Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

Discovering Eastern Europe

With Robert Dostal, Rufus M Jones Professor of Philosophy

June 10-26, 2014

Whether you are seeking to recapture your ancestral heritage or simply discover a beautiful and poignant part of the world, this tour offers ample opportunity for enrichment, enlightenment, and enjoyment. Both leisurely and comprehensive, this itinerary provides a generous overview of five distinctly different – and fascinating nations: Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. The major cities of Eastern Europe make perfect travel destinations. Marked by history, evolving with the times, the major cities of Eastern Europe offer magnificent sites, shopping, food, entertainment, and so much more.

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DAY 1: Depart the U.S. for Warsaw

Early this evening depart the U.S. for Europe, with a connecting flight to Warsaw.

DAY 2: Arrive Warsaw

After reaching Warsaw this morning and transferring to the hotel, there's time to unpack, relax, or begin your discovery of this fascinating city. This evening we gather for dinner at our hotel, where you'll have a chance to get acquainted with your fellow travelers and your Odysseys Unlimited tour director.

Accommodations: Polonia Palace Hotel
Meals: Dinner

DAY 3: Warsaw

Devastated by World War II, Warsaw had to be virtually rebuilt from the ground up – a 15-year project that used every piece of authentic stone found amid the rubble. We see the results on today's morning tour, which includes the completely restored Old Town Square. So you can learn more about the destruction and incredible reconstruction of this city, our tour will also include a stop at the Historical Museum of Warsaw. We visit the area of the former Jewish Ghetto and the Jewish Cemetery, the largest of its kind in Europe. As you walk the streets that the Jews of Warsaw once inhabited, you can imagine the 1943 uprising when a small number of Jewish Resistance fighters inside the ghetto held out against Nazi forces for an incredible 22 days. After some time at leisure, late this afternoon we enjoy a special treat: a private classical piano recital. Lunch and dinner are on your own today.

Accommodations: Polonia Palace Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 4: Warsaw/Czestochowa/Auschwitz & Birkenau/Krakow

Our day-long journey south to Krakow takes us first to Czestochowa, the spiritual heart of Poland, which draws pilgrims from across the country and around the world. A discussion about the interplay between religion and politics will absorb us as we walk through the town and visit the shrine of the Black Madonna that sits on a hilltop overlooking the city. After lunch together, we continue to the Polish town of Oswiecim, better known by its German name of Auschwitz. All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. We tour the concentration camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau. Auschwitz was the largest camp established by the Nazis during World War II. More than a million people – the vast majority of them Jews – died there between 1940, when it was built, and 1945, when it was liberated. Both camps have been preserved as they were during the war, including the prison blocks, gas chambers, and crematoria. We will spend approximately three hours here, touring the sites and learning more about this horrific time. We arrive in Krakow early this evening; dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Pod Roza
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: Krakow

The country's third largest city, Krakow escaped the devastation that obliterated other Polish cities during World War II, and its perfectly preserved medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is on the itinerary of this morning's tour. We also visit Market Square, the largest medieval town square in Europe; as well as 14th-century Wawel Castle and Cathedral before returning to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to do as you please. Lunch and dinner today are on your own.

Accommodations: Pod Roza
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6: Krakow

This morning we tour the Wielizka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is a virtual underground city, with galleries, lakes, chapels, and murals – all carved from salt. The mine's centerpiece is the Chapel of Saint Kinga, with its chandelier and mural of the Last Supper, carved by three miners over a period of 68 years. The mine has been a family tradition, with fathers passing their mining – and carving – skills on to their sons for generations. During World War II, the Nazis actually used the mine to manufacture parts for their aircraft. Though no longer a source of hard salt, the mine does extract and sell salt from ground water in the underground lakes. After this fascinating tour, we return to Krakow for lunch on your own. The remainder of the day is at leisure; we gather for dinner tonight at our hotel.

