The Hague, Bruges, ‘s Hertogenbosch, Arnhem

The Hague, Bruges, ‘s Hertogenbosch, Arnhem

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: The Hague (d)

Upon arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport you will be welcomed by your Ruijs escort. Since you probably arrive early in the morning, you will first visit the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, located very close to Schiphol airport. Here you will see the industry in action at the world’s largest flower market. In a building approximately the size of 100 football fields many different kinds of flowers are traded, many of which arrive in the florist’s shops throughout Europe on the very same day. Continue to the charming city of Delft for a light lunch and afterwards a short walk to the historical center. It’s the birthplace of the painter Vermeer and well known because of the famous Delftware; the blue and white pottery. You will pay a visit to the Porceleyne fles where you will have a guided tour through the factory. You will continue to your hotel in The Hague. Check-in, unpack and settle in your rooms and in the evening you’ll meet your fellow travelers for a nice welcome dinner. Overnight in The Hague.



Day 3: The Hague (b)
After breakfast we continue to the Keukenhof, the largest and most beautiful flower garden in the world! In 2006 the Keukenhof will be open from March 23 until May 19. Well-marked paths take you all the way through the garden where dazzling carpets of color stretch as far as you can see. Lunch can be taken at one of the restaurants in the park. After visiting the Keukenhof, we head for Leiden, where one of the 19th century botanical gardens of Holland is situated. The garden was founded in 1575 as a medical herb garden for the University of Leiden. Keen gardeners, dendrologists and horticulturists from all over the world admire the design and to marvel over its contents. We return to The Hague, the seat of the government and home of the Royal Family. During the orientation tour you’ll see the Houses of Parliament, Palace Noordeinde, the Queens working palace and the Peace Palace. You will visit the Panorama Mesdag where you will see a unique panoramic painting showing the fishing village Scheveningen around 1880. Dinner on your own. Overnight in The Hague.

Day 4: The Hague (b)
Today you will visit Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, by train. Amsterdam is comprised of 70 islands, which are separated by nearly 50 miles of canals and connected by more than a 1000 bridges. We explore the city on a narrated canal excursion, passing gabled warehouses, arched bridges and colorful houseboats. The town was founded in the Middle Ages and has many historical buildings. You will start with a walking city tour ‘Canal House & Garden Tour’. Discover the hidden treasures behind the façades of Amsterdam's most impressive houses. With either an art historian or garden designer, you visit four or five locations around the 'Golden Bend' on the Herengracht – two completely furnished 17th-century houses on either the Herengracht or Keizersgracht, one 'single' and one 'double' mansion, and four gardens. The ‘Canal House & Garden Tour’ will be followed by a narrated canal cruise. After lunch you will visit the Rijksmuseum, the largest museum of the Netherlands you will view an unrivaled collection of 16th and 17th century art, including works by Rembrandt (Nightwatch) and other Dutch Masters like Vermeer en Frans Hals. The museum is under a major renovation from December 2003 on and will last until 2008, but the highlights are all on view at the Philips Wing of the museum. The rest of the day can be spend at leisure in Amsterdam.
In the late afternoon you will return to The Hague. Dinner on your own. Overnight in The Hague.

Day 5: Bruges (b,d)
Today you will check out after breakfast. Today you will leave for Bruges. You will drive through Rotterdam, passing the busiest port in the world and continue to Kinderdijk. At Kinderdijk you will see 18 windmills scattered through the landscape. Their size and beauty made them famous. It’s a beautiful example of land reclamation by the means of windmills. You will continue your journey and cross the border with Belgium to drive to Bruges. The town of Bruges seems to come straight out of the Middle Ages; with beautiful decorated houses, old guild halls and churches. Upon arrival in Bruges you will start with a guided walking tour through the picturesque center and discover the Beguinage, Our Lady Church with a statue of Michelangelo, the lake of Love and many other medieval sights. A canal boat ride is included as well as a visit to the Memling Museum. The afternoon can be spend at leisure. In the afternoon you will check in at your hotel and you can spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure in Bruges. Dinner and overnight in Bruges.



Day 6: Bruges (b)
After breakfast you will head for Ghent for a half day guided excursion. Visit to the St. Bavo Cathedral to admire the medieval painting of the Brothers Van Eyck, called 'the Adoration of the Lamb', followed by visit to the Graslei Guild houses, and passing the Gravensteen. Lunch (not included) in a local restaurant, where they brew their own beer, which is very common in Belgium and delicious too! The afternoon can be spend at leisure in Ghent, before returning to Bruges for overnight.

Day 7: ‘s-Hertogenbosch (b,d)
After breakfast you will check out and head back for The Netherlands again. Before crossing the border between Belgium and Holland, you will pay a visit to Antwerp. In Antwerp you will enjoy a guided walking tour of the historical centre of Antwerp. Walking around the historic city centre allows you to enjoy the results of eight centuries of Antwerp history, while passing through a maze of streets, alleyways and squares. You'll encounter majestic old landmarks such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Brabo statue and the Town Hall; as well as the modest simplicity of the 'Vlaeykensgang'. The people of Antwerp have always been said to have a refined palate - when it comes to food and drink! Because of its unique location, the city has been a port since the Golden Age (16th Century). All kinds of delicacies, beverages, herbs and spices from all over the world were imported through the Antwerp port. This exotic input and fascinating diversity is still part of Antwerp's culture today. Enjoy a nice lunch in one of the many restaurants. After lunch you will depart for your next hotel in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Dinner and overnight in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Day 8: ‘s- Hertogenbosch (b)
Today you will discover the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The Dutch usually call this city 'Den Bosch', but its official name is 's-Hertogenbosch. This literally means 'the woods of the duke'. That duke was Henry I of Brabant, who gave 's-Hertogenbosch its city rights and all associated trading privileges in 1185. To keep foreign armies and looters out, city walls surrounded many cities at that time. At a later stage, they were encircled by earth ramparts and bastions. The remains of much of these ramparts and bastions can still be seen in 's-Hertogenbosch today. The oldest part of 's-Hertogenbosch, right at its heart, is the triangular market square. Much of the original medieval structure of the city within the city walls is still intact today. The late-gothic St John's Cathedral ('Sint Janskathedraal'), the city hall in classical style and the oldest brick house, 'De Moriaan', remind us of days long past, as do the many narrow, winding streets, weaving their way through this part of the city, lined with warehouses and merchants' dwellings. You will first enjoy a guided walking tour of this city, before you enter one of the boats on the river “Binnendieze”. This river is the pride of the citizens of 's-Hertogenbosch, as well as a tourist "hot spot". In 2005 it was exactly twenty years ago that the boat trips on the city river started, which in many places actually runs underneath the city. Lots of visitors have shared in the many surprises of its exciting waterways, the unique quiet and the wonderful little "outlooks" en route. In special noiseless boats you will be guided through the centuries-old waterways of this mediaeval walled city. You will find an oasis of peace and quiet under this busy and lively city. The guided boat tours will run from half April through the end of October. The afternoon can be spend at leisure in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Overnight in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.



Day 9: ‘s-Hertogenbosch (b)
Today you will travel by train to Maastricht. Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and was founded by the Romans. The name is derived from Mosao Tajectum, which means river crossing. In Maastricht a coach will be waiting for you to take you to Margraten. This morning you will start with a visit to the American Cemetery Margraten, where all US victims of WW II, who were killed in The Netherlands are buried. You can put flowers on the graves, to show your respect. After your visit you will return to Maastricht for a guided walking tour of the city to see the Stokstraat Quarter, the Our Beloved Lady Church, the old city walls and the churches at the Vrijthof. In the afternoon you will have some time to spend at leisure in Maastricht, followed by an early pub-dinner (not included). In the evening you will return to ‘s-Hertogenbosch by train again. Overnight in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Day 10: Arnhem (b,d)
After breakfast you will check out and leave for Arnhem. On the way you will stop in Apeldoorn to visit the Palace ‘Het Loo’ with its beautiful gardens (closed on Monday), one of the most popular palaces in Holland. Palace ‘Het Loo’ was designed in the 17th century for William III and his Queen Mary. No longer used by the Dutch royal family -they moved out in 1975- it was opened as a national museum, illustrating three hundred years of history of the House of Orange-Nassau. You will have a guided tour of the palace. Afterwards you have time to walk through the gardens, ornamented in Dutch Baroque style with fountains, statues and portals. You will continue and travel to the National Park, “de Hoge Veluwe”, the largest national park in the country. Here you will have lunch before going to the Kröller-Müller Museum. You will start with a tour through the sculpture garden, one of the largest in Europe and spaciously laid with works of Rodin, Moore and Hepworth. Then you will have time to visit the museum which houses one the most complete collections of Van Gogh works in the world. After your visit, you will drive to your hotel in Arnhem for dinner and overnight.



Day 11: Arnhem (b,d)
After breakfast you will head for Giethoorn, a picturesque town that stands in the middle of the vast bogland area known as De Widen. Giethoorn is also called “Venice of the North”, because of all the waterways in this village. Peat used to be dug here on a massive scale, creating the many lakes in the region. You will enjoy monumental Giethoorn on a boat trip through the heart of this “Venice of the North”, as cars are not allowed. See the pretty thatched cottages of this village face onto the canals spanned by hump-backed bridges. Giethoorn is a really true Dutch village! Back to Arnhem for a Farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 12: Departure
This morning it is time to say Good Bye and leave Holland and Belgium behind. You will leave for the Airport of Amsterdam for your flight back home. The wonderful experiences of your vacation will become cherished memories…

Amsterdam, Bruges, Maastricht

Amsterdam, Bruges, Maastricht

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Arrive in Europe (l,d)
Upon arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport you will be welcomed by our Tour Director. As you probably arrive early in the morning, we will first visit Aalsmeer Flower Auction, located very close to Schiphol airport. Here we see the industry in action at the world largest flower market, the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. In a building approximately the size of a 100 football fields many different kinds of flowers are traded many of which arrive in the florist’s shop throughout Europe on the very same day. Continue the charming city of Delft for a light lunch and afterwards a short walk to the historical center. Its the birthplace of the painter Vermeer and know because of the famous Delftware; the blue and white pottery. You will pay a visit to the Porceleyne fles where you have a guided tour through the factory. We drive to our hotel, check-in, unpack and settle in our rooms. In the evening you’ll meet your fellow travelers for a nice and fine welcome dinner. Overnight: The Hague area

