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Study Trip

A visit to Romania

Thursday, 29 June - Sunday, 9 July 2017
Leader: Khun Eileen Deeley, Council Member

 

 

Situated in the north of the Balkan Peninsula in Central Europe, Romania shares its borders with Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, the Black Sea to the southeast, Ukraine to the north and Moldova to the east. Romania's territory features splendid mountains, beautiful rolling hills, fertile plains and numerous rivers and lakes. About a third of the country consists of the Carpathian Mountains (also known as the Transylvanian Alps), that traverse the centre of the country bordered on both sides by foothills. Romania is home to the second largest surface of virgin forests in Europe after Russia. The forests cover over one quarter of the country and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe.

Romania is a country with great contrasts: some cities, especially Bucharest, the capital, are truly Western European; while some villages seem to have been brought back from the past.  Medieval Saxon towns, fortified churches, painted monasteries, wooden masterpieces and ancient Dacian ruins are just some of the attractions that make up Romania's rich and diverse cultural heritage. Twenty-five of its beautifully preserved natural and architectural gems have been included by UNESCO in the World Cultural Heritage List.

Under the leadership of Khun Eileen Deeley, Council member, the Siam Society is pleased to organize this first study trip to explore the Romania’s history, artistic wealth and cultural traditions. The ten-day tour will begin in Bucharest, cross the Carpathian Mountains with pristine forests to the region of Transylvania, the place that fascinated travellers’ imagination with vampire stories, fortified churches steep in history and fairy-tale Saxon villages scattered all over the area. This enchanted region so captured the heart of Prince Charles of Great Britain, that he bought and restored two lovely cottages and started a foundation to protect Romania’s rural heritage. Our travels will take us to two of the most beautiful and well- preserved historical regions: Maramures and Bukovina. This is a great opportunity to discover Romanian folklore together with its popular wooden churches and painted monasteries, as well as other monuments protected by UNESCO.

 

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Thursday 29 June:  Bangkok

11.30 p.m. Meet at Suvarnabhumi Airport at Row P, check in row for Qatar Airways.

Day 2: Friday 30 June:  Bangkok – Doha – Bucharest

02.05 a.m. Depart Bangkok to Doha by QR 837.
04.45 a.m. Arrive at Doha Airport, transit for flight to Bucharest, Romania.
06.50 a.m. Depart Doha to Bucharest by QR 221.
11.40 a.m. Arrive at Bucharest Airport, transfer to restaurant for lunch.
Afternoon: Our first day will be dedicated to a city tour in Bucharest, the capital of Romania where we shall savour the bohemian atmosphere given by the old buildings from past times, the narrow streets and chic little cafes in the historical centre. On our panoramic tour we’ll pass by the National Theatre, the Triumphal Arch, the House of the Free Press and go through 3 important squares: University, Roman, Victory and Revolution.
- We will visit The National Museum of Romanian History, founded in 1970 inside a historical building located in the Postal Service Palace It contains Romanian artifacts from prehistoric up to modern times. The permanent displays include a plaster cast of the entirety of Trajan's Column, the Romanian crown jewels, and the Pietroasele Treasures and the Apahida Necropolis.
Evening: Check in at Grand Hotel Continental in Bucharest.
- Dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: Saturday 1 July:  Bucharest – Curtea de Arges – Cisnadie – Cisnadioara - Sibiu

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We begin our day heading north past the Carpathians to the Transylvania region, home to nearly two hundred villages with fortified churches built by the Saxons between the 13th and 15th centuries.

First stop, we will visit the legendary Curtea de Arges Monastery, at the foot of the Carpathians. Also known as Monale’ Monastery, built in 1517 by the ruler Neagoe Basarab.

After our visit in this peaceful place we will drive through the Olt Valley witnessing its amazing landscapes. We will visit Cozia monastery, a representative of national medieval art and architecture.

Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: We will visit Cisnadie, a Saxon market town with an attractive elongated town square dominated by a massive Romanesque church which was fortified during the 15th century to protect the local Saxon population against repeated Ottoman raids. This is one of 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Romania.

We continue to visit Cisnadioara, one of the prettiest villages in Romania. This small Saxon settlement has a steeply sloping square and is clustered round a steep, wooded hill topped by a small, Romanesque church. Local tradition states that any man wishing to marry a girl from the village has to prove his strength by carrying a huge rock from the river bed to the top the hill. There is also a museum here dedicated to the Saxon Transylvanians.

Evening: In the evening we will reach Sibiu, a beautiful city, built by Saxon (German) settlers in the 12th century. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.
- Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at hotel Continental in Sibiu.

Day 4: Sunday, 2 July:  Sibiu – Sibiel - Biertan - Sighisoara

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We begin our day in Sibiu with a walking tour of the town. Our sightseeing includes the old town whose attraction is the main Square. Next we will visit the house of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, now a museum or a collection of museums featuring European art, the Brukenthal library, Romanian art, museum of contemporary art, museum of history, museum of natural history, museum of pharmacy, museum of hunting. Afterwards we’ll go through the passage of stairs and cross the famous Bridge of Lies.

