Day 1 - Arrive in Berlin, Germany. Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore the German capital. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Day 2 - Berlin - Dresden. On this morning's included guided sightseeing, learn how the city is no longer divided but every bit as fascinating. Once the city of contrasts with its West and East sides separated into two different worlds by a wall, Berlin has developed into a harmonious blend of old and new. It has preserved the old buildings, such as the State Opera House and Brandenburg Gate; its neoclassic-style boulevards, such as the Kurfurstendamm and Unter den Linden; and it has created brand new buildings in the most daring, modern architectural styles. Once again, Berlin is Germany's capital and one of Europe's most lively and interesting cities. Consider joining an optional tour to further explore this city before heading towards Dresden. (B,D)
Day 3 - Dresden. Excursion to Meissen. Situated near the Czech border, Dresden was long hailed as the "Jewel Box" because of its opulent rococo and baroque city center overflowing with grand architecture, impressive museums, orchestras of worldwide reputation, and notable art treasures. Capital of Saxony and the third-largest city in East Germany, it suffered heavy Allied bombing in February 1945, but has restored its baroque splendor over the decades. This morning's guided tour of Dresden starts with a visit to the newly rebuilt CHURCH OF OUR LADY FRAUENKIRCHE, featuring one of the largest domes in Europe, and ZWINGER PALACE, which originally served as the orangery, exhibition gallery, and festival arena of the Dresden Court. This afternoon, travel along the riverbanks of the Elbe to Meissen, "Cradle of Saxony" and home to fantastic fairytale architecture. Due to the extensive deposits of china clay and potter's clay in the area, Meissen is also renowned for its fine porcelain. Production of Meissen porcelain dates back to 1710 and was the first high-quality porcelain manufactured outside the Orient. Visit the MEISSEN PORCELAIN WORKSHOP for insight into the history, art, and creation of this elegant pottery. (B)
Day 4 - Dresden. Excursion to Erfurt & Weimar. Visit two of Thuringia's most famous towns today. First is Erfurt with its richly decorated renaissance residences, known as the Blumenstadt, "City of Flowers." Human settlement here dates to prehistoric times, and the city attracted important figures throughout history, including Luther, Goethe, Schiller, and Bach, to name just a few. Next, stop in Weimar, hub of German Enlightenment and an influential cultural center. This is where Germany's first democratic constitution was signed, giving rise to the historical period known as the Weimar Republic. It was also birthplace of the Bauhaus architectural movement in the 1920s. Before returning to Dresden, consider joining an optional excursion to the former Buchenwald Concentration Camp. (B,D)
Day 5 - At Leisure in Dresden. A day to discover Dresden on your own, or consider joining an optional excursion to Colditz Castle, a renaissance castle overlooking the town, river, and lush surrounding forests. Its grandeur conceals its surprising history as a high-security POW camp during WWII for Allied officers who had repeatedly escaped other camps. Later, head for Torgau, where U.S. and Soviet forces met up during the "East Meets West" invasion of Germany in 1945. (B)
Day 6 - Dresden. Excursion to Leipzig. An important trade city dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, Leipzig grew into a major European center of culture and learning, and was a hub for great composers such as Bach, Wagner, Schumann, and Mendelssohn. It is home to an appealing renaissance Old Town, baroque-period trading houses and residences of rich merchants, and St. Nicholas Church, the site of peaceful demonstrations against communist rule in 1989. Leipzig is also known for its automobile industry. Why not place an order for your next car during the included visit to the PORSCHE FACTORY? (B,D)
Day 7 - Dresden - Potsdam - Berlin. Today, we head north to visit Potsdam, one of Germany's major centers of science and learning since the 19th century. The city rose to international prominence in the summer of 1945 as host site of the Potsdam Conference, where Allied victors Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin gathered at Cecilienhof Palace to decide the future of Germany and post-war Europe. Visit SANSSOUCI Palace & Gardens, former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Meaning "without worries," this UNESCO World Heritage Site is often considered a German rival of France's lavish Palace of Versailles. See the "Bridge of Spies" (Glienicke Bridge), which inspired the 2015 Spielberg movie about the exchange of spies during the Cold War. Return to Berlin for an overnight. (B)
Day 8 - Berlin. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)