Day 3: Flowers everywhere (b,d)
After breakfast we continue to the Keukenhof, the largest and most beautiful flower garden in the world! Well-marked paths take you all the way through the garden where dazzling carpets of color stretch as far as you can see. Lunch can be taken at one of the restaurants in the park. After visiting the Keukenhof, we head for Leiden, where one of the 19th botanical gardens of Holland is situated. The garden was founded in 1575 as a medical herb garden for the University of Leiden. Keen gardeners, dendrologists and horticulturists from all over the world admire the design and to marvel over its contents. We return to the Hague, the seat of the government and home of the Royal Family. During the orientation tour you’ll see the Houses of Parliament, Palace Noordeinde, the Queens working palace and the Peace Palace. We’ll visit the Panorama Mesdag where we’ll see a unique panoramic painting showing the fishing village Scheveningen around the 1880. Return to the Hotel for dinner. Overnight The Hague area

Day 4: Amsterdam Sightseeing (b,d)
Today we visit Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. The town was founded in the Middle Ages and has many historical buildings. We will start with a visit to a Diamond Factory. Here you can see how diamonds are cut and polished. This is followed by a city tour and you’ll see the most important sights such as Dam Square with the impressive Royal Palace and New Church, Waterloo square. At the Rijksmuseum, the largest museum of the Netherlands we view an unrivaled collection of 16th and 17th century art, including works by Rembrandt (Nightwatch) and other Dutch Masters like Vermeer en Frans Hals. The museum is under a major renovation from December 2003 on and will east approx. 7 years! But the highlights are all on view at the Philips Wing of the museum. Amsterdam is comprised of 70 islands which are separated by nearly 50 miles of canals and connected by more than a 1000 bridges. We explore the city on a narrated canal excursion, passing gabled warehouses, arched bridges and colorful houseboats. we will visit the famous Hortus Botanical Garden of Amsterdam for a tour through the garden. This garden was created in 1682 for the cultivation if medicinal plants. In the greenhouse three different climatic zones are represented together with a palmhouse. In the late afternoon we return towards The Hague and we’ll have dinner in a local pub.



Day 5: Bruges (b,d)
After breakfast we drive through Rotterdam, passing the busiest port in the world and continue to Kinderdijk. Here we will see 18 windmills scattered through landscape and their size and beauty made them famous. It’s a beautiful example of land reclamation by the means windmills. We continue south towards the province of Zeeland. Zeeland almost completely flooded in 1953 and three years after this tidal wave, two solutions were proposed in order to prevent similar catastrophes: heighten the old dikes or block the Delta’s channels. Work began on the Delta Project, one of the largest engineering schemes in the world has ever seen and of phenomenal complexity and expense. It’s the on the Storm Surge barrier where we visit the Delta Expo to see and learn more about the project, its history and Holland’s response to it water problems. We cross the border with Belgium and drive to our destination Bruges. We check-in and diner at the hotel. Overnight Bruges

Day 6: Maastricht: (b,d)
The town of Bruges seems to come straight out of the Middle Ages; with beautiful decorated houses, old guild halls and churches. We’ll meet our local guide this morning and start with a walking tour through the picturesque center and discover the Beguinage, Our Lady Church with a statue of Michelangelo, the lake of Love and many other medieval sights.You have time to look at the many Belgian lace and chocolate shops in town. After lunch we leave and drive through the Flemish countryside towards Brussels, the new capitol of Europe. We’ll meet our local guide for a city tour partly by coach and walking to see the highlights of the capital. Or visit in Brussels the Botanical Gardens of Brussels, for a special tour through the greenhouses. The French speaking community of Belgium has its cultural centre here amidst the immense greenhouses. In the late afternoon we travel to our destination Maastricht. At the hotel, we check-in, unpack and settle in our rooms. Dinner will be at the hotel.



Day 7: Maastricht (b,d)
Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and founded by the Romans. The name is derived from Mosao Tajectum which means river crossing. This morning we start with a guided walking tour of Maastricht to see the Stokstraat Quarter, the Our Beloved Lady Church, the old city walls and the churches at the Vrijthof. After our walk we will cruise the river Maas to the Mount St. Peter Caves. Here we will have a tour by torchlight through a labyrinth of tunnels. The bus will pick us up again and we’ll drive to the center we you can choose one of the many restaurant to have lunch. After lunch we will take you first to Heerlen, to visit the Garden of Mrs. Ineke Greve, ‘Huys de Dohm’
The house “Huys de Dohm’ and the garden around it was built on the foundations of a hunting lodge, once owned by Emperor Charles the Great, Ineke Greve, the present owner, received inspiration from visiting numerous gardens in the U.K. and other countries. She used this experience, mixed with her own creativity, for her own garden. The gardens are dominated by a very precisely cut pattern of hedges, a total of sixteen gardens become through the year an integral entity. Admire the vegetable and herb garden, a ‘seed and pick’ garden, rose garden, spring-lane full of different bulbs, wooden garden, orchids and local wild flower garden etc. She wrote a book as well, called: With green fingers and dirty hands, in which she describes how the various parts of her harden, have developed. There are 200 photographs of the garden in the book. Continue to the Apostelhoeve located 10 minutes outside the city boundaries. Here at on top of the Louw Mountain we find the oldest and largest winery of the Netherlands. Here we have the chance to see how Dutch wine is made and you have the opportunity to taste some Dutch wines. Return to the city and the rest of the day is yours. Dinner at the hotel.

Day 8: Aachen and Monschau (b,d)
Another great Day. This morning we start with a visit to the American Cemetery Margraten, where all US victims of WW II, who were killed in The Netherlands are buried. We will put flowers on the graves, to show our respect. Our drive continues and we cross the border to Aachen, Germany’s most western city and one of the oldest. We visit the historical center with its cathedral dating back to the 8th century. We have time for lunch and to discover the city. Our next city is going to be Monschau, the ancient Eifel village, with its tall, narrow, slate-roofed houses located on the Ruhr River. You have time to walk around in this nice little town before we return to Maastricht. Fare-well dinner will be served at the hotel,



Day 9: Departure (b)
This morning its time to say Good Bye and leave Holland and Belgium behind. We depart for the Airport of Amsterdam for our flight back home. The wonderful experiences of our vacation will become cherished memories.….

Holland tour Valkenburg, The Hague

Holland tour Valkenburg, The Hague

Day 1: Overnight Flight

Day 2: Valkenburg (d)

Arrival at Schiphol airport. Your Ruijs tour escort will welcome you. Departure by private coach to Thorn, a small white village in the Province Limburg, once ruled by women. Stroll through the village and have a coffee/tea with 'vlaai', a kind of fruit flan, a regional delicacy. On to Heerlen, where we pay a visit to the private garden of Mrs Greve at 'Huis van Dohm'. You will be showed around this garden, famous for its flower beds, by the owner herself. Tea, coffee and cake will be served. On to Valkenburg to your hotel in the down town center of this holiday resort small town. We have selected Valkenburg, not far from Maastricht, because of its friendly atmosphere and centrally location for many excursions. Accommodation in Park hotel Rooding Valkenburg. Welcome dinner at your hotel.



Day 3: Valkenburg (b,d)
Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
On to Maastricht, the oldest city of Holland, founded by the Romans! It is the bustling cosmopolitan provincial capital of Limburg. The city has developed on the banks of the Maas River from which it takes its name. You will have a guided walking tour in Maastricht to see for example the Vrijthof square that is surrounded by cafés and restaurants and overlooked by two churches; the St. Servaasbasiliek and the St. Janskerk, the St. Servaas bridge, the medieval city wall and “Onze Lieve Vrouwe” church. Lunch on your own. After lunch we depart for the St. Peter’s Mount. It is above all famous for its caves, old quarries that have been worked since Roman times. The Romans started mining marl here - a type of chalk sandstone. You will have a guided tour with torchlight’s. Back to Valkenburg. Romantic dinner tonight in Castle Doenrade!

Day 4: Valkenburg (b)
Buffet breakfast at the hotel. This morning you will pay a visit to Margraten Military Cemetery, a memorial to all American soldiers who died in Holland during World War II. Continue to the city of Monschau in Germany. Monschau is a typical village with “Fachwerkhäuser” and a historical center. In the center you can see the Parish Church of St. Maria, the Red House, the Old Townhall and the Mustard mill. You will have time for shopping and exploring the city. Lunch is on your own. If time is permitting you will continue to Vaals, a resort which owes its animation to the proximity of the German frontier and “Drielandenpunt”. You will visit the Drielandenpunt, a meeting point (punt) of three (drie) countries’ (landen) frontiers: Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. From the top there is a panorama over the region, Aachen close by, Germany’s Eifel Forests, and in the distance, towards the west, Maastricht. In the late afternoon we will be back in our hotel. Dinner on your own, for example in a local pub.

Day 5: The Hague (b,l,d)
After breakfast we travel to charming city of Delft. Birthplace of the painter Vermeer and know because of its Delftware, the blue and white ceramics. You’ll pay a visit to one of the Delftware factories. We’ll continue to the city center with its nicely decorated city hall and impressive New church, where all the members of the Dutch Royal Family, House of Orange are buried. Typical Pancake lunch in Delft. On to your wonderful hotel in downtown The Hague, called Park Hotel, your home for the next 4 nights. The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government and home of the Royal Family. Dinner tonight in an Indonesian Restaurant, serving a so called ‘rice-table’ dinner. Indonesian food is considered typical Dutch food now. Rice is served with approx 10 different spicy dishes of vegetables, meat, chicken and fish. Of course this dinner can be replaced in a ‘regular’ dinner if your clients do not prefer spicy food.



Day 6: The Hague (b)
After breakfast we will have a short tour of this Royal City. During the orientation tour you’ll see the Houses of Parliament, Palace Noordeinde, the Queens working palace, the Mauritshuis museum, a beautiful small museum housing 3 famous Vermeer paintings and Carnegie's Peace Palace. We also pay a visit to Madurodam, to see Holland in a nutshell. Rest of the day at leisure in The Hague. Dinner on your own. Near your hotel there are numerous cozy and affordable restaurants.

