From Amsterdam to Zurich
July 17 - 31, 2013 Sold Out
Visit farms in Holland, Germany and Austria. Attend the world's largest
flower auction in Holland, where 20 million flowers are auctioned off each
day. Visit a Belgian horse farm, watch chocolatiers create their famous
confections, and explore the Grand Place in Brussels. Stop in Heidelberg
and Nuremberg, and visit the Eagle's Nest near Berchtesgaden in Germany.
Tour Prague in Czech Republic, and visit Vienna and the "Sound of Music"
area near Salzburg in Austria. Enjoy entertaining folk shows, venture deep
underground into a salt mine, and ride up high to lofty mountain tops for
incredible vistas of the majestic Austrian and Swiss Alps.
Day 1: Depart the US
Meet your tour escort and fellow travelers at the New York, JFK airport for your transatlantic flight to Amsterdam.
(In-flight Meal Service)
Day 2: Arrive in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Upon arrival at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, we are welcomed by our English speaking tour guide, who accompanies us throughout the tour. The best way to explore Amsterdam is by boat, so climb aboard a small vessel and enjoy a relaxed luncheon cruise along the main canals of Amsterdam. We glide past narrow merchant houses, charming bridges, and old churches. By mid-afternoon we transfer to our hotel in Zaandam. The balance of the day is yours to enjoy the amenities of our uniquely designed hotel and its surroundings. Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. (In-flight meal service, L, D)
Day 3: Amsterdam / Flevoland / Zaanse Schans
Today’s excursion will delight the flower enthusiast. We start early to catch the busiest time at the world’s largest flower auction, the Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer. Each day, 19 million flowers and two million plants are sold at this vast trade building, which covers almost 11 million square feet. Enjoy the gorgeous flowers and experience the hustle and bustle of the auction. We continue on to Flevoland, where we visit the Centre for Organic Agriculture, which works with several of the largest organic grain and vegetable farmers in the Netherlands. Tour an actual farm and see their operation including their milling facility to learn about organic agriculture in the Netherlands. See their farm equipment and learn how their tillage differs from that in the US. Following our tour of the headquarters we have a field inspection, which was a big hit on last year’s tour. There we observed peas being harvested with a huge machine that resembled a combine. We also see corn and wheat fields. The tour concludes with a delicious lunch – of course the food is organically grown!
The excitement continues with our guided tour of Zaanse Schans, where we visit working Dutch windmills and see traditional crafts, such as cheese making and crafting of wooden shoes. Zaanse Schans, a typical residential area along the river Zaan, with its houses and windmills dating back to the 17th and 18th century, is both, a museum and a living and working area. (B, L)
Day 4: Amsterdam, Netherlands / Brussels, Belgium
We say farewell to the Netherlands and cross into Belgium. On our way to Brussels we visit a stud farm for Belgian Draft horses, also known as the Brabant. The Brabant is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds and is mainly associated with the image of a horse-drawn brewery wagon. Truly beautiful animals!
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and also the capital of the European Union (EU). We enjoy a guided tour of the city center with its ornate Grand-Place, which is considered the most splendid market square in Europe, and see its famous landmark, Manneken Pis, a small bronze fountain sculpture of a little boy doing the unimaginable. We conclude with a chocolate making demonstration and a delectable tasting of hot chocolate and pralines. Tonight we enjoy dinner in a restaurant on Rue des Bouchers (Butcher’s Street), where in the Middle-Ages predominantly meat was sold, thus the street’s name, but today the street is filled with elegant restaurants and cafes. (B, D)
Day 5: Brussels, Belgium / Rüdesheim / Wiesbaden, Germany
We cross the border into Germany and journey along the Rhine River. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the river banks as we drive past hillside vineyards and medieval castles to the charming village, Rüdesheim. Stroll along the Drosselgasse, a narrow cobblestone street in the heart of Rüdesheim, lined with historical buildings and beautifully decorated restaurants, and enjoy a glass of their famous Riesling in one of the many wine or open-air garden taverns. Rüdesheim and the Rhine Gorge, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2002, lies in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, an important wine growing region in Germany. The gorge produces its own microclimate which is beneficiary to agriculture and to viniculture in particular. We continue on to Wiesbaden, today’s final destination. (B, D)
Day 6: Wiesbaden / Nuremberg, Germany
Before noon we arrive in Nuremberg, with its pink sandstone buildings and half-timbered houses. Many people associate this city in Middle Franconia with its traditional gingerbread specialties, the famous Nürnberger Bratwurst and its Christmas market, the toy industry, and also the Nuremberg Trials. On our guided tour of the historical old town, we see Nuremberg’s famous 600-year-old Gothic fountain, aptly called Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain), the Church of our Lady, and the Dürer House, home of the renaissance artist, Albrecht Dürer. We walk along the quaint Weinbergergasse lined with Nuremberg’s best-preserved half-timbered houses and visit Nuremberg’s landmark, the imposing Kaiserburg, a 12th century imperial palace, which is more a case of great age and ambiance rather than great architecture and stunning interiors, but the impressive hilltop location alone is worth the visit for the great view across the city. (B, D)
Day 7: Nuremberg, Germany / Prague, Czech Republic
Before departing Nuremberg, we tour the premises of the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Our guide takes us to the authentic locations of the Congress Hall, designed to hold over 50,000 people, the Great Road, and the Zeppelin Field while explaining the functions and intended effect of the National Socialist architecture and the stage-management of the Party Rally events.
