FACONE Tour 2023

Dear friends,

Dvorana and the Folk Arts Center of New England are pleased to invite you on a cultural tour into the heart of Europe. Together we will travel through Poland, Slovakia and the  Czech Republic.

During your travels with us you will enjoy visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and historical towns, meet people who practice traditional folk crafts and take hikes in beautiful surroundings. Together we will explore Prague, meet folk dancers, and learn first-hand about different aspects of local folklore.

This tour is organized by Dvorana for the Folk Arts Center of New England with whom we have collaborated many times over the years. Jan Pumpr with Dvorana and Marcie Van Cleave, FAC’s Executive Director, are coordinators for this tour. Jan is a native Prague resident, and Marcie has a lot of experience with Czech Republic from frequent ​tours and visits.

This year we have scheduled the tour earlier than usual. If you attend our April tour you will have a chance to join in the Easter holidays in Western Slovakia, where you will be shown and participate in both the holiday’s Christian customs, as well as also some of the ancient traditions that come from the pagan era.

We look forward to welcoming you to Central Europe!

Jan Pumpr and Marcie Van Cleave

Tour program

This year’s Tour will officially start in Krakow, a beautiful and historic city in Poland. Some of you may want to fly directly to Poland to spend some extra time there before the trip begins. We will send you a list of places of interest in Krakow, so you will have some ideas of where to go and what to see if you decide to come earlier on your own. It may be cheaper to book round-trip airfare to and from Prague. In that case, you should arrive on April 5 (or earlier) to Prague and go to Krakow with us by coach to meet the rest of the group. To help you with your extra stay, we have already booked rooms for the night of April 5 in Prague and in Krakow; you will need to let us know which fits your travel plans.

A month prior to the start of the trip all participants will receive a letter with further details, including the mobile phone number to call in case of unexpected incidents during your travel to Prague.

April 5, Wednesday
This extra night in Prague is for those who wish to ride the bus from Prague to Krakow. Cost of hotel tonight is extra, as is the cost of your dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. You will arrive in Prague sometime during the day. After you arrive at the hotel, you will check in and relax. You may need to exchange money. Later we will send you a directions how to do it. You will need some Czech money for the dinner and next day lunch, as well as for when we are back in Prague at the end of the tour. We will meet in the hotel lobby at 6:00 pm for tour registration. Then we will walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

April 6, Thursday
This day is primarily for travel, a long drive from Prague to Krakow. Because of the distance we don’t have time for too many interesting stops on the way. Anyway, we will have one – the blast furnace in Dolní Vítkovice, built up during the communist era. This is an unusual site that was a highlight for many on our previous tours. For lunch we stay together. Then we have less then 3 hours to Krakow. After arrival you will check-in and relax. Dinner will be in the hotel, so we will not need to walk somewhere. For people who travel directly to Krakow on their own, we will have registration after the dinner. Please let us know your travel plans so we can confirm the Krakow hotel reservation for you.

April 7, Friday
Officially our first full day. In the morning you will have time to exchange money (we will give you directions) and then we will discover the city of Krakow. With local guide we will walk through the most important places in the center and will end up at the castle. Then will have lunch by yourself. After lunch you will have free time to focus on your personal wishes. Krakow has a well-preserved historic center that dates back to the 10th century, and there is much to see within walking distance. Later in the afternoon we will meet again and go to dinner. In the evening we will meet with few members of  Polish folk dance group. They will show us some traditional Polish dances and will teach us some simple dances as well.

April 8, Saturday
This will be a busy day for us, as we leave Krakow in the morning and heading southeast. Before we will do so, we will have one more stop in the city – the Schindler factory, well known from the film Schindler’s List. Our next stop will be a Salt Mine. Yes, there is a better-known mine in Wieliczka, but because that place is really packed with tourists, we will visit a similar place where you will have a more enjoyable less crowded experience. Generally, we will go in and out of the mine by lift with many steps in-between. There are options available for a partial tour that does not involve stairs, for those who have difficulty navigating them. Before the mine, lunch will be on your own in the city center, where there will be several possibilities to eat. After visiting the mine we will cross the border to Slovakia. Then we have one more stop before we reach the hotel. The wooden church from 15. century, listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Then we will check-in the hotel and have a dinner together.

