April / May 2017, exact dates TBA, 17 days, 16 nights, prices TBA
This will be the third BET tour to Bulgaria, this time focusing on the Thracian civilization. The Thracians were contemporaries of the Greeks, actively trading with the Greeks and the Etruscans. Their use of the arch in their architecture predates the Romans by at least 300 years. Our focus will center on the Thracian tombs, burial mounds that are newly excavated and opened to the public. The artifacts found in the tombs, the best and sometimes the only way we can learn about early civilizations, are outstanding in quality. I was astounded by the gold jewelry on display when I first visited the Varna archeological museum. We will be in Bulgaria on St. George Day which is a major festival–it should be quite colorful and interesting.INCLUDED: At least two meals a day (breakfast and one other, usually dinner), airport transfers and modern coach transportation throughout, plus entrances to all of the museums and tomb sites mentioned in the itinerary. There is a strong chance that the tour will include the transatlantic flight to Sofia with Balkan Holidays Airline.NOT INCLUDED: Meals or attractions not on the itinerary, connecting flights to Chicago, tips and gratuities for guides, hotels, and bus driver(s).NOTE: The itinerary below is a draft from Lyuba Tours. You will see that we still have some choices to make in terms of overnight stays. We will gradually add the hotels, restaurants, and other details, along with my reworking the text into more standard English.
Fly from USA
Day 1 – Sofia
Arrival in Sofia. Welcome with Thracian land drinks, dinner at selected restaurant, overnight in Sofia
Day 2 – Sofia
Breakfast at the hotel (included) every morning. We get familiar with who were the Thracians ? Visit of National History museum and Archaeological museum. Visit to St. Sofia undergrounds with early Christian tombs and mosaics. Walking tour . Concert of Orthodox singing. Dinner at traditional restaurant
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 3 – Vratsa – Rousse
This day we depart to Northern Bulgaria , land rich of archaeological sites and interesting museums. We will visit to Vratsa Archaeological museum, which museum hosts the biggest Thracian treasures found in the area and consist of 168 silver vessels, cups, plates, jugs. Some of them with incredible incrustation and decoration. Museum has golden artifacts from Thracian tomb, excavated in the very center of the town, as well as rich collection of prehistorical pottery and artifacts of everyday life and believes of first European inhabitants. Special village lunch before we get to the road to Ruse (5 hours drive). Expected arrival in Rousse around 7.00 pm Accommodation in selected hotel near the Danube. Dinner.
Overnight in Ruse – Hotel 4* other opportunity is Veliko Turnovo?
Day 4 – Ruse –Sveshtari Tombs- Varna
After breakfast we will visit to Rousse museum followed by walk along the pedestrian street and depart to one of interesting archaeological sites of Bulgaria called Sboryanovo. Situated about 1.30 hours drive from Ruse , Sboryanovo occupies large territory of north Eastern Bulgarian Deliorman. The reserve includes two large necropolis, sanctuaries , remains of Thracian fortified town , lots of tombs and Muslim ‘ sect of Aliani Holy place of Demir Baba Teke. The Big tomb of Sveshtari has rich stone decoration and drawings. In the last two years archaeologists have been very successful to find a golden treasure in another tomb nearby. Excavations continue..
We are having picnic lunch and a sightseeing tour around the area.
Late afternoon we depart to town of Varna ( 3 hours) .
Accommodation and dinner at Varna.
Overnight in Varna
Day 5 – Varna
We can go to visit to Archaeological museum. Museum has been renovated and modernized in 2012 Among interesting collections are the Prehistorical golden artifacts from Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis and large collections of Thracian period excavations around Varna. The golden Tracian jewelry amazed by its fine craftsmen work .
Afternoon trip north of Varna , where are nature and archaeological reserves of Yailata and Cape Kaliakra. Both places were inhabited by Thracians , which remains can be seen up today. These afternoon our program is most for leisure along the coast. Lunch will be in fisherman restaurant.
