Classic Europe Itinerary
2018 Classic Europe Itinerary
August 23rd to 30th
Thursday 23rd August
The tour begins in the city of Leipzig which certainly merits a visit. Sometimes referred to as Germany’s boomtown, Leipzig played a significant role in the events that led to the fall of Communism. Since then the city has been the recipient of considerable investment. We are staying in the Marriott close to the city centre. Currently they have availability the night before our arrival so you could easily arrive a day early. If you cannot do that I would seriously think about arriving at lunchtime so you can spend the afternoon in the city, perhaps visiting the excellent Stasi Museum housed in their former headquarters and just round the corner from the hotel. In the evening we will have a welcome dinner in the hotel.
Friday 24th August
As we leave the city there is a photo opportunity at Leipzig’s most famous landmark - the memorial to the defeat of Napoleon in 1813. Next we visit Colditz Castle which during the Second World War was used as a prisoner of war camp for errant allied officers, normally on account of their frequent escape attempts. Colditz was supposed to be escape proof and in the main succeeded. We have a guided tour where you will be able to view one of the old escape tunnels. In the afternoon we reach Zwickau known as the City of Automobiles, which over the years was home to Audi and Trabant and now Volkswagen. The museum underwent serious refurbishment during 2017 and only reopened two months ago. It is now a world class motoring museum with many rare exhibits, all tastefully displayed. After visiting the museum it is only a short drive to Chemnitz, where we are staying in a town centre hotel and you’ll be free to have dinner in town.
Saturday 25th August
Today we drive to Meissen which for over 300 years has been home to the world famous porcelain factory. We have organised a mid morning tour where you can view some of the manufacturing and painting techniques. There is also an extensive museum and, if you’ve got some seriously deep pockets, a very nice gift shop. By lunchtime we should reach Dresden. We are staying in a lovely hotel right on the main square and you will have all afternoon to wander at leisure. Dresden used to be known as the Jewel Box because of its baroque and rococo city centre. Unfortunately the city centre was pretty much destroyed in the controversial bombing during the war but much of it has now been beautifully rebuilt and restored. You may also want to vist the Green Vault which some claim is the oldest museum in the world.
Sunday 26th August
The day begins with a visit to a quirky GDR museum packed full of relics from the days of communism. Before moving on there is an optional visit to a little known relic from the time when the Nazi’s practised euthansia. Our second visit is to the old communist prison in Bautzen. It is almost identical to an old Victorian British prison but has some unique characteristics. We then visit the town of Gorlitz which was split in two shortly after World War II when the borders were redrawn. Half the town on the right river bank became part of Poland and the other half remained German. In 2002/3 the bridge, (destroyed during the war), was rebuilt and finally in 2007, when Poland abolished European border controls, the towns’ citizens could freely cross the bridge without producing a passport. From Gorlitz we head south, crossing in to the Czech Republic and the town of Liberec. Often overlooked in favour of Prague Liberec is a real gem, packed with attractive architecture and a lovely main square. Again we are staying in a hotel located right next to the city centre.
Monday 27th August
Today is a half day drive through lovely scenery and over the mountains (OK, hills) into Poland and onwards to the city of Wroclaw which you may never have heard of and certainly cannot pronounce, but it is fast becoming a hip place to visit. We are staying one mile from the city centre, right next to a tram route. Despite being ravaged in the Second World War much has been rebuilt and the city boasts a beautiful main square with the surrounding sights all within walking distance. We should arrive in Wroclaw by early afternoon giving you plenty of time to stroll and find a suitable venue for dinner.
Tuesday 28th August
Our first visit is to Swidnica and the Church of Peace. That doesn’t sound particularly thrilling but wait until you see inside. It is one of three churches that were built with massive planning restrictions nearly 400 years ago. They were never expected to last and indeed one burnt down. Two survive and are both on today’s route. They are built entirely of wood without a single nail and each has a congregation capacity of about 5500. They really are quite a sight and unique, hence they are now protected as UNESCO world heritage sites. After leaving Swidnica we are going to Ksiaz Castle, the third largest and most beautiful castle in Poland. There are all sorts of mysteries concerning the castle, including one you may have heard of recently when a train with Nazi gold was suppposedly discovered. This ‘discovery’ took place close to the castle and indeed, in the war, the Germans, with the help of slave labour, excavated a vast network of tunnels under the castle and in the surrounding area. The prisoners used in the construction were housed in a camp not far from the castle and, as we are passing the site, there will be an opportunity to visit if you wish. Later in the afternoon we pass by the second Church of Peace at Jawor before heading into the town of Legnica where we will have dinner in the hotel.
Wednesday 29th August
We will use the motorway this morning to reach the site of Stalag Luft III where the Great Escape took place. There is a small museum and the possibility of viewing the locations of the escape tunnels. The camp is now overgrown but the outline of the old huts is clearly visible. Before leaving you can visit the memorial built by the prisoners which originally contained the urns of the fifty who were shot. We then head back into Germany and pay a visit to the old town of Stalinstadt. I suppose this might be described as the Milton Keynes of East Germany. The buildings are now protected as a heritage monument. It is a fascinating visit with an interesting small museum about life under communism. Next we jump on the motorway again for the run to Potsdam on the outskirts of Berlin. Potsdam was where the conference was held at the end of war when the UK, USA, & Russia met to discuss the future of Germany. It is also home to the Sanssouci Palace and Park which is Germany’s answer to Versailles. It really is pretty and is only a short walk from the hotel. In the evening there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance.
Thursday 30th August
Today is a free day and we have full day travel passes for the Berlin transportation system. Potsdam is only 20 miles from down town Berlin and the trains run every 15 mins. After spending a day exploring the sights of Berlin we will have our farewell dinner back at the hotel in Potsdam.
Created on Sunday, November 29th, -0001 and was last updated on Thursday, January 4th, 2018