We will then proceed to Sibiel, the rural replica of Sibiu where we will spend an enjoyable time in this authentic and well-preserved area by discovering the local way of living which also includes trying the well-known drink palinca.

Noon: Traditional lunch with fresh produce at a local family in Sibiel village.
Afternoon: We will be taken through the village on a horse-drawn carriage in order to complete our rural experience.

We continue to visit the Biertan fortified Church. It was first mentioned in 1283 in a document concerning the taxes demanded from the Catholic priests of Saxon settlements by the Superior Board (Capitle) of Alba-Iulia. As far back as the late 14th century, Biertan was known as an oppidum (borough). In 1418 it received the Ius gladii (the right to be a sword bearer) and the right to organize a weekly Saturday market in the main square.

We will reach Sighisoara, where we will walk on the cobble stone streets lined with historical buildings to the Clock Tower, the symbol of the city, atop of which you can admire beautiful views.

This medieval town was the birthplace of Vlad Dracula - nicknamed Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) - ruler of Walachia from 1456 to 1462 A.D. It was him who inspired Bram Stoker's fictional creation, Count Dracula. His house is one of the many attractions here. The historic centre of Sighișoara and Biertan fortified Church are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Evening: Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at hotel Double Tree by Hilton Hotel.

Day 5: Monday, 3 July:  Sighisoara – Budesti – Desesti – Sighetu mamatiei

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Drive up to Maramures, in the Northern Transylvania region in order to reach Sighetu Marmatiei.

Our first stop will be in Budesti, where we will visit one of the eight wooden churches of Maramures listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is famous for objects that belonged to two 18th century freedom fighters against the Austrian Habsburgs: the coat of mail of Pintea the Brave, and the flag of Ferenc II Rákóczi, a Transylvanian nobleman. There are also 15th-17th century icons painted on wood and glass.

Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Continue to visit the wooden church of Desesti, Saint Parascheva Church is a Romanian Orthodox church, built in 1770. It is also one of the eight wooden churches of Maramureș UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the evening we will reach Sighetu Marmatiei, situated along the Tisa river on the border with Ukraine, across from the Ukrainian town of Solotvyno.

 
- Dinner with folk dance and music show and overnight at hotel Gradina Morii in Sighetu Mamatiei.

Day 6: Tuesday, 4 July:  Sighetu marmatiei – Breb – Poienile Izei - Bistrita - Gura Humorului, Bucovina region

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We begin our day in Sighetu Marmatiei, where we will visit the Memorial House of Elie Wiesel, the man who once said: “Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.” In 1944, Elie Wiesel together with his family and other 38,000 Jewish people from Maramures were deported to Auschwitz, Birkenau and Buchewald by the Nazi regime. In this house from Sighetu-Marmatiei, Elie Wiesel spent his first 15 years of life and in August 2002, Elie Wiesel himself opened the doors of the memorial house. Here you can find a big collection of photos, furniture and other personal things that belonged to the Jewish community from Maramures.

After that proceed to Breb, where we will have home-made lunch from fresh local products.

Noon: Lunch at village of Breb.
Afternoon: Visit another wooden church; Saint Parascheva Church in Poienile Izei, built in 1700, The church's interior frescoes, painted in 1794 A.D. by Gheorghe din Dragomiresti, feature some of the most dramatic depictions of hell, illustrated in the Last Judgment scene.

Next stop will be a short visit to Bistrita, located at the foot of the Bargau Mountains, not far from the Borgo Pass which connects Transylvania region to Bucovina, the place where archeological findings from Medieval towns, fortified churches, painted monasteries, wooden masterpieces and ancient Dacian ruins are just some of the attractions that make up Romania's exceptional cultural heritage.

Evening: We will reach Gura Humorului, Bucovina region.
- Dinner and overnight at hotel Casa Humor in Gura Humorului.

Day 7: Wednesday, 5 July:  Gura Humorului – Humor Monastery – Voronet – Moldovita – Sucevita - Lacul Rosu

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We will step on holly ground, visiting the land of the Painted Monasteries. Visit Humor Monastery, a monastery for nuns dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary, or Theotokos. It was constructed in 1530 by Voievod Petru Rareş and his chancellor Teodor Bubuiog. The monastery was built over the foundation of a previous monastery that dated from around 1415. The Humor monastery was closed in 1786 and was not reopened until 1990.
 
  Next visit is another Painted Churches of Moldova. Voroneț Monastery or the “Sistine Chapel of the East” features an impressive outside-painted church dating back to 1488, displaying an impressive Last Judgment painting of Old and New Testament figures and Christian precepts about the consequences of our actions.

The Monastery of Moldovița was built in 1532 as a protective barrier against the Muslim Ottoman conquerors from the East by Petru Rares and it was placed on UNESCO World Heritage list in 1993. Among all Romanian customs, the one of painting Easter eggs from Bukovina eggs are by far the finest and looked upon with much love and admiration. We will visit Lucia Condrea Egg Museum, which contains over 5,000 exhibits, artistically disposed, and witness this beautiful handcraft.

Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit Sucevita monastery which exhibits both Byzantine and Gothic elements, typical to other painted churches of northern Moldavia. Both interior and exterior walls are covered by mural paintings, which are of great artistic value and depict biblical episodes from the Old and New Testament. The paintings date from around 1600, which makes Sucevița one of the last monasteries to be decorated in the famous Moldavian style of exterior paintings.

After that we will continue to Lacul Rosu, through the beautiful landscapes that Romania is very proud of. We will admire the fantastic panorama of the Bicaz Gorges.

Lacul Rosu, is the largest barrier lake in the Eastern Carpathians chain. The name of "Lacul Roșu" comes from the reddish alluvia deposited in the lake by the Red Creek. The main attraction of the lake is the remains of fir-wood lying under the lake that makes it unique.

 
Evening: We will reach Lacul Rosu.
- Dinner and overnight at hotel Lacul Rosu Hotel, near Rosu Lake.

Day 8: Thursday, 6 July:  Lacul Rosu - Viscri - Brasov

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Proceed to visit Viscri, a small village that founded by the first Saxon settlers arriving from the area of Luxembourg. Tucked away under the Transylvanian forests and sheltered from the busy roads, Viscri has preserved its medieval charm. This is a place that has attracted royalty – the Prince of Wales. Enchanted by the beauty of the area and by the simplicity of its life, Prince Charles bought a house here and refurbished it, preserving its traditional style.
Noon: Lunch at HRH Prince Charles’ Guest House in Viscri.
Late Afternoon: Continue to Brasov, the city located in the heart of Transylvania. We will visit The Black Church, built by the German community of the city. It is the main gothic style monument in the country, as well as one of the most important Lutheran places of worship in the region. Inside the church there is one of the greatest organs in Europe, and also the largest collection of old carpets from Asia Minor.
Here you will attend to an impressive organ concert.
Evening: Dinner at own arrangement.
- Overnight at Hotel Ramada, Brasov.

Day 9: Friday, 7 July:  Brasov - Bran Castle – Sinaia – Bucharest

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: We will visit one of the main attractions in Brasov: the Council Square.  Since the early 1300s merchants from far and near have attended the annual market held at the Council Square. The old City Hall stands proudly in the heart of the Council Square and is an important architectural monument in Brasov because of its interesting history throughout the years, enduring many restorations caused by natural events.
- Proceed to Bran Castle. The castle, set atop a 60-meter cliff, was built in the 13th century and it owes its fame to the myth created around Bram Stocker’s character, Count Dracula. The rooms of the castle are connected through narrow stairways and underground passages which contribute to its eerie atmosphere.
 
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit the beautiful Peles Castle designed by three architects and was the summer residence for the Royal family. It spreads over 3,200 square meters with 160 rooms with their impressive beauty and elegance, each of them reflecting a different European country. The most famous one is the Great Armory Room, hosting 4,000 exhibits collected or received as gifts from all around the world. The representative style is German Renaissance, but you will also find elements belonging to Italian Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and French Rococo style.
Evening: We will reach Bucharest, check in at Grand Hotel Continental.
- Dinner at own arrangement.

Day 10: Saturday, 8 July:  Bucharest – To airport

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: At leisure.
Noon: Lunch at own arrangement.
Afternoon: Explore the city of Bucharest. We will stop in the Revolution Square, where you will find out more about the Revolution that took place in 1989. Visit the Palace of the Parliament. Also known as Ceaușescu’s Palace, the impressive building has entered the Guinness World Book of Records as the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant.
9.00 p.m. Transfer to airport.

Day 11: Sunday, 9 July:  Bucharest - Doha – Bangkok

00.45 a.m. Depart Bucharest to Doha by QR 220.
05.20 a.m. Arrive Doha Airport, transfer for flight to Bangkok.
08.15 a.m. Depart from Doha to Bangkok by QR 832.
7.00 p.m. Arrive Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Booking

Bt. 118,500 (or Bt. 121,500 for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 18,000. A deposit of Bt. 30,000 and photocopy of passport much accompany the booking. Payment in full is required one month before the start of the trip (i.e. by Tuesday 30 May 2017). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society”. Alternatively you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges.

Includes/Excludes:

The contribution includes airfares, airport transfer, 8 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 7 dinners, accommodation for two persons per room, entrance fees, tips to local guide and driver and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.

It excludes visa fee, personal expenses, tips for additional service, any chargeable beverages/ drinks (e.g. hotel minibar), payment or offering for photographing and video shooting, individual service apart from the group, other expense of personal nature like telephone calls, laundry etc.

Cancellation charge:

30 days before the start of the trip:                        No cancellation charge
30 – 15 days before the start of the trip:                 50% of the tour cost
Less than 15 days or cancellation without notice:     No refund

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Pinthip.