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Discovering Eastern Europe

Trip Highlights

Whether you’re seeking to recapture your ancestral heritage or simply wish to discover a beautiful and poignant part of the world, this small group tour offers ample opportunity for enrichment, enlightenment, and enjoyment. Both leisurely and comprehensive, it provides a generous overview of four distinctly different – and fascinating – nations.

Exclusive departure: This departure is considered exclusive. The participants are U-M travelers, consisting of alumni, family, and friends.


Day 1 – Departure

Depart U.S. for Warsaw, Poland

Day 2 – Arrive in Warsaw

After arriving in the Polish capital late this morning, we have free time before we gather for tonight’s welcome dinner at our hotel. D

Day 3 – Warsaw

Virtually destroyed during World War II, Warsaw was rebuilt in the decades that followed. With the fall of Communism, the city has become more dynamic and progressive while retaining much of its distinct character. We tour this phoenix city today, visiting the faithfully rebuilt Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and the Royal Castle, whose origins date to the late 13th century. We also tour the area of the former Jewish Ghetto and the Jewish Cemetery. This afternoon is free for independent exploration; before dinner on our own tonight we enjoy a private classical piano recital. B

Day 4 – Warsaw/Auschwitz/Krakow

Today we journey south to the industrial city of Oswiecim – Auschwitz in German – and the concentration camp that is now a museum chronicling the horrors of the Nazis’ Final Solution. We tour Auschwitz and also visit the vast camp at Birkenau before traveling on to Krakow, arriving late this afternoon. B,L,D

Day 5 – Krakow

A major center of Polish culture and education, Krakow survived World War II intact, leaving it with more historic buildings and monu­ments than anywhere else in the country. Its authen­tic Old Town is a UNESCO cultural site, and the Main Market Square the largest medieval square in Europe. This morning’s tour includes the historic area; St. Mary’s Church; the Royal Chambers of Wawel Castle, seat of royalty for more than 500 years; and Wawel Cathedral, the national church. The remainder of the day is free to explore this charming city independently. Lunch and dinner today are on our own. B

Day 6 – Krakow

This morning we tour the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is a virtual underground city, with galleries, lakes, chapels, and murals – all carved from salt. The mine’s centerpiece is the Chapel of Saint Kinga, with its chandelier and mural of The Last Supper, carved by three miners over a period of 68 years. Then we return to Krakow, where the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration, with lunch and dinner on our own in this historic capital. B

Day 7 – Krakow/Slovakia/Budapest

Heading south today we travel through the snowcapped Tatra Mountains into the country of Slovakia, where we stop for lunch. Continuing our journey, we reach our hotel in Buda’s elegant Castle District early this evening and dine there together tonight. B,L,D

Day 8 – Budapest

Today’s half-day tour of the Hungarian capital begins adjacent to our hotel with a visit to Matthias Church, the symbol of Buda’s Castle District, and a stroll around Fisher­man’s Bastion for outstanding views of the Pest side of the city across the Danube. Then we cross the Chain Bridge into Pest where we tour Dohany Synagogue, Europe’s largest. Following an afternoon at leisure, tonight we enjoy a typical Hungarian dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 9 – Budapest

We’re free to discover the “Paris of the East” on our own today. With splendid architecture, a lively café culture, museums, and a royal castle, this city on the Danube offers endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. B

Day 10 – Budapest/Danube Bend/Vienna

Today we pass through the countryside of Western Trans­danubia as we travel by coach to Vienna. En route we visit Szentendre, a small town packed with artisans’ shops and a museum showcasing the work of ceramicist Margit Kovacs. We continue on to the ­village of Neszmely where we stop for lunch; then reach the Austrian capital late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on our own, an opportunity, perhaps, to try Vienna’s famed Wiener Schnitzel. B,L

Day 11 – Vienna

A half-day tour of this jewel of the Habsburg Empire includes a visit to the ornate Vienna Opera House, one of Europe’s grandest; and an inside visit to majestic Schönbrunn Palace. The afternoon is at leisure. Following dinner at a local restaurant, we attend a concert of classical music in this most musical of all cities. B,D

Day 12 – Vienna Woods

This morning we en­joy a tour of the Vienna Woods, which gained renown during the heyday of the Austrian Empire. We visit the medieval abbey of Heiligenkreuz and the health spa town of Baden before returning to Vienna, where the remainder of the day is free to explore as we wish. B