Return to Varna around 6.30 – 7.00 pm
Opportunity to join cultural activity of Varna .
Overnight in Varnal
Day 6 – Nessebar – Kabile – Karanovo – Stara Zagora
After breakfast group departs to Nessebar. This little town played important role in the Black Sea history. It was Thracian town , before Greek colonists inhabited in 6th century BC . During mediaval period town was one of strategic points of Constantinople at the Black Sea . Important part of its history takes Bulgarian period of ownership of territories, which brought big development of mediaval architecture and art due to special attention by Bulgarian tsars .
Half a day sightseeing of Old Nessebar including visit to small Archaeological museum and walking tour around numerous Mediaval churches of Nessebar ( optional ). Independent lunch.
In the afternoon we depart to village of Kabile to see archaeological site and museum there.
Visit to village of Karanovo , where will see late Thracian tomb of Roman Empire period with preserved horse chariot remains of horses and elements of the chariot, also all funereally gifts, followed by drive to Stara Zagora for overnight and dinner.
Day 7 – Stara Zagora – Kazanlak – Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora is one of largest towns in Thracian Valley. Established as Thracian settlement , the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times and famous as main source of copper for the prehistorical Balkans and Anatolia .
This morning we can go to see the Neolithic dwellings museum, the Archaeological museum of Stara Zagora and nearby situated remains of Ancient Forum , mosaics and Museum of Religion , which is situated in old mosque, built over remains of Christian church, which was built over ancient Thracian sanctuary. Lunch in restaurant in Stara Zagora.
Departure to town of Kazanlak for a tour of the Valley of the Thracian Kings this afternoon. The valley s situated between two mountain ranges of Stara Planina and Sredna Gora and famous for numerous fields of rose plantations. The famous Bulgarian rose oil comes from that area too. In the last 20 years have been excavated lots of Thracian tombs here. They dated period of 5th to 3rd century BC , when Thracian Kingdom of Odrisae flourished at the Balkan Peninsula. We can visit to replica of tomb of Kazanlak , included in UNESCO Heritage List , original Royal tombs of Kosmatka, Ostrusha and Shushmanets as well as museum , where are presented part of excavated golden treasures.
Dinner and overnight in Stara Zagora. Other possibilities is Plovdiv,
Day 8 – Starosel- Plovdiv
After breakfast, we depart to Thracian Tombs and Temples of Starosel ( 2 hour) Have a tour there. Wine tasting at nearby Wine cellar. We can taste “Thracian ” wine at their Thracian Hall followed by lunch in cellar restaurant. Drive to Plovdiv (1. 00 hour drive). The bus will bring us to archaeological museum , where we see Thracian treasures excavated in area around Plovdiv. After that we can drive to remains of Early Roman basilica with mosaics was recently open for visitors with support of American foundation . Opportunity to visit to the Gallery with Roman mosaics and small collection of Roman glass! Then have a look at the newly restored part of Roman Stadium and Ottoman mosque of late 14th century.
Accommodation in hotel. Time for rest.
In the evening we will have special private visit to one of most famous Bulgarian contemporary artist , which art has been inspired by Ancient Thracians. Reception there. Dinner at nearby famous club – restaurant or we have opportunity for independent dinner this evening?
In case of any music performance or opera in Roman theater, we can take tickets to visit it. Performance starts around 9.00pm.
Overnight in Plovdiv, hotel Trimontium .
Day 9 – Plovdiv- Kurdjali.
In the morning we are having sightseeing tour of Old Plovdiv. Have a walk along cobbled stones of Old Plovdiv for a sightseeing tour there. Visit to Roman Theater. After lunch we drive to Eastern Rhodope region, where have been located most of Thracian sanctuaries and holy places. Near Hasskovo is located Thracian tomb of Alexandrovo from 5th century BC. Replica was built as part of museum of the Thracian civilization in Eastern Rhodopes. We are going to see the museum and replica in order to get more familiar with the area and our activities in next two days. Legendary Ancient singer Orpheus was born in the Rhodope mountain , but for Thracians he was great teacher and philosopher, who knew a secret of immortality and eternal life. So next two days will be devoted to learn more about him and today evidences of him in life of locals.
