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Enjoy exploring the route of the historic Orient Express with 3 night stops in: Istansul, Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna & Munich. One overnight sleeper on the Istanbul - Sofia Express
Your tour commences today at your city hotel. There is an optional pre-tour visit to Gallipoli and Troy. See below.
Your city sightseeing includes visits to a number of Byzantine and Ottoman treasures: the Hippodrome Square, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Royal Topkapi Palace. [B]
Istanbul sightseeing continues today on two continents: Europe and Asia.
Overnight train to SOFIA [B]
A free day in Istanbul: perhaps the Golden Bazaar for that last minute bargain. There is no daytime train from Istanbul to Sofia, so it is necessary for you to take the sleeper train. If John Gielgud or Sean Connery climbs aboard, take care.
On arrival you check into your hotel. In the afternoon your city sightseeing tour includes the National Archaeological Museum, the National Theatre, the Russian Church of St. Nikola, the Parliament Square, and Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral with the most valuable collection of Bulgarian Icons.
This morning you visit Boyana, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list and considered the herald of the European Renaissance. The genuine masterpieces of the 13th century painting, created 200 years ahead of the beginning of the Western European Renaissance, mark a remarkable peak in Orthodox Art. The afternoon is at leisure.
Today you visit another UNESCO listed cultural treasure - the Rila Monastery - the most famous and fascinating monastery in Bulgaria.
To BELGRADE [B]
Your Eurocity train delivers you to the first of your three cities on the Danube, Belgrade, modern capital of Serbia, formerly capital of Yugoslavia. Despite the long shadows cast over recent Belgrade history by Tito and Milosovic, this is a fascinating city.
Belgrade has been a modern European (capital) city since the mid 19th century, but with a turbulent history before that time. The distinction between these two eras is still clearly visible between the Ottoman Kalemegdan Fortress and Park, and the grand boulevard of Knez Hihailova. Your morning city sighseeing focuses on Belgrade of the Ottoman period.
Modern Belgrade today, with the afternoon free for the boutiques or coffee houses.
To BUDAPEST [B]
Your EuroCity train takes you to Budapest, the second Hapsburg capital for much of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. The Hungarian capital is made up of two cities: hilly Buda with its castle on the Western Bank of the Danube, and Pest with its stately buildings and broad boulevards on the Eastern Bank. Your hotel is on the Pest side.
You begin today by visiting the Buda hill. You see the magnificent Gothic Matthew's Church, enjoy views back across the Danube and the Chain Bridge to Pest - St Sebastian's and the high Gothic Parliament House. An excellent spot for lunch with a view. Then you ramble the narrow cobblestone streets looking for art and craft bargains. Back on the Pest side of the river you enjoy the magnificent architecture and Heroes' Square, the focal point of Hungarian national life.
Unlike Vienna which resisted Turkish invasion, Budapest was occupied by the Turks for more than century. Several quirky Turkish touches continue - the coffee houses and the thermal spa baths! Enjoy both today.
Your luggage is taken on ahead today as you join your Eurocity train to Vienna, the Imperial capital of the Hapsburgs and home of Beethoven. You settle into your central hotel. Vienna's fine buildings look magnificent by night.
Your morning city sightseeing programme introduces you to this stately city - the Ring, the Hofburg, and St Stephen's - and the beautiful blue Danube. Watch the fountains and listen to the music.
Perhaps a visit to the Schonbrunn Palace today, or to the Kunsthistorisches Museum which has one of Europe's best collections of Old Masters.
Austria's flagship train, the Railjet, brings you today to Munich, the capital of the German state of Bavaria, and world's beer drinking capital.
Your morning city sightseeing includes the historic heart - Marienplatz, the Rathaus and glockenspiel - and the English Garden. Raise a lunchtime glass at the Hofbrauhaus?
The shops, the museums (a fabulous Science Museum) or a visit to the grisly Nazi Concentration Camp memorial at Dachau on Munich's outskirts.
Arrive PARIS [B]
The fastest of your European trains for the last leg - the French TGV reaches 300kph on the run to Paris. Your tour ends upon arrival or, alternatively you may take a 3 day fully escorted post-tour add-on.
$AUD 10,900 per person Twin Share. Land Content only (i.e. join the tour in Istanbul and leave the tour in Paris)
Fares are based on exchange rates at 03/04/2014
Enquire about competitive airfares.
Single Room supplement $AUD 2500.
Great Trains of Europe Independent Tours (ie. non-escorted tours) include:
The tour cost does NOT include “optional excursions” (where offered) or meals other than breakfasts.
Check into Istanbul hotel
Drive along the Marmara Sea to Gallipoli's World War I sites. Visit Lone Pine Cemetery which was built in honour of 4228 Australian and 708 New Zealand soldiers lost at Gallipoli. Cross the Dardanelles to Asia. Overnight hotel in Canakkale. [B]
Drive to visit the ancient city of Troy where the Trojan Wars (famous from the epic stories of the poet Homer) took place, and the remains of 9 different settlements dating from 3000 BC to 400 AD can be seen. Back to Istanbul. [B]
Gallipoli & Troy Pre-tour Add-On Cost: $AUD2,250 per person twin share. Single supplement $AUD600
Includes: 3 nights accommodation and breakfasts, transport and sightseeing.
On arrival in Paris on the “Footsteps of Agatha Christie” Tour, transfer to your hotel on the Left Bank. This is your home for 3 nights.
Our sightseeing this morning includes the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees and Notre Dame. In the afternoon there is a visit to Louis XVI's Palace of Versailles on Paris' outskirts. [B]
The Louvre Museum? or an optional excursion to the Somme Battlefields of World War I. Here you visit sites that are sacred in Australia's national history.
Your holiday ends this morning
Relax in Paris Pre-tour Add-On Cost: $AUD1,750 per person twin share. Single supplement $AUD500
Includes: 3 nights accommodation and breakfasts, transport and sightseeing. Somme Battlefields excursion $AU 275pp.