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BALTICS – Summer

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From$2,185
Price
From$2,185
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July 20, 2020
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4209
  • Hotels: Standard Class
  • Max Participants: 16
  • 7/20/2020 - 8/1/2020
  • 13 Days / 12 Nights

Decades after the fall of communism, the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia remain a mystery to most travellers. We’re not complaining, though; more mystery means fewer crowds and an easier time getting to know these fantastic countries. Beginning in charming cobblestoned Vilnius and ending in beautiful Helsinki, this trip gets to the very heart of the region. Get an up-close glimpse of Riga’s castles and art district, experience rural life in Estonia, and venture into the fortresses and medieval architecture of Tallinn before crossing to Finland by ferry.

 

What's Included:
  • Trakai Castle visit (Vilnius)
  • Curonian Spit bike tour
  • Riga city tour
  • Saaremaa guided village tour
  • Kadriorg Palace visit (Tallinn)
  • Orientation walk (Helsinki)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities by public bus, ferry, walking, bike, private vehicle
  • G Adventures Tour Leader throughout and local guides
  • 12 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners – allow $255-$335 USD for meals not included
  • Hotels (9 nts), farm stay (3 nts)
What's Not Included:
  • International air travel
  • Incidentals
  • Travel health and cancellation insurance
  • Applicable visas
  • Tips or gratuities
  • Airport taxes
  • Beverages
  • Meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Optional tours and admissions
  • Airport transfers
Itinerary

Day 1: VilniusArrive at any time.

You may arrive in Vinius at any time today. If you have the time, we would recommend coming in a day early. Check into our hotel any time after 2:00 p.m. and enjoy Lithuania’s capital city. Multi-faceted, puzzling, a heady mix of old and new, Vilnius has all the glories of a royal past, the troubling reminders of wartime and Communist atrocities, and a vibrant forward-looking perspective.

Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of the group meeting, typically 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. After the meeting, you might like to take the option of heading out for a meal in a nearby local restaurant to further get to know your tour leader and traveling companions.

Please make every effort to arrive on time for this welcome meeting. If you are delayed and will arrive late, please inform us. Your tour leader will then leave you a message at the front desk informing you of where and when to meet up.

Day 2: Vilnius (B)Visit Trakai Castle. Enjoy optional activities.

We start the day with a visit to the late 14th century Trakai Castle, which is found about 45 minutes out of town by bus. Getting out of the capital and visiting this historic treasure is a great way to experience a little more of Lithuania.

After returning to Vilnius, you have the remainder of the afternoon to explore this lovely city. Some highlights you might want to check out are the Frank Zappa monument, the breakaway Republic of Uzupis, a giant egg statue, the Gediminas tower and castle museum, and/or the KGB Museum.

Approximate travel time: 1.5 hrs by local bus

Day 3: Vilnius/Nida (B)Travel by public bus to the Curonian Spit. Visit the Parnidis dune in the evening.

This morning, we hop on board a public bus to the UNESCO-listed Curonian Spit. The Curonian Spit is a long, thin sand dune that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. This spit is shared by Lithuania and Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost oblast.

We will visit the Parnidis dune in the evening.

Approximate travel time: 6 hrs by local bus

Day 4: Nida (B)Take a bicycle tour around the Hill of Witches, including a visit to sea bird colonies.

Today, we see the area from the seat of a bike. The Hill of Witches used to be the site of dancing and gathering during Pagan festivals. Now the hills are dotted with wooden statues created by local artists, depicting witches, dragons, and the elements. Some of the statues as well tell stories of the local legends and folklore, bringing the region to life with their intricate carvings. We will also visit a sea bird colony.

You will have the afternoon free to explore on your own. You may want to check out the Nida Lighthouse or wander through the Ethnographic Fisherman’s Museum, a restored 19th century fishing cottage that now exhibits relics and tools from the fishing trade.

Approximate travel time: 2-4 hrs by bike

Day 5: Nida/Riga (B)Cross the border into Latvia and head to Riga. Opt to visit the Occupation Museum, the Riga Art Nouveau Center, Riga Castle, the Andrejsala artists' district, or simply to wander the cobblestone streets.

