Ballin’ in the Baltics

Trip Region: Europe
Country(ies): Latvia, Estonia, Finland
Partners Trek? No
Trip Cost: $1940
Airfare Estimate: $1800
Nightlife: 8   •   Activity: 5

Do you enjoy rich history, interesting local cuisines and lazy afternoons in the sauna? Picturesque bike rides, small beachside villages, and hikes through lush green forests? Boat rides, breweries, and late nights on the dance floor? This trip has it all!

While traveling through Latvia and Estonia with a final stop in Helsinki, we promise adventures, misadventures and the best friendships and memories to carry you through your two years at Ross.

Travel Day — Friday, Aug 17

Take a breath, nurse your hangovers from Orientation, and get ready to leave Ann Arbor for the trip of a lifetime. You are free to depart Ann Arbor after orientation activities are over around 5pm.

Day 1 — Saturday, Aug 18

Touchdown in Latvia, where we’ll kick off the adventure by meeting the ballin’ Baltic guide that will be with us for the duration of the trip. Welcome Meeting at hotel starts at 6pm local time. After a festive dinner and then head out for drinks to get to know each other--it is a Saturday after all, so let’s show Riga our best dance moves from Live.

Day 2 — Sunday, Aug 19

Jet lag? What jet lag?? We’ll start the day with an orientation walk to explore Old Town Riga’s cobbled streets and art nouveau architecture. We’ll make some stops to taste local specialties, visit the central market, and maybe (definitely) wrap up the afternoon with a shot (or two) of black balsam. Then get ready to wash away your past life/hangover/traveling grime/sins at a traditional Latvian sauna, replete with hot and cold pools, and dried birch branches to increase circulation. Group dinners and Zach’s bloodhound-like ability to find the best bar where people are actually dancing are the nighttime trip norms, so no time like the present to start getting accustomed.

Day 3 — Monday, Aug 20

Today, we’ll be cycling down one of Latvia’s most famous paths to the beach town of Jurmala. You definitely do not need to be an expert cyclist to make this trip, but you should know that Paul has already claimed the only available set of training wheels. At the beach we’ll enjoy lunch, drinks, and sunshine by the shore, and then transfer back to Riga. Beer is actually a recovery drink (little known fact for those in search of gainz) so we’ll make sure to keep our health in mind during dinner and after.

Day 4 — Tuesday, Aug 21

Nothing scheduled during the day, so the world is in your hands. You can visit interesting attractions that didn’t make the official schedule (Lucy’s traveling tip is to always find the tallest point in any new city--how else will you get the best selfie??), find a spot to try (more) local libations, or decide to ditch the whole MBA thing in favor of becoming an international segway tour guide--the world is your oyster. In the evening we will take a sunset dinner cruise to the sea gate where the Baltic meets the River Daugava and then dance the night away for our last night in Latvia.

Day 5 — Wednesday, Aug 22

On to Estonia! Take full advantage of the widespread Wi-Fi, wife-carrying competitions, and highest number of supermodels per capita! We will sneak across the border in the morning, heading to the beach town of Parnu for a quick walking tour and relaxing beach afternoon. Sneak in a sandy, mid-trip nap! We’re going to be busy bees. Break for dinner and then get ready for another night on the town.

Day 6 — Thursday, Aug 23

We’ll be taking a boat out to Saaremaa Island today for a bit of nature and relaxation. We’ll spend some time exploring the historical landmarks and natural beauty offered by the island (Tree of the Year, 2015!). One of our stops will be the Kaali craters, which were used for ritual sacrifices in ancient times, and depending on how the trip has gone thus far, we may also opt to ritually sacrifice a trekker before moving on--y’all are going to need to appease the recruiting gods somehow. We’ll be staying in a rustic hotel on the island tonight so hunker down for some group bonding and games of This or That.

Day 7 — Friday, Aug 24

Today we’re heading back to the mainland, arriving in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, home of Skype and the original Christmas tree. Take a walking tour of Old Town, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. With its steep red roofs, spires, and pastel-colored buildings, it’s hard to believe Estonia's capital just beat back the red blanket of Buckey.... err, communism in 1991. Dine on some vurtsikilu, a specially prepared spicy fish, before diving headfirst into desserts so obsessed with dairy, locals uncontrollably weep at the slightest hint of a Got Milk? ad.

Day 8 — Saturday, Aug 25

After a romantic morning in Tallinn, load up your Mad Max Collector’s Edition DVD for an afternoon of high-octane, heart-pounding, mud-slinging Soviet Paintball. Not for the faint of heart or those who skipped their tetanus booster, we’ll get suited up and then turned loose on a closed course with Soviet vehicles to hide behind or commandeer. Then clean off those wings and magic wand; it’s ferry time. Destination: the world’s coldest and least corrupt capital city (often called the Ann Arbor of Finland), Helsinki! Tonight’s our last Saturday night together in the northern climes so get ready to explore the city’s nightlife.

Day 9 — Sunday, Aug 26

Pack some of the world’s cleanest tap water and prepare your best Bear Grylls impression. Today we hike through Nuuksio National Park, a land of lovely lakes, green forests, and rugged crags. With no trekker left behind (though no guarantees when there are Siberian Flying Squirrels around), head back to oh-capital-my-capital for a colorful night of cultural confusion. Helsinki may have heated streets, but there is always a chance of getting iced on this trek.