Day 13 – Vienna/Prague

We leave this morning for Prague, proud capital of the Czech Repub­lic. We reach Prague this afternoon and join our tour director for an informal walk through Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. B,L

Day 14 – Prague

We spend the morning exploring the Hradcany (castle) district, home of the distinctive castle towering above the Vltava River. Dating to the 9th century, the castle today is the seat of the presi­dent of the Czech Republic. Among the highlights of our tour: a visit to Gothic St. Vitus’ Cathedral and a stroll along Golden Lane, with its picturesque artisans’ cottages. The remainder of the day is free to continue exploring this enchanting city as we wish. Restaurants abound for lunch and dinner on our own today. B

Day 15 – Prague

This morning’s visit to Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish ghetto, includes the Old Jewish Cemetery with its centuries-old headstones and generations buried atop one another, as well as several of the once-thriving synagogues now part of the Jewish Museum of Prague. Then the remainder of the day is at leisure, perhaps to stroll through Old Town Square or visit Wenceslas Square, site of the demonstrations that led to the Velvet Revolution. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 16 – Depart for U.S.

We transfer to the airport early today for our connecting flights to the U.S. B


Show Full Itinerary

Your Journey

Discovering Eastern Europe

Meet Your Trip Host

John Chamberlin

Professor Emeritus of Public Policy (Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy) and Political Science (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts)

I joined the UM faculty in 1970 with a joint appointment in Public Policy and Political Science. Since I had a BS in Industrial Engineering degree from Lehigh University and was completing a PhD in Business Administration (with a focus on Decision Sciences) from Stanford, my appointment at UM continued my meandering academic career. But this time I stayed put, retiring from the same units in 2013. I began by teaching statistics in Public Policy and mathematical models of politics in Political Science. In the 49 years I’ve been at Michigan, my research and teaching interests led me to add courses on ethics and public policy, justice and inequality, American political thought, legislative redistricting, nonprofit policy and management, and, most recently, courses focusing on how to boost voter turnout among young voters, particularly college students.

My initial research interests were in mathematical models of politics, particularly alternative voting methods and representation. The publication of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice in 1971 spurred my interest in political philosophy and eventually led me to offer courses on ethics and public policy. For 15 years I taught a core course in the Master of Public Policy program at the Ford School entitled Values, Ethics, and Public Policy. The course explored the normative dimensions of public policy (with particular attention to the relationship between benefit cost analysis and consequentialism, liberty and paternalism, and distributive justice) and professional ethics for public servants.

The third part of a faculty career, after teaching and research, involves service and I spent much of the time from the mid-80s to 2011 serving in administrative roles around the University. I was an Associate Dean in Rackham from 1986-89, the Associate Dean for Academic Appointments in LS&A from 1991-95, the Interim Dean in Public Policy from 1997-99, and Associate Dean in Public Policy from 1999-2001. I co-chaired a Presidential Task Force on Ethics in Public Life in 2005-6 and served as Director of the University’s Center for Ethics in Public Life from 2008-11. At the Ford School I was the first director of the BA program in Public Policy from 2006-11. These appointments introduced me to faculty from across the University, greatly enriching my understanding of the outstanding programs in all corners of campus and the ways in which they work together to make UM one of the best public universities in the world.

Outside of the University I have been involved over the years with a number of “good government” organizations (Common Cause, Michigan Campaign Finance Network, League of Women Voters) and social service organizations (Community Action Network).

My wife Marsha will be accompanying me. She has been producing jewelry since she retired in 2012, following 33 years as President and CEO of the Ann Arbor Art Center. Prior to that she was a potter for the first decade we lived in Ann Arbor.

The trip through Eastern Europe in September 2020 will be our seventh UMAA trip and our second as hosts. Previously we’ve travelled to Aix-en-Provence, Florence, the National Parks of the Southwest, Tanzania, Paris, and Northwest Canada.

By participating in an Alumni Association of the University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

  • Sept. 5–20, 2020
(16 days)
Starting price: $5,097
air inclusive from Detroit; singles $6,692
Deposit per person: $500
Odysseys Unlimited
Type: Land, Exclusive U-M Departure

You must be an Alumni Association member to travel with us. Questions? Call Michigan Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064.

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