Day 7: The Hague (b)
Full breakfast buffet at the hotel. By private coach to the Keukenhof Gardens the largest flower garden in the world for over 50 years! Well-marked paths take you all the way through the garden, which hold daffodils, narcissi, hyacinths and tulips. The display garden where over 6 million bulbs are planted by the Dutch bulb industry. On your way to the Keukenhof you enjoy a colorful ride through the bulb fields and see the growers at work. Lunch on your own. Continue to Zaanse Schans, the open air museum with windmills and old wooden houses just north of Amsterdam. Visit to a wooden shoe maker and cheese farm, both at the Zaanse Schans, is included. Zaanse Schans can be replaced by a visit to Volendam, former fishermen's village on the IJsselmeer. People still wear their traditional costumes and you can have your picture taken in these costumes yourself. Enjoy strolling in the narrow streets of this picturesque village. Back to The Hague for dinner on your own and accommodation.



Day 8: The Hague (b,d)
Full buffet breakfast at the hotel. On our way to Amsterdam, we will first go to Aalsmeer to see the industry in action at the world’s largest flower market; the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. In a building approximately the size of 75 football fields, many flowers and plants are traded. (Only possible Monday through Friday). If you wish this visit can also be made on the day of arrival, due to your early arrival. We continue to the capital of Holland, Amsterdam. In Amsterdam we have a city tour with a local professional guide to see the highlights of the capital of Amsterdam. You’ll start with a canal boat ride as Amsterdam is best seen from the water and you cruise through the canals lined with old trees and 17th century canal houses. During the city tour you’ll see the most important sights, such as the Dam square, Rijksmuseum, Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, New Church and many more. If you wish, a visit to Gassan diamond cutting factory is included. Rest of the day at leisure. Your tourescort will assist you with additional visits if you wish. Maybe a visit to Anne Frank House? Or the famous street market Albert Cuyp, or stroll through the Jordan area? Back to The Hague in the afternoon. Farewell dinner tonight in the beautiful Kurhaus in Scheveningen, the beach resort of the city of The Hague. Enjoy the view at the see.

Day 9: Flight (b)
After our buffet breakfast we depart to Schiphol airport for your flight back home.

Holland and Belgium Amsterdam, Maastricht, Ghent, and Bruges

Holland and Belgium Amsterdam, Maastricht, Ghent, and Bruges

Day 1: Overnight flight

Day 2: Amsterdam (d)

At the Airport Schiphol you will be welcomed by your tour manager. Transfer to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. During the city tour you’ll see the most important sights such as Dam Square with the impressive Royal Palace and New Church, the Waterloo square, the Rijksmuseum and many more. This will be followed by a private canal cruise to see Amsterdam from the waterside. Transfer to the Hotel for check-in and time to freshen up. In the evening meet your fellow travellers for a Welcome Dinner at a nice location in town.



Day 3: Amsterdam (b,l,d)
In the morning we’ll visit the Philips wing of the Rijksmuseum while the Rijksmuseum is being renovated, the largest Museum of the country. We’ll have a guided tour to see the masterworks of this era. From the museum we walk to the Leidse square where the American Hotel is located. Here lunch will be served. Afternoon visit Willet Holthuysen Museum a patrician house built in 1687 shows you how rich merchants lived at that time. Collection of pottery, glassware and goldsmith' work. Before dinner and after closure time you will have a private visit at Our Lord at the Attic church, a hidden church from the 17th century. Guus van den Hout will tell you the history of the hidden churches. A drink will be served in the souterrain of the house. Evening dinner will be served at the hotel. In the evening you will enjoy one of the classical performances which will be held at the famous Concert Gebouw or at one of the other locations (depending upon availability).

Day 4: Amsterdam (b,d)
This morning we’ll drive to the east towards the city of Apeldoorn situated in the heart of Veluwe and visit the famous for Palace Het Loo with its beautiful gardens. Designed in the 17th century for William III and his Queen Mary. No longer used by the Dutch royal family family - they moved out in 1975 - it was opened as a national museum, illustrating threehundred years of history of the House of Orange-Nassau. We’ll have a guided tour of the palace.
Afterwards you have time to walk through the gardens, ornamented in Dutch Baroque style with fountains, statues and portals. We’ll continue and travel to the National Park, “de Hoge Veluwe”, the largest national park in the country. Here we’ll have lunch before going to the Kröller-Müller Museum. You’ll start with a tour through the sculpture garden, one of the largest in Europe and spaciously laid with works of Rodin, Moore and Hepworth. Then you’ll have time to visit the museum which houses one the most complete collections of Van Gogh works in the world. We’ll drive back to Amsterdam and dinner will be on your own this evening. After dinner you’ll have a lecture about watermanagement and land reclamation in the Low Countries.

Day 5: Amsterdam (b,d)
After breakfast you will be transferred to the Central Rail station, by rail first class Intercity train for Maastricht. Baggage will be carried by the motor coach to the hotel in Maastricht. Just sit back and enjoy looking at the beautiful Dutch landscape. Arrival at the rail station in Maastricht, one of the oldest cities of the country. You will be transferred by coach to the hotel, then immediately depart for a walking city tour with a local guide. See the Romanesque Cathedral St Servaas and the Treasury of the Church of Our Beloved lady and the ancient walls. Visit the splendidly restored Stokstraat Quarter with upscale fashions and antiques. Dinner will be served at the hotel.



Day 6: Maastricht (b)
This morning you can explore the city on your own and after lunch we’ll leave the hotel and we take the boat to get to the Jesuits Caves to have a guided tour. Afterwards the special cultivated mushrooms which are growing in the caves can be tasted. We continue and you will visit one of the oldest wineries of the region and learn about the vinters craft and the various processes used to create fine wines. Enjoy wine tasting before you will return to the hotel. Dinner on your own.

Day 7: Ghent (b,d)
After breakfast you will leave Holland for Belgium and in the morning we travel to Mechelen to Gaspard de Wit Royal Tapestry works. The aim of the works is to preserve the Flemish tapestry-making tradition. You will see how old tapestries are restored and all work is done by hand as in the past. In several rooms you can admire the beautiful collection of this museum. We drive to Brussels where you will have so9me free time for lunch on your own at the Great Market Square. Don’t miss the 15C town Hall built by Anthony van Ruysbroeck. A local guide will meet you after lunch and will take you on a city tour on foot and by coach. See the main sights for Brussels such as the Royal Palace and the Palace of Justice. We will have a nice drink at a local cafe before we drive to the city of Ghent. Dinner will be served in the hotel.



Day 8 Ghent, Bruges (b)
Today after breakfast we’ll leave the hotel to see the famous painting “ The adoration of the Lamb” by the Brothers van Eyck in the St. Bavo’s cathedral. We continue with a walking tour to see the Belfort, the St. Michielsbrug and the Graslei. Before we drive to Bruges you’ll have time to have lunch. Then we continue through the beautiful Flamish landscape to the medieval city of Bruges where you will have a guided walking tour. You will see the Holy blood Chapel, the Belfort, Lake of Love and the Beguinage. Dinner on your own.

Day 9 Bruges (b,d)
In the morning we go to the Groeninge Museum, know for its masterpieces by Flemish primitives. Fine works by Van Eyck, Van der Goes and Memling. The rest of the day will be yours to explore the city on your own and you have a look inside in one of the many lace or chocolate shops. Your farewell diner will be at a nice location in town and you’ll have an unforgettable evening together with your fellow travellers.



Day 10 Flight (b)
Transfer to the airport for return flight.

Amsterdam, Bruges, Bayeux, Paris

Amsterdam, Bruges, Bayeux, Paris

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Amsterdam (b)

Upon arrival at Schiphol Amsterdam International Airport you will be welcomed by our Tour escort. Transfer to your Amsterdam hotel. The town was founded in the Middle Ages and has many historical buildings. We will start with a city tour and you’ll see the most important sights such as Dam Square with the impressive Royal Palace, New Church and Waterloo square. Visit the Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum of the country. It is known for its exception collection of 15C and 17C paintings. You can see the Dutch masters and besides Rembrandts famous painting the Night watch, you’ll see works of Vermeer, Steen, Hals and many other artists. From December 2003 on the museum will be under renovation. A mini Rijksmuseum with al the highlights is housed in the Philips Wing of the museum. We will end the city tour with a canal boat ride, as Holland is best seen from the waterside. The city is comprised of 70 islands which are separated by nearly 50 miles of canals and connected by more than a 1000 bridges. We explore the city on a narrated canal excursion, passing gabled warehouses, arched bridges and colorful houses boats. Evening welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant. Overnight in Amsterdam.



Day 3: Amsterdam (b)
After breakfast the coach will pick you up. We start with a visit to Anne Frank House, where the Jewish refugee wrote her famous diary during WW II. Here you will have an educational program to hear al the ins and outs. Take time to see the house, the library and absorb all information there is during WW II and the life of the Jewish community in Amsterdam during that time. Lunch in downtown Amsterdam. Walk with your tour guide. On to Van Gogh Museum, located on Museum Square. Enjoy the bright paintings and etches of Van Gogh. The tour will end with a visit to a Diamond Factory. Here you can see how diamonds are cut and polished. Transfer back to the hotel. Rest of the afternoon free for independent sightseeing. Dinner on your own. Optional visit to ‘Boom Chicago” at their intimate own theatre at the Leidseplein. These stand-up comedians, originally from Chicago give a good, mild critic and down-to-earth view on the Dutch and the Dutch society. Or lecture about the European commission given at one of the meeting rooms of the hotel or nearby the hotel.

