Join us on this Great Journey through Europe, the trip of a lifetime and an opportunity to retrace the traditional 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century “Grand Tour.” Travel through four countries and the western heart of the Continent on this carefully planned, exclusive itinerary. Cruise Holland’s waterways, surrounded by polder land reclaimed from the North Sea, and the fairy-tale beauty of the UNESCO-designated Rhine River and its Rheingau wine region; experience three of the world’s legendary railways and visit four important UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Frequent study leader and historian, John Meffert is a long-time proponent of preservation. As former director of the National Trust’s Southern Office, John now serves as a consultant on heritage conservation services in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, where he has also served as the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston preserving the historic resources of the city.
U.S./Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Day 1 and Day 2
Depart the U.S. On arrival in Amsterdam, enjoy a private cruise along the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-designated canals, lined with distinctly Dutch 16th- and 17th-century grachtenpanden (canal houses). Then, embark the deluxe AMADEUS SILVER II. This evening, join your travel companions for the Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner. (R,D)
Cologne, Germany – Day 3
Enjoy a leisurely morning on board cruising along the picturesque Rhine River to Cologne, one of Germany’s most ancient cities. Founded as a Roman military outpost in 38 B.C., Cologne has fl ourished as the Rhineland’s foremost mercantile and religious center from the time of Charlemagne to present day, and it is the birthplace of the original world-famous Eau de Cologne perfume. Explore the Altstadt (Old Town) and visit the historic Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), the fi nest example of High Gothic architecture in Germany. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose construction began in 1248 and lasted for six centuries, showcases such artistic treasures as the Milan Madonna and the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings. (B,L,D)
Koblenz/Rüdesheim – Day 4
Go ashore in the picturesque city of Koblenz, strategically positioned at the confl uence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and where Germany’s Roman past dates to 9 B.C., during the reign of Augustus Caesar. From the famous Deutsches Eck (German Corner), look out across the Rhine River to view the impressive, 19th-century fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, once the residence of the powerful Archbishop-Electors of Trier. Explore this historic city during a walking tour and see the twin-towered Basilica of St. Castor, which was built between the ninth and 13th centuries and features the Rhineland’s distinctive Romanesque architecture. Cruise through the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-designated Rhine River Valley, legendary for its scenery and riverside architectural treasures. Be on deck for a front-row view as, with nearly each bend in the river, steep, terraced vineyards rise on the slopes, medieval castles crown the crags and tranquil villages emerge along the banks. See the famous Lorelei Rock—legend holds that a beautiful siren once lured sailors here with her enchanting song. Dock in the medieval town of Rüdesheim, the heart of Germany’s wine country. Enjoy a tour aboard the unique Winzerexpress mini-train, traveling through bucolic countryside vineyards en route to a private tasting of German wines. Reboard the ship and cruise through the pastoral Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine-growing region, known particularly for its Riesling. (B,L,D)
Mannheim for Heidelberg – Day 5
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 how Heidelberg has preserved its authentic Renaissance-Baroque character, including the eight remaining arches of the famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) spanning the Neckar River. Visit the stately ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a 13th-century embodiment of the city’s medieval past perched above the river. (B,L,D)
Strasbourg, France – Day 6
