Grand Tour of Germany
Holland and Belgium
May 31 – June 17, 2019
Friday, May 31 – Home City/Hamburg
Depart today on your overnight flight to Hamburg, Germany.
Saturday, June 1 – Hamburg
Upon arrival in Hamburg, Germany, site of the 110th Rotary International Convention, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Sunday, June 2 – Hamburg
This and every morning, breakfast will be served in your hotel. Prior to the opening ceremonies, discover the Hanseatic city of Hamburg on a guided tour immersing yourself in the unique atmosphere and enjoy a piece of Hamburg’s lively culture. Hamburg has a lot to offer from Jungfernstieg with its upmarket shops, the downtown lakes (the Binnenalster and the Aussenalster), the Reeperbahn (Hamburg’s entertainment district), to the largest harbour in Germany and the old Speicherstadt (warehouse district).
Strolling through time you will discover the historical beauty of Hamburg’s Speicherstadt accompanied by a guide clad in the traditional robes of Hamburg’s merchants of old. This strikingly picturesque commercial and warehouse complex with its unmistakable red-brick architecture, green copper crowns, charming modest towers, bay windows and gabled roofs offers you unique views of historical urban beauty. Aromas of roasted coffee, tea and various spices from around the world fill the air. On a little hill, not far from the harbor, you will find the “Michel”, Hamburg’s landmark. It is 132 meters high and Germany’s most important prProtestantaroque building. The view from the platform, 82 meters high is worth the exhausting ascent of 432 stairs. (Elevator also available) A bold glass structure rises above the historic Kaispeicher A, a monumental redbrick block at the western tip of Hamburg. An architectural vision has become reality – the Elbphilharmonie concert hall is Hamburg’s new cultural landmark. The design combines tradition and modernity just where the Hanseatic city is at its most authentic: directly on the water and in the heart of the city. The Elbphilharmonie opened in January 2017 as one of the world’s finest concert halls. Join us this evening, following the Opening Ceremonies, for the now famous Hamden Rotary Club Tours Cocktail Reception. (B, CKTL)
Monday, June 3 – Hamburg
Breakfast will be available in your hotel this morning, prior to a day filled with several Plenary Sessions during the convention hours. Tonight you may wish to choose one of the many Host Committee Events available. (B)
Tuesday, June 4 – Hamburg
Breakfast will again be available in your hotel. Plenary Sessions and events of the Rotary International Convention continue. Tonight, you may wish to choose one of the optional tours available. (B)
Wednesday, June 5 – Hamburg
Again, breakfast is served in your hotel this morning. The Plenary sessions and events of the convention continue. Tonight, enjoy the unforgettable Closing Ceremonies. (B)
Thursday, June 6 – Hamburg/Berlin
After breakfast this morning, you will depart for Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is perceived both nationally and internationally as a pulsating creative metropolis. Since the fall of the wall and German reunification, an interesting design landscaped with agencies, ateliers, showrooms, fairs, and sales platforms has emerged on the Spree. Upon arrival, you will begin your visit with a tour of historical Berlin; it’s fascinating monuments, the Political Berlin; with its government area and along the Embassy Quarter, and the cultural Berlin; passing many theaters, museums and the divided Berlin; with Checkpoint Charlie and the former border crossings. This evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner. (B,D)
Friday, June 7 – Berlin
Breakfast will be served this morning in your hotel. You will begin your day with a taste of one of the things that makes Berlin different from other cities: their graffiti and street art at its finest. While you may be used to graffiti as a “crime”, in Berlin they have allowed their young people, fascinated with this art form, to channel it into something quite interesting. Your tour will highlight the building high paintings, unintelligible colorful bold letters making unknown or funny words. These artists make surreal figures cut out of rough wallpaper and plastered on a wall. Even traffic lights become objects of art. Your guide will point out these and many others as you make your way through the city. This afternoon you will receive a “day pass” to independently explore Museum Island. Between 1823 and 1930, a unique ensemble of museums emerged on Spree Island. This UNESCO World Heritage site consists of five individual museum buildings: The Altes, the Alte Natonalgalerie, the Neues Museum, (designed as a “sanctuary for art and science), the Bode Museum and the Pergamonmuseum are oriented towards the Kupfergraben. Your pass is valid for unlimited entry to all of the museums on Museum Island. (B)
Saturday, June 8 – Berlin/Brussels
This morning, after breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is a great historical city with a variety of architectural styles such as Gothic, Art Nouveau and, Contemporary. It is in a geographically strategic place with proximity to the main commercial routes established since medieval times in Europe. Your walking tour covers all the main sights of the old city of Brussels. Starting in the famous Grand Place, you will follow the winding streets and discover the sites of the beginning of the city over 1500 years ago. From the 61cm high statue of Mannekin Pis to the birthplace of Tintin, the star of Europe’s most popular 20th century comic, you will discover the town that is known by many as the capital of Europe. This evening you will participate in a pub crawl in a country that boasts over 1000 beers. Enjoy dinner and learn the beer heritage and taste great beers. (B,D)
Sunday, June 9 – Brussels (Antwerp)