Day 4: Amsterdam (b)
After an early breakfast, start this morning by private coach to see the industry in action at the world largest flower market, the Aalsmeer Flower Auction (only possible during week-days). In a building approximately the size of a 100 football fields many different kinds of flowers are traded many of which arrive in the florist’s shop throughout Europe on the very same day. Continue to Royal The Hague, the seat of the government and home of the Royal Family. During the guided orientation tour you’ll see the Houses of Parliament, Palace Noordeinde, the Queens working palace and Carnegie's Peace Palace. We pass along the Peace Palace, now the International Court of Justice (if possible) you will have a guided tour by an experienced guide who takes you through the entire Peace Palace with its unique history. See for yourself the Palace's corridors, Grand Staircase, Small Hall of Justice, Japanese Room, corridors, courtyard, and the Grand Hall in which the international Court of Justice holds sessions! We also visit the Museum of the Peace Palace. In the afternoon you will continue to Leiden, a lively town criss-crossed by canals. It is famous mainly for its university, the oldest in the country but also the birthplace of Rembrandt. In the 16th and 17th century Leiden welcomed numerous Flemish and French Protestants as well as English. In 1609 a hundred or so English Puritans arrived via Amsterdam, le by their spiritual leader John Robinson. They had to adapt themselves to their new urban conditions and applied themselves to various handicraft trades. A printing press published religious works which were exported to England and Scotland. Their stay became difficult and the Puritans decide to leave Leiden and go to America. Sailing from Delfshaven and the Speedwell they reached England and embarked on the Mayflower in Plymouth. The 102 emigrants among which there were 41 Puritans or Pilgrimfathers landed in December 1620 on the coast south- east of present – Boston and founded Plymouth Colony, the first permanent settlement establish in New England. A local guide will show you the mains sights during a Pilgrim Fathers walk. Don’t miss the Leiden Hofjes, almhouses built round a central courtyard or garden. If time is permitting you can visit the Leiden American Pilgrim museum. Back to Amsterdam for dinner (on your own) and overnight.

Day 5: Bruges (b)
After breakfast we check out and you will first visit Delft, the city of Holland related to our Royal Family. Admire the beautiful town square, with at one site the Renaissance town hall, dating back to 1618, and a creation of Hendrik de Keyser. At the other site the ‘New “Church dating back to1381. In this church all the members of the Dutch Royal Family are buried. Admire the new restored Mausoleum if William I the Silent, who was the first King of Holland, and who was murdered in 1584 in Delft. Delft is also the birthplace of the painter Vermeer and known because of the famous Delftware; the blue and white pottery. You will pay a visit to the Porceleyne fles where you have a guided tour through the factory. Continue to Rotterdam, where you will have a stop to see Delfthaven, Delft’s old port where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked and sailed for the New World. Also Piet Hein was born here in 1577 the Admiral who distinguished himself in Mexico in 1628 against the Spanish. Continue to drive south towards the province of Zeeland. Zeeland almost completely flooded in 1953 and three years after this tidal wave, two solutions were proposed in order to prevent similar catastrophes: heighten the old dikes or block the Delta’s channels. Work began on the Delta Project, one of the largest engineering schemes in the world and of phenomenal complexity and expense. It’s the on the Storm Surge barrier we visit the Delta Expo to see and learn more about the project, its history and Holland’s response to it water problems. Here we also will have a lecture by an expert. We cross the border with Belgium and drive to our destination Bruges. Or we can take the short way via Rotterdam-Antwerp-Ghent (where we can make a stop to see the medieval painting of the Brothers Van Eyck ‘Adoration of the Lamb ‘in the St. Bavo cathedral of Ghent You save approx 2 hours this way and have more time to spend leisurely in Bruges. We check-in and dinner will be on your own. Overnight in Bruges.



Day 6: Paris (b)
The town of Bruges seems to come straight out of the Middle Ages; with beautiful decorated houses, old guild halls and churches. We’ll meet our local guide this morning and start with a walking tour through the picturesque center and discover the Beguinage, Our Lady Church with a statue of Michelangelo, the lake of Love and many other medieval sights. You have time to have a look at the many Belgian lace and chocolate shops in town. After lunch we leave and drive south to Paris. Arrival in the late afternoon. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Paris.

Day 7: Paris (b)
After breakfast we start with a guided tour by coach to see main sights of Paris. Including views like the Notre Dame cathedral, the Opera Garnier, Arc the Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde, and the Eiffel Tower. Afternoon visit to the Louvre Museum with your Ruijs tourescort. You will have time to see the Mona Lisa and you will get an impression of this impressive museum. The tour will end at the Eiffel Tower, Paris most famous symbol. The construction was completed in 26 months and the tower opened in March 1889 for the Universal Exhibition of that year. You will visit the second floor to have a spectacular view over the city. At the end of the afternoon you will have an exchange with a French University, talk with the students and exchange thoughts about the different studies and educational program. Dinner on your own. Overnight Paris.



Day 8: Paris (b)
After breakfast you will leave the city for Versailles palace and gardens the former palace of Louis IV, the Sun King. Enjoy the Hall of Mirrors and all the other beautifully furnished Royal apartments during a guided tour. After the tour you can spend some time in the gardens and surroundings before going back to the center of Paris. In the afternoon visit the collection of Impressionism in the Musee d’Orsay to see some of the best works of Van Gogh, Monet and Cézanne. Dinner on your own. Overnight Paris.

Day 9: Bayeux (b)
After breakfast you will leave Paris behind and leave for Giverny to visit Monet’s Gardens. Continue to the Normandy beaches to see Omaha beach. Until June 6 1944 this name existed only as an Allied code word designating one of the sections of Normandy coastline to be assaulted in the early hours of that fateful day. Including the beaches of St-Laurent, Colleville sure Mer and Vierville sur Mer it was here that the US First Division made its first contact with French soil and it was here that the bloodiest engagement of D-Day was fought. You will visit the American cemetery at Colleville St Laurent a military cemetery which stands as a moving testimony to the thousands of young men who came from far shores to liberate an oppressed continent and who were cut down here and on the other invasion beaches by a tenacious defense. At the end of the afternoon you will drive to Bayeux, you will visit the Cathedral Notre Dame of Bayeux. Dinner on your own and overnight in Bayeux.

Day 10: Bayeux (b)
In the morning leave for Mont St. Michel, it has been called the wonder of the Western World. Its extraordinary site, its rich and influential history and its glorious architecture combine to make it the most splendid of all the abbeys of France. You will visit the Abbey and you will have an extensive view over the bay at the Plate –forme de l’Ouest. In the afternoon you will return to Bayeux to visit the Tapestry de la Reine Mathilde. This master piece of embroidery was probably made in England soon after the Conquests. It tells of the consequences of Harold’s failure to keep the oath the swore at Bayeux recognizing William’s right to succeed Edward the Confessor. Dinner on your own. Overnight at Bayeux.

Day 11: Paris (b,d)
In the morning depart for Chartres where you will visit the world famous Cathedral of Chartres, the Acrcopolis of France still beckons to the pilgrim far off across the endless cornfields of the Beauce. A local guide will show you around.
After the visit you will continue Paris for your farewell dinner. Overnight in Paris.

Day 12: Departure (b)
This morning transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

Holland and Belgium

Holland and Belgium

Day 1: Overnight flight

Day 2: Amsterdam (d)

At the Airport Schiphol you will be welcomed by your tour manager. Transfer to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. During the city tour you’ll see the most mportant sights such as Dam Square with the impressive Royal Palace and New Church, the Waterloo square, the Rijksmuseum and many more. This will be followed by a private canal cruise to see Amsterdam from the waterside. Transfer to the Hotel for check-in and time to freshen up. In the evening meet your fellow travellers for a Welcome Dinner at a nice location in town.



Day 3: Amsterdam (b,l,d)
In the morning we’ll visit the Philips wing of the Rijksmuseum while the Rijksmuseum is being renovated, the largest Museum of the country. We’ll have a guided tour to see the masterworks of this era. From the museum we walk to the Leidse square where the American Hotel is located. Here lunch will be served. Afternoon visit Willet Holthuysen Museum a patrician house built in 1687 shows you how rich merchants lived at that time. Collection of pottery, glassware and goldsmith' work. Before dinner and after closure time you will have a private visit at Our Lord at the Attic church, a hidden church from the 17th century. Guus van den Hout will tell you the history of the hidden churches. A drink will be served in the souterrain of the house. Evening dinner will be served at the hotel. In the evening you will enjoy one of the classical performances which will be held at the famous Concert Gebouw or at one of the other locations (depending upon availability).

Day 4: Amsterdam (b,d)
This morning we’ll drive to the east towards the city of Apeldoorn situated in the heart of Veluwe and visit the famous for Palace Het Loo with its beautiful gardens. Designed in the 17th century for William III and his Queen Mary. No longer used by the Dutch royal family family - they moved out in 1975 - it was opened as a national museum, illustrating three hundred years of history of the House of Orange-Nassau. We’ll have a guided tour of the palace. Afterwards you have time to walk through the gardens, ornamented in Dutch Baroque style with fountains, statues and portals. We’ll continue and travel to the National Park, “de Hoge Veluwe”, the largest national park in the country. Here we’ll have lunch before going to the Kröller-Müller Museum. You’ll start with a tour through the sculpture garden, one of the largest in Europe and spaciously laid with works of Rodin, Moore and Hepworth. Then you’ll have time to visit the museum which houses one the most complete collections of Van Gogh works in the world. We’ll drive back to Amsterdam and dinner will be on your own this evening. After dinner you’ll have a lecture about watermanagement and land reclamation in the Low Countries.

Day 5: Amsterdam (b,d)
After breakfast you will be transferred to the Central Rail station, by rail first class Intercity train for Maastricht. Baggage will be carried by the motor coach to the hotel in Maastricht. Just sit back and enjoy looking at the beautiful Dutch landscape. Arrival at the rail station in Maastricht, one of the oldest cities of the country. You will be transferred by coach to the hotel, then immediately depart for a walking city tour with a local guide. See the Romanesque Cathedral St .Servaas and the Treasury of the Church of Our Beloved lady and the ancient walls. Visit the splendidly restored Stokstraat Quarter with upscale fashions and antiques. Dinner will be served at the hotel.



Day 6: Maastricht (b)
This morning you can explore the city on your own and after lunch we’ll leave the hotel and we take the boat to get to the Jesuits Caves to have a guided tour. Afterwards the special cultivated mushrooms which are growing in the caves can be tasted. We continue and you will visit one of the oldest wineries of the region and learn about the vinters craft and the various processes used to create fine wines. Enjoy wine tasting before you will return to the hotel. Dinner on your own.

Day 7: Ghent (b,d)
After breakfast you will leave Holland for Belgium and in the morning we travel to Mechelen to Gaspard de Wit Royal Tapestry works. The aim of the works is to preserve the Flemish tapestry-making tradition. You will see how old tapestries are restored and all work is done by hand as in the past. In several rooms you can admire the beautiful collection of this museum. We drive to Brussels where you will have so9me free time for lunch on your own at the Great Market Square. Don’t miss the 15C town Hall built by Anthony van Ruysbroeck. A local guide will meet you after lunch and will take you on a city tour on foot and by coach. See the main sights for Brussels such as the Royal Palace and the Palace of Justice. We will have a nice drink at a local cafe before we drive to the city of Ghent. Dinner will be served in the hotel.