We continue on to the Lilling Farm, just a few miles north of Nuremberg. This farm, owned and operated by a young man and his sister, is different from most farms. These two siblings decided to venture back to the family farm and develop a new stream of income. The main income stems from hop cultivation, fruit-growing, and a distillery. Part of the farm’s energy is produced by a small biogas plant that feeds off the byproducts from the distillery and their small swine operation. As supplemental income, they own a store where they sell their produce. During our visit we learn how profitable a small farm can be. A scrumptious lunch buffet and a taste of their Schnapps are included. This afternoon our journey continues on to Prague, Czech Republic. (B, L)
Day 8: Prague
Prague, dominated by its imposing castle, Prazsky Hrad, is situated on the Vltava River in central Bohemia and has been Czech’s cultural and political center for more than 1,100 years. Prague’s historical old town is on the registry of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and houses the intricate gothic Church of our Lady before Týn, the baroque St. Nicholas Church, and the famous Astronomical Clock.
This morning we enjoy a guided tour of the picturesque city of Prague and Prazsky Hrad, which is the largest ancient castle in the world. Located within the castle complex is St. Vitus Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. The most outstanding place in the cathedral is St. Wenceslas Chapel, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, with beautifully decorated walls depicting the Passion of Christ with more than 1,300 semi-precious stones and paintings. The tour concludes with a walk across the famous St. Charles Bridge. The afternoon is free to explore Prague with its many unique sites, cafés and elegant shops. Beware – the goods are very tempting!
Tonight you are in for a treat. Enjoy a typical Czech Duck dinner, beer or wine, and a glass of Becherovka, Czech’s original liquor. Young musicians and dancers, dressed in their regional costumes, will entertain you with folk music and traditional dances while you dine. (B, D)
Day 9: Prague / Vienna, Austria
Depart Prague for the České Budéjovice or Budweis, the birthplace of the original Budweiser beer. During a guided tour of today’s modern brewery we see the brewing process from the all-natural ingredients of water, hops, and malt, to the finished product. The excursion concludes with a tasting of the light lager, served right in the lager cellar, and a typical lunch at the Budvar Beerhouse.
