“Gezellig” is a Dutch word that encompasses the heart of Dutch culture – and you will be immersed as we take you to – and beyond – tulips, windmills, canals, cheese and wooden shoes! This small-in-size country with a big heart will captivate you with its scenic landscapes, historic monuments and picturesque cities. Trace the steps of Dutch heritage as we meander through small towns and villages, meet and dine with the locals, and learn about their home, family and work life. With so many highlights and off-the-beaten path experiences, you will return home with “gezellig” forever etched in your heart!
INCLUDED – 11 Day/10 night tour – Scroll down to see detailed day-by-day itinerary:
9 Full Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Round-trip Airport Shuttle from Hamilton
Round-trip Flights with Air Canada from Toronto
9 nights accommodation in 4* hotels (2 nights Maastricht, 7 nights The Hague)
Land program with English-speaking Dutch guide
Entrance fees with special access to sites listed in itinerary
Transportation on luxurious private coach
Services of group leader Sylvia Isaac
All taxes and fees.
PRICING IN CDN DOLLARS AND INCLUDES HST
EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL IF BOOKED WITH BY DECEMBER 28/17
$4995.00 PP, based on double occupancy.
$200 Early Booking Bonus! $200 discount per person BOOK BEFORE DECEMBER 28th 2017
Single Occupancy available upon request.
Deposit of $1000.00 required at time of booking (50% non-refundable).
Final Payment Due February 18, 2018 (at which time tour becomes non-refundable. Names changes permitted up to 3 weeks prior to departure).
Out-of-Country Medical, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance strongly-recommended. Quotes available upon request.
Here is the detailed day-by-day itinerary of our uniquely customized tour:
April 18, 2018
1:00 pm – Airport shuttle departs Mt. Hamilton Christian Reformed Church, for Toronto Pearson Airport
4:40 pm – Air Canada flight departs.
Day 1, April 19, 2018
6:10 am – Flight arrives in Paris, where we have a 3 hour layover.
9:10 am – Flight departs for Amsterdam.
10:20 am – Arrive at Schiphol Airport, where we will meet our guide and transfer by luxurious private coach to Maastricht. The drive, depending on traffic, takes about 2.5 hours,
Historic Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands – a city that has ripened well with age, like good wine, with complex and lively cultural overtones added over centuries by the Romans, Germans and French. This rich cultural palette is the secret behind the city’s attractiveness, drawing visitors to the historic city center and a wealth of museums and festivals – making each visit a fascinating new experience. Besides this it is the hometown of the famous violin player Andre Rieu.
Upon arrival in Maastricht you will check in at the Kruisherenhotel, one of the most spectacular hotels in the Netherlands. The building from the 15th century was the former Kruisheren cloister. Together with the monumental gothic church, this complex has been transformed into a very special designer hotel. It is a unique place, in which antiquity and modern design are interwoven; yet, at the same time, architectural contrasts between the past and the present are very clear.
The internationally renowned interior designer Henk Vos created the hotel interior, the beautiful pieces of light installation artwork where created by the German light installation artist Ingo Maurer. Throughout the complex, use has been made of the notable designs of masters such as Le Corbusier and Rietveld as well as modern designers like Marc Newson, Piet Heyn Eeck, Philippe Starck and Roderick Vos. These designs form exciting contrasts with the stained-glass windows and the stunning, authentic wall and ceiling paintings. www.chateauhotels.nl/kruisherenhotel-maastricht/home
Upon arrival and check-in, you will have the afternoon to rest/nap and refresh before our dinner.
6 pm A short walk will take us to Restaurant Petit Boneur where a welcome dinner is served.
Day 2, Friday April 20, 2018:
Valkenburg and Vaals
9:45am After breakfast, your English-speaking guide will take you for an exciting drive by private coach through the rolling countryside. This area is totally different from the rest of the Netherlands. For most tourists, it is an unknown area, but once seen, they call it one of the best areas they have seen in the Netherlands. And it is!
10:15am Our first stop will be in Valkenburg. This charming historical little village is also known as the Marlstone Town (Lime stone). You will notice the typical yellow marlstone throughout the town, on the surface (houses) and underground. Popular spots in Valkenburg are the historic buildings, the castle ruin, caves, heated pavement cafes and the river Geul.
You will be taken for an exclusive guided tour through the spectacular Velvet Cave. The Velvet Cave in Valkenburg is not just a cave. This one accommodates numerous mysteries and a treasure of impressive charcoal mural paintings. These paintings are between 100 and 150 years old! Besides these paintings, you will also find some exceptional marlstone sculptures and a romantic refuge chapel dating back to the French occupation period. Spectacular!