Day 8 Ghent, Bruges (b)
Today after breakfast we’ll leave the hotel to see the famous painting “ The adoration of the Lamb” by the Brothers van Eyck in the St. Bavo’s cathedral. We continue with a walking tour to see the Belfort, the St. Michielsbrug and the Graslei. Before we drive to Bruges you’ll have time to have lunch. Then we continue through the beautiful Flamish landscape to the medieval city of Bruges where you will have a guided walking tour. You will see the Holy blood Chapel, the Belfort, Lake of Love and the Beguinage. Dinner on your own.



Day 9 Bruges (b,d)
In the morning we go to the Groeninge Museum, know for its masterpieces by Flemish primitives. Fine works by Van Eyck, Van der Goes and Memling. The rest of the day will be yours to explore the city on your own and you have a look inside in one of the many lace or chocolate shops. Your farewell diner will be at a nice location in town and you’ll have an unforgettable evening together with your fellow travellers.

Day 10 Flight (b)
Transfer to the airport for return flight.

Madrid, Seville, Granada, Costa del Sol

Madrid, Seville, Granada, Costa del Sol

Day 1: Madrid
Buenos Dias! Your courier will greet you at the airport. Start the day with a City Tour of Madrid and see the Royal Palace, one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, Plaza de Espana and Plaza Major. Your local guide will also accompany you during a visit at the Prado Museum where you will find the greatest classical paintings of the world.



Day 2: Madrid (b,d)
Today you will visit medieval Toledo. Christians, Jews and Arabs have shared this place for centuries. See the old synagogue and the Church of Santo Tomé. And of course enjoy a sword workshop to see how the world famous Toledo swords are made. This evening you will enjoy a typical Tapas dinner.

Day 3: Madrid (b)
Enjoy a free day in Spain’s vibrant capital.



Day 4: Seville (b)
Transfer to Cordoba to see the Mezquita an ancient mosque cathedral. Continue to historic Seville, the capital of Andalusia.

Day 5: Granada (b)
A local guide will take you on a Seville City Tour. You will see the cathedral in which Christopher Columbus is buried, who returned to this city after his trip to America and you will visit the Giralda Tower. Continue to Granada, located in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada.

Day 6: Costa del Sol (b)
Visit the Alhambra, built by Moorish rulers. Tour the palace and adjoining terraced quarters of the Generalife. Transfer to the Costa del Sol, the Sunshine Coast.


Day 7: Costa del Sol (b)
Today you will have a free day to enjoy the sun and beautiful beaches.

Day 8: Departure (b)
Transfer to the airport and return home with great memories of Spain.

Montecatini Terme - Rome

Montecatini Terme - Rome

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Montecatini Terme (d)

Arrival at Florence airport. Your Ruijs escort will welcome you. Transfer by private coach to your hotel in Montecatini, your home for the next 4 nights. A local guide will come to your hotel for an orientation tour of Montecatini and will show you the down town area, shopping streets and famous spa’s. You will visit the Villa Garzoni in Montecatini, an amazing building dating back to the 17th century and you will visit the beautiful Italian gardens as well, with pools, grottoes, clipped tress, sculptures and mazes. Welcome dinner at the hotel and overnight in Montecatini.



Day 3: Montecatini Terme (b)
After breakfast you will make your first excursion to the nearby pearl of Italy: Florence. No city played a larger part in creation of the renaissance. The tour will be partly by foot and partly by coach. Upon arrival, join a walking tour with local guide; see the Duomo, the bronzed-door Baptistery, Piazza Della Signoria, Palazzio and Ponte Vecchio. Rest of the day at leisure. You can for example visit the Academia, with Michelangelo’s famous sculpture ‘David’ or the Uffizi Museum, which is one of the most famous fine arts museums of the world. But also a visit to the famous leather market is worthwhile! Enjoy the beautiful small squares, fountains and statues, which are all over Florence! Transfer back to Montecatini by private coach to the hotel at the end of the afternoon, for dinner (on your own) and overnight.

Day 4: Montecatini Terme (b)
After breakfast you will leave the hotel for some more interesting visits. Today you will visit the Medici Villa’s. You start with a visit of the Villa Pertraia and Villa Castello. Villa Petraia dates back to 1364 when it belonged to the Brunelleschi Family, then later to the PallaStrozzi family and afterwards the Medici family. In the time of the granduce Ferdinand the garden was planned by Tribolo. Villa Castello is very near by Petraia and as well designed by Tribolo. Both gardens are famous from the paintings of the Medici villas, the paintings of the Venus on the Shell and the Springtime by Boticelli which all were made for this Villa. Lunch at the Villa Artimino and then a visit to a very famous workshop in Tuscany: ceramic. Ceramic is a very important item in the Italian garden. If you wish, we can organise a workshop, and each participant can make his or her own small ceramic vase or pot with Tuscany design. Dinner on your own and overnight in Montecatini.

Day 5: Montecatini Terme (b)
After breakfast you will depart for a full day excursion to the heart of Tuscany. Admire the lovely hilly landscape, full of vineyards and olive groves. Your first stop will be in San Gimignano, the 14th century town with an authentic medieval atmosphere. Most interesting are the many medieval towers. Your guide will show you the Piazza Della Cisterna and the most beautiful Piazza del Duomo. This square with the Collegiate Church, the palaces and the seven towers is breathtaking! On the way to Siena, you will visit a winery and will learn every thing about Italian wine and of course taste the different wines. Siena, the Gothic town, is Italy’s best-preserved medieval hill town. Enjoy your guided tour of Siena. You will have some time to spend on Piazza del Campo, with its shell shape and typical Tuscan colors (orange/red). Piazza del Campo is known for its annual horse race, called The Palio. Visit the Santa Maria dell ‘Assunta, dating back to the 12th century and famous for its amazing black and white marble interior. Back to Montecatini for dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 6: Rome (b,d)
Today you will leave early after breakfast for Rome, where you will have a general tour of Rome with the coach and a local guide. Your guide will take you for an orientation tour of the city and show you the Colosseum, Forum Romanum, the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Navona. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight in Rome.



Day 7: Rome (b)
After breakfast departure by foot or public transportation for a tour with local guide to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel with its ceiling depicting the Last Supper by Michelangelo. The rest of the afternoon is free for shopping or optional activities, your tourleader will assist with suggestions. Dinner on your own and overnight in Rome.

Day 8: Rome (b,d)
This morning you will make the short journey out of Rome to the town of Subiaco with its monasteries and once the home of Saint Benedict, founder of Montecassino. Then on to the small town of Tivoli, perched high on a hill and a one-time retirement retreat for wealthy Romans. You will visit Villa d’Este where the gardens are the biggest attraction with its magnificent symmetrical terraces and lawns. Afterwards you will visit Villa Adriana, perhaps the most sumptuous of all in the Roman Empire and home of the Emperor Hadrian. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to Rome for overnight.

Day 9: Rome (b,d)
In the morning you will have a half day guided sightseeing by public transport. Today you will actually visit the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, which you have seen during your orientation tour on day 6. Your tourguide will tell you about the history of these ancient buildings and the activities that took place here. In the afternoon you will have time to spend your last hours in Rome at leisure. You can buy your souvenirs or visit one of the places of interest. Your tourguide can inform you about this. Farewell dinner in a local restaurant and overnight in Rome.

Day 10: Departure (b)

Caen, St. Malo, Tours, Paris

Caen, St. Malo, Tours, Paris

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Caen (d)

Arrival in Paris, meet the tourleader and driver and continue to Caen, where you will arrive in the afternoon a local guide will take you on a walking tour. Dinner and overnight in Caen.



Day 3: Caen (b,d)
This morning visit the Memorial and Peace Museum, it shows the social and military conditions in France during WW II leading up allied invasion of Normandy 1944. It also includes the Gallery of the Nobel Peace Prize. Rest of the day free. You may want to visit the Castle of Caen, partly spared from the air raids in 1944, or visit the Museum of Normandy and the Beaux Arts. The town hall and St. Etienne Church are also worth a visit. Dinner and overnight in Caen.

Day 4: Caen (b,d)
In the morning departure for Bayeux, were we visit the Tapestry of Bayeux which shows the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century. Afternoon visit to the World War II Normandy Landing Beaches (Juno, Sword, Gold) and Museum at Arromanches. Dinner and overnight in Caen.

Day 5: St. Malo (b,d)
After breakfast departure for visit to Mont St. Michel, to visit the small town and monastery which sit on a tiny island off the Normandy coast. Get to know the rich and influential history and the glorious architecture of the splendid abbey.
Dinner and overnight in St. Malo



Day 6: Tours (b,d)
In the morning travel from St. Malo to the Loire region. In the afternoon you will have some time to explore Tours and visit a winery. Dinner and overnight in Tours



Day 7: Tours (b,d)
After breakfast morning guided visit to the Renaissance Chateaux of Chenonceau one of the most famous of the Chateaux in the Loire. In the afternoon you will visit Amboise to see Leonardo’s Manor House of Clos-Luce where a museum has been set up displaying this futuristic inventions. Dinner and overnight in Tours

Day 8: Paris (b,d)
In the morning travel from Tours to Paris. In the afternoon you will have a half day city tour, including views of many of the city’s major sights, including the Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and the tour will end at the Eiffel Tower where you will visit the 2nd floor. Followed by an orientation trip on the Metro on the way to dinner in a pre-arranged restaurant. Overnight in Paris.

Day 9: Paris (b,d)
In the morning by Metro to the Musée d’Orsay or to the Louvre Museum, with a one hour guided tour of its highlights. Afternoon free for extended self-guided visits to areas seen on the half day city tour. Dinner at the Hard Rock café and overnight in Paris.

Day 10: Departure (b)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

Paris & Nice

Paris & Nice

Day 1: Departure

Day 2 : Paris (d)

Bienvenue à Paris! Your coach will wait for you at the station. Get your cameras ready for a coach tour of the most photogenic city on earth. A local guide will show you the treasures of Paris, including views of the Notre Dame cathedral, the Opera Garnier, Arc the Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde and the Eiffel Tower. Dinner together and overnight in Paris.



