On the Amber Trail. Lithuania, Latvia, & Estonia.
We suggest an immediate departure to the Baltic Countries—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—to see firsthand just how fossilized tree resin did its part of change European history. Start in Vilnius, Lithuania, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then to Trakai, Druskininkai, Grutas, Rumsiskes, Kaunas, Palanga, the Baltic Sea coast, and Riga. wind up your visit in picturesque Tallinn, Estonia.
Consider picking up an amber trinket or two en route.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
This is an 11-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Baltics journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to Lithuania.
Overnight in flight
Day 2-3: Vilnius, Lithuania
• Arrive in Vilnius.
• City tour including cathedral and St. Casimir's Chapel, Gediminas Castle, Sts. Peter and Paul's Church, Presidential Palace, Vilnius University, Jewish ghetto, St. Anne's Church, Town Hall, Gates of Dawn, Amber Museum-Gallery.
• Option to Museum of Genocide Victims.
Overnights in Vilnius
Day 4: Trakai, Druskininkai, Grutas, Vilnius
• Day-trip begining in Trakai, Kenessa (Karaites prayer house), Trakai Castle.
• Drive to Druskininkai, town tour.
• Grutas "Stalin World" Park.
• Return to Vilnius.
Overnight in Vilnius
Day 5: Rumsiskes, Kaunas, Palanga
• Drive to Rumsiskes, Open Air Museum.
• Drive to Kaunas, Liberty Avenue, Rotuses Square, Town Hall, Thunder House, National Cuirlionis Art Museum, option to Museum of Devils.
• Drive to Palanga, option to Amber Museum.
Overnight in Palanga
Day 6: Klaipeda, Curonian Spit, Palanga
• Drive to Klaipeda, Old Town, Theater Square.
• Ferry to the Curonian Spit, UNESCO World Heritage site including Nida, Parnidis Dune, Fisherman's Ethnographic Farmstead, Thoma Mann house, Nida Amber Gallery Museum, Witches' Hill.
• Ferry to Klaipeda, return to Palanga.
Overnight in Palanga
Day 7: Siauliai; Pilsrundale, Riga, Latvia
• Drive to Siauliai, Hill of Crosses.
• Drive to Pilsrundale, Rundale Palace, including newly opened rooms.
• Drive to Riga.
Overnight in Riga
Day 8: Riga
• Tour Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, including Riga Castle, Blackhead's House, Great and Small Guild Halls, Swedish Gate, Dome Cathedral, St. Peter's Church, "Freedom Monument," Alberta Street Jugenstil architecture, Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Mentzendorff House.
• Leisure time.
Overnight in Riga
Day 9-10: Tallinn, Estonia
• Drive to Tallinn (option to fly at additional cost).
• Tour city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, including observation platform, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Catherine's Passage, Viru Gates, Toompea Castle, Tall Hermann, Raekoja Plats, Niguliste Church, St. Olav's Church, Kadriorg Park, Song Field, Modern Art Museum.
Overnights in Tallinn
Day 11: Tallinn; United States
• Fly home.
Per person sharing room from $6,480 for this 11-day sample itinerary
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Amber: A First Look.
How much do you know about the gemstone amber? Beginning in the Stone Age, amber has been used in jewelry. The ancient Chinese burned amber during large celebrations to create oil of amber, with a piney, musky odor. The ancient Greeks believed that amber had healing properties. In the fourth century B.C., Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor, wrote that amber was “formed by the sun.”
In fact, amber is tree resin fossilized 135 to 320 million years ago. In addition to the uses listed above, amber also served as a preservative for prehistoric insects. Pliny the Elder, in his Naturalis Historia, noted the presence of insects encased in amber, which led him to theorize (correctly) that, at some point, amber had to be in a liquid state to trap the insects.
The largest known deposits of amber are found in the Baltics. In its natural state, the stone can be the orange-brown color we call “amber,” but it can also range from a creamy white or lemon yellow to dark red, brown, and nearly black. Heating amber changes the stone’s color and brings out certain attributes.
The International Amber Association lists these categories for amber:
Natural Baltic amber: A gemstone that has undergone mechanical treatment only (grinding, cutting, turning, or polishing) without any change to its natural properties.
Modified Baltic amber: A gemstone subjected only to thermal or high-pressure treatment, which changes its physical properties, including the degree of transparency and color; or a gemstone shaped under similar conditions out of one nugget cut to a required size.
Reconstructed (Pressed) Baltic amber: A gemstone made of Baltic amber pieces pressed under high temperature and high pressure with no additional components.
Bonded Baltic amber: A gemstone consisting of two or more parts of natural, modified, or reconstructed Baltic amber bonded together using a small amount of colorless binding agent.
This valued gemstone has traveled far and wide, primarily along the Amber Road, an ancient trade route used to move amber between the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. From the Baltic, traders carried it overland via the Vistula and Dnieper rivers to Italy, Greece, the Black Sea, and Egypt. From the Black Sea, the amber continued to Asia along the legendary Silk Road. During the Roman era, a route ran south from the Baltic coast through the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the head of the Gulf of Venice on the Adriatic. Which explains why Baltic amber objects have been found in King Tut’s tomb and in Mycenaean burial sites.
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