Today, we take a local bus across the border into Latvia, ultimately arriving in the capital, Riga. Once there, we will explore the narrow streets on foot to get better acquainted with the city known as “the Paris of the East.” Afterward, you have free time in this charming city. You might wish to visit the Occupation Museum, the Riga Art Nouveau Center, Riga Castle, Saint Peter’s Church, the Andrejsala artists’ district, or to opt instead to wander the cobblestone streets.

Approximate travel time: 7 hrs by local bus, changing buses in Klaipeda

Day 6: Riga (B, L)Enjoy a guided tour and a lunch of treats from the Central Market. Spend a free afternoon exploring the city.

This morning, we visit some of the neighborhoods and sights on a guided tour around Riga and learn about the history of this 800-year-old city. We will visit the central market to pick up some delicacies for lunch.

You will have the afternoon free to continue exploring the city.

Day 7: Riga/Kuressaare (B, D)Cross the border to Estonia. Get the local experience with 3 nights on a farm in Saaremaa. Opt to canoe on the Nasva river, go fishing, visit nearby islands, or travel to Kuressare for a folk evening with traditional music.

Today, we cross the border to Estonia for a truly local experience with a 3-night stay on a farm in Saaremaa. This remote island in the Baltic Sea has unique traditions and culture. Thatched roof houses, stone walls, and windmills make up this fairytale landscape. Some of the optional activities you might undertake include canoeing on the Nasva river, fishing, or island visits. You might also consider traveling into the capital of Saaremaa, Kuressare, for a folk evening with traditional music.

Approximate travel time: 2.5-3 hrs by local bus; 2.5-3 hrs by boat

Day 8: Kuressaare (B, D)Enjoy a tour of Saaremaa, including a visit to the Kaali meteorite lake, bakeries, and windmills. Opt to visit local breweries.

Today, we take a tour of Saaremaa, during which we will visit a group of windmills and try traditional baked goods while sipping on local beer. In the area, you’ll find a naturally growing oak forest with rare flora (such as orchids) and a bird watching platform. You will also visit the Kaali meteorite lake, formed by a meteorite strike around 3,500 years ago. You will have some free time in the afternoon to see more of the area.

Day 9: Kuressaare (B, D)Enjoy a free day to explore. Opt to visit some of the ancient churches or natural sites like the lake, the Panga Cliff, and the Pühatu Springs.

The final day of our stay in Saaremaa is a free one to explore further. Today, you might want to visit some of the churches, some dating back as far as the 1300’s while others still have ancient wall frescoes intact. Alternatively, maybe you want to see some of the natural sites, including the lake and the Panga Cliffs. You may also want to visit the beautiful Pühatu Springs. “Pühatu” resembles the word “bottomless” in the Estonian language and describes the seemingly bottomlessness of this vibrant green spring. Locals have been visiting this site for hundreds of years, throwing coins into the pool as offerings for good health and fortune.

Day 10: Kuressaare/Tallinn (B)Travel to Tallinn. Enjoy an included visit to Kadriorg Palace.

Today, we travel to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, where you might fall in love with this medieval town. Together we will visit the Kadriog Palace, which was built by Peter the Great for Catherine I of Russia. Currently, the palace is home to an art museum.

Approximate travel time: 4 hrs by private vehicle

Day 11: Tallinn (B)Spend a free day exploring Tallinn. Use your free time to visit the Museum of the Occupation, the Dome Church, and the open air museum, or to go sea kayaking, visit the beaches, or relax in a sauna.

You have the day free to explore this medieval city. You might use the free time to visit the Museum of the Occupation, the Dome Church, or the open air museum. Alternatively, you might want to go sea kayaking, visit the beaches, or relax in a sauna. See our optional activities list for more information on what you can do with your free time.

Day 12: Tallinn/Helsinki (B)Travel by ferry to Helsinki. Enjoy an orientation walk and free time.