In September 1944 during World War II, for 6 days and six nights the cave served as a hospital for American soldiers and a shelter for Jewish and local people. There is a large section in the velvet cave where American soldiers left charcoal reflection paintings from their faces on the walls, including their names. In the whole section, you will find hundreds of names of soldiers who stayed in this cave.
Because of the constant temperature in the cave, everything is well preserved. A unique and surprising experience! www.kasteelvalkenburg.nl
Coming out of the Velvet Cave, you will be taken for a walk through the castle ruin where you have spectacular views over the area. Of course, you will also be taken for a short walk through the little village.
Noon Lunch will be taken at restaurant Haselderhof in Valkenburg.
1:15pm We continue the tour with a scenic drive along the marlstone route. The drive will take you through little picturesque villages, each with its own spectacular views.
The next stop will be in Margraten where we will make a visit to the American War Cemetery.
The World War II American War Cemetery in Margraten is the second largest American cemetery in Europe. Omaha Beach in Normandy is the largest. The tall memorial tower can be seen before reaching the cemetery, which covers 65.5 acres. The walls on either side of the Court of Honor contain 1.722 missing soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country and who rest in unknown graves.
Beyond the chapel and tower is the burial area. Here rest 8,301 American soldiers including 6 Medal of Honor. www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ne.php
The drive will also include a visit to the Three-Country Point located on top of the Vaalserberg.
The Vaalserberg is a hill with a height of 322.7 meters (1,059 ft) above NAP, the highest point in mainland Netherlands, and is the location of the tripoint between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Its summit is therefore called the Drielandenpunt (“three country point”) in Dutch.
2:45pm From Margraten it is only a short drive back to your hotel in Maastricht, where you have the remainder of the day for your own leisure.
3:30 pm Your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for an interesting walking tour through the city center, showing you all the highlights including some off the beaten sights Maastricht has to offer.
The center of Maastricht is compact and easy to explore on foot. Large areas are pedestrians- only and most sites are within walking distance. The old St. Servaas bridge links the old center with the trendy Wyck district, and from the adjacent Céramique district you can cross back over the river via the designer suspension bridge, the ‘Hoeg Brögk’, and cut through the park back to the center.
The numerous (art) museums, historic churches, historic buildings, culinary delights, and shopping- it’s all there and close at hand. You will not want to miss the restored Stokstraat quarter, the old ramparts, the various parks and the famous Vrijthof Square. Maastricht is the art of fine living where you never feel lost but very much at home. www.vvv-maastricht.eu/city.html
4:30pm The walking tour will end back at your hotel. You will have the remainder of the afternoon for your own leisure (walking tour may be postponed to next day if there is not enough time on this day).
Day 3, Saturday April 21, 2018: Open Air Museum, Airborne Museum and The Hague
8:30am After breakfast and check out, your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for a 2-hour drive by luxurious private coach to Arnhem where you will be taken for a guided tour though the Open-Air Museum.
The Netherlands Open Air Museum is an open-air museum and park located near Arnhem with antique houses, farms and factories from different parts of the Netherlands. The Netherlands Open Air Museum is a national museum focusing on the culture associated with the everyday lives of ordinary people. The museum was founded in 1912 and is situated in the woods near Arnhem. The museum park is 44 hectares in area and includes buildings from various places and historical periods.
The museum also has a collection of historical clothing and jewelry. New indoor exhibition space was built in 1999–2000. The museum won the European Museum of the Year Award in 2005.
There will be some leisure time for lunch at the Open-Air Museum.
1:15pm We continue the tour with a 25-minute drive to Oosterbeek for a guided tour through the off the beaten path Airborne Museum (A Bridge Too Far).
The Airborne museum, located in a Villa Hartenstein reopened in September 2009 after a large renovation. It shows the course of events during the Battle of Arnhem, which took place in September 1944. The “Battle for the Rhine Bridge” was part of the operation “Market Garden”. British, American and Polish airborne forces were to capture the bridges over rivers and waterways from the Belgian border to Arnhem. There is an interesting video presentation where the course of the battle is set out. There are a large number of photographs, video with footage of the battle, authentic uniforms, equipment, weapons and other objects present a picture, both from the Allied and from the German point of view.