This morning you bid farewell to Brussels and travel to Antwerp. Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour through Antwerp, which is Europe’s second largest seaport which through the years has played a very critical role in the history of the city. While Antwerp enjoyed the benefits of the sea with trade and commerce and the open blue water, its vulnerable position also attracted Vikings and others. Antwerp is definitely the historians’ paradise, with each building and monument having its own tale and its own slice of history to share. Enjoy a walk through Vlaeykensgang and immerse yourself in the Middle Ages. Admire the beautiful statue of Rubens designed by Vain in 1840. Right in the heart of the city, the Grote Markt is a favorite location. Dominated by the elegant and grand Renaissance style City Hall on one side and a row of guild houses and old patrician houses on the other, the Grote Markt represents the history of Antwerp. You will visit the Rubens House. Rubens was one of the greatest painters of his time. His works can be found all around the world. In the Rubens House, you will get acquainted not only with Rubens the master painter, but also with Rubens the family man, the architect, the manager, the collector, the graphic artist and the society figure, as well as the inspiring role model that he was.This morning you bid farewell to Brussels and travel to Antwerp. Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour through Antwerp, which is Europe’s second largest seaport which through the years has played a very critical role in the history of the city. While Antwerp enjoyed the benefits of the sea with trade and commerce and the open blue water, its vulnerable position also attracted Vikings and others. Antwerp is definitely the historians’ paradise, with each building and monument having its own tale and its own slice of history to share. Enjoy a walk through Vlaeykensgang and immerse yourself in the Middle Ages. Admire the beautiful statue of Rubens designed by Vain in 1840. Right in the heart of the city, the Grote Markt is a favorite location. Dominated by the elegant and grand Renaissance style City Hall on one side and a row of guild houses and old patrician houses on the other, the Grote Markt represents the history of Antwerp. You will visit the Rubens House. Rubens was one of the greatest painters of his time. His works can be found all around the world. In the Rubens House, you will get acquainted not only with Rubens the master painter, but also with Rubens the family man, the architect, the manager, the collector, the graphic artist and the society figure, as well as the inspiring role model that he was. This evening you will have dinner in a typical Belgian Restaurant. (B.D)
Monday, June 10 – Brussels (Maastricht)
This morning, after breakfast you will travel to Maastricht and the province of Limburg. Here you will visit the Bonnefanten Museum, the foremost museum of Old Masters and contemporary art. Built by Italian architect Aldo Rossi, the museum with its imposing cupola dome is one of Maastricht’s major landmarks. An abundance of daylight and the use of natural materials gives the building its singular appearance. The museum houses two collections. The contemporary art collection contains works by an international group of artists. In addition to contemporary paintings, the collection also includes projections and gallery-sized installations. The collection of Old Masters emphasizes 16th and 17th century Flemish painting, including major works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens. After lunch you, will visit The famous ‘St. Pietersberg’ caves. The caves are the result of centuries of excavation of mergel, a building stone. Today, you will see an enormous labyrinth of more than 20,000 passages. The stone-hewers have left their marks; on the walls are interesting inscriptions, some extremely old; artists too, have been at work here. During the many sieges Maa,stricht has suffered, and also during the last world war, local inhabitants used the passages as a shelter; some of the emergency provisions are still to be seen. (B.L)
Tuesday, June 11 – Brussels (Waterloo)
Following breakfast this morning, you will embark on a full day tour to Waterloo. Your day begins with a visit to the centre of the village where Duke Wellington’s headquarters was located. See the famous Lion Mound, 120 feet high, from the top of which you can overlook the battlefield of 18 June 1815. At the foot of the mound, you will see a laser show and film, both of which will help bring to life this history. Dinner this evening will be at the Belga Queen, housed in a former 18th century building, previously home to the Hôtel de la Poste and then the Crédit du Nord bank. With its magical location, stylish interior design and incredible, Belgian food, the Belga Queen has all the elements to create an extravagant evening in Brussels. (B,D)
Wednesday, June 12 – Brussels (Bruges & Ghent)
This morning you will embark on a fabulous day to visit Bruges and Ghent. Ghent has tremendous history but is also brimming with culture and modern city life. The city’s highlights include the Mystic Lamb, the acclaimed lighting plan which illuminates the buildings in a magical way after sunset, the Ghent Festivities and the largest range of veggie offerings in Europe. You will enjoy Ghent’s history, art, wonderful architecture, water, and its joie de vivre. On to Bruges, known as the Venice of the North, where its entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Your introduction to this famous city, begins with a horse drawn tram ride. Your tour will continue on foot. This interesting visit will take you back to the Middle Ages, winding through the maze of cobbled alleys and canals. Visit the church of “Our Lady” with its famous Madonna and Child sculpture made by Michelangelo, admire the picturesque medieval “Beguinage”, a beautiful hidden courtyard still inhabited by nuns. There is a surprise for your eyes around every corner. Bruges’ most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis. This afternoon, enjoy a cruise along the canals. Our day ends back in Brussels where you will enjoy dinner this evening. (B.L.D)
Thursday, June 13 – Brussels/Zeeland/Amsterdam
