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TORRINGTON, CT (SZS) In response to requests that the Synod host another familiarization tour of Slovakia, the Ecumenical and International Relations Committee announced this past November that a trip is being planned for May 2020. This ten day tour will explore the Slovak capital city as well as many religious, historical, and cultural sites throughout the country, including sites in Bratislava, the Tatra Mountains, Orava, and Liptov regions of Slovakia, and places in between. Included are stops at some of our most notable synod ministries, as well as amazing Central European castles, snow-capped mountains, and a relaxing spa break in natural volcanic spring baths at the foot of the mountains. The tour will also include visits to the articular wooden churches of Slovakia that have stood for centuries and were built under intense and impossible building requirements by the ruling governments of an oppressive past.

A two day Pre-Trip Extension is available as an optional add-on to visit Prague and explore the sites of old Bohemia and the pre-reformer, Jan Hus. Those who sign up for Prague will visit landmark sites and tour the city starting from the mighty castle on the hilltop, and working downhill to the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square. You’ll see why shopping in Wenceslas Square has given it the nickname of “the Czech Champs-Élysées, and experience how the traditional meals available from old-time restaurants and street vendors will more than satisfy your appetite.

A two day Post-Trip Extension is also available as an optional add-on to visit Vienna and explore the history of a city that stood under empirical rule until little more than a century ago. Those interested in this extension will explore the old city and have access to many of the most popular museums and attractions, such as the Hoffburg, the art museums, history museums, the Imperial Crypt, and the imperial jewels of the monarchs’ treasury. Those seeing Vienna will also have the opportunity to visit Schloss Schönbrunn, exploring the grounds of this Austrian precursor to the Palace of Versailles.

The Familiarization Tour of Slovakia is scheduled for May 20-29, 2020, with the pre-trip excursion to Prague scheduled for May 18-20, 2020 and the post-trip excursion to Vienna scheduled for May 29-31, 2020. The projected cost for the ten-day tour of Slovakia is $3999 per person (for all those above the age of two years old at time of travel), and includes round-trip airfare, comfortable nightly accommodations, all breakfasts, some lunches and dinners, comfortable air-conditioned ground transportation by chartered minibus, professional English-speaking guides, entrance fees for included performances, museums, and landmark sites, as well as transfers to and from your arrival and departure airports in Europe. We are pleased to make this competitive price available insofar as many similar trips may not include airfare and/or such an extensive itinerary. The Pre-Trip Prague Extension and/or Post-Trip Vienna Extension can be added onto the Slovakia Tour cost for $375 each and include overnight accommodations, all breakfasts, a lunch and dinner in Prague, air travel adjustments, and entrance/admission fees for included attractions. Additional details, including pictures, video, in-depth descriptions and a day-by-day snapshot of the projected itinerary is available on the webpage for this trip which can be found by clicking here.

Registration for “EuroTour 2020,” as it is being called, is open on our Synod registration site. Registration and a 50% deposit are due March 20, with the balance due 30 days prior to travel. Payment options include the ability to reserve your space for each person by paying a 50% deposit, or the ability to register and pay in full immediately.

Be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible, as space for this tour is limited. By keeping our group sizes small, we can offer a more flexible and personalized experience that avoids the crowds and delays which can occur in large groups; a smaller group size also allows us the ability to see more and travel more freely, ensuring a positive experience during your travels. As a result, those who sign up will be accepted on a first-come first-served basis, and once we reach our cap for the group size, any additional participants will be waitlisted for a possible trip to take place at a future date.

Please be sure to share this invitation with your friends, family, and congregation, as we have noticed a growing interest in people visiting their homeland, exploring their roots, seeing the foundations of our synod’s heritage, and witnessing firsthand the cultural, religious, and historical context of Central Europe. For your convenience, you may share the link to our trip webpage on your church website or on your social media.

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