Sofia, Sandanski, Melnik, Plovdiv, Kazanlak, Veliko Tarnovo, Brasov, Bucharest, Gura Humorului, Iasi, Piatra Neamt
June 21st – July 9th 2020
Home to rich forests and an even richer folklore, Bulgaria is a magical place of mystery. Deluxe Kosher Tours is proud to offer you an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of Bulgaria, and explore its storied Jewish heritage, reaching back to Roman Times.
Romania is a place where one can still imbibe the compelling charm of Old Europe. In its dazzling countryside and urban landscapes, you will experience gypsy music, Chassidic tradition, medieval towns, horses drawn carriages, and a thriving peasant tradition.
Day 1/Sunday, June 21 In Transit
Depart for Bulgaria’s beautiful capital, Sofia.
Day 2/Monday, June 22 Sofia
Upon arrival at Sofia airport, Deluxe Kosher Tours will give us a warm Bulgarian welcome and introduce us to the magic of Sofia. Located in the midst of the Balkans, Sofia is one of the most historic cities in Europe with a history spanning nearly 7,000 years. Reachable by three mountain passes – which lead to the Adriatic, Black, and Aegean Seas – Sofia is an oasis of tranquility at the crossroads of the Aegean and Central, and Eastern Europe. Once ruled by Philip of Macedonia, and later by Alexander the Great, it also retains its Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman flavors. More importantly, for many centuries, Sofia drew unto itself Jews from many varied traditions. The city’s first synagogue was built in 967 CE, by Jews of Eretz Yisrael heritage. From then on it hosted Jewish immigrants from Greece, Asia Minor, Italy and (above all) Spain. It was here that the exiles from Spain found refuge and reestablished a cultural heritage.
Day 3/Tuesday, June 23 Sofia
After breakfast, we will visit the Sephardic Synagogue, a stunning example of the fusion of Byzantine and Moorish architectural styles. One of Sofia’s most beautiful monuments, the synagogue houses a collection of cultural treasures documenting the saving of all 50,000 of Bulgaria’s Jews during WWII. We will spend the afternoon exploring downtown Sofia, including its Roman fortifications and 4th century frescoes. Deluxe Kosher Tours will also give us a chance to see the National Art Gallery in the former Royal Palace renowned for its collection of some of Bulgaria’s finest artwork. In the evening, we will view the moving film Beyond Hitler’s Grasp: The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews. At day’s end, we will dine at a local restaurant for a succulent taste of the local cuisine. Finally, we’ll rest our heads at the luxurious Sheraton Hotel.
Day 4/Wednesday, June 24 Sofia-Sandanski
This morning Deluxe Kosher Tours will take us on a beautiful mountain excursion to the enchanting resort town of Sandanski. On our way we’ll visit the charming Rila Monastery, one of Bulgaria’s best-preserved and most beautiful, and now a national museum. According to legend, the 10th century hermit St. John of Rila founded the monastery during the reign of Emperor Peter I. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the monastery is impressive not only for its architecture, but also for the stunning natural beauty that surrounds it. After lunch at a mountainside restaurant, we arrive in Sandanski, where we should expect to be fully pampered at our spa-hotel the Interhotel Sandanski, which includes a visit to the famed therapeutic hot pools. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 5/Thursday, June 25 Sandanski-Melnik-Sandanski
After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart late in the morning for Melnik, a gorgeous gem of a town celebrated for its National Revival architecture, and for its rock formations and red wine, the latter of which was a favorite of Winston Churchill. After a wine-tasting and lunch at a local restaurant, we will return to Sandanski for an afternoon of relaxation, massages, and sunbathing against the glorious backdrop of the scenery.
Day 6/Friday, June 26 Sandanski-Plovdiv
Bid a fond farewell to Sandanski today as we travel to the historical town of Plovdiv. Along the way, Deluxe Kosher Tours will give us the opportunity to explore the beautiful mountain town of Samokav, famous for the Sarafska house. In the nineteenth century, it was the home of one of Bulgaria’s most influential Jewish families: the Arie Family. We will also stop at Borovets, one of the Rila Mountains’ most famous ski resorts. Upon arrival in Plovdiv, we will check into the Trimontium-Princess Hotel before spending a Friday night dinner with members of Bulgaria’s Jewish community.
Day 7/Shabbat, June 27 Plovdiv
Spend Shabbat at Plovdiv’s synagogue, interacting with the area’s Jewish community and exploring Plovdiv. Jews have lived in Plovdiv almost continually since Roman times. In the nineteenth century it was a major center of Sephardic culture, Hebrew Literature and Zionist activism. Plovdiv is rich in Thracian history, and still retains echoes of its millennia-old past. The Thracians appear prominently in Greek mythology and legend, and the city’s second century Roman amphitheater. Spend time in the Old Town, built in the 18th– and 19th centuries; the city’s historical center is a classic example of Bulgarian National Revival Architecture.