This morning, we travel by ferry to the charming capital city of Finland, Helsinki. We will take an orientation walk before you have the remainder of the day free.

Helsinki sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central avenue, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by cultural and political institutions, including the National Museum, which traces Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present. Also on Mannerheimintie are the imposing Parliament House and Kiasma, a contemporary art museum.

Approximate travel time: 2-2.5 hrs by ferry

Day 13: Helsinki (B)Depart at any time.

Our program ends in Helsinki this morning. You may depart at any time. If you have the time, we recommend staying an extra day in Helsinki.

Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).

If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator, we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!

Details
Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here to go to our general FAQ, which has essential information that applies to all of our programs. 

 
Resources to Learn & Teach about the Baltics

Visit our recommended reading page to see the list of books GEEO recommends reading before your program (this is not required reading). We also have lesson plans and Pinterest boards that may be useful for you as you learn about your destination and prepare to bring lessons back to your classroom. 

 

Terms and Conditions

It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.

 
Cancellation policy

All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to travel@geeo.org. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.

  • If you cancel 60 days or more prior to departure, all your program fee payments will be refunded besides your $350 deposit which is kept on file for future use
  • If you cancel between 30 and 59 days prior to departure, you will receive a 50% refund and your deposit is kept on file for future use
  • If you cancel within 30 days of departure, you will receive no refund, but your deposit is kept on file for future use
 
Trip Notes
  1. LUGGAGE: In Europe, it is very rare to find elevators in train stations, hotels, or other public places. We use public transport on this trip, which means you will need to carry your luggage in and out of boats and buses, etc., and also possibly up several flights of stairs. You will also need to be able to stow your luggage safely on buses. You should be able to comfortably walk for 10-30 minutes at a time with your luggage. It is therefore essential that you pack light and bring luggage that is compact and lightweight. The carrying of your luggage remains your responsibility at all times.
  2. ORIENTATION WALKS: The orientation walking tours on this trip are often on cobblestone roads at steep grades and can last several hours in the heat of the summer. Feel free to opt out of these walking tours if you wish, as they can be quite physically taxing. In some cases, on the other side of the coin, they may move a bit too slow for you. If you have a map, a travel app, or guidebook, feel free to go off on your own. GEEO wants you to have the experience you desire, and sometimes that means separating yourself from the group.
 
Group Leader Description

All GEEO/G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of G Adventure’s group leaders, which they refer to as Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues, and introduce you to our local friends. Our itineraries often have plenty of free time to explore on your own.

While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.

 

Fitness Level

This trip includes light walking and hiking that is suitable for most fitness levels. In the cities, you can split apart from the group to go your own pace. Getting on and off transportation and walking with luggage requires some physical effort.

 

Single Travelers

Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves, so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy or, in other words, two people to a room. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender. Most of our trips have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email travel@geeo.org. To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.

 

Joining Instructions

Day 1 is an arrival day, and no activities have been planned. Upon arrival to the city on Day 1, or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us, please make your way to the joining hotel. Check-in time will be in the afternoon. Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note at reception from your tour leader. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on Day 1, usually between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., at which you will get a chance to meet your tour leader and other travelers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!

If you miss the Welcome Meeting, your tour leader will leave a note at reception for you with any information you may need and with instructions for the next morning.

When you arrive at the airport, you can reach Vilnius city center by public transport or taxi.

Public transport:

Blue screens at the airport exits display the public transport schedules, so you can find the next bus or train easily. Bus 88 will take you to the city centre/Old Town area, and busses 1 and 2 will take you to the main central station, which is an easy 10-minute walk from the Old Town. Bus tickets are €1 and are purchased on the bus in cash. You need to stamp your ticket in the red or yellow validation machines by the driver. You can also catch a train from the airport to Vilnius’s central station. This takes less than 10 minutes and costs under €1, however you are advised to check the schedule as they depart every 40 to 60 minutes.

Taxi:

There are plenty of taxis in a line outside the airport, but you can save a bit of money if you call to book a taxi yourself. You can ask the Vilnius Tourist Information Center (in the arrival hall of the airport) to call one for you. A taxi to the city center will be about €10-€15 and takes 15-20 minutes.

