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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Richard Ponting

    A very enjoyable trip

    We thoroughly enjoyed our trip "Discover the Baltics". Our Exodus Guide was excellent and each of the specialist guides we had in the various cities and castles were also good. Transport was reliable and comfortable without being luxurious. We noted some members of our group were critical of some of the hotel accomodation, but most of the hotels offered an optional upgrade at very reasonable extra cost and we took advantage of this on one two occasions as my wife is a very light sleeper. We were also recommended some excellent restaurants for evening meals which took the risk out of looking for one ourselves. Lunch venues were organised by a guide in advance and were generally good value and carried the local foods and snacks. Overall we thought the trip was very good value for money and would recommend it to friends.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Gaining an understanding of the turbulent history of three counties which have all been occupied by and over-run by foreign forces on many occasions over the last 1000 years. We fully understood why the the locals Celebrated 100yr Indépendance Day in Cesis with traditional music, songs and dancing on Sat 21st June. Joining in the Midsummer celebrations on the river front in Riga on Sunday 22nd June. One big street party with local entertainment, foods and beverages. Brilliant! Sense of awe when visiting some Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches. Magnificent!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mindaygus Jucius is an excellent guide, he is very knowledgable about the countries we visited and has excellent language skills including English. He has a good sense of humour and is also is very patient.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Check with the hotels you are going to be staying in if you are concerned about the facilities that will be available to you. If upgrades are available you may want to consider it. Bear in mind that you will not be spending a lot of time in the rooms as the programme is fairly comprehensive and what free time you will have will probably be spent walking around the towns and cities you are staying in. You will be undertaking city tours of 3 hrs or so and much of the time you will be walking on cobbled streets. Appropriate comfortable footwear is essential. A reasonable level of mobility will be required as some of the old cities are built on hills and you will encounter stairs in some cases.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Dealing with the Exodus office staff when booking and adding an extra day's accomodation at the beginning and end of our tour was handled very well.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Ray Tweedale

    Great tour! Shame about some of the hotels.

    Well organised and varied tour with an excellent guide. Unfortunately our hotel in Tallinn (Go Shnelli) was as good as on the train station platform. As there was no air conditioning we had to have the window open, so the noise and fumes were bad. Fine when the trains finished at 11:30. The hotel in Riga (Konventa Seta) was very centrally located, which was good, but our room (005) was so dark, as the window faced an apartment block. OK, I suppose, if you’re out till really late at night. Only one of the hotels used had coffee and tea facilities in the room. Apart from this we thoroughly enjoyed the tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trakai castle on the lake; Tallinn old Town; Riga’s Arte Nouveau buildings

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you like tea and coffee, take a travel kettle.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    marion buchan

    AVV discover the Baltics (121)

    I really enjoyed the trip, but had problems hearing some of the guides as we were sometimes in crowded areas. It would be a good idea if we were furnished with audio aids so that we could look at what was being described rather than trying to catch up with the guide the whole time. This really spoilt a very good trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Palmse Manor.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jolata was an excellent group leader and spent time considering our every needs.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take warm clothes as the weather can be unpredictable even in June/July.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Steve Ryder

    Awesome Trip

    I joined this trip as an alternative way of seeing the 3 Baltic States which got you away from the 3 capital cities, but it may have converted me to non too strenuous cycle holidays too. Not only was the trip a very enjoyable 9 days of cycling but we also had a foodie experience and a cultural experience thrown in too thanks to our amazing guide Anders

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trip has daily inspirational moments. I found eating lunch in various rural restaurants quite inspirational because they were away from the tourist crowds and I would not have found them had I not been travelling with Anders. Eating freshly smoked fish in the garden of a fisherman on the Curonian Spit in Lithuania was a highlight

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Anders was awesome. He guided us in a very laid back style but was extremely conscientious and knowledgeable. Those who fancied doing their own thing were free to do so and I particularly liked how he adjusted the schedule to ensure we appreciated where we were rather than just cycling for cyclings sake. The maps we were given each morning were very useful too

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. All rooms had hairdryers 2. You get a bike pannier on day one which you keep with you each evening so no need for the backpack 3. Don't worry about "dietary requirements" All can be accommodated 4. There is time to explore Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius but not to do the "full tourist thing" visiting things 5. Tartu is a wonderful university town 6. Although you cycle by a lake and by the sea you don't see much water - most of the cycle routes are in trees or slightly inland 7. You need bug spray during the day
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Rachael Shaw

    It's not all about the bike.

