Ballin’ in the Baltics

Trip Region: Europe
Country(ies): Latvia, Estonia, Finland
Partners Trek? No
Cost: $1940
Airfare Estimate: $1800
Structure:   •   Lodging:   •   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.

Day 1 — 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 2 — 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 3 — 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 4 — 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 5 — 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 6 — 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 7 — 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 8 — 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 9 — 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 10 — 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 11 — 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).

Day 12 — 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.