Accommodations: Pod Roza
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 7: Krakow/Slovakia/Budapest

Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Tatra Mountains as we travel by bus from Poland to Hungary via Slovakia, where we stop for lunch. Early this evening we reach the Hungarian capital of Budapest and our hotel, located in Buda's lovely and historic Castle District. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Hilton Budapest
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 8: Budapest

Our half-day tour will introduce us to this great city, home to one in every five Hungarians. We begin with a visit to Matthias Church (Mátyás Templom), the symbol of Buda's Castle District; followed by a stroll around Fisherman's Bastion behind our hotel for spectacular views of the Pest side of the city across the river. Looking out over the Danube to Pest you can see the Chain Bridge – the first permanent bridge across the Danube – connecting Buda with Pest; Margaret Island, a public park since 1908; and the huge neo-gothic House of Parliament, seat of this democratic nation's government. Our tour also includes an inside visit of the Dohány Synagogue with its rich but tragic history. Built in 1859, it is the largest synagogue in Europe and the world's second largest. Our tour ends with a visit to the Hungarian National Museum; it's the largest museum in Hungary. After lunch on your own, the afternoon is free for independent exploration; tonight we enjoy a typical Hungarian dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Hilton Budapest
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 9: Budapest

Today is free to explore "the Paris of the East" on your own. Your tour director is on hand to offer suggestions and assist with any special arrangements. The city's riches include the ornate Opera House, one of Budapest's most spectacular buildings and among the top opera houses in Europe. You may wish to take a guided tour of the Opera House, or even to enjoy an evening performance there (the season runs from mid September to mid June; performances usually start at 7 p.m.). Or visit the Thermal Bath at the Hotel Gellert, with pools of varying temperatures, steam rooms, and an outdoor artificial-wave pool; or the Museum of Fine Arts, displaying Central Europe's most important collection of foreign art. If you'd rather be outdoors, you can walk one of the many trails in the Buda Hills or take a leisurely stroll on Margaret Island. Lunch and dinner today are on your own.

Accommodations: Hilton Budapest
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 10: Budapest/Danube Bend/Vienna

We travel by bus to Vienna today via the small towns that lie along the scenic Danube Bend. Our first stop is Szentendre, a tiny town packed with artisans' shops; here we visit the fascinating museum showcasing the works of Hungarian ceramic artist Margaret Kovács. We continue to the village of Neszmély, a picturesque village along the Danube where you'll meet the friendly inhabitants and sample the outstanding cuisine of Neszmély. We stop here for lunch before continuing to Vienna. After arriving in the Austrian capital late this afternoon and checking in to our hotel, the remainder of the evening is free. Dinner is on your own this evening, the perfect opportunity to sample some of Vienna's acclaimed cuisine.

Accommodations: Hilton Vienna Plaza
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 11: Vienna

The grandeur of the Habsburg Empire comes to life today as we embark on a half-day tour of the city that was the cornerstone of Habsburg rule for centuries. A drive along the Ringstrasse, the city's famed boulevard, gives us a wonderful overview of Vienna. We pass the Hofburg, the former Imperial Palace; city hall; the Parliament; and the National Museum. We stop at the storied, ornate Opera House and enjoy a guided tour of one of Europe's grandest opera houses. Next we drive to Schönbrunn Palace for a guided inside tour of the Imperial Apartments and a stroll through the surrounding gardens. After returning to our hotel and lunch on your own, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. The pedestrian-only Kärntnerstrasse is a bustling shopping street that features all the best shops, restaurants, and coffeehouses. Lunch is on your own. We gather in the early evening for a traditional Wiener Schnitzel dinner at a local restaurant. Afterwards we attend a concert of classical music in this most musical of all cities.

Accommodations: Hilton Vienna Plaza
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 12: Vienna Woods

This morning we enjoy an excursion to the Vienna Woods, the eastern tip of Alpine Europe which gained fame during the heyday of the Austrian Empire, and infamy as the site of Mayerling, where in 1889 Archduke Rudolf and his mistress died mysteriously and thus changed the course of European history and led to the fall of the House of Habsburg. The first stop on our tour is the medieval abbey of Heiligenkreuz, Austria`s second oldest Cistercian monastery (1133) with Babenberg tombs, a chapel with a Romanesque nave, High Gothic choir hall, Baroque choir stalls, and Early Gothic cloisters. We continue on past Mayerling to the medieval spa town of Baden, where we take a brief stroll through the city center before having some free time. We return to Vienna early this afternoon and the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. You may wish to visit the Lipizzaner Museum; shop along the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse; visit the home of Sigmund Freud; or tour the acclaimed Museum of Fine Arts or Museum of Natural History. Both lunch and dinner are on your own today.