Day 8/Sunday, June 28 Plovdiv-Kazanlak – Veliko Tarnovo
Say goodbye to Plovdiv; today we take a scenic drive through the celebrated Valley of Roses and the historically rich Shipka Pass of the Balkans. On our way, we visit Kazanlak – one of the most important towns in the Valley of Roses and famous for being home to the precious Bulgarian rose oil – a key ingredient to many of the world’s most exquisite perfumes. Learn more about the roses of Bulgaria with a trip to the Museum of the Rose, where we will discover more about the unique history of these blooms. The pleasures of the Valley are centered not only on its nature, however, but also on its rich history, as artifacts of the Thracian culture dominate the landscape. We will explore a 4th century BCE Thracian tomb and hear an interesting lecture on Thracian culture and history. We conclude the day in Veliko Tarnovo, where we check into the charming Grand Hotel Yantra.
Day 9/Monday, June 29 Veliko Tarnovo
Overlooking the serene Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo’s winding, cobblestone streets wrap around regions of ancient ruins and striking architecture. The capital of the medieval Second Bulgarian Kingdom, Veliko Tarnovo was the epicenter for much of Bulgaria’s culture, literature, art, and history for centuries. The first Bulgarian constitution was ratified here. In the morning, we visit the former location of the Royal Palace, the Fortress of Tsarevets Hill, and the Museum of the National Revival. In the afternoon, we’ll spend time in the enchanting village museum of Arbanassi, storied for its traditional Bulgarian facades, and explore the narrow streets of the ancient Samovedene Marketplace.
Day 10/Tuesday, June 30 Veliko Tarnovo – Sofia
After breakfast, we return to Sofia, stopping along the way at Tryavna, celebrated for its long-standing tradition of wood-working, as well as for its Bulgarian Revival architecture. After checking in to our Sofia hotel, we will spend the last day in Bulgaria at leisure.
Day 11/Wednesday, July 1 Brasov
Breathtaking mountainous terrain awaits us as we voyage through the Carpathian Mountains to Brasov. Nestled below steep, craggy, tree-clad mountains, this beautiful town is the most visited city in Romania after Bucharest. The Synagogue in this historic and bustling Transylvanian city was built in 1901. The city was the home of a vibrant and world-famous Jewish community, whose rabbis were respected around the world. We will take a tour of the old town, which is in present day a blend of centuries-old buildings and trendy chill out bars.
Day 12/Thursday, July 2 Brasov
We drive to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, a favorite among fans of romantic Transylvania and will tour the grounds. We will then experience the medieval Old Town, and visit the Brasov Synagogue. Next we transfer to Sinaia, an elegant ski resort that boasts the country’s most fabulous castle, Peles Castle, which we will tour.
Day 13/Friday, July 3 Bucharest
In the morning we will journey to Bucharest. We will explore the main sites of Jewish interest in Bucharest, which once had a large and important Jewish Community. Today, it numbers about 4,000. We will meet a representative of the Bucharest Jewish Community, then visit the Choral Temple, the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum housed in the former Akhdut Kodesh (Holy Union) Synagogue. We will next visit the Jewish State Theatre. With a tradition of 125 years it is still open and holds performances. Our tour of Bucharest also includes entrance to the Palace of Parliament- the largest building in Europe and second largest in the world, after the Pentagon- and a walk in the Historic Centre.
Day 14/Shabbat, July 4 Bucharest
Shabbat in Bucharest with the Jewish Community
Day 15/Sunday, July 5 Gura Humorului
We have the opportunity to visit a few of the region’s painted monasteries, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are among the greatest artistic monuments in Europe. The painted exterior walls, decorated with 15th– and 16th century frescoes, are considered masterpieces of Byzantine art.
Day 16/Monday, July 6 Iasi
We depart for Iasi, the capital of Moldavia from 1565 to 1862. Today the city is a lively cultural, academic and commercial center in the northeast corner of Romania. In the 1920s, the nearly 45,000 Jews made up more than half the local population and more than 110 synagogues were in operation.
Day 17/Tuesday, July 7 Piatra Neamt
Continue to Piatra Neamt, beautifully situated in the forested foothills of the Carpathians. Visit the Ba’al Shem Tov Synagogue (Cathedral Synagogue,) one of the most fascinating and precious synagogues in Romania, built from wood in 1766. The adjacent Leipziger Synagogue was originally built in 1839 and reconstructed after a fire in 1904.
Day 18/Wednesday, July 8
We return to Bucharest to have a final opportunity for city sightseeing and shopping (individual arrangements.) We will have our Farewell Dinner in Bucharest this evening.
Day 19/Thursday, July 9
After a goodbye breakfast at the hotel, Deluxe Kosher Tours will bid us farewell at the Bucharest Airport as we depart for our flight home.
COST PER PERSON
$7,995 based on double occupancy (two to a room)
Single Supplement — $ 2,395
Includes airfare from New York or Tel Aviv. Call for other cities.
LAND ONLY: $6,995
- Visa fees as required
- Snacks or items of a personal nature
- Sofia Dedeman Princess
- Sandanski Interhotel
- Plovdiv Dedeman Trimontsium
- Veliko Tarnovo Interhotel
- Sinaia Sinaia
- Bucharest Venezia
- Piatra Neamt Central
- Gura Humorului Best Western
- Bucharest Athenee Palace Hilton
*Please note that on this tour there are some 3 and 4-star hotels that will be used due to the locations that we will be in.*