    Apart from a bevy of Brits on our trip there were a couple of kiwis intent on causing havoc and taking flight. Unwilling to despatch them down under our tenacious guide, Andrius, set out to distract and subdue them with Baltic diversions of seaside villages, a smoked fish and wild apple juice lunch in a hidden location, elusive beer tents, lavazza coffee car and a rotunda with champagne. Fresh berries and fairytales in the forest. Ice creams, beer and Pink Soup. And a freezing but fun swim. And then he iced the cake with with his humour, baltic jokes and music. Andrius turned out Baltic Bike trip into a delight of unexpected adventures. It didn't shut those kiwis up but at least they were bearable. Just.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I don't think I'll reveal that.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Acutely funny and committed to his job.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your own bike seat. Or at least a gel seat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had a blast.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Heike V

    Easy Cycling in the Sunny Baltics

    We thoroughly enjoyed the easy cycling on mostly flat terrain through lovely countryside mixed with city visits. We were lucky with the weather as it was warm without being too hot, much of the cycling is through forest providing welcome shade. There was a mix of personalities and fitness levels in our group that overall was supportive and gelled well. The trip visits all 3 capitals but also more rural spots and much of the cycling is near the coast or lakes. The amount of cycling per day was such that there was never any rush and plenty of time for breaks. The cycling infrastructure (segregated paths) and courtesy of the drivers when cycling on roads is something I miss back in Britain. In most cases we stayed 2 nights in the same hotel giving time to explore the city or in the case of Palmse – explore the wonderful gardens and enjoy the peace and quiet. See Stephen Mardon's extensive write up for further details.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day spent on the Curonian Spit starting with a walk up Hill of the Witches (forest area with wooden sculptures depicting creatures from Lithuanian fairy tales – expertly brought to life by our group leader), then a walk up to giant stone sundial by Nida with view across the sand dunes to Russian territory, then cycle back to lunch stop at fishermans' house for freshly smoked fish and home made apple juice all eaten in his garden. Whilst this felt like a long day by the time we finally reached the afternoon cafe/beer stop near ferry to Klaipeda the landscape around the sand dunes with birds and flowers on this sunny day was just wonderful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andruis was very keen to ensure we would get to experience a good balance between cycling and the local culture and cuisine. Everyday we got printed paper maps and description of our route, so we could cycle to pre-agreed points at our own pace. A big thank you also has to go to our driver Arthur who ensured we were well hydrated, didn't get lost at key junctions and efficiently got the bikes in/out of the trailer and set up everyday. At each city/town Andrius offered orientation walks and optional group dinners. In consultation with the group we changed the programme in both Riga and Vilnius. In Riga this gave us a free afternoon in the city after the cycle out to Jumala whilst in Vilnius we did a city cycling tour then visited Trakai castle by bus. Along the way Andrius provided little extras such as strawberries, water melon, etc to keep us 'sweet' and the couple of long transfers were broken up by extra stops and onboard entertainment. We had many excellent food stops and recommendations for cafe/cake and evening meals at each overnight location – since Andrius is a pescetarian/vegetarian there were always good non meat options available.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It pays to do some cycle rides before the trip so you will still feel fresh by second half of the week and continue to enjoy the longer days in the saddle. Apply midge repellent BEFORE getting out of the bus for first cycle ride & around Palmse especially. Don't bother booking a private transfer with Exodus in Tallin or Vilnius – airport taxi in Tallin should be <Euro10 to city and similar in Vilnius.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Too many food highlights to list them all but they included lots of good salmon/smoked fish throughout the trip plus Onion Pie in Kivi Koerts/Alatskivi, Cafe Weber in Tartu, Lido Vērmanītis for lunch in Riga, Lukys (Bear) restaurant for final night in Vilnius.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Niall Campbell

    A great way to explore three Countries

    Interested in visiting a corner of Europe which is not on most people's itinerary? If so, then the cycle trip around the three Baltic Countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is definitely worthwhile considering. You get to see a variety of the countryside as well as the three Capitals so a full package. However, it's not a rushed holiday so it never feels like you're trying to cram everything in.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The coastal scenery was very interesting, especially the cycle along the Curonian Spit in Lithuania with its high dunes and woodland built to protect the landscape. The lunch spot was also excellent with smoked fish of all sorts to enjoy.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    If you get Andrius as your group leader you've struck gold as he's one of the best guides I've ever experienced - informative, great organiser, great sense of humour, relaxed in approach to leading and goes the extra mile to make the trip a fantastic time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you go in late Spring or Summer take anti-mossie spray as you will get bitten when stopping in the forests during breaks. Having the latest cycle clothing isn't necessary but padded shorts will of course protect a delicate part of the body! Unless it gets exceptionally hot you only need one water bottle as the support vehicle provides regular fill-ups with water during stops. The recommended spending money is about right unless you plan to buy lots of wine/beer etc. As you'll be in plenty of towns and cities getting money from cash machines isn't a problem so I wouldn't take lots of cash and many of the restaurants will take visa etc.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The accommodation is fine but in a couple of locations fairly basic. If you like quiet locations you'll enjoy staying at the at the old distillery at Hotel Palmse as long as you don't mind the water which is a bit sulfurous and therefore smells a bit but still perfectly safe.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Stephen Mardon