Accommodations: Hilton Vienna Plaza
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 13: Vienna/Bratislava

Mid-morning we depart for Bratislava, capital of the independent nation of Slovakia. Upon arrival we embark on a mini-train and walking tour of the historic Castle area, including a visit to the 18th-century classical-style Archbishops Palace. Before continuing on, we enjoy lunch on our own. After checking in at our hotel, we have time to refresh before dinner tonight in the homes of gracious local families.

Accommodations: Radisson SAS Carlton
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14: Bratislava/Prague

This morning we leave for Prague, proud capital of the Czech Republic, filled with art, medieval architecture, historic churches, and cobblestone streets. Along the way we stop for lunch and a brief tour of Brno, the Czech Republic's second largest city and capital of Moravia. We reach Prague mid-afternoon and have the rest of the day to discover this wondrous city on our own. Walking is really the only way to explore Prague; most of the oldest areas are walking zones where motor traffic is limited or prohibited. Discover Prague's Old Town (Stare Mesto), whose ancient streets are lined with many stately buildings, churches, shops and theaters; and 14th-century Charles Bridge, Prague's most celebrated structure linking Old Town and the Castle District across the river. All roads eventually lead to Old Town Square, a focal point of Czech history and politics. Here you can see the historic Astronomical Clock – at the top of the hour a mechanical parade of saints and sinners performs for passers-by. Tonight you enjoy dinner on your own.

Accommodations: Grand Hotel Bohemia
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 15: Prague

This morning we tour Prague's celebrated Castle District (Hradčany). This hilltop complex encompasses many houses, towers, churches, courtyards, and monuments. We visit the key sites of St. Vitus Cathedral and the Royal Palace, then this afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. The historical core of the city – Hradčany, Malá Strana (Lesser Town), Staré Mĕsto (Old Town), and Václavské námĕstí (Wenceslas Square) – covers about two square miles and is pedestrian-friendly. The afternoon and evening are free to enjoy your choice of restaurants in this dazzling city.

Accommodations: Grand Hotel Bohemia
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 16: Prague

This morning join your tour director on a walk to Josefov, Prague's historic Jewish Quarter, located entirely within Staré Mĕsto. Your tour director will provide you with entrance tickets to the Jewish Quarter so you can explore at your own pace. With these tickets you'll have access to the following sites within Josefov: Maisel Synagogue, now serving as the exhibition space for the Jewish Museum; the Spanish Synagogue, the "newest" synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, built in 1868; Pinkas Synagogue, where a haunting collection of paintings and drawings by children from Terezín concentration camp is on display; Klausen Synagogue, exhibiting Jewish traditions and customs; and the Old Jewish Cemetery and the adjacent Ceremonial Hall. This afternoon is free for lunch on our own and individual pursuits before tonight's special farewell dinner together.

Accommodations: Grand Hotel Bohemia
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 17: Return to U.S.

Early this morning you'll transfer to the airport for your connecting flight to the U.S.

Meals: Breakfast


We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally, though, unexpected obstacles, or opportunities, may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written. We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. In addition, please note that airline schedules are subject to change. We will provide you with updated flight information closer to your departure.

For Land Only Guests

When you purchase Discovering Eastern Europe as "land only," airport transfers and luggage handling at the arrival and departure airports at the beginning and end of the tour are not included. However, should you be at the arrival airport concurrent with the group of arriving Odysseys Unlimited travelers and see the signs for our motorcoach transfer, you are welcome to transfer with the group at no charge, providing additional seating is available. However, please note that the motorcoach cannot wait for you; you must be aboard when the coach is leaving. Similarly, when departing from the last hotel for your flight home, you are also welcome to take advantage of the group transfer, provided there is room and you are on board when the coach is leaving.

It is important to note, however, that a motorcoach may not be used for transfers in all cases. Depending upon the number of guests arriving or departing, we may utilize taxis or smaller vans. At such times, space restrictions will preclude your joining the group transfer and you will be responsible for your own transportation to or from the airport.

Optional Post-Tour Extension
Prague - On Your Own

3 days/2 nights

Extend your stay in the alluring Czech capital.