 
Emergency Contacts

Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call their local G Adventures office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS

G Adventures Berlin office: +4915203076785

If you are unable for any reason to contact the local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with the 24-hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.

Toll-free, from calls within North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from within UK: 0844 272 0000
Outside North America and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

For absolute emergencies after office hours please contact +44 7817 262559
If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, and your call will be returned as soon as possible.

 
Packing List

Please read this article on GEEO’s blog for our staff’s suggestions on the best gear to pack for your upcoming travels. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels. As a rule, we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 minutes with your bags, which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 22-30 lb. Most travelers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size. No XXL bags please! A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person plus a daypack per person.

 Suggested Checklist
  • Raincoat and/or umbrella
  • Personal clothing for cool to hot weather – we recommend packing 8-9 days of outfits so you only have to do laundry once
  • Long pants
  • Fleece top (It can be colder than you expect)
  • Sturdy walking shoes
  • Sport sandals or flip-flops
  • Bathing suit and small, quick-dry towel
  • Daypack
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat
  • Water bottle
  • Watch or alarm clock
  • Toiletries – Important: Some hotels do not give you soap and shampoo
  • Camera
  • First-aid kit, including: lip salve, aspirin, bandaids, anti-histamine, Dramamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, electrolyte powder, insect repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking
Optional Checklist
  • Travel pillow
  • Money belt
  • Phone/Tablet for internet – most hotels have WiFi
  • Chargers for electronics as well converters/adapters, if needed
  • Packing cubes
  • Earplugs
  • Snacks – packing a few granola bars is a good idea; you can also buy snacks when you get there, so don’t go crazy here
  • Ziplock bags
  • Reading/writing material
  • Hand sanitizer/Baby wipes
  • Light fleece top
Document Checklist
  • Passport (with photocopies)
  • Travel insurance (with photocopies)
  • Airline tickets (with photocopies)
  • EUR/USD cash
  • Credit or debit card
  • G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information, and dossier
  • Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
  • GEEO Classroom action plans for your group – this is sent 10-30 days before departure
 
Laundry

Laundry facilities are sometimes offered by some of the hotels. You can also use a  local laundromat if need be. 

 
Passports and Visas

All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport.  Please see our general FAQ for information on obtaining a passport. As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.

Americans do not need a visa for travel in any of the countries we visit on this trip. Non-American participants should check with their government or nearest embassies of the countries to which we are traveling to find out if they need a visa.

 

Money Exchange

As currency exchange rates fluctuate, we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com. ATMs are also widely available that distribute the local currency, and this is what we recommend as your primary source of cash while traveling. All the countries on this program use the Euro. Please make sure you bring at least $200 USD or Euro in cash as emergency money just in case you have trouble with the ATMs or lose your bank card. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops, but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee. Visa and MasterCard are useful for cash advances in an emergency situation. Please note that, if you are carrying U.S. Dollars, they should be in good condition (i.e., not torn, wrinkled, or marked on in any way) and printed recently.

 

Tipping

It is customary in Europe to leave a small tip for service providers, such as waiters, if you are pleased with the service (€1-2 for snacks or 10% of a meal bill). Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.

Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Tour Leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference. As a budgeting guideline, $35-$45 USD per person per week can be used.

 
Vaccinations

You do not need any vaccinations to travel on this program.

 
Flights

We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum number of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum number needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find out whether this trip has been confirmed here.

Your trip begins in Vilnius and ends in Helsinki. Please double check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Vilnius. You can arrive at any time of the day you choose, but we strongly urge you to arrive by 6:00 p.m. on Day 1 for our group meeting. You can depart from Helsinki any time on the final day of the trip.

 
Plugs and Converters

There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers. The adapter is the plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two to three-pronged power cord to match the prongs required by the local outlets. The transformer changes the local voltage to that required by your device.