The awarded underground Airborne Experience showcases the war in all its intensity. Here you will feel the impact of the violence on the young boys who were desperately fighting for their lives. You will follow in the footsteps of a British parachutist. You are briefed on the mission, board a glider and through the windows you can see it taking off from England and fly to the occupied Netherlands. Suddenly, you are amidst the bitter fighting in the streets of Arnhem. You wander through imposing war scenes created with authentic footage, surrounded by cleverly constructed dummy buildings. Light, and the lack of it, is used ominously against an audio backdrop of the annihilating war: gunshots, explosions, shouting in English, orders in German, frightened people in hiding. You approach the Arnhem Bridge and follow the retreat to the perimeter around Hartenstein Hotel. Finally, you retreat back down the Rhine River. It’s an intense experience.
3.45pm From here, there will be a drive to the Royal City The Hague, where you will check in at the Carlton Ambassador Hotel. This award-winning hotel is excellent and quietly located in the city center. We will arrive in The Hague around 5.15pm.
The “Royal City” The Hague is a historical city from the 13th Century, but also the city where King Willem Alexander lives and where you will find many world-famous museums like the Mauritshuis Museum, Escher Museum, Gemeentemuseum, Panorama Mesdag and many more. Most consider The Hague more upscale and local than Amsterdam. A surprising city!
7pm Dinner will be served at the Carlton Ambassador Hotel.
Day 4, Sunday April 22, 2018:
10am Your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for a short drive by luxurious private coach to Madurodam, where there is so much to see, discover and do. You become acquainted with the stories of the Netherlands in a surprising way. The models are exact replicas of special buildings and objects, on a scale of 1:25. There are many interactive activities where, for example, you can step into the role of a lock keeper, dike guard, pilot or machinist. The Madurodammers, the little inhabitants of Madurodam, come to life using video screens and you discover the fascinating stories of the Netherlands.
Madurodam consists of three themed areas: City Centre, Water World and Innovation Island. In addition to these three theme areas, children between the ages of 6 and 12 can have a great
time in our playground, ‘the Waddenzee’.
11.45am After this exciting visit, you will be taken to the city center where you will have lunch at restaurant Luden.
Fully recharged, you will now be taken on a walking tour through the historical city center.
1.30pm We will start our walking tour in the oldest part of The Hague, the medieval parliament buildings “Inner court” with the Knights Hall from the 13th century.
Here, we will also make a guided visit to the famous Mauritshuis Museum, one of the most prominent and oldest museums in the Netherlands or even in the world!
The Mauritshuis Museum reopened in 2014 after an extensive renovation and is home to the very best Dutch Golden Age paintings. The compact, yet world-renowned collection is housed in a 17th century building. Masterpieces such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp by Rembrandt, The Goldfinch by Fabritius and The Bull by Potter are on permanent display in the intimate rooms.
More than two hundred top works from Dutch and Flemish masters are on display in the historic yet intimate interior, with its silken wall covering, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings. Genre paintings by Jan Steen, landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, still lives by Adrian Coorte and portraits by Rubens offer a rich and varied representation of the best 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting. www.mauritshuis.nl
2.45pm After this exciting visit, there will be a walk towards the spectacular Panorama Mesdag Museum. Along the way, we will walk through the Passage (1884) and there will be a stop at the Palace Noordeinde, the working Palace of King Willem Alexander.
3.30pm The Panorama is a cylindrical painting, more than 14 meters high and 120 meters in circumference. The vista of the sea, the dunes and Scheveningen village where painted by Hendrik Willem Mesdag in 1881. His wife Sientje Mesdag and several other painters of The Hague School also worked on this amazing painting. It is the oldest 19th century panorama in the world in its original site.
Amazing and for sure a must see in The Hague and for many the highlight of their stay in the Netherlands! www.mesdag.nl
4pm From here, it is only a 2-minute walk back to your hotel, where you will have the remainder of the day for your own leisure.
Day 5, Monday April 23, 2018:
7.30am After breakfast, your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for a 50-minute drive by luxurious private coach to Aalsmeer, where you will be taken for a guided tour through the Flora Holland flower auction.
Flower auction Flora Holland is the largest in the world; it compares in size to the Principality of Monaco! During the guided tour, you will see how this auction process works. You will see a variety of millions of flowers. Did you know that they auction about 35 million cut flowers each day with more than 15,000 varieties? It is a spectacular view! www.floraholland.com
9.45am We continue with a short scenic drive for a guided tour through a local grower. These visits are very special because you do not find them in any brochures and you normally can’t visit these sights. Most of these companies are family owned. This can be a Chrysanthemum, Rose, Gerbera, Hydrangea or any other grower with blooming flowers. The owner will be there to greet you and to guide you around the company. You will be very much surprised.
11.30am After this exciting visit, there will be a scenic drive to Lisse, the heart of the bulb district where we are going to have lunch at the private home of the Verhoef Family. This very nice modern home is located steps away from the famous Keukenhof flower exhibit. Enjoy a typical homemade Dutch lunch, talk with the family and see how they live. If the weather permits, lunch will be served in the family garden. A highlight!
