adriatic and have free time to wander the narrow streets.  Mid-afternoon we head back to the train positioned close to the Croatian border in Capljina, and enjoy dinner as we depart towards Serbia.

 

Since its foundation in the 13th century Dubrovnik has been attacked many times but it is now restored as one of the great cities of the Mediterranean, essentially unchanged for 700 years. We will tour the city traveling through Ploce Gate to visit the Franciscan Monastery with one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, the Old Harbor, St Laurence Fortress and the Rector’s Palace.  We have lunch overlooking the Adriatic and have free time to wander the narrow streets.  Mid-afternoon we head back to the train positioned close to the Croatian border in Capljina, and enjoy dinner as we depart towards Serbia.

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Day 7 Monday June 29 Belgrade:

Arrive this morning in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, the former Yugoslavian capital. Located at the strategic meeting point of the Danube and Sava Rivers, this truly cosmopolitan city has fortifications from Celtic times, medieval tombs and Turkish baths. We spend a full day here and our city tour includes the ‘House of Flowers’ –the mausoleum of Josip Tito, the Town Hall, Republic Square and Knez Mihajlova Street, as well as ‘Varos’ Gate and a visit to the mighty Kalemegdan Fortress.Day 8 Skopje & Thessaloniki

 

Day 8 Tuesday June 30: This morning we arrive in the little-visited Skopje and discover a city where the Ottoman influences are still strong. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town with tiny shops and mosques with ceramic-tiled interiors. Meander through the Old Bazaar area, brimming with things to buy, and cross the 15th-century Stone Bridge which links the bazaar to the modern town.

 

We return to the train for lunch on board and continue through the afternoon crossing into Greece for an early evening arrival into Thessaloniki. We soak up the evening atmosphere of this vibrant city by heading to Aristotelous Square, and will enjoy an al-fresco Mediterranean seafood dinner.

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Day 8 Tuesday June 30:

This morning we arrive in the little-visited Skopje and discover a city where the Ottoman influences are still strong. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town with tiny shops and mosques with ceramic-tiled interiors. Meander through the Old Bazaar area, brimming with things to buy, and cross the 15th-century Stone Bridge which links the bazaar to the modern town.

 

We return to the train for lunch on board and continue through the afternoon crossing into Greece for an early evening arrival into Thessaloniki. We soak up the evening atmosphere of this vibrant city by heading to Aristotelous Square, and will enjoy an al-fresco Mediterranean seafood dinner.

 

Day 9 Tuesday June 30 Sofia & Plovdiv:

The site of Bulgaria’s modern capital, at the foot of Mt Vitosha, Sofia was first occupied by the Thracian tribe of Serdi. On our morning tour we will visit sections of the Roman wall, admire the ancient church of St George, the golden domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Turkish Bashi Mosque.

 

We enjoy lunch on the train as we travel from Sofia to Plovdiv. The second largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia, ‘The City of Seven Hills’ is one of the oldest cities in Europe with more than 200 known archaeological sites. We spend the afternoon here exploring the Roman Forum and Amphitheatre. We’ll visit the charming Old Town including its medieval walls and Ottoman baths.

 

Day 10 Wednesday July 1 Istanbul:

This morning we arrive into Istanbul where we stay for one night at a five-star hotel.

 

Note: Continuing engineering works associated with the new Bosphorus tunnel could mean that the train stops on the outskirts of Istanbul and our buses will transport us to the city center.

 

This fabled city that spans Asia and Europe is our final stop on our tour so there is time to see how old meets new, east meets west when we visit Istanbul’s must-see historic sites. One of the most famous monuments in both the Turkish and Islamic worlds, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) is a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style and features six towering minarets and 260 windows illuminating its vast main chamber, which is decorated with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles.

 

Now a museum, Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian, and was one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque and is today one of the most magnificent museums in the world. Take a moment to linger here to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics. 

 

Also included is a visit to the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire, Topkapi. This stunning palace is the largest and oldest in the world and was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. With its treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn, your visit to Topkapi promises to be a truly fascinating experience

 

Day 11 Thursday July 2 Istanbul:

Following breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for onward departures. There is also an option to extend your stay in Istanbul for additional nights to explore more of this fascinating city.

 

all prices per person

 

Heritage Classtwin$8,595 

Heritage Classsingle$12,795 

Heritage Classdeposit$1,500 

 

Deluxe Classtwin$13,695 

Deluxe Classsingle$22,995 

Deluxe Classdeposit$2,000 

 

Superior Deluxe Classtwin$16,295 

Superior Deluxe Classsingle$27,495 

Superior Deluxe Classdeposit$2,500 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY MARCH 17, 2020

 

TOUR INCLUDES:

 

As far as possible our tours are all inclusive with no hidden extras. What follows are those elements which are included in the tour price. The only extra items you will need to budget for include personal expenses such as international and internal flights, visa costs, travel insurance, drinks from the Bar Lounge Car and laundry.

 

EXPERIENCED TOUR MANAGERS

Our experienced tour managers and their assistants are selected for their travel knowledge and organizational abilities allowing you to relax and enjoy your voyage of a lifetime. We receive many exceptional passenger comments about our Tour Managers and their aim is to ensure you enjoy every minute of your holiday.

 

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE TRANSFERS

Arrival and departure transfers are included.