Day 3: Paris (b)
You are going to use the metro today. First to go to and explore the galleries of Le Grand Louvre, home of the enigmatic Mona Lisa, the triumphant Winged Victory and the graceful Venus de Milo. The Paris Visite card allows you to travel the whole day with the metro in Paris (zone 1-3). The afternoon is free to discover the feast for the heart and soul that waits around every corner in this great city. In the evening you will take a Bateaux Mouches cruise down the illuminated River Seine. Overnight in Paris.

Day 4: Paris (b)
After breakfast you will leave for a guided tour at the palace and gardens of Versailles, the former palace to Louis IV, the Sun King. Enjoy the Hall of Mirrors and all the other beautifully furnished Royal apartments. After the tour you can spend some time in the gardens and surroundings before going back to the center of Paris. Overnight in Paris.

Day 5: Paris (b)
Today your coach will bring you to Giverny. In Giverny you will find the house and gardens of Claude Monet. When Monet and his family settled in Giverny in 1883 the piece of land sloping gently down from the house to the road was planted with an orchard and enclosed by high stone walls. Monet bought the neighbouring piece of land as well and created a water garden, which is full of asymmetries and curves. This inspired him to create a Japanese bridge in his garden. Never before had a painter so shaped his subjects in nature before painting them. And so he created his works twice. Monet would find his inspiration in his water garden for more than twenty years. Every year 500.000 visitors discover Monet’s gardens during the seven months that it is open. After your visit of the house and gardens of Monet, you will drive to the city of Vernon, only 5 km from Giverny, to visit the Museum of Vernon. This museum is the only museum of the area exhibiting canvases by Monet, thanks to the generosity of the impressionist master and of his son. In the afternoon you will arrive back in Paris. Overnight in Paris.

Day 6: Tours (b,d)
Today you will leave Paris. Your destination will be Tours, a city in the Loire Valley. You will discover Tours during a guided city walk. You will visit the area known as "Old Tours" (formerly called Chateauneuf village), now one of the city curiosities with its narrow, often pedestrian streets and numerous XVth and XVIth century timber-framed houses. You will discover the famous place Plumereau which displays a fine group of timber-framed dwellings, and the Charlemagne Tower which used to be part of the Saint-Martin collegiate church, and the new Saint-Martin Basilica, a beautiful XIXth century church in which the grave and relics of Saint Martin are still visible. You will stroll along the picturesque medieval streets, where numerous shops still offer their rich crafts. Admire the façade of the Pierre Dupuy Mansion (XVth century), the Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier garden (Gallo-Roman ruins), staircases towers in the rue de la Rôtisserie. Dinner together and overnight in Tours.



Day 7: Tours (b)
Today you are going to visit Chateau Chenonceau and Chateau Chambord. The chateau of Chenonceau, which seems to have crossed the centuries without suffering from the attacks of time, still stands today as one of the finest examples of the French Renaissance. 4 centuries after its building, Chateau Chambord still mystifies one’s imagination: 156 meters of façade, 56 meters high and 440 rooms…In the afternoon you will go wine tasting in a Vouvray wine cellar. Overnight in Tours.

Day 8: Nice (b,d)
Today a long day of traveling. Your coach will bring you to Paris, where you take the high-speed train to Nice. In the evening you will arrive at your hotel. After check in dinner at the hotel and overnight in Nice.



Day 9: Nice (b)
In the morning you will have a guided walking tour of Nice. It’s worth taking the time to discover Nice: wander at random through the narrow streets of the old town and then stroll along the famous “Promenade" before entering into the heart of the city with its rich architectural and cultural heritage and its parks and gardens. Nice has a total of 19 museums and galleries, 32 classified historical monuments and 300 ha of parks and gardens, woodland and green areas in addition to 150 ornamental lakes and fountains. The afternoon can be spend at leisure in Nice. Overnight in Nice.

Day 10: Nice (b)
Today you are going to visit Monaco. On your way to Monaco you will make a short stop in Eze, where you are going to visit a perfume factory. This part of France is undoubtedly the perfume capital of the world due to its geographical location, which provides a rich natural environment, and flowers of exceptional quality. 2/3 of the French production of natural fragrances is produced in this area. The sales turnover of this activity represents more than 600 million euros and the sector employs more than 2700 people. After visiting the factory in Eze, you will continue your way to Monaco. Upon arrival you will make a tour in the ‘Azur Express’. These little trains in the national colors make daily journeys with a commentary in English, Italian, German and French. During the trip you will discover the Port, Monte-Carlo and its Palaces, the famous Casino and its gardens, before returning to the old Town with its city hall and the Prince’s Palace. The afternoon is free to explore Monaco on your own. Your coach will bring you back to Nice for overnight.

Day 11: Nice (b,d)
Today you will have a full day at leisure to do your last souvenir shopping. In the evening you will enjoy a Farewell dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Nice.

Day 12: Departure
After breakfast you will leave for your flight back to North America.

Paris, Caen, Loire, Auxerre, Beaune, Avignon, Nice

Paris, Caen, Loire, Auxerre, Beaune, Avignon, Nice

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Paris (d)

Arrival at Paris airport, where your coach and Ruijs tour escort will welcome you. Transfer to your hotel in Paris. Take some time to fresh up. In the afternoon we enjoy an orientation tour of Paris with a local guide, who will take us on a half-day tour of the “City of Romance”. First a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic Churches. Next the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Elysees, the world’s most famous avenue and the Arc de Triomphe, the largest triumphal arch in existence, built to commemorate Napoleon’s victories. Admire the enormous steel structure: the Eiffel Tower; the most fascinating as well as the most beloved symbol of Paris. Next on to the Place the Invalides, and many other famous highlights. At the end of the tour we will visit the Louvre Museum, containing the world's greatest art treasures such as the Venus de Milo, winged Victory, the Mona Lisa and the French Crown Jewels. Welcome dinner in a local restaurant, close to the hotel.



Day 3: Paris (b,d)
Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Today we will board our motor coach and meet our local guide for an exciting half-day tour to see the Chateau de Versailles. Versailles is one of the most well known palaces of France. This incredible palace offers something for everyone, wonderful paintings, tapestries and wonderful gardens with hundreds of fountains. The remainder of the day is free to see more exciting sights of Paris. You might select to visit one of the other museums such as the Picasso Museum or the Pompidou Center’s modern art museum, visit the Sacre Coeur and Montmatre to see the sidewalk artist, or just wonder around the Ile de la Cite and have lunch in the Latin Quarter. Dinner at Place du Tetre, behind Sacre Coeur. Have your portrait made! It is touristy, but very often people enjoy the special atmosphere. Overnight Paris

Day 4: Paris (b,d)
Full buffet breakfast at the hotel.
Day excursion to Claude Monet's Garden and House at Giverny, about 50 miles north west of Paris into the French country side. We admire the home, museum and the restored 4 acre gardens of the French impressionist and painter Claude Monet. He lived here from 1883 to 1926 and found his greatest happiness in gardening and painting his famous canvasses in this garden. See the bridges festooned with wisteria arch over the water lilies below, just as Monet painted them. Return to Paris in the afternoon. Free time, maybe time to visit Museum d'Orsay to see the masterworks of Monet and many other impressionist painters. Or if time permitting we suggest to visit: Chateau de Bagatelle, located on the edge of Paris where beautiful blue and gold iron gates lead into a number of French and English style gardens. The orangery overlooks parterres and an outstanding rose trial garden. On a slope above, a Chinese pagoda overlooks sweeping lawns dotted by outstanding specimen trees. Tonight a 4 course dinner including wine is served at the restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower with magnificent view.

Day 5: Caen (b,d)
Full buffet breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast departure for Normandy. First stop is in Bayeux, to see the cathedral and the most famous embroidery of the world, Mathilda's tapestry, depicting the battle of Hastings (UK) in 1066, her husband William the Conqueror was involved with. On to Caen on the coast to enjoy dinner and accommodation. Evening walk optional to see the city of the Normans, with the 'Eglise de la Trinite' and the great fortress, built by William in 1060.



Day 6: Caen (b,d)
Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the morning you will visit the museum of Peace in Caen. Afterwards continue on to the landing beaches where on June 6th 1944 the biggest operation in military history took place. Take the time you need to experience the historical value of Caen. Rest of the day at leisure. Dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 7: Loire (b,d)
Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Departure for the Loire area, via Mont St. Michel, the wonder of the Western World and France most glorious and famous abbey. Walk around the Abbey, the church, the Refectory filled with light from its recessed windows and the Abbey Gardens. Cross the dike, the abbey can be reached nowadays at high tide. On to the Loire area for dinner and accommodation.

Day 8: Loire area (b,d)
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning at leisure. After lunch we will visit our first Chateau. We will have a guided tour of Chateau Chenonceau, the chateau built over the river Cher. This chateau is a jewel of the French Renaissance, built in several stages in the sixteenth century. This chateau became the residence of the great Ladies of the Court, justifying its Nickname “Chateau des Dames’. Dinner in a local restaurant, offering Loire specialties.



Day 9: Loire area (b,d)
Breakfast at the hotel. Today we continue to visit the fascinating chateaux, so well designed in the landscape of the Loire. It is the combination of the architecture in the lovely, hilly river valley, that makes this area so appealing. On to Chambord, to visit the chateau built in an immense park. Attributed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci, who did not live long enough to see his building. Chambord is an UNESCO World heritage building. Afternoon visit of Tours, the former important centre of trade and administration under the Romans. Worthwhile visiting is the old town, with an old tradition of guilds, making the city so attractive. We will visit the 'Musee du Compagnonage' where fine examples of the work of craftsmen like roofers, blacksmiths, and carpenters are to be seen. During the tour we will pass the Musee des Beaux Arts, houses in the fomer Bishop's Palace the La Pasalette, the cathedral cloisters and Cathedrale St.-Gatien. Time for shopping in Tours. Tonight a nice dinner cruise on the River Cher is scheduled. The boat ‘La Belandre” , air conditioned and upper deck with seats, departs near Chenonceau and last 2 ½ hours. Dinner will be served on board while you cruise on the Indre-et-Loire.

