Welcome to Amsterdam! meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at your hotel.
Your discovery of Holland features a morning sightseeing tour of the capital with a Local Guide. Enjoy a CANAL CRUISE past gabled merchant houses, arched drawbridges reminiscent of the Golden Age, and the strikingly modern buildings of a young-at-heart city. Next, visit the fabulous RIJKSMUSEUM with priceless paintings by Rembrandt and other Dutch masters. Then, time to explore Dam Square and the city center on your own, or to join your Tour Director for a visit to a major DIAMOND CENTER to appreciate how a rough mineral is transformed into a sparkling jewel. Afternoon at leisure. An optional excursion is available to a cheese farm, a clog maker, a working windmill, and dinner in the fishing village of Volendam at the former Zuiderzee.
Start with an early highlight visit to the impressive AALSMEER FLOWER AUCTION, where more than 17 million flowers and two million plants are sold each day. (Departures April 4-May 16 visit the famous bulbfields of South Holland and the extraordinary flower park of KEUKENHOF instead.) Next, continue to the world-renowned ROYAL DELFT POTTERY FACTORY with its magnificent collection of hand-painted earthenware pieces, and see skilled craftsmen at work. After an orientation drive of The Hague, seat of the Dutch government and the International Court of Justice, return to Amsterdam and visit the ANNE FRANK HOUSE.
Enter the Province of Brabant, and stop in the picturesque town of Nuenen, the “Van Gogh Village.” Enjoy a unique experience: follow Van Gogh’s footsteps in the town where he lived and worked from 1883-1885, visit the fascinating museum, and learn about his life, family, and early paintings, like the world-famous Potato Eaters, which he painted there. Next, cross the border and stop in Bastogne. Here, visit the fascinating BASTOGNE WAR MUSEUM, then see the North and South AmericaN MEMORIAL of the Battle of the Bulge, where thousands of soldiers and civilians died during the winter of 1944-1945. Arrive in Luxembourg, the capital of one of Europe’s smallest sovereign states.
Morning sightseeing with your Local Guide covers the city’s past and present—from the fortifications and the Old Town, perched high atop a sandstone outcrop with striking views of the Alzette and Pétrusse Gorges, to the modern administrative center of European institutions. Visit the CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY, see the turreted Grand Ducal Palace, take a stroll along the panoramic cliff path known as “the most beautiful balcony in Europe,” and see the GRAVE OF GENERAL PATTON. An optional excursion to Trier in Germany can be arranged.
A highlight visit today: drive through the Belgian Ardennes to Flanders and arrive in WATERLOO, where Napoleon was defeated and European history changed course. Your Lion Hamlet Pass gives you access to the Visitor’s Center, where the Lion Mound, the films, and the Panorama help you relive the famous Battle of Waterloo. Arrive in Brussels, the thriving capital, where your orientation features the Rue Royale, the Parliament Buildings, the Royal Palace, and St. Michael Cathedral. Continue on foot and enter GRAND’PLACE to admire its baroque guild houses and the gothic Town Hall. You cannot leave Brussels without touching the statue of Everard ‘t Serclaes, a 14th-century hero, for good luck, and taking pictures of the tiny but world-famous statue of Manneken Pis.
Focus on Bruges, one of Western Europe’s most perfectly preserved medieval towns. [LF] A CANAL CRUISE (weather permitting), during which you can try Belgian CHOCOLATE BONBONS, will give you a first taste of this delightful town. The Local Guide will show you the Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo in the CHURCH OF OUR LADY and the famous MARKET SQUARE. Also enjoy a traditional LACE DEMONSTRATION, a reminder of Bruges’ history of cloth-making. Time for souvenir hunting and exploring on your own before returning to Brussels.
This morning is your chance to join a half-day optional excursion to Antwerp, the second-largest Belgian city and one of the world’s most important ancient seaports. Tonight, an [LF] included farewell dinner with wine at the lively Chez Léon restaurant, specializing in moules & frites (mussels & fries), is the perfect way to celebrate the success of your vacation
After the breakfast free time. At the appropriate time transfer to the airport to fly back home.