The Real Deal: Group tours to Eastern Europe include a set itinerary, a guide and up to 12 people in the traveling group (4 is the minimum number of participants in order for the trip to take place), accommodations, and some food.
When: Various departure dates through June 25, 2006
Gateways: Airfare is not included
Details: Depending on the trip, you may be expected to pay a "host fee" of an additional $100-$300.
Book By: June 25, 2006
Contact: Intrepid Travel, intrepidtravel.com
Although the fall of the Iron Curtain and the resulting relative political and economic stability have been bringing more and more Western tourists to the region (aside from a few new-found tourist meccas like Prague) many parts of Eastern Europe worth seeing remain little explored.
So, the next time you feel like taking a trip to Europe, forgo the more conventional tourist-jammed Western destinations, and choose the road less traveled by visiting the Eastern end of the Old World.
Companies like Intrepid Travel specialize in non-commercial authentic group trips to all parts of the world. This month, Intrepid, a company that embraces local traditions and encourages their groups to experience travel like locals, has launched a series of trips to Eastern Europe with catchy names ranging from "Hungary for Turkey" to "Russia Revealed." For the various trip options and details go to Intrepid's website.
Intrepid's trips to Eastern Europe range in length between 9 and 22 days, each trip has a set itinerary, a guide and up to 12 people in the traveling group (4 is the minimum number of participants in order for the trip to take place), accommodations, and some food. Depending on the trip, you may be expected to pay a "host fee" of an additional $100-$300. Prices are valid through Dec. 31, 2005.
"Hungary for Turkey" is a 22-day trip from Budapest to Istanbul, which for a price of $1,705 per person encompasses a walking tour of Hungary's capital, Budapest, a trip through Romania's Transylvania region, across the Carpathian mountains visiting medieval towns, castles, rustic villages, traveling through Bulgaria and visiting its Rila Monastery, hiking the Pirin Mountains and ending the trip in the Turkish city of Istanbul. This trip departs on July 24 and September 4 of this year as well as May 28 and June 25, 2006. If opting for the "Eastern Europe Explorer," as its name states, you would spend 15 days discovering the beauties of Eastern Europe from Bulgaria through Romania and ending in Serbia's capital, Belgrade for $1,450 per person. The departure dates are July 31, August 15, September 12, and Oct. 22, 2005. "Russia Revealed" is a 9-day adventure from Moscow to St. Petersburg including the city of Novgord that will cost you $1,240 per person. You will visit the Red Square, have a meal in the walls of the Kremlin and see a variety of famous cathedrals, including the UNESCO protected Cathedral of Transfiguration, museums and palaces. A trip to the Secret Police headquarters will ensure that your exploration of Russia is complete. Departures for Russia are on August 27 and September 24, 2005 and June 4, 2006. And saving the best for last, "Best of Croatia" - the Eastern European version of the Mediterranean coast - is especially suited for those of us who, although unwilling to settle for the conventional, strongly believe that vacations and palm trees belong together. For $1,360, you get to explore the coast of the Adriatic and three of Croatia's 1,185 islands. But fear not, this will also be a cultural exploration since the coast is lined with ruins of the Roman Empire. Since the Croatian coast is quickly becoming the new hot spot for tourists far and wide, you may want to hurry to beat the crowd. The departure days for this trip are August 29, September 12, 2005, May 22 and June 12, 2006.