    Great way to visit three countries with long histories and appreciate their cities and countryside

    This was an excellent way to visit 3 countries, including the opportunity to explore their capital cities as well seeing the best parts of the countryside. A mixture of cycling and culture which appealed to me. Having made my own travel arrangements, I arrived at the hotel in Tallinn in advance of the main party flying in from Gatwick so had a chance to explore the city that evening myself. After meeting up with the others at breakfast on Sunday morning our leader gave us a short guided tour of the city before our minibus took us to the Lahemaa National Park where our cycling started.. The bikes we had were brand new sturdy Merida trekking bikes with water bottle holders, rear pannier frames and front suspension. Everyone was given a waterproof pannier to carry their belongs and a number of cycle locks were distributed to secure cycles when parked up unsupervised at stops. The bikes were well suited for the cycling which was primarily on flattish terrain with mostly tarmac roads, but with some gravel trails. The cycling was mainly on rural roads and cycle paths, with a small percentage of urban cycling. Maps showing the route were given out each day, and there were regular stops during the day to get water(supplied) from the minibus and to allow the group to come together. Apart from one day when we bought a picnic in a supermarket, daily lunch stops were at cafes or restaurants where food selections could be limited but there was always a vegetarian option. The leader suggested a restaurant for an evening meal which group members were welcome to join him at. These were local establishments which served local dishes which were well worth trying. There were a couple of long vehicle transfers towards the end of the holiday but these were broken up by stops along the route to stretch legs and buy drink and snacks. Overall prices of food & drink were very good value.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the 2 days of cycling in the Lahemaa National Park, Estonia right at the start of the holiday. Beautiful coastal, woodland and farming scenery, quiet roads and cycle trails, and a stay on a historic mansion in the country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andrius was the consummate host, cheerful, welcoming and willing to go the extra mile to ensure everyone on the trip got the best out of their holiday. His stories about the histories of the 3 countries and of growing up during a time of massive change as they regained independence brought the realities of life alive. His suggestions as to where to stop for meals, and where to eat in the evening were (with one exception) excellent, while his mini-tours of the 3 capitals and Tartu were informative and really helpful, allowing people to orientate and thereafter explore themselves. He also gave the group options as to routes so we had an excellent city cycling tour of Vilnius rather than a less interesting route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good insect repellent (and anti-histamine) as Baltic mosquitoes and other biting insects are voracious. None of the hotels where we stayed have sink plugs, so carry a universal one. Make sure you have cash in low denomination notes. A number of the places where we stopped only accepted cash. Cash is available from ATMs in the cities. Take some fruit or bread,from the breakfast buffet, in your pannier in case you need an energy boost.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Robert Strudwick

    Discovering the Baltic Countries

    Well organised, our guide Migle was excellent with good knowledge and well motivated. Quite a busy schedule, some of the hotels were a bit quirky but that added to the appeal for me. Loads of architecture to take in, and heaps of cultural things to learn about, being completely new to these countries I was fascinated by the history, and the differences between these three countries

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The cold war missile bunker and the KGB museum were a lesson about how much effect the Soviet occupation had on these countries, and listening to the guide (and a guide who joined our group to learn the ropes) tell about life under the Soviets as they both grew up in that period.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, to be recommended

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Its quite a busy trip and covers lot of ground - make sure you have insect repellant, although not bothered much the walks in the parks are where you are most likely to be bitten.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Deborah Terry

    Excellenttrip

    This was a well-organised trip which gave a good overview of the three Baltic states. It was enhanced by nonstop hot sunny weather and a large but lovely group of mainly very experienced Exodus travellers. The cities were all very different, and the countryside and coastal visits all interesting.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is an odd question, but what made the trip interesting was the contrast between the cities, countryside and coast. It was good when we found places to eat serving something other than the ubiquitous pork and potatoes. Wonderful soft fruit was available everywhere, and in all three cities the local markets are highly recommended. It was good to have plenty of free time to explore.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Migle was simply excellent - humorous and very well-organised.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I booked my own flights and added an extra day in Tallin at the start and two in Helsinki at the end. In practice Helsinki would work better at the start as one could then get the ferry across to Tallin. Oh, and take a universal basin plug!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    At 19, this was the largest Exodus group I’d ever travelled with. Fortunately it worked out ok as everyone was lovely, good at being on time etc, but it meant that outside the group stuff we all tended to do things on our own. This suited me but others might not have liked it. All the hotels were fine, but the Europa City was c.35 mins walk into the centre of Vilnius which was really too far.
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