Your day begins with a journey just across the border to the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. Zeeland or in English ‘See land’, is the province of water. Its land is cut by the North Sea bays and the delta of big rivers with many bridges, dams, ferries, and tunnels which a visitor must use during the simplest visit. Instead of attacking their neighbors, the Dutch decided to expand through a struggle with the sea, to obtain the land by limiting the forces of nature. More than half of the Netherlands lies below sea level. The Delta Works were built to keep everyone safe and to prevent a recurrence of the Dutch flood disaster of 1953. You will see the history at Deltapark Neeltje Jans: from the flood disaster to the construction of the Delta Works. Your visit to the storm surge barrier itself will give you an understanding of the tremendous power of water. The Delta Expo shows the story behind the Delta Works and the construction of the storm surge barrier in the Eastern Scheldt. Photographs, models and audio visual presentations illustrate 2000 years of struggle against the sea in words and image. Your journey ends late this afternoon in Amsterdam, Holland. Amsterdam’s 17th century historical atmosphere combined with the bustle of a modern metropolis creates a friendly and relaxed environment. The small scale of the buildings and the intimacy of the streets, canals and squares create an atmosphere that visitors find unique. This evening you will enjoy dinner and a beautiful performance by the Children’s Choir of Volendam, nationally known for their performances in multiple languages. (B.L)
Friday, June 14 – Amsterdam
This morning you will start your day with a walking tour of Amsterdam. When you step out of the hotel, you step into history: gabled mansions, magnificent churches and bridges spanning the canals, all dating back to the prosperous and wealthy 16th and 17th century. From Amsterdam’s start, as a fishing village on the River Amstel, it became the most important trading center of the world during the Golden Age. You will see the main points of interest, including the famous Dam Square, the floating Flower Market, and the old town. This tour will provide you fascinating insight into the quaint historic parts of the city, such as hidden courtyards, old warehouses, magnificent canal houses and fabulous mansions. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore the city on your own. (B)
Saturday, June 15 – Amsterdam
A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a unique experience. The museum contains the largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh in the world and includes more than 200 of his paintings and many of his drawings and letters. The museum provides an opportunity to keep track of the artist’s developments, and to compare his paintings to works by other artists from the 19th century, exhibited in the rich and varied collection of the museum. The artists represented include Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and others: Van Gogh’s friends and contemporaries, those who inspired him, and those who drew inspiration from him. The museum also holds an extensive display of exhibitions on various subjects from 19th century art history. Kindly be aware that during the season no guiding is allowed in the museum, instead the guide will explain before on the coach and will walk around in the main part of the museum for questions.
Following your visit to the Van Gogh, you will see how every day in the historic and beautiful heart of Amsterdam, rough diamonds are transformed into dazzling jewels. You can experience the sensation of diamond cutting first-hand and view every stage of the process. Step into the exciting world of more than four centuries of craftsmanship and tradition. It is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
After lunch you will have the balance of the day at leisure. Perhaps, this afternoon you will want to visit the famous Anne Frank House.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is where a young Jewish girl, Anne Frank lived in hiding with her family for more than 2 years during World War II. Anne and her family were hidden in an annex to the house. The doorway to the annex was concealed behind a specially-constructed moveable bookcase. On August 4, 1944, the hiding place was betrayed. The people in hiding were deported to various concentration camps. Only Otto Frank (Anne’s father) survived the war. Anne’s diary from the period was published and has been a best-seller around the world. Nowadays, eventhough the rooms at the Anne Frank House are empty, you can still feel the atmosphere of the hiding period. Historical documents, photographs, film images, and original objects that belonged to those in hiding and their helpers illustrate the events that took place. Anne’s original diary and other notebooks are on display in the museum. (B,L)
Sunday, June 16 – Amsterdam
Enjoy a morning drive through lush green farmlands as you begin your full day trip to the unspoiled countryside of North Holland. First, visit Zaanse Schans, an open air museum that features several of the Netherland’s most historical windmills. Here, you will get a feel for how the Dutch lived before industrialization. In one of the windmills you can see how powder is produced for oil paint, and in the surrounding cottages you will be able to see how typical Dutch cheese is made or even the famous wooden shoes. You will then continue to Volendam, the famous fishing village, rich with tradition and local color. Local people in traditional costumes greet visitors outside their quaint houses, while the best smoked eel of the Netherlands can be eaten in many of the restaurants. The best way to explore this town is on foot, walking along the most historic parts that have attracted painters and artists from all over for centuries. On to visit a Cheese Farm near Edam. Besides the world-famous Edam and Gouda cheeses, the Cheese Farm also makes delicious sheep and goat cheese. The rural setting with the countryside as a backdrop are a quintessential example of the North Holland polder, from where the famous Dutch cheeses originate. You will be welcomed in traditional costumes and see demonstrations of how cheese is made. The cozy shop offers a wide range of cheeses and typical Dutch fine food. This evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Monday, June 17 – Amsterdam/USA
Following breakfast this morning, you will bid farewell to Holland as you head to the airport for your flight back to the USA, with fond memories of your European Rotary experience. (B)
$8595 Per Person based on double occupancy
We offer International Air Fare from all major US Cities. Please ask us about Economy and Business Class airfare.