 

HOTEL AND ON BOARD ACCOMMODATION

Although you will spend much of your time sightseeing or relaxing in the train’s public areas, you will find you hotel room or cabin a welcome retreat at the end of a rewarding day. Hotel and on board accommodation as described in your individual tour itinerary are included in the tour price. All hotels are of 5 star standard or, in certain locations, the best available. Room upgrades are available on request and at extra cost.

 

WELCOME AND FAREWELL DINNERS

Each tour begins with a Welcome Dinner, an ideal opportunity to get to know your fellow passengers; for the Tour Manager to brief you on the trip; and introduce you to the Golden Eagle Luxury Trains team and the Tour Doctor. The Farewell Dinner is the perfect end to your adventure by private train where you can relive the journey and look ahead to future tours.

 

ROUTE GUIDE, ITINERARY AND INFORMATION PACK

When you board the train there will be a brochure in your cabin detailing more about your journey and the places en-route. Our Tour Manager will organize a program of briefings on the cities or places we visit and, each evening, will issue a program for the next day’s touring schedule.

 

BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER DAILY

All departures feature one or two uniquely designed restaurant cars where you can enjoy the excellent waiter-served food and wine (except in Iran). Several times during the tour we will also sample authentic local cuisine off the train.

 

DRINKS WITH MEALS

All meals are served with wines at lunch and dinner - except in Iran where soft drinks and non-alcoholic beer will be available. Drinks from the Bar Lounge Car are also included with the exception of drinks from the Premium Wine List.

 

ON BOARD SERVICE

Throughout your tour you can expect service which is attentive, friendly and unintrusive. The high ratio of staff to passengers means there is always someone available should you need assistance.

 

GUIDED OFF-TRAIN EXCURSIONS

All our tours include a wide-ranging sightseeing schedule to make the most of the time you have off the train and bring you closer to the culture, people and history of your destinations.

 

FREEDOM OF CHOICE TOURING

Customize your journey and enjoy the opportunity to select from an array of Freedom of Choice Touring options that best suits your interests. Your off-train excursions will still take in all the major attractions of the places we are visiting but, in featured locations, you will be presented when you are onboard the train with a variety of activities from which to choose, and enjoy a tailor-made experience. Look at the individual itineraries where we are operating Freedom of Choice Touring. Freedom of Choice Touring options may be subject to variations dependent on finalized train timings and local charges. Touring options available will typically be advised in the evening prior to the day’s tour.

 

PERSONAL HEADSETS

On all the off–train excursions, to enhance your enjoyment and comprehension of the places you visit, you will be provided with a lightweight personal headset on which to listen to your tour guide as you take in the sights. So you do not need to worry about missing any of the interesting details on your excursions.

 

ON BOARD DOCTOR AND MEDICAL FACILITIES

To give you peace of mind our tours are accompanied by a doctor who usually travels with us for the entire journey; so you can rest assured that medical assistance is always available. On call 24 hours a day, the doctor is on hand to give primary care as required. Normally, the doctor will be English speaking and be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK.

 

CABIN ATTENDANT SERVICE

Your car attendants provide housekeeping and bedding turndown services. Complimentary tea, coffee and bottled drinking water are available in your cabin at selected times.

 

PORTERAGE

Porterage is included between the hotels and stations.

 

ALL GRATUITIES

We operate a strict No Tipping Policy. All gratuities are already included in the tour price.

 

SUPERIOR DELUXE CABINS

 

BALKAN EXPLORER
BALKAN EXPLORER
BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Our new Superior Deluxe cabins, with private en-suite facilities, offer the ultimate in European rail accommodation in terms of space, facilities and comfort.

 

Limited to just 12 cabins per departure, each cabin offers comfortable daytime seating with a full length sofa and two additional chairs. The large cabin also benefits from two full-size picture windows, one of which can be opened  to add to the bright and airy feel of the interior. Each evening the cabin is transformed into a luxurious bedroom with a standard King Size double bed. All cabins have, as standard, a large double wardrobe with excellent storage space, individually controlled air-conditioning, lighting with dimmer switches, individual reading lights, in cabin Wi-Fi and USB ports, power sockets and a safe.

 

DELUXE CABINS

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Each Deluxe sleeper carriage has just five spacious yet intimate ensuite cabins offering every convenience and comfort so you may sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as it rolls by.

 

Private bathrooms feature a shower with constant hot water, washbasin and toilet. There is a heated towel rail, shaver socket and hairdryer. A range of toiletries and a dressing gown are provided. Cabins have individually controlled air-conditioning, lighting with dimmer switches, individual reading lights, power sockets and a safe. Cordinated fabrics complement wood paneled walls and brass fittings. Two comfortable armchairs provide daytime seating and a free-standing chair adds flexibility. Cupboards and a full length wardrobe provide ample storage whilst the large picture window and full length mirror enhances the spacious feel. A second window will open for fresh air and for that perfect photo opportunity.

 

During dinner each evening the living room is converted into two comfortable lower beds by your attendant who is also on hand to bring you early morning tea or coffee.

 

heritage cabins

 

BALKAN EXPLORER

 

Each Heritage sleeper carriage has eight sleeping cabins with an upper and lower bed.

 

A shared toilet is available at one end of the carriage and a shared shower at the other end. Each cabin has wood-paneled walls, air conditioning,  power sockets and hanging space. A range of toiletries and a dressing gown are provided. A full length couch provides daytime seating. The large picture window will open for fresh air and for that perfect photo opportunity. During dinner each evening the cabin is converted into two comfortable beds by your attendant who is also on hand to bring early morning tea or coffee.

TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2020 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**

Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.