We continue drive to mountains, where is located town of Kurdjali. On the way we can pass via town of Haskovo where is built the biggest statue of Virgin Mary , according Guiness records. Upon arrival in Kurdjali, we can have a look at local museum too. This town is famous as starting point for tourists , who want to have hikes and tours to numerous Thracian holy places around Eastern Rhodopes mountain. Our accommodation is at nearby village’s hotel, situated above the Kurdjali dam. Dinner at Yazovir Kurdjali hotel.
Overnight in Yazovir Kurdjali hotel.
Day 10 – Perperikon and Thracian Sanctuaries
This day we can explore Thracian town of Perperikon , Thracian sanctuary of Tatul and nearby wild area of Harman Kaya with numerous rock cut sanctuaries . Lunch in village with traditional soup and apetisersReturn to hotel for overnight and dinner. Our guests for dinner will be local bagpipers , who will present us traditional local man singing and bagpipe music.
Overnight in Yazovir Kurdjali hotel.
Day 11 – Komotini – Ancient Abdera – Kavala
In the morning we depart to Greece , where were located numerous thracian towns and sanctuaries. Visit to museum in Komotini and remains of Ancient Abdera . Go to Kavala for dinner and overnight.
Day 12 – Kavala – Island of Thasos
This day we can explore island of Thasos and the area of Kavala.
The history of relations between ancient Greeks, Thracians and Macedonians will be unveiled this day. We can start our tour with beautiful archaeological museum , which has well presented artifacts from the area of the island
Lunch in village in Thasos.
Return to materic. We are going to Kavala for late afternoon sightseeing tour. Have a pictures to the bay from the Mediaval fortress of Kavala Dinner and overnight in Kavala.
Day 13 – Kavala – Philipi – Ancient Amphipolis – Thessaloniki
On this day we will depart to Thessaloniki with visit to remains of Ancient Philipi and Ancient Amphipolis . Our first archaeological site is Philipi. This is one of best excavated Roman towns of Northern Greece. The excavations are pretty spectacular. Tour of Philipi. Depart to Amphipolis , once glorious town of Greeks and Macedonians, today golden jam for the archaeologists. Last sensation was newly discovered tombs connected with the Macedonians dynasty of Philip II and Alexander the Great. Very interesting museum and reserved dwellings can be visited as well. Package lunch this day.
Continue to Thessaloniki . Accommodation. Dinner
Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 14 – Thessaloniki
All day in Thessaloniki. Visit to Archaeological museum . Tour of city center : Roman and Byzantine ruins , Mediaval churches.
Overnight in THESSALONIKI.
Day 15 – Golden treasures of Macedonians Tombs at Vergina and Ancient Pella
We will have a day trip to see famous UNESCO Heritage site of Tombs of Vergina , where numerous golden and silver artifacts has been excavated. The archaeologists still have debated about tombs but for visitors the most important are beautiful crafts works which can be seen there.
Pella was the capital of Macedonian Kingdom , where Akexander the Great was born and lived as child. Precious mosaics can be seen there in city together with numerous artifacts presenting everyday life of Macedonian aristocracy. Wine tasting at the area . We will return to THESSALONIKI for independent dinner and overnight.
Day 16 –Depart to Sofia
We will drive back to Sofia via Valley of river Struma (Strimon), which area was birth place of legendary Thracian Spartakos. Have a tour and wine tasting at Melnik. Expected arrival to Sofia in the late afternoon. Time for rest and prepare luggage.
Farewell dinner in selected restaurant. Eventually participation in cultural program of Sofia.
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 17 – flight back to home
|NAME||ROOM TYPE||DEPARTURE FLIGHT||ARRIVAL FLIGHT|
|Dale Fleishman & Ron Jenkins|
|Carrol Smith & Sharon Budd|