1.15pm After lunch, you will be taken for a guided tour through the Keukenhof. Before we enter the Keukenhof, you will be taken for a drive through the bulb fields and there will be time for pictures within the bulb fields.
The Keukenhof gardens cover 70 acres on which roughly 8 million bulbs are planted every year.
Every garden has a specific design and character. Climb the steps of the Groningen-type corn mill to see the view. See the exhibition of some 30 sculptures and other objects d’art throughout the park.
A huge indoor spring garden is staged in 7,000 sq. m of pavilions during the annual exhibition where over 500 different varieties are to be seen in 10 indoor flower shows under the name ‘Parade’.
4pm From Lisse, you will be taken back to your hotel, where you will have the remainder of the day for your own leisure. You will arrive back at your hotel around 4.45pm.
Day 6, Tuesday April 24, 2018:
Windmills and Cheese
8.30am After breakfast, your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for a 30-minute drive by luxurious private coach to Zaandam for a guided tour through the Zaanse Schans.
With its traditional characteristic green wooden houses, charming stylized gardens, small hump-backed bridges, tradesmen’s workshops, historic windmills and engaging little shops the Zaanse Schans gives the feeling of stepping back into the 17th and 18th century, however this is not an open-air museum but a colorful living and working neighborhood on the banks of the river Zaan.
Your guide will take you to several mills like the wood cut mill The Young Sheep and paint mill The Cat. Learn how the mills work traditionally, climb the steep stairs and have a spectacular view over the river Zaan. www.zaanseschans.nl11.30am The tour continues with a 30-minute drive to the historical and picturesque village of Edam.
Edam is a village in the northwest Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Combined with Volendam, Edam forms the municipality of Edam-Volendam. Approximately 7,380 people live in Edam. The entire municipality of Edam-Volendam has 28,492 inhabitants. The name Edam originates from a dam on the little river E or IJe where the first settlement was located and which was therefore called IJedam. Edam is famous as the original source of the cheese with the same name. The old town center, within the borders of the old city walls, is nowadays protected by the government, both the main structures and architectural details. A number of notable buildings survive in good condition.1pm After the guided walk through the historical city center, lunch will be served at L’Auberge Damhotel.2pm From here, there will be a scenic drive to the village of Zuidschermer where you are going to have an exclusive cheese making workshop at cheese farm Zeilzicht, a traditional, non-touristy Dutch Farm.
Your guide will introduce you to a time period known as the Dutch Golden Age, a time of great wealth and prosperity but also of unbridled cultural and artistic growth.
In the so-called Eregallerij (Gallery of Honor) you will find a large selection of paintings dedicated to this time period. Here you will find renowned Dutch artists such as Vermeer (The Milkmaid), Rembrandt, Hals, Steen, but also Ruisdael, Heda and others. The Gallery of Honor extends to a room that was specifically created to display Rembrandt’s most famous painting, The Night Watch.
Apart from this must-see section, there are different areas to acquaint oneself with other art forms, which are just like the paintings, such as furniture, tapestries, Delftware, silver, glass, uniquely late 17th century Dolls houses and much more. They will fill you with delight!
Depending on your interests and or if there are any must see exhibits, we will take you to the recently opened “Philips (temporary exhibitions) Wing”. www.rijksmuseum.nl
11.45am After this exciting visit, you will be taken to the historical canal belt area. Here you will board a private historic Saloon Boat for a two-hour lunch cruise through the Amsterdam canals. The most relaxed way to get to know Amsterdam with a VIP treatment! During the cruise a fresh and tasty lunch will be served including coffee and tea. Other beverages are available at an additional charge.
From the beginning of the 20th Century until the early thirties saloon boats were built in the west of the Netherlands and in the province Friesland. These boats shared a couple of features like a load water line; an elegant body and a beautiful build of teakwood and mahogany. The design of a saloon boat was entirely made to measure and initiated by the constituent.
These boats were used to transport people on the Frisian lakes, the river Vecht and the Amsterdam canals. Saloon boats were nicknamed notary-boats or doctors-boats because the first owners, and often constituents were well to do citizens like doctors, notaries or lawyers. The boats were an easy and classy way to get to their clients or patients. It did not take long to find out it was a great pleasure to invite friends and family on board for a relaxing trip or to cruise the canals and rivers in the weekend to impress the crowd.
Times have changed, but the charm of the saloon boats remains. The boats are still providing the same service as in 1920, the year of its construction, plus a great deal more. Its narrow shape and low structure allow the beautifully refurbished vessel to go anywhere, from the narrow canals of the Amsterdam “Jordaan” to the heart of the famed red-light district.
