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.
Elihu Rubin is Associate Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and American Studies at Yale. He received a doctorate in architecture and a master’s in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor of arts from Yale. His first book, Insuring the City: The Prudential Center and the Postwar Urban Landscape (Yale Univ. Press, 2012) was awarded the Kenneth T. Jackson Prize from the Urban History Association and the Lewis Mumford Award from the Society of American City & Regional Planning History. Mr. Rubin’s work focuses on the making and meaning of the built environment; architectural preservation and the politics of “heritage planning.” An enthusiastic lecturer, Elihu has also made documentary videos relating to urban history, the politics of public spaces, urban redevelopment, architectural modernism, and street life.
U.S./Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Day 1 and Day 2
Depart the U.S. for Amsterdam. On arrival, enjoy a private cruise along the city’s UNESCO World Heritage‑designated canals, lined with distinctly Dutch 16th- and 17th‑century canal houses. Then, embark the deluxe Amadeus Silver II. Join your travel companions for the Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner on Day 2. (1r,1d)
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. (b,l,d)
Dock in 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. 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 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. Reboard the ship and cruise through pastoral Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine‑growing region. (b,l,d)
Mannheim 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. (b,l,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. On board the ship this evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner. (b,l,r,d)
Disembark the ship in Basel, and transfer across the rolling Swiss countryside to visit Switzerland’s capital, Berne, and tour its beautifully preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site framed by the Aare River and its signature arcaded sidewalks. Enjoy lunch in an 18th‑century High Baroque‑style granary, today a traditional Bernese restaurant. Journey from the subtropical lowlands through the Bernese Oberland to the soaring Alps. Here, Switzerland embodies its stunning archetype of snowcapped peaks, crystal‑clear glacial lakes and densely wooded forests. En route to Zermatt, see UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Jungfrau, an imposing summit known as the “Top of Europe.” Upon arrival in Zermatt, check into the chalet‑style Hotel Alex. Dine in the hotel’s handsome, traditional restaurant this evening. (b,l,d)
Ascend through pine and larch forests, crossing meadows ablaze with 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 Matterhorn. Enjoy dinner this evening in the hotel. (b,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 transferring to the 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.” Attend the Farewell Reception this evening in the hotel. (b,l,r)
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 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.