Day 10 — Monday, Aug 27

Lace up your kinky boots and get ready to explore Helsinki, a city that connects the cultures of East and West. Check out Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, which marries the otherwise foreign traditions of Sumo wrestling and angel hair pasta. Drink in the tastes and sights of brewery tours and Helsinki’s world famous design museum. Maybe leave a lock on the love bridge for your new best friends (or find respite from your hilarious trek leaders in the Kamppi Chapel of Silence).

Departure Day — Tuesday, Aug 28

Final day! We check out from hotel at 11am. Say your goodbyes, buy Mom a souvenir, and snap one last exotic pic for the Bumble profile. I can’t believe MTrek is Finnished! Time for Fall A, kiddos.

Paul Cashman

If you’re concerned about how to juggle all things MBA, Paul “Dash” Cashman is your spirit guide. His commitment to everything he puts his mind to–eating a gyro while sleeping, crushing the corporate strategy game, dazzling the crowds at Necto with not one, but two blistering on-stage dance performances, and as a rising executive board member for the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund–will leave you confident that you, too, can do it all. His easy going nature belies his San Diego upbringing but his neon leggings, serious shot-taking face, and enthusiasm for life show the world that he’s ready to move beyond the Golden State and into your heart.

Zach Preston

New Orleans native Zach “Hand Model” Preston is our transportation and logistical savant–as a former racecar driver, he’ll get you safely between AA and Chicago, but then get everyone lost trying to find a bar in a town of ~2,000. He’s got one T shirt in six colors (or is it really just the one shirt??) so if you see him in anything but an Austin Sports Rec tee, he had a particularly great summer at GM and is moving up the sartorial ladder. He’s parlayed his tech background (and probable future) into a signature selfie game (you’ll know it when you see it) and is ready to put his driving skills to use once more and lay waste to our MTrek during Grand Theft Paintball (he’ll go back to being lovable when the bloodlust wears off).

Lucy Cantwell

Lucy “Night Shift” Cantwell may seem quiet at first, but don’t be fooled. This nonprofit professional turned badass banker is the queen of spontaneity and will lead you on the adventure of a lifetime. At Ross, she’s the President of the Finance Club and a member of the Social Venture Fund, but on MTrek, all bets are off: from bypassing hotels to sleep on the beach to scaling heavy machinery and literally EVERYTHING in between, expect the unexpected from Lucy. And, as a Cicerone Certified Beer Server and VP of Happy Hours (yes, that’s an actual club title with MBSA), Lucy will make sure you try all the best beers in the Baltics before dancing the night away. Despite all that, during the day this Seattle native is one of the most laid back people you’ll ever meet. She’ll be leading the pack during our nature treks and has a magical ability to dish out advice and laugh at life.

Jackie Smith

If you find yourself in a ridiculous situation and have no idea how you got there, you’re probably standing next to Jackie. Despite her outward love of all things luxurious (for which we’ll tease her mercilessly), Jackie “Lucille Bluth” Smith is not actually as boujee as she seems but rather down-to-earth and up for trying anything once (hence the hilarious, seemingly impossible situations in which she finds herself). In fact, it’s as a result of that attitude that this Philly native will be summering in Midland, MI working in sustainability at DOW (which we constantly remind her doesn’t fit her lavish lifestyle). It’s also made her one of the most powerful women at Ross (perhaps second only to Soojin). Jackie is President of MBSA…meaning if you want to have any fun you have to go through her. You definitely want her on your side.

Neal Patel

I-Banker by day, exotic dancer by night… after a summer in NYC, Neal “Triple X” Patel will be stripping more than just the assets of Fortune 500 companies. And, as the financier of the trip, he’ll have all the euro coins you need to buy shots of Riga Black Balsam. But don’t be fooled by his nocturnal persona – Neal is the self-professed “dad” of this Trek and when we get lost following Zach’s directions, he’ll helpfully assure you “it’ll be fine.” Additionally, through his diverse experiences at Ross — honorary member of AABA, VP of the Investment Banking silo of the Finance Club — Neal’s equipped to help you navigate your way through b-school and beyond. He also moonlights as a photographer and if you join our trip, you’ll be first on the list for Neal’s headshot schedule after your free one from Ross turns out terribly.

Liz Carty

After six years in NYC building close relationships with tour operators and others in the travel industry, Liz “Mask Off” Carty did literally nothing to plan the logistics of this trip. Her main contribution comes in the form of enthusiasm, laughter, and innocent humor that will insure we have fun, no matter what the Baltics throw at us. Fear not trekkers, Liz will make you work hard to keep up with her on the dance floor as she might possibly be the best dancer in all of the countries we visit (or at least the most enthusiastic). Although Liz’s personality and role as the VP of Special Events for MBSA would lead you to believe that she’s cheery, kind, and the utmost professional, cross her and she’ll hockey check you so hard you might think you were a member of the Hawks (yes, this is a Mighty Ducks reference). Just kidding, Liz is the sweetest of us all, and she’s the most interesting Canadian you’ll ever meet besides that one guy on the curling team.