This extraordinary 11-day “Grand Tour” of Europe features an incredible combination of river, rail, lake and mountain travel including five nights aboard the deluxe Amadeus Silver II. Journey through the Western heart of the Continent through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland, cruising the most scenic sections of the fabled Rhine River.
Richard Wagner, Ph.D., AIA, is a principal with David H. Gleason Associates, Inc., Architects, specializing in historic preservation and rehabilitation projects. From 1996 – 2016 he was founder and director of the Master of Arts in Historic Preservation Program, Goucher College, and Research Professor in Historic Preservation, The George Washington University. Dr. Wagner previously served as Urban Program Manager and Director of Special Initiatives for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center. His co-edited book The Future of Historic Preservation is to be published in Spring 2018 by Cambridge Scholars Publishers.
Day 1 and Day 2
Depart the U.S. for Geneva. Transfer through the subtropical Swiss lowlands to the soaring Alps, Switzerland’s stunning archetype of snowcapped peaks, crystal‑clear glacial lakes and densely wooded forests. Upon arrival at the chalet‑style Hotel Alex, located in Zermatt beneath the pinnacle of the iconic Matterhorn, check in and dine in the hotel’s handsome, traditional restaurant on Day 2. (d)
Ascend through pine and larch forests, crossing meadows ablaze with wildflowers and past distant peaks
blanketed by snow, aboard the highest cog railway in Europe, the Gornergrat Bahn. Sweeping vistas of breathtaking Alpine scenery unfold from atop the 10,100‑foot summit, where the serrated profiles of the Matterhorn, the Liskamm and the Dufourspitze mountains and the vast Gorner Glacier extend beyond
your periphery. Return to Zermatt at your leisure, with an optional stop at Riffelberg for a panoramic view of the Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn. Enjoy a Welcome Reception and dinner this evening in the hotel. (b,r,d)
Wind through the heart of the Alps to Andermatt aboard the fabled Glacier Express, “the world’s slowest
express train,” and delight in the natural beauty along this ingenious rail route. Enjoy lunch in Andermatt before continuing to the lakeside, Five-Star Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne. (b,l)
The rugged grandeur of Mounts Pilatus and Rigi reflected in a deep blue lake make Lucerne a long-favored travel destination. Begin your walking tour surrounded by historic burghers’ houses in the Weinmarkt
(wine market); then, see the Hofkirche (Court Church), an exceptional example of German Renaissance architecture, and the Lion Monument, dedicated to the Swiss Guards who gave their lives defending
Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Walk underneath tableaus of Swiss history and mythology painted on the arched roof of the 14th‑century wooden Chapel Bridge, Lucerne’s most famous landmark, spanning the Reuss River. Reach Mount Pilatus’s 7,000-foot summit by panoramic gondola for a 360-degree vista of central Switzerland’s unforgettable topography and lunch in a summit restaurant.
Board the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, to descend nearly 5,400 feet in less than three miles. Return to Lake Lucerne for a cruise along its placid waters—the glistening namesake of
Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” (b,l)
Early today, journey from the foothills of the Alps through the Bernese Oberland to admire the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Jungfrau, an imposing summit known as the “Top of Europe.” In Switzerland’s capital, Berne, enjoy lunch in an 18th‑century High Baroque‑style granary, today a traditional Bernese restaurant. Tour its beautifully preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site framed by the Aare River and its signature 15th‑century arcades. Continue across the bucolic Swiss countryside to Basel and embark the ship. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening. (b,l,r,d)
The lively Alsatian city of Strasbourg fuses Old and New Europe with French and German influence. In the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Old City, cobblestone lanes weave around medieval houses, and the
13th‑century Ponts Couverts, bridges flanked by watchtowers, span idyllic canals. In Strasbourg, John Calvin first established a reformed parish; view remnants of the Reformation in St‑Pierre‑le‑Vieux,
a simultaneum used by Protestant and Catholic parishioners. See the Romanesque‑Gothic Cathedral of
Notre Dame, whose graceful sandstone exterior, according to the poet Goethe, rises “like a most sublime, wide‑arching tree of God.” The Petite‑France district evokes a fairy tale, with its historic miller, tanner and
fishermen’s quarter of half-timbered houses along the Ill River. Nearby, member nations of the European Union engage in the daily discourse of the European Parliament. (b,l,d)
Mannheim, Germany, for Heidelberg
This morning, transfer from Mannheim to Heidelberg, where luminaries such as Goethe and Schumann once came to experience the intellectual atmosphere of Heidelberg University, the oldest in Germany, founded in 1386. To many on the historical “Grand Tours” of Europe, Heidelberg epitomized Germany, nestled in the densely wooded valley of the Neckar River and alive with the spirit of Romanticism.
On the walking tour, see the preservation of Heidelberg’s authentic Renaissance‑Baroque character, manifested in sites such as the eight remaining arches of the famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge). Visit the stately ruins of Heidelberg Castle, a 13th‑century embodiment of the city’s medieval past perched above the river. Later, cruise through pastoral Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine‑growing region, renowned for its Riesling. (b,l,d)
Dock in Rüdesheim, the medieval heart of Germany’s wine country. Enjoy a tour aboard the whimsical Winzerexpress mini‑train, while traveling through bucolic vineyards en route to a private wine tasting,
which highlights local Rieslings, including the crisp Klosterberg. Cruise through the dramatic UNESCO World Heritage-designated Rhine River Valley, where with nearly each bend in the river, terraced vineyards rise on steep slopes, medieval castles crown remote crags and tranquil villages emerge
along peaceful banks. See the famous Lorelei Rock—legend holds that a beautiful siren once lured sailors here with her enchanting song. Stop in historic Koblenz, strategically positioned at the confluence of the
Rhine and Moselle Rivers, for a walking tour. Here, Germany’s Roman past dates to 9 B.C., during Augustus Caesar’s reign. From the landmark Deutsches Eck (German Corner), view the 19th‑century fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, the former residence of the powerful Archbishop‑Electors of Trier, across the Rhine River, and see the twin‑towered Basilica of St. Castor, built between the ninth and 13th centuries,
showcasing the Rhineland’s distinctive Romanesque architecture. (b,l,d)
Arrive in one of Germany’s most ancient cities, founded as a Roman military outpost in 38 B.C. Since Charlemagne, Cologne has flourished as the Rhineland’s foremost mercantile and religious center, and it is
the birthplace of the world‑famous original Eau de Cologne perfume. Explore the Altstadt (Old Town) and see the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral); the nation’s finest example of High Gothic architecture, the Kölner Dom took six centuries to complete. Spend a leisurely afternoon cruising along the picturesque Rhine River and later, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner. (b,l,r,d)
Amsterdam, the Netherlands/U.S.
Following breakfast, disembark the ship and continue on the Golden Age of Amsterdam Post-Program Option or depart for the U.S. (b)
The Golden Age of Amsterdam Pre-Program Option
The historic heart of Amsterdam, laced with tree-shaded canals and stately 16th- and 17th-century merchant houses, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the perfect beginning to your Great Journey. Visit the world-class Rijksmuseum and enjoy a full‑day excursion to quaint Edam, world famous for its cheese, and historic Hoorn, one of the great seafaring towns of the Golden Age. Accommodations are for two nights in the deluxe Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel.
The Pre-Program Option is available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.