The lively Alsatian city of Strasbourg fuses Old and New Europe. The Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a treasure trove of medieval houses, and the charming Ponts-Couverts—covered bridges flanked by watchtowers at each end—span its picturesque canals. It was in Strasbourg that John Calvin fi rst established a reformed parish. See remnants of the Reformation in the beautiful Protestant and Catholic Church of St-Pierre-le-Vieux and see the graceful sandstone Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame, a Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece that, according to the poet Goethe, rises “like a most sublime, wide-arching tree of God.” The fairy-tale appearance of a past era lives on in the Petite-France district, the historic miller, tanner and fishermen’s quarter along the Ill River. Nearby, member nations of the European Union engage in the daily discourse of the European Parliament. On board the ship this evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner. (B,L,R,D)
Basel, Switzerland/Berne/Interlaken/Zermatt – Day 7
This morning, disembark in Basel and transfer across the rolling Swiss countryside to Berne, Switzerland’s historic capital. Visit the city’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautifully preserved medieval gem noted for its arcaded sidewalks. Then, enjoy lunch in an 18th-century High Baroque-style granary converted into a traditional Bernese restaurant. Continue your journey through one of the most stunning areas of Switzerland, the spectacular Bernese Oberland, traveling from subtropical lowlands to the soaring heights of the Alps. Admire the impressive natural treasures of soaring, snowcapped mountain peaks, green, rolling hills, crystal-clear glacial lakes and densely wooded forests. Stop in the charming resort town of Interlaken, located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Here, you will fi nd the perfect vantage point for viewing the towering, UNESCO World Heritage-designated Jungfrau, an imposing summit in the Bernese Alps known as the “Top of Europe.” Then, enjoy a scenic transfer to the Alpine resort of Zermatt, located beneath the dramatic pinnacle of the iconic Matterhorn. Check into a chalet-style hotel. This evening, dine in a handsome, traditional Swiss restaurant. (B,L,D)
Zermatt – Day 8
Today, travel aboard the famous Gornergrat Bahn, the highest cog railway in Europe. Ascend through pine and larch forests and cross meadows ablaze with wildfl owers to the 10,100-foot-high Gornergrat. From the observatory atop the summit, delight in the sweeping vistas of Europe’s most breathtaking Alpine scenery—the serrated profi les of the Matterhorn, the Liskamm and Dufourspitze mountains and the vast Gorner Glacier. Return to Zermatt at your leisure, with the option to stop en route at Riffelberg for a panoramic view of the impressive Monte Rosa and the majestic Matterhorn. Join your travel companions for dinner this evening. (B,D)
Zermatt/Andermatt/Lucerne – Day 9
Relax during a scenic morning transfer from Zermatt to Andermatt aboard the fabled Glacier Express, “the world’s slowest express train.” Travel through the heart of the Alps, where the natural beauty of the mountains rivals the skill and ingenuity of the engineers who created the impressive rail route. Enjoy lunch in Andermatt before transferring to Lucerne and checking into the lakeside Five-Star HOTEL SCHWEIZERHOF. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure. (B,L)
Lucerne – Day 10
A long-favored destination of travelers, Lucerne is set against the backdrop of its deep blue lake and the rugged grandeur of Mounts Pilatus and Rigi. Begin your morning walking tour in the Weinmarkt (wine market), surrounded by historic burghers’ houses. See the Hofkirche (Court Church), one of the finest examples 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 across Lucerne’s most famous landmark, the delightful, 14th-century wooden Chapel Bridge, which spans the Reuss River and whose arched roof is adorned with paintings depicting Swiss history and mythology. Ascend Mount Pilatus by panoramic gondola to its 7000-foot summit for a magnifi cent 360-degree view of central Switzerland’s mountains, forests and lakes. Enjoy lunch in a summit restaurant before boarding the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Descend more than 5300 feet in less than three miles on return to the shores of picturesque Lake Lucerne, where you will embark upon a scenic cruise. Attend the the Farewell Reception in the hotel this evening. (B,L,R)
Lucerne/Zurich/U.S. – Day 11
Following breakfast, transfer to Zurich for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
The Golden Age of Amsterdam – Pre-Program Option
The historic heart of Amsterdam, laced with tree-shaded canals and showcasing colorful, historic neighborhoods, is the perfect prelude to your Great Journey. Visit the world-class Rijksmuseum, home to a prestigious collection of Dutch Masters paintings, and enjoy a full-day excursion to the quaint port towns of Edam, world-famous for its cheese, and Hoorn, one of the great historic seafaring towns of the Golden Age.
Accommodations are for two nights in the deluxe RENAISSANCE AMSTERDAM HOTEL.