Your Tour Includes

  • 2 nights' accommodations at Grand Bohemia (Superior First Class)
  • 2 meals: 2 breakfasts
  • Transfer to airport

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Cost and Program Inclusions

New York Washington, D.C.Land Only
Per person, double occupancy * $4,595 $4,795 $3,895
* Does not include Airline taxes and departure fees (listed as separate item on invoice) and Gratuities for the Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director (left to individual discretion)
Single Supplement: $195
Extension Prices: $295
  • In-depth lectures provided by Bryn Mawr Study leader Robert Dostal, Professor of Philosophy for the entire tour
  • Round-trip air transportation from your US Gateway city
  • 15 nights' hotel accommodations
  • 25 meals: 15 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motor coach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for each traveler
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • Warsaw sightseeing
  • Guided visits to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps
  • Wieliczka Salt Mines, Krakow
  • Comprehensive sightseeing and touring in Budapest
  • Tour of elegant Prague, including Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge
  • Vienna sightseeing and classical musical performance
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Bryn Mawr Study Leader

Robert Dostal
Rufus Jones Professor of Philosophy
Robert Dostal

Robert Dostal has taught at Bryn Mawr since 1980. He is the Rufus M Jones Professor of Philosophy and the chair of the Philosophy Department. He served as Provost for eight years, 1994-2002. His philosophical research interests in the German philosophical tradition have taken him to Europe frequently. He has often lived in Germany and has regularly visited the Czech Republic since 1971. He has lectured in Prague and Budapest. He has published books and articles on Kant, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. He teaches these areas and also ethics, environmental ethics, and the history of philosophy. He has a serious interest in the history and politics of eastern and central Europe. Back to the top »



Warsaw - Polonia Palace Hotel

Bryn Mawr:Alumnae/i Gateway:Travel Program Al. Jerozolimskie 45
00-692 Warsaw, Poland
Phone: 011-48-0-22-31-82-800
Fax: 011-48-0-22-31-82-801

Opened more than 90 years ago, the French-style Polonia Palace Hotel preserves the unique characteristics of early 20th-century architecture while incorporating many contemporary features. The conveniently located hotel stands near the Palace of Culture and Science and numerous shopping areas. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, bar, fitness center, and sauna. Each of the 206 air-conditioned rooms comes fully equipped with a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Krakow - Pod Roza Hotel

14 Florianska Street
31-021 Krakow, Poland
Tel: 011-48-12-424-33-00
Fax: 011-48-12-424-33-51

Located in the center of Old Town on beloved Florianska Street, this is Krakow's oldest hotel. Indeed, the neo-classical building's origins date to the 14th century as a private home; it became a hotel in the 17th century. Your room features contemporary amenities, including private bath with hair dryer, TV, and minibar. On premises are a restaurant, café, bar, currency exchange, and shops.


Hilton Budapest

Hess Andras Ter 1-3
1014 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: 011-36-1-889-6600
Fax: 011-36-1-889-6644,

A Gothic building incorporating part of a 16th-century Jesuit college and a 13th-century monastery, the Budapest Hilton is located in the Castle District of Buda, near Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church. Your climate-controlled room has a private bath with hair dryer, phone, radio, minibar, refrigerator, and TV. Hotel amenities include two restaurants and a lounge, fitness center, casino, and elevator service.


Hilton Vienna Plaza

Am Schottenring 11
1010 Vienna, Austria
Tel: 011-43-1-313-90-22302
Fax: 011-43-1-313-90-22009

The Vienna Plaza is located on the famous Ringstrasse, opposite the Vienna Stock Exchange and within walking distance of the city center. Among its facilities are a restaurant, bar, health club, sauna, massage treatments, whirlpool, solarium, and elevator and laundry service. Your room has a private bathroom with hair dryer, TV, phone, and minibar.


Radisson SAS Carlton Hotel

Hviezdoslavovo nam.3
Bratislava 811 02
Slovak Republic
Tel: 011-421-2-5939-0000
Fax: 011-421-2-5939-0010

Nestled in the heart of the city, close to the National Opera house and main business area, the stately 168-room Radisson SAS Carlton offers a brasserie restaurant, bar, and fully equipped gym. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, Internet access, climate control, mini-bar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.


Grand Hotel Bohemia

CZ-110 00 Praha 1, Kralodvorska 4
Czech Republic
Tel: 011-420-234-608-111
Fax: 011-420-222-329-545

Ideally located in the center of Prague next to Powder Tower and within walking distance of Old Town Square and Old Town Hall, the 78-room Grand Hotel Bohemia is just steps from Wenceslas Square. The hotel offers a restaurant and coffee shop/bar. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

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