The Czech-German Loop
Sample Itinerary – The Czech-German loop:
Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, & back to Prague
Day 1 – Prague – Dresden.
Arrive late afternoon. We proceed directly to the Nelahozeves Castle for a special after-hours tour of the collection and a private dinner in the Habsburg Salon of the castle. The Lobkowicz family was one of the wealthiest in Europe and were for centuries, great supporters of the arts. It was to them that Beethoven dedicated his 3rd symphony (He had previously dedicated it to Napoleon, but after Napoleon began the war of 1812, he scratched out N.’s name and rededicated it to Prince Lobkowicz). In the 20th century they lost their palaces in Czechoslovakia twice, once due to Hitler, the second time due to the communists. They got this one back only after 1989, and it has been lovingly restored. You will enjoy their art collection. It’s well described on their website, www.lobkowicz.org. From here we have a romantic night trip on to Dresden, where we check into the Schloss Hotel Pillnitz (www.schlosshotel-pillnitz.de).
Day 2 – Dresden
8.00 Breakfast. Begin an exciting day with a walking tour to get acquainted with the splendors of this beautiful Baroque city, which has risen from the ashes to become again one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. The “Florence on the Elbe” has had to recover from the destruction of horrific air raids in 1945 and the negligence of the post-war communist regime. Most impressive are the Frauenkirche, the Zwinger Palace and the Semper Oper. We’ll visit the newly dedicated Frauenkirche, which is the most scientifically restored building in the world. (They used computers to determine where each stone should be, even after the church lay in ruins for over 40 years.) We go inside the Zwinger Palace to marvel at the collection of the Gallery of Old Masters which includes works by Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Duerer, Rubens, Rembrandt and El Greco, to name a few. 13.00 lunch in the Sophienkeller, then visit the Gruene Gewoelbe, the amazing treasure chest of August the Strong. Have free time before we return to our hotel. 19.00 We take the steamer on the Elbe to dinner in the Schiller Garten Restaurtant, directly on the Elbe River.
Day 3 – Dresden – Meissen
8.00 Breakfast. We travel to nearby Meissen where we have a stroll and visit the famous porcelain workshops. 13.00 lunch in the romantic Vincenz Richter restaurant, then we visit a nearby vineyard for a wine tasting. Return to Dresden for some free time. 19.00 A delightful dinner in the Galerie Alte Meister Restaurant. Return to the hotel.
Day 4 – Dresden – Leipzig
8.00 Breakfast. After breakfast depart for Leipzig a short bus trip away. In spite of tremendous war damage, the charm of the city endures. Here the musical tradition of Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Wagner is fervently maintained. We will explore the charming city center by foot including a visit to the newly restored St. Thomas church where Bach is buried under the altar. Leipzig was also the epicenter of events that brought down the Communist regime in East Germany in November of 1989.We will retrace the steps of the courageous demonstrators and learn how the citizens of Leipzig were able to achieve the unthinkable. To the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5 – Leipzig
8.00 Breakfast buffet. After breakfast we visit the newly opened Mendelssohn House Museum and learn about the life of this fascinating composer. 12.00 Lunch in Thueringer Hof, one of Germany’s most historic restaurants. Lunch will be complete with an introduction to Goethe’s “Faust,” set in this cavernous cellar restaurant. 13.30 Free time in the old city center to shop, relax in one of the many cafes or rest at the hotel. 17.30 Walk back to Thueringer Hof Restaurant for dinner and enjoy Part II of the “Faust” presentation. 20.00 Attend ballet or opera (depending on availability) in the Leipzig Opera House.
Day 6 – Leipzig – Berlin
7.00 Breakfast Buffet. 9.00 Depart hotel for Berlin (2 – 2.5 hours’ drive). Check into our hotel, which is on the historic Unter den Linden Street, a stunning testament to Prussian architecture and culture 13.00 Lunch on Jewish vegetarian specialties at the Oren Restaurant, followed by a tour of the restored Synagogue next door. Walk back to the hotel through Berlin’s historic center. 18.00 Dinner in hotel. 20.00 Evening concert (ballet, opera or orchestra depending on availability).
Day 7 – Berlin
7.30 Breakfast Buffet. 9.00 Pergamon Museum to see the Babylonian wall of King Nebuchadnezzar and one of the most spectacular collections of Greek and Roman antiquities in the world, followed by a bus tour (Reichstag, French Quarter, Checkpoint Charlie, Potsdamer Platz). Drive to the Kurfuerstendamm for lunch and afterwards some free time for shopping. Afterwards we will visit the landmark Wilhelm Memorial Church, a dramatically preserved ruin from World War II. Return to hotel for 20.00 dinner. Evening stroll to the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of the divided, now united Berlin.
Day 8 – Berlin – Prague
8.00 Buffet breakfast. Load luggage onto the bus, then time for one last impression of Berlin. On our way out of town we will drive by the massive Tempelhof airport, the site of the Berlin airlift and the Olympic stadium built for the ’36 Games where Jesse Owens triumphed so famously. These two structures are the most dramatic examples of Third Reich architecture left in Berlin. The bus ride to Prague will take approx. 4.5 hours and we will stop for lunch along the way. We arrive at our hotel in Prague in the early evening and will have dinner at 19.00. After dinner a dramatic evening walk through the old center of Prague.
Day 9 – Prague
8.00 Breakfast. Meet our local guide and begin our discoveries with the 1,000-year-old Hradcany Castle and St.Vitus Cathedral, perched high above the Vltava River with a panoramic view of the city below. 13.00 Lunch, then we explore the Old Town and the Josefov. Visit two Synagogues and the legendary Jewish cemetery. In the Pinkas Synagogue we see the artwork of the children of Terezin, among those who were in the infamous transit camp for Jews during the Nazi occupation. A farewell dinner at 18.00 and then a concert at the Smetana Hall, Prague’s most beautiful concert hall, built in the Art Nouveau style.
Day 9 – Prague – Return Flight
8.00 Breakfast. Load luggage and head to the airport for the flight home.
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