2pm The canal cruise will end in front of the famous Anne Frank House, where you will be taken for a visit.
The former hiding place, where Anne Frank wrote her diary, is a well-known museum and one of the top sights in Amsterdam. The museum tells the history of the eight people in hiding and those who helped them during the war. Anne Frank’s diary is among the original objects on display. www.annefrankhuis.org
3.15pm We continue the tour with a scenic walk to the Museum of Bags and Purses.
This unique museum, located in a gorgeous 17th century mansion, shows the history of the (hand)bag in Western culture from the late Middle Ages to the present day, including the work of contemporary designers. The collection reflects the cultural history of the (hand)bag over a period of 500 years. The museum is the only museum of handbags in Europe and the largest of its kind in the world, with a collection of more than 5,000 bags, pouches, suitcases, purses and other matching accessories such as compacts, shoes and hats.
It all started with one single handbag. This one bag turned owners Hendrikje and Heinz Ivo into passionate collectors – and soon connoisseurs – of handbags. Over the years, they gathered a private collection of such exceptional quality that they wanted to share it with the rest of the world.
This was the start of the Museum of Bags and Purses. www.tassenmuseum.nl
5pm After this exciting visit, a scenic walk will take you to Indonesian restaurant Long Pura where you will enjoy a traditional ‘rijsttafel’ dinner.
After dinner, you will be taken back to your hotel in The Hague by luxurious private coach.
Day 8, Thursday April 26, 2018:
Maeslantkering and Delft
9am After breakfast, your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for a 45-minute drive by luxurious private coach to the Maeslant Barrier, where you will enjoy a guided tour.
The Maeslant Barrier is a storm surge barrier on the imaginary dividing line between the Nieuwe Waterweg waterway located at Hoek van Holland and the river Scheur located along the cities of Maassluis and Vlaardingen up to the confluence of the rivers Oude Maas and Nieuwe Maas, which automatically closes when needed. It is part of the Delta Works and it is one of largest moving structures on Earth, rivalling the Green Bank Telescope in the USA and the Bagger 288 excavator in Germany. The main objective of this project was improving the safety against flooding of the Rotterdam harbor, of which the Europoort is an important part, and the surrounding towns and agricultural areas.
11.30am After this exciting visit, your tour will continue with a 45-minute drive to medieval Delft. Before we make a visit to the historical city center, there will be leisure time for lunch at the Delft open air market.
1pm Fully refreshed, your guide will take you on a walking tour through the city center. Stroll along the canals and discover the most beautiful spots of historic Delft. The city is also known as miniature Amsterdam, because of its canals and the grand monumental merchant’s mansions in the old city center. The city center of Delft is one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval Dutch town. It is a city with rich historic and cultural heritage. Delft is also the city of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Think of his masterpiece “Gezicht op Delft” (View on Delft) and the Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Delft is the burial ground of members of the Royal family. Their crypt is located in the New Church. Besides the Royal family, several other famous people have also been buried in Delft. In the Old Church the graves are located of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer and great ocean commanders such as Piet Hein and Maarten Tromp. Here, you will also find some spectacular stained glass windows by the famous artist Joep Nicolas. Your guide will take you to both churches. www.nieuwekerk-delft.nl
2.30pm From the medieval city center, it is only a 5-minute drive to the Pauw. Here, there will be a stop at one of the two original remaining Delftware manufacturers in the world, the Delftse Pauw. Did you know that more than 95% of all produced Delftware in the world is imitation? There will be an interesting tour through the small family company where you will see the process of making Delftware and of course the painters room. After the tour, you will have the opportunity to buy an original piece. It is a small but most fascinating place! www.delftpottery.com
3pm From here, you will be taken back to your hotel in The Hague, where you have the remainder of the day for your own leisure. You will arrive back around 3.30pm.
7pm Dinner will be served at restaurant Humphrey’s.
Day 9, Friday April 27, 2018: – King’s Day
No touring. Please note that today is King’s Day, which is a national holiday. All shops are closed, but most museums are open. There will be many festivities in the city, which you can experience. Bicycles will be available for rent – go explore! Dress code: orange (Oranje!)
7pm A farewell dinner will be served at the Carlton Ambassador Hotel.
Day 10, Saturday April 28, 2018:
After breakfast and check out, your English-speaking driver is ready to take you for a 45-minute drive by luxurious private coach back to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for your flight to 11:55 a.m. non-stop flight to Toronto, arriving at 2 p.m., and we will return to Hamilