Europe | WWI From Vienna to Versailles








From Vienna to Versailles

World War I and the shaping of the modern world

This journey is a partnership between Cross Cultural Journeys and Wake Forest University, and is open to the public. Wake Forest University seeks to educate the whole person, graduating students who seek purpose-filled lives while building a community dedicated to serving humanity in the spirit of their motto, Pro Humanitate.

Dates: June 19 - 30, 2017
Cost: $5,195 (Double Occupancy)

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. 

--George Santayana


Join professors Chuck and Rebecca Thomas on a learning journey exploring the cultural, political, and military impacts of the First World War, possibly the most significant event of the twentieth century.  We will begin in Vienna, the former imperial capital, where the fin de siècle clash between tradition and modernity is reflected in the art and architecture of that magnificent city.  A tour of Schönbrunn Palace will highlight Austria-Hungary’s former role as a powerhouse in Central Europe, and a trip to the Army History Museum’s Sarajevo Room will illuminate the assassination that precipitated the war. We’ll be sure not to miss the Salmbräu’s locally brewed beers and old world cuisine or the charms of Grinzing’s quaint village wine gardens along the way.


From Vienna, we will continue to Hallstatt (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Bad Ischl, Alpine retreats in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, where the elderly Kaiser Franz Joseph reluctantly signed the declaration of war on Serbia that began the world conflagration. We will then make our way southward, travelling along the famed South Styrian Wine Road (mercifully, war spared the exquisite wine producing regions of Austria) on the way to battlefields in Slovenia’s Julian Alps. There, along the emerald green Soča (Isonzo) River, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, and German forces clashed in twelve bloody battles that were immortalized in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Our trip continues with a short flight from Ljubljana to Paris and visits to the French Army Museum there and to nearby battlefields that mark America’s intervention in the war between 1917 and 1918. We conclude with a visit to the Palace of Versailles, where the most important of the five treaties ending World War I was signed on June 28, 1919.


This is not a normal battlefield tour; rather, it is an endeavor by two specialists in this period to explore the “Great War” in its multiple contexts and to examine its enduring legacy in the form of what was destroyed, what was changed, what survived and what we can learn from its dark aftermath that may inform how we navigate the strange times we live in today.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1 | Monday, June 19 | Vienna Your arrival in Vienna will be met for the transfer to our city-center hotel. After time to unpack and rest up from the overnight flight, we will travel to the Grinzing district of the capital for dinner at a traditional Austrian wine tavern. Hotel de France (D)


Day 2 | Tuesday, June 20 | Vienna A morning walking tour of the city center with a local guide presents this sparkling jewel of the Habsburg Empire and introduces us to the tradition of Austria-Hungary and the age of empire. After a break for lunch we’ll visit the Schönbrunn Palace, the exquisite summer residence of the Habsburgs, where we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the interior and have time to stroll the gardens before heading back into the city. Dinner this evening will be at the Medl Bräu brewery/restaurant. The founder’s story alone is worth price of admission! Hotel de France (B/D)


Day 3 | Wednesday, June 21 | Vienna We begin the day with a visit to the Museum of Military History, tracing the history of the Habsburg Monarchy from the end of the 16th century to the end of the monarchy in 1918. The Sarajevo Room will give us an insight into the beginnings of the “Great War.” This afternoon is free for personal exploration – perhaps a visit to the Secession Museum. The Wiener Secession; also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs, was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. This movement included painters, sculptors, and architects, and the first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt. Dinner this evening will be at the Salm Bräu restaurant and brewery. Hotel de France (B/D)


Day 4 | Thursday, June 22 | Hallstatt Heading west from Vienna we make a stop at the spa town of Bad Ischl, where we will visit the Kaiservilla. In 1854, the Emperor Franz Joseph’s mother, the Archduchess Sophie, gave him the Kaiservilla (Imperial Villa) as a wedding present. The villa became the imperial family’s summer residence. After lunch (included), we continue to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hallstatt, a center of the salt-mining industry. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening. Hotel Gruener Baum (B/L /D)


Day 5 | Friday, June 23 | Hallstatt Our day in Hallstatt will include a visit to the Salt Mine, some light hiking, a boat ride on the adjoining lake, the Hallstatter See, and an excursion up to the Five Fingers viewing platform for incredible views over the Dachstein Mountains. There will also be some free time for shopping this afternoon before we gather again for dinner. Hotel Gruener Baum (B/D)


Day 6 | Saturday, June 24 | Bled Leaving Hallstatt we travel southeast across Austria, via Graz to join the Austrian Weinstrasse, the Wine Road. We’ll stop at the hotel restaurant Mahorko in Glanz-an-der-Weinstrasse, overlooking the vineyards for lunch and then visit the Brolli-Arkadenhof vineyard for a tasting, including the famous Rifugio wines. This afternoon we cross the border into Slovenia and continue to our hotel in the town of Bled, where dinner awaits us. Hotel Park (B/L/D)


Day 7 | Sunday, June 25 | Bled This morning we take an excursion through the Slovenian mountains to the town of Kobarid (known as Caporetto in Italian), site of a major battle in 1917. Caporetto marked the first occasion on which the Germans had determined to provide assistance to their Austro-Hungarian allies on the Italian front. A local guide will show us the Kobarid Museum and take us on the historical trail that follows the Italian “third line of defense.” The trail leads us through trenches, forts and buildings intended for the defense of the passage across the Soča River and of the roads on the right bank of the river. On our return to Lake Bled, we’ll stop and take a ride on the summer toboggan – a gravity roller coaster leading down to the lake and then return to our hotel. The evening is free in Bled to sample a local restaurant. Hotel Park (B)


Day 8 | Monday, June 26 | Paris Following breakfast, we depart Bled, driving into the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. A local guide will show us the city highlights and we will have time for lunch before boarding our afternoon flight direct to Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport. On arrival our bus will take us to our hotel to check in. The evening is free. The Villa Mazarin (B)


Day 9 | Tuesday, June 27 | Paris We’ll visit the Musee de l’Armee this morning, located in Les Invalides. The afternoon is free. Why not take a walk along the Seine, heading toward Place St. Michel near the Pont Neuf. You may wish to explore the Ile de la Cite, the beautiful island that houses Notre Dame, explore the narrow, winding walking streets in the vicinity, or stroll onto the Isle St. Louis where posh shops line the central street of this tiny jewel (home to the irresistible ice cream at Berthillon!). Check out the Musée d’Orsay, the medieval Cluny, or Rodin’s museum. From superb museums to upscale shopping to café sampling, your day in Paris will fly by. We’ll gather again this evening for a ride aboard a Bateaux Mouches and enjoy the illuminated monuments of Paris viewed from the river. The Villa Mazarin (B)


Day 10 | Wednesday, June 28 | Paris Today we travel with a local guide to Meaux, just outside Paris, where we visit the spectacular Meaux Museum, with an incredible collection of WW1 uniforms, weapons and equipment. Lunchtime in Meaux, then travel out onto the Marne battlefields to see the British Memorial to the Missing of the 1914 campaign at La Ferte Sous Jouarre, and the Royal Engineers Memorial where the pontoon bridges across the Marne were built. At Château-Thierry, we see the huge American Memorial commemorating the 1918 battle and look at the story of the ‘Doughboys’ who were here at that time. We end the day at the impressive Dormans Memorial which commemorates those who fought and died on the Marne during the First World War and return to Paris for a free evening. The Villa Mazarin (B)


Day 11 | Thursday, June 29 | Paris A final free day in Paris or the option to take another excursion from the city to visit Versailles. In January of 1919, the Paris Peace Conference convened in Versailles, just outside Paris. Though nearly thirty nations were involved in the conference it was the representatives from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and Italy who formalized of the Treaty of Versailles, the peace agreement that ended World War I. The treaty was signed in the famous Hall of Mirrors in King Louis XIV’s elaborate palace. There will be time to explore this amazing building before heading back for final free afternoon in Paris.  The Villa Mazarin (B)


Day 12 | Friday, June 29 | Paris/Home After breakfast at your hotel,  there will be morning transfers to Paris Airport for returning flights to the U.S. and head home. (B)


Rebecca Thomas has been Professor of German language and modern German and Austrian literature and culture at Wake Forest since 1993. She has frequently team-taught a course in pre-and post-World War I history and culture and has a particular interest in the Avant-garde art and literature of the time.  She has published on contemporary Austrian literature and culture and is currently working on a collaborative research study on the role of language acquisition in cultural adaptation. She has regularly led short and long-term study tours in Austria and Central Europe for undergraduates and adult learners alike. In addition, for twenty eight years she has been a regular faculty member of the AIMS summer institute in Graz, Austria, which has become her home away from home. She has extensive knowledge of the region that includes not only its historical sites and world-class museums, but also its alpine vistas, rolling wine region, hidden gems and culinary delights. Her travels have also taken her to all of the countries bordering Austria, and she speaks conversational Italian and French as well as German.


Chuck and Rebecca Thomas



Chuck Thomas is a professor of history with over thirty years of teaching experience at Georgia Southern University, at the United States Naval War College, and, most recently, at Wake Forest.  He combines a general interest in modern American and European military history with a particular specialization in Germany’s and Austria’s roles in the Two World Wars.  He has taught a wide variety of students, ranging from undergraduates through military and naval officers to Elderhostel participants and enrollees in Wake Forest’ Lifelong Learning program.  Together with his wife, Rebecca, he has also led undergraduates and graduates in overseas study programs in Austria.  He will shamelessly use a multiplicity of teaching approaches—informal lectures, excerpts from novels, documentary and feature films, focused visits to history and art museums, scale models and dioramas, and role playing games—to enhance the enjoyment and appreciation of history.  A native of Georgia (the state, not the nation), he speaks fluent eighteenth century military German with a Southern accent and has found his second home in Austria.  He looks forward to renewing his love affair with the city of Paris and reviving his experiences with the spoken French language, essentially dormant since the late 1970s.  The amusement factor of that latter prospect should be reason enough to sign up for the trip.

Journey Details

NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Europe... to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.


INCLUDED: In country transportation per itinerary;  hotels; full breakfast buffet daily at the hotel plus 2 lunches and 6 dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); English speaking local guide; personal knowledge from Professors Rebecca and Chuck Thomas; guest speakers; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; tips for bellman and included meals on itinerary; bottled water on the bus.


NOT INCLUDED: Airfare to and from Europe; tourist visa; meals not on itinerary, dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); and a Travel Protection Plan (we recommend travel protection and information will be sent upon registration)

Dates: June 19 - 30, 2017
Cost: $5,195 (Double Occupancy)
Add: $1,395 (Single Supplement)

First of the early morning sunlight and mist fall on the lakeside village of Hallstatt, Austria.

Our Team is Here To Help

Phone: (800) 353-2276




321 High School Road NE, Suite D3, Box 353, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, USA

Scroll to Top