Day 10: Loire area (b,l,d)
Breakfast at the hotel. Today we visit the famous vineyards of the Loire, producing well known Loire wines! From Blois to Tours the climate and soil are the perfect territory for a surprising range of white or red, dry or sweet wines. Prestigious red wines with names of Chinon, Bourgueil and Saint Nicolas. White wines are combined with names of Vouvray and Montlouis. We have a choice. A lecture is always included. Or we visit the eastern part, starting with the wineries of Sancerre, famous for its dry white wines. Wine tasting included. Continued by a visit to the Vineyards of the ‘Vins de l’Orleanais’ with Orleans as its capital. Or visit the western part of the Loire area, with a visit to Bourgueil, where you will hear about the raspberry aromas that are given off by deliciously fragrant reds. Also visit to the wineries of Chinon white wines, where strawberry flourishes their product. A picnic lunch is included today, with delicacies of the area, like the ‘crottin de Chavignol’ goat cheese, the ‘Paris’ mushrooms, the ‘croquets’ sweets (soft sweet made of almonds, sugar and egg whites) and baguette, the French bread. We will end the day with a visit to the famous Vouvray, Loire’s best known wine, where in the caves old wines are stored. Dinner in the area.



Day 11: Auxerre (b,d)
Breakfast at the hotel. Today is a special day! We will travel to La Varenne to Chateaux du Feÿ, where Mrs Anne Williams has her famous cooking school, in the Burgundy area. We will have a full conducted afternoon at the Chateau and learn about French bakery, the use of wood ovens, walk the grounds and see how vegetables and herbs are cultivated. We offer traditionally feature a bread demonstration with a French baker at the chateau's old bread oven. The demonstration last till approx. 4 / 5 pm in the afternoon and of course the participants can take away the bread they made with the master baker. We will drink a glass of Burgundy cremant after the demonstration in the Chateau. Dinner in a regional area. Overnight in Auxerre.



Day 12: Beaune (b,d)
After breakfast we continue our tour south. First stop is in Vezelay, to visit the town including the magnificent Romanesque Basilica of Ste. Madeleine, the greatest building in all of Burgundy. On to Beaune, the wine capital of the World, and capital of the Burgundy area, considered to be the most French part of France! Admire the medieval town and famous for its 'Hospice the Dieu' with the remarkable tile roof. Here the annual wine auctions are taking place. In Beaune region we visit the Domaine Jayer-Giles, to see how wine is cultivated, prepared, and stored. Wine tasting at the Domaine. If time permitting, we visit the village 'Nuits St. George’ and taste the local wine here. Dinner in a local restaurant, offering the specialties of the area, like 'pigeon pule', poulet de bresse roti, creme de Cassis and sumptuous Cote de Beanne.

Day 13: Avignon (b,d)
After breakfast we are heading south and travel through the famous wine regions of Chalonnais, Maconnais and Beaujolais. Lunch on your own, will be at one of the vineyards on the way to Avignon. Our home for the next 3 nights is in Avignon, in the heart of the Provence Region. Dinner at the hotel.



Day 14: Avignon (b,d)
Breakfast at the hotel. A local guide will come to the hotel for a half day orientation tour of Avignon, the Papal City and a visit to the majestic Palais de Papes, medieval home of the Popes is included. Admire the Pont St. Benezet, which history begun in the 11th century. It was for a long time the only stone bridge over the River Rhone, bringing the town a lot of prosperity. Enjoy the wonderful down town area, with nice boutiques, restaurants and out door cafe's. Rest of the day at leisure. Dinner in a local restaurant offering Provincial cuisine.

Day 15: Avignon (b,d)
Today we pay a visit to Arles, the Roman city at the mouth of the Rhone River, and where we visit the Roman amphitheater. We also visit a streetmarket and your guide will show how to choose fresh vegetables and herbs. On to Remi de Provence, famous for its ancient monastery St. Paul de Mausole. This is where Van Gogh stayed during his madness. Back to Avignon for dinner and accommodation.



Day 16, Nice (b,d)
After breakfast we continue our trip to Nice for the last night of our France experience. On the way to Nice, and if time permitting, we make a stop in St. Paul de Vence, the beautiful picturesque village where artists are living and you stroll long the many art galleries. Settle into your hotel in Nice and spend some free time here. Dinner will be in the hotel, in order to have time for packing, last minute shopping.

Day 17, (b)
After breakfast transfer to the airport of Nice.

Stockholm, Jonhoping, Copenhagen, Oslo, Flam area, Bergen

Scandinavia: Stockholm, Jonhoping, Copenhagen, Oslo,
Flam area, Bergen


Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Stockholm (d)

Early arrival in Stockholm and transfer to the hotel. Guided walking city tour in the old city, Gamla Stan in Swedish (Riddarholm church, Royal Palace, City Hall). Welcome dinner in hotel or local restaurant. Overnight in Stockholm



Day 4: Jönköping (b)
Depart from Stockholm to Jönköping, an attractive town on the southern shores of Lake Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake. In the afternoon visit the Matchstick museum. Check-in into the hotel. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Jönköping.



Day 5: Copenhagen (b)
Continue to the Danish border, where you will briefly stop in Helsingborg (visit Kronborg castle, the settings for Hamlet’s Shakespeare). Continue to Copenhagen where a local guide will show you the highlights of Copenhagen (town-hall topped by the first World Clock, the Christiansburg castle, the Royal Palace area, Tivoli gardens and the Little Mermaid). Check-in into your hotel. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Copenhagen.



Day 6: Night boat Copenhagen-Oslo (b,d)
Excursion to bustling market town of Roskilde (30KM). Visit the spectacular cathedral-burial place of Danish Royalty since the 15th century. In the afternoon driving up north again to visit Fredericksburg. This huge castle stands in the middle of a lake and represents a superb example of Renaissance architecture. Return to Copenhagen and catch the night ferry to Oslo. Dinner and overnight on board.

Day 7: Oslo (b)
Arrive at the docks in Oslo this morning where you will be met by a local guide to show you your first view of the Norwegian capital. See the Town hall, the Domkirken Cathedral and the Royal Palace. Continue on to visit the Folk museum at Bygdoy and lastly to your hotel to check in and relax. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Oslo.

Day 8: Flam area (b)
After breakfast you will board the Oslo-Bergen railway line Norway’s most scenic. Enjoy a journey past forests, alpine villages and starkly beautiful Hardangervidda plateau. Rest of afternoon is to relax and enjoy this beautiful surrounding. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Flam area.

Day 9: Bergen (b)
After an early breakfast you will enjoy a cruise to Sognefjord, world’s longest fjord. The Sognefjord extends for 120 miles inland, passing quaint villages that can not be reached by road. In the late afternoon head for Bergen. Dinner on your own along the way. Overnight in Bergen.



Day 10: Bergen (b,d)
After breakfast a local guide will show you around in Bergen. See the fish and flower market and the merchant warehouses. Drive past the Viking Hall used for Royal ceremonies and see St. Mary’s Church. Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon take the cable car up to Mount Floyen and enjoy the views of Bergen and the harbor. Farewell dinner in local restaurant

Day 11: Departure (b)
After breakfast depart to Bergen airport for your flight back home.

Stockholm – Helsinki – St Petersburg – Tallinn – Helsinki

Stockholm – Helsinki – St Petersburg – Tallinn – Helsinki

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Stockholm (d)

Upon arrival in Stockholm you will be welcomed by your multi lingual tourguide. Välkommen till Sverige! (Welcome to Sweden). Stockholm is one of the world’s most beautiful national capitals due to its unique setting on 14 islands between Lake Mälar and the Baltic Sea. Transfer to the hotel and check-in. Welcome dinner and overnight in Stockholm.



Day 3: Stockholm (b)
After breakfast you will have a guided city tour of Sweden’s beautiful capital. See Stockholm’s canals, castles and palaces. These are perhaps the most beautiful sights of the Scandinavian capitals because the crystalline waters which flow through the intersecting canals gives a luminous appearance to the palaces, castles and parks. During the tour you will pass through Gamla Stan, the oldest and most attractive part of Stockholm, containing old houses and the Royal Palace which is the largest royal castle in the world and still in its original use. Afternoon visit to the Uppsala Cathedral (Uppsala is a one hour drive from Stockholm) and also a visit to the famous University. Dinner on your own and overnight in Stockholm.



Day 4: Stockholm (b)
In the morning free time in Djurgarden, the Royal park with many attractions and museums. You may want to visit Skansen, the worlds first open-air museum. The museum has over hundred traditional houses and other exhibits.
Late afternoon departure by ferry to Helsinki. Dinner on your own and overnight on ferry.

Day 5: Helsinki (b,d)
Breakfast on ferry. Morning arrival in Helsinki. Although it is Finland’s largest city, Helsinki is small and intimate compared to other Scandinavian capitals. You will start with a city tour of Helsinki, passing highlights such as the City Gardens, the Senaatintori (Helsinki’s central square), the Presidential Palace and the cathedral. You will finish your tour at the Finnish National Opera House where you will be guided around. Afterwards check-in at your hotel and some free time. Dinner together and overnight in Helsinki.



Day 6: Helsinki (b)
In the morning you will visit the open-air museum of Seurasaari, located on a beautiful green island. The island is a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city. At the museum the traditional Finnish way of life is displayed in the cottages, farmsteads and manors of the past 4 centuries. All the different provinces of Finland are represented in the well preserved old buildings. Afternoon time to spend on your own. You may want to visit Suomentlinna Island (15 minutes by ferry). On this island you can experience the fortress, which was built during the periods of Swedish and Russian rule, enjoy the parks, the sea and the nature of the archipelago. Suomenlinna has seven museums, there are guided walking tours, exhibitions and quality handicrafts. Dinner on your own and overnight in Helsinki.

Day 7: St. Petersburg (b,d)
In the morning possible Mass Service in the cathedral of Helsinki. After the service, departure for St. Petersburg. You will drive along the beautiful King’s Road, with its medieval castles and fortresses, ancient churches and manor houses, beautiful old towns and Hermitage museums. Evening arrival in St Petersburg. Dinner together and overnight in St. Petersburg. St Petersburg is known as the beautiful city of channels and impressive architecture, great historical Hermitage and vibrant cultural life, the home for many famous artists and poets, a symbol of Russia on the Baltic Sea. At the same time, St. Petersburg is a completely untypical Russian city. It was founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great. Despite its short life so far, Petersburg has a rich and exciting history. From the early days of Peter the Great's "Venice of the North" to the modern events of the 1991 coup d'etat, the city has always bustled with life and intrigue, revolution and mystery. There are numerous architectural landmarks, museums, palaces, parks, wide avenues, spectacular bridges and stylish monuments.