Our journey continues on to Austria and its capital Vienna, also called “The City of Waltzes.” Get ready for a fun evening at the Prater, an amusement park which is best known for its giant Ferris wheel, Vienna’s landmark featured in the movie The Third Man. If you are daring, you may take a ride to the lofty top of the 200 foot high Ferris wheel – where the view is incredible! (B, L)
Day 10: Vienna
Enjoy a panoramic city tour of Vienna, showcasing the most significant historical sites. We ride along the Ringstrasse, lined with impressive buildings, and visit the Burggarten, which houses a monument to Mozart, one of the world’s best known composers. The monument was erected in 1896 and after suffering heavy damage during WWII, was restored to its former glory in 1953. We listen to the mighty organ at St. Stephan’s Cathedral, and enjoy a grand tour through the majestic Schönbrunn Palace. Schönbrunn, along with its beautiful gardens, is Austria’s most important cultural monument and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This evening we experience traditional Vienna Heurigen culture in Austria’s famous wine growing region, Grinzing, with typical local cuisine, wine tasting, and live music in a quaint restaurant where only the vintner’s own wine can be served. Dressed in colorful costumes, talented musicians entertain you with a selection of famous waltzes, polkas, and operetta melodies. Great food, fine wine, and lots of fun! (B, D)
Day 11: Vienna / Reichersberg / Salzburg, Austria
Departing Vienna we travel to the north eastern part of Austria, called the Inn Viertel. This is Austria’s foremost farming region. It’s flat and fertile soil along with generous rain fall, yields good crops year after year. They produce corn, wheat, sugar beets, barley, and soybeans. A local farmer friend of Larry Rupiper invited our group to visit his and his neighbors’ farms located very near the beautiful abbey, Stift Reichersberg. Our excursion begins with lunch at the abbey’s restaurant, followed by farm visits and a stop at a New Holland dealership and a BISO production plant. This factory builds corn, wheat, and soybean headers for combines. While the gents are touring the farms and the factory, the ladies either join them or enjoy a guided tour of the abbey, a very interesting and beautiful place. In the late afternoon we say our goodbyes and continue on our journey toward Salzburg. (B, L)
Day 12: Berchtesgaden, Germany
Today’s excursion takes us to the lofty heights of the Kehlsteinhaus, also known as the Eagle’s Nest, and then deep underground into a salt mine. Enjoy an imposing ride up to the Kehlsteinhaus which sits literally on top of the mountain. The building was intended to be a retreat for Hitler and a place to entertain visiting dignitaries during the war. After the war until 1960, the Kehlsteinhaus was used by the Allies as a military command post and now serves as a restaurant. The restaurant’s specialty is a delicious Apfelkuchen (apple pie). There is time to eat lunch or to take a short nature walk and to enjoy the panoramic view across the Alps. This afternoon we visit the salt mine Berchtesgaden. A secret world awaits us deep down beneath the Salzberg Mountain. For many years, only the salt miners were allowed to enter the complex tunnel system, but now the salt mine, which has been in operation for over 500 years, is open for exploration. (B, D)
Day 13: Salzburg / Innsbruck, Austria
Salzburg’s majestic city scape, nestled in the foothills of the Austrian Alps and topped by the mighty fortress Hohensalzburg, can be seen from afar. Salzburg, the birthplace and residence of the world famous virtuoso, Mozart, is renowned for its vibrant cultural life and its storybook Old Town. This morning we enjoy a guided city tour including Salzburg’s famous Getreidegasse lined with narrow houses, enticing shops marked by wrought iron guild signs, romantic passageways and courtyards. We see Mozart’s birth place and spots used as backdrop in the unforgettable Sound of Music film. On our way to Innsbruck, Tyrol, we travel winding mountain roads, stop in a quaint mountain resort, and pause to catch a view of the impressive Krimml Waterfalls, Europe’s highest waterfall, which drops 1250 feet. Tonight, we enjoy typical regional entertainment with authentic folk music, dances, and “shoe-slapping”, as well as Tyrolean songs and yodeling, performed by the Gundolf Family. You’ll have a great time! (B, D)
Day 14: Innsbruck / Zurich, Switzerland
Today, we continue on crossing the grandiose Alps via high mountain passes and deep valleys as we make our way from Innsbruck, Austria to Zurich, Switzerland. Along the way we stop in picturesque towns, travel alongside rapid streams and see thundering waterfalls and snowy mountain peaks. The scenery is truly breathtaking! We arrive in Zurich, Switzerland, where we will stay the night and enjoy the company of our friends on our final night abroad. (B, D)
Day 15: Zurich, Switzerland / USA
We say farewell to the wondrous “Old World” as we depart the Zurich airport on our intercontinental flight to New York/JFK. We arrive there in the early afternoon which gives you ample time for your connecting flight home. (B, In-flight Meal Service)
International Airfare from New York/JFK
Ground Transportation by Deluxe Motorcoach
Four and Five Star Hotels
Meals as indicated (minimum of two full meals per day)
B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner
Professional tour manager throughout and local guides
Portage one bag per person
NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE
International Airline Taxes
Fuel surcharge if imposed by the airlines
Tips to the motor coach driver, local tour guides, and tour manager
Passport, Travel Insurance, and all items of personal nature