April 9, Sunday
We will spend this morning in a beautiful open air-museum and prepare for Czech Easter. Of course, you will see historical architecture, but also some of the traditional handicrafts. Even more, we will learn how people in this region celebrate Easter, the most important religious holiday for Christians; the local people here still practice many customs, some from the pre-Christian era. Lunchtime will be on your own. After the meal you can relax a bit and enjoy the local swimming pool if you would like – and if you brought a bathing suit! Later we will try our hand at some of the region’s traditional Easter handicrafts. Then we all will go to a neighboring village where we will meet with young dancers who are big fans of modern American clogging and who will give us a demonstration. Then we will share the fun of some American traditional dances together. Dinner will be together in the hotel.

April 10, Monday
In the morning we will load the bus and depart for Moravia. We have many miles to drive, but first we must celebrate Easter Monday, which is the holiday as celebrated in Central Europe! We will go to the village and enjoy the local procession that moves from house to house. Then it will be time to move on. Our first stop will be the completely unique village of Vlkolínec (UNESCO) which looks like an open-air museum, but is actually a living village. We need to walk there, as the bus is not allowed to enter the village, so this will be a good chance for us to stretch our legs and relax above the village. The bus will wait for us below the village and will take us to a nearby town for lunch. After this, you will have a chance to rest; we have a long drive to reach Rožnov pod Radhoštěm in the Czech Republic, where we will check in to our hotel.

April 11, Tuesday
We will depart a little earlier today in order to have time to exchange money again – this time to Czech crowns (koruna). Then our first stop will be in a local museum where we will focus on displays of traditional Moravian costumes of the Valašsko region. We will travel by bus to a different part of the region, where we will stop in a glass shop. Unfortunately we will not be able to do a tour through the factory because they only accept small groups, but this will be a chance to get some some beautiful Bohemian glass souvenirs for very reasonable prices. (Bring some bubble wrap and save some space in your luggage!) Lunch will be together in one of the mountain restaurants and then we will visit a very nice outdoor gallery of wooden sculptures. Afterwards you will have a rare chance to visit the private workroom of the last Moravian cart-wright.  For dinner you will be on your own in the city center of Rožnov pod Radhoštěm. That evening we will meet with a local folk dance group at our hotel.

April 12, Wednesday
After loading the bus we will go to nearby town of Valašské Meziříčí to visit a local tapestry workshop. We will spend lunchtime in the historical town of Olomouc with an unusual Plague Column (UNESCO). Our next stop will be a private Carriage Museum. During dinner in Svitavy we will be serenaded by a local accordion player! We will practice a few songs on the way so we should be able to sing several songs together. After our arrival in Litomyšl we will check-in and relax.

April 13, Thursday
 We will have a relaxed start this morning. First we will walk around the historical city center of Litomyšl and end up at the UNESCO heritage chateau where we will take a tour, learn of its history, and admire the stunning interiors. After the tour you will be on your own for the rest of the morning and lunch. After we will go to small town Proseč to visit very special museum of pipes. We will most likely have mostly non-smoking people in the group, but this museum will be interesting for all of us!  After this short visit we have another opportunity for a hike: into sandstone labyrinth. Fist part is little difficult, but the rest is nice and flat. For those of you who would prefer to skip the labyrinth, there will be alternate possibilities of either a lovely, gentle nature walk or relaxing on the bus for a nap or a bit of reading. Dinner will be together with the group.

April 14, Friday
In the morning we will depart from Litomyšl and our first stop will be in Chrudim for their puppet museum. Then on to Kutná Hora, a very nice medieval town with the famous St. Barbara’s Cathedral that is listed as UNESCO heritage. We will see the cathedral first, then have lunch together and end the afternoon with a walk through the town. After a short bus ride we will finally reach Prague, check in and walk to a local restaurant for dinner together.

April 15, Saturday
What can we say about this day?! The only possibly program is sightseeing. In the morning we will have a guided tour of the historical center that will give you a good introduction to the city.  In the afternoon you will have time on your own so you will be able to explore parts of the city by yourself. In the evening we will meet again for a dinner cruise on the Vltava River, a magnificent opportunity to see the city from a different perspective.

April 16, Sunday
Today is the time to say farewell. We do not organize transfers to the airport, so you will depart according to your own flight plans. If you are interested staying longer in Prague, let us know and we will help you extend your reservation in the hotel.