All of the countries visited on this trip primarily use a European-style two circular prong plug. Their voltage is 220-240 Volts. U.S. outlets are 120V. Most new devices (phones and laptops) can handle the different voltage rates, but some devices only work on the U.S. standard of 120V. Check your device to see what voltage range it handles. Most transformer blocks will have an “Input” line that defines its voltage capacity. For example, “Input: 100-240V” means that it will work on voltages from 100V to 240V. If your transformer can’t handle the different voltage, you’ll need to purchase a voltage converter. You can find world regional voltage converters power packs at various vendors.

 
Expectations

Before you decide on traveling with GEEO it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. Remember, our programs are quite adventurous.

  • The purpose of the accommodation is to provide a safe, well-located place for you to sleep. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised, but do not expect luxury as we are trying to keep these trips as inexpensive as possible. Sometimes the accommodation is not air conditioned.
  • The same goes for transportation. We use a mix of transportation that gets our guests from location to location safely. Sometimes you will have full days and nights of transportation as our trips tend to cover a lot of ground. The transportation will often be an adventure in itself.
  • You must be able to easily carry or roll your luggage, so do not over-pack.
  • Many of our programs occur in locations where it is hot during the day. Please make sure you have thoroughly read the itinerary and can handle the group activities, which sometime include day hikes with your daypacks.
  • We recommend always carrying snacks with you. Meals can sometimes be far apart.
  • Please make sure you understand the role of your tour leader on this trip as they are not the traditional “guide” you may be expecting. While our trips are educational, they aren’t study/lecture trips. We want you to learn through exploring, and much of your experience will be based on how active you choose to be in acquiring knowledge and interacting with locals.

Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!

 

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region, and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

 

Weather

Weather in all of these countries is similar. Summer is very pleasant with daily highs typically ranging from the mid-sixties to the 80’s F. Make sure you pack some clothes for cooler temperatures at night.

 

Costs

Please keep in mind that this trip offers some free time to pursue activities that interest you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and note these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. Breakfasts are included in this trip, giving you the opportunity to eat out according to your own resources. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars and are rough estimates so you can budget your trip.

Tour Company Fee

See price in top right corner

Optional Activities

$40-$150 USD

International Airfare from the United States

Roughly $1,000-$1,700 USD
If you require assistance in booking your international airfare, we would be happy to help you. 

Insurance

$25-$200 USD
Please note: It is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.

Tipping

We recommend $60-$80 USD for your G Adventures tour leader. Budget another $30 USD for tipping local guides on additional activities.

Meals Not Listed in the Itinerary

$255-$335 USD

Laundry, Drinks, Phone Calls, etc.

Make sure you budget for these types of expenses

Souvenirs

Variable. At your personal discretion.

Non-Educator Donation

$100 USD (Suggested donation)

This is only for non-educator guests traveling with an educator on a GEEO trip. Educators and retired educators should not make this donation.

Optional Activities

Most optional activities are booked and paid for locally in the local currency. You do not have to decide in advance for which activities you would like to sign up. The prices listed are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please feel free to use them as a guide for budgeting your trip. The prices below are in Euros (EUR).

Vilnius

Frank Zappa Monument: Free

Gediminas Tower: €2 EUR

KGB Museum: €4 EUR

Nida

Nida Lighthouse: Free

Ethnographic Fisherman’s Museum: €2 EUR

Riga

Andrejsala Artists’ District: Free

Saint Peter’s Church: €7 EUR

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia: Free (Voluntary donation)

Riga Art Nouveau Center: €5-€20 EUR

Riga Castle: €3 EUR

Kuressaare

Kuressaare Castle: €2 EUR

Abruka Lighthouse: Free

Tallinn

Peter the Great Museum: €3 EUR

Bike tour around Tallinn: €20-€25 EUR

Occupation Museum: €5 EUR

Dome Church and Toompea Hill: €2-€6 EUR

Explore Old Town: Free

Sea Kayaking: €33 EUR

Helsinki

Ateneum Art Museum: €15 EUR

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress: Free

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum: €9 EUR

Bike tour of Helsinki: €50-€75 EUR

Photos