Day 8: St. Petersburg (b,d)
After breakfast you will start with a city tour of St. Petersburg. Drive along Nevsky Prospect, see monumental St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and explore Palace Square, the historic heart of St. Petersburg. In the afternoon visit the Vodka Museum. It is widely known that Russians drink Vodka ‘to warm up’ in the cold hard climate of Russia. At the end of the visit, taste some very good vodkas! Dinner together in typical local restaurant and overnight in St. Petersburg.

Day 9: St. Petersburg (b)
In the morning drive to Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin) where you visit the spectacular Catherine’s Palace and its famous Amber Room. This beautiful royal estate, constructed by Rastrelli, was built for Empress Elizabeth in a beautiful countryside setting near St. Petersburg. Afternoon free for exploring the city on your own. Dinner on your own and overnight in St. Petersburg.

Day 10: St. Petersburg (b)
This morning free to spend. You may want to visit the museum of Rimsky-Korsakov, have a stroll in one of the many parks or go to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan – built as duplicate of the Vatican’s Basilica of St. Peter.
In the afternoon you will visit the State Hermitage Museum. The museum occupies six magnificent buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva, right in the heart of St Petersburg. The leading role in this unique architectural ensemble is played by the Winter Palace, the residence of the Russian Tsars. Dinner together and overnight in St. Petersburg.

Day 11: Tallinn (b,d)
A full day drive to Tallinn with stops on the way! Early evening arrival in Tallinn, capital of Estonia. Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic States and the most Scandinavian. Tallinn fronts a bay on the Gulf of Finland and is dominated by Toompea, the hill over which it has tumbled since the Middle Ages. Check-in at the hotel and some free time. Dinner together and overnight in Tallinn.



Day 12: Tallinn (b)
Start the day with a partly coach and partly walking city tour of Tallinn. You will see the twin towers of Viru Gate, Town Hall square - centre of Tallinn life – as well as Toompea, with the Alexandr Nevsky Cathedral and Toompea Castle.
In the afternoon you are free to discover this most beautiful and well kept center. Dinner on your own. This evening you will witness a very special tradition of Estonia (as well as of the Scandinavian countries). Tonight is the so-called Midsummer night, the night before Midsummer day! These are names given to the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24) and the preceding night (St. John’s Eve, June 23). Midsummer is about the time of the solstice. This Midsummer night always goes accompanied with big bonfires! Overnight in Tallinn.

Day 13: Helsinki (b,d)
This morning time for leisure on your own. Visit for example Rocca al Mare. An outdoor museum where wooden buildings from 18th and 19th century rural Estonia have been assembled to recreate the olden days. Afternoon ferry crossing from Tallinn to Helsinki. Enjoy your farewell dinner with Folklore show and overnight in Helsinki.


Day 14: Departure (b)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Prague

Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Prague

Day 1: Departure
Fly in and out of Vienna, the ideal starting and finishing point for this round trip pilgrimage. Well known as the city of musicians and home of the Waltz, Vienna also has something special to offer to the pilgrims.



Day 2+3: Vienna (b,d)
During your two nights stay here you will have the opportunity to visit one of the most spiritual places in Austria, Mariazell. The church celebrated its 8th centenary in 1957, thanks to the Habsburgs' cult of the Virgin of Mariazell and the continued devotion of the people. Take a special tour of the city to learn as you go of the turbulent as well as glorious years experienced by the Catholic church throughout the 20th centuries in Europe.

Day 4: Budapest (b,d)
From Vienna you will head east into Hungary, bound for the capital city of Budapest. Again, not only will you experience Budapest as the "Paris of the East" during a tour of the divided city, but you will continue to learn the history of the Church as you go.



Day 5: Budapest (b,d)
On the second day of your stay, travel to nearby Esztergom, one of Hungary's most historic cities. Visit the Christian Museum and the Primate's Palace as well as the Esztergom Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Hungary placed high on a hill overlooking the Danube.



Day 6+ 7 + 8: Krakow (b,d)
Continue your pilgrimage through peaceful Eastern Slovakia into Krakow, Poland, one of the most important stops on your trip. Spend three nights here, in the third largest city in Poland, where kings ruled the land from Wawel castle until 1596. In addition to a visit to Wawel castle, there will be two full days of spiritual retreat. One to Czestochowa and the other to Zebrzydowski. Czestochowa is the spiritual heart of Poland, site of Jasna Gora, the Pauline monastery founded in 1382 and location of the Black Madonna. Zebrzydowski is visited by pilgrims from all over the world who wish to honour the Funeral and Ascension of Maria and to visit Wadowice, the birthplace of the Pope.



Day 9 + 10: Prague (b,d)
The last destination of your spiritual tour is Prague, better known as the "Jewel of the East". In addition to visits to Hradcany (Prague) Castle, the glorious cathedral and Vysehrad, you will visit places that were of significant importance in the history of religion in Czechia. Among these is the church of "Our Lady of Victory" where you will find the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Day 11: Vienna (b,d)
From Prague return to Vienna where you will spend your last night before returning home.

Day 12: Departure (b)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

Berlin, Dresden, Prague

Berlin, Dresden, Prague

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Berlin (d)

Arrival at Berlin airport. Your Ruijs escort will welcome you. Transfer by private coach to your Berlin hotel. Take some time to rest. Afternoon boat tour on the Spree River. See the many canals and river Spree that connects the city's network of big lakes. Your first and relaxing impression of Berlin. Welcome dinner at your hotel or in a local restaurant.



Day 3: Berlin (b)
After breakfast a local professional guide will come to the hotel for a 4 hours tour of former West Berlin. We will drive along the well-known Kurfürstendam, Berlin's most famous avenue. This is where you find many of the best shops and department stores and a great deal of people-watching! Pass the Gedachtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm memorial Church tower), symbol of the futile destructiveness of WW II and continue to drive through the vast Tiergarden, a park Situated in the central part of the City and which will eventually contain the new museums which will consolidate the collections of the museums in the former East and West Berlin. Pass the remarkable new Houses of Parliament with a lot of glass, masterpiece of architecture. We will make a short stop at Dahlem, where several museums are housed. One of the most interesting will be the Gemaldegalerie, which has a wonderful collection of old masters. The most interesting is the painting called "The Man with the Gold Helmet', which was long thought to be painted by Rembrandt, but has been shown to be by one of his pupils.( visit not included). The tour will be followed by visiting one of the outstanding sights of Berlin: Charlottenburg Palace, built by Frederick, king of Prussia, for his wife Queen Charlotte. We will tour this great baroque palace with its gilt interior and the Weisse Saal, which was His Highness' dining room. Afternoon is free for independent sightseeing. Dinner on your own. After dinner we will attend a performance in the ‘Staatsoper Unter den Linden’ in former East Berlin. Superb venue for performance in old glamour style!

Day 4: Berlin (d,b)
After breakfast departure from the hotel for half day tour of former East Berlin. You will see the marked difference. In eastern half of the city, you will find that under the Communist regime, the architecture is generally either a very drab, institutional style or splendid restorations and recreations of old structures. It is the latter that will draw our attention. The famous avenue is Unter Den Linden, with its revival at the moment of the lively period in 1930/1933. We pass the two most recognized structures in Berlin, the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, which was in East Berlin until the wall came down. We also pass Berliner Dom, Deutsche Staatsoper and Platz der Akademie. We will stop and visit the 'Haus am Checkpoint Charley'. This was the allied checkpoint were foreigners were obliged to pass to enter East Berlin. Now a film about the wall, its history and the numerous attempts to escape from East to West, are to be seen. We also visit Pergamom Museum, one of the most unique museums in the world. Admire the Pergamom Altar, part of the Zeus temple, from a town that us now Turkey. Dating from 160 - 180 B.C. Afternoon guided tour to Potsdam, the former 'Locus Potztupimi', where you will visit the palace Sanssouci, which used to be the country-residence of Frederic the Great. Walk in Western direction to the Neues Palais (New Palace) where you can see the 'Marmorsaal'. Dinner in a local restaurant in Berlin



Day 5: Dresden (b,d)
After breakfast we will depart to Dresden. Dresden is attractively located on the Elbe River. This city was almost completely destroyed during the last month of World War II, but nearly every building has been restored in the mean time. Dresden is a pearl on the River. Lunch on your own in Dresden. After lunch we start with a city tour with a local professional guide. We start with a visit to the Zwinger Museum, one of the most important museums in Europe. Also this building was nearly completely destroyed in the war in the massive air-raids, but has been rebuilt exactly as it was. Inside, the collection has such treasures as 'Sistine Madonna' by Raphael and other works by Rembrandt, Holbein, Titian and many others. There is also a sizeable collection of porcelain and glass. During our city tour we pass Semper Opera House, built between 1871 and 1878. The Opera house owes its forms to the Italian Renaissance. Tiered facade and each wall furnished with twin niches and statues. We also stop at the Cathedral, an enormous basilica edifice, influenced by Italian baroque. Check into the hotel. Dinner in a local restaurant in Dresden.



Day 6: Prague (b,d)
After breakfast the coach will bring you to Prague and you will check in into your hotel. In the afternoon you will enjoy a guided city tour to see sights like the Charles Bridge, the old town hall with its Gothic horloge, the St. Nicholas Church, visit to the Prague Castle. This castle was founded in the 9th century, then rebuild and extended many times. When you enter the castle you will see sights like the St. Vitus Cathedral and the Golden Lane, a 16th century tradesman’s quarter of tiny houses built into the castle walls. The novelist Franz Kafka lived and wrote in the tiny house at No. 22. Dinner on your own and overnight in Prague.

Day 7: Prague (b,d)
In the morning you will visit, together with a local guide, the oldest ghetto in Europe the Jewish Quarter. It was cleaned up and redesigned in the late 19C. See the Old-New Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery, where the dead are buried on 12 levels because of the lack of space. Afternoon you will visit the Castle of Karlstein founded by the builder of “Golden Prague” Emperor Charles IV. The medieval castle is situated high on the rocks and was meant to be a safe place to keep the crown jewels and holy reliquaries. Return to Prague for your farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 8: (b)
After breakfast transfer from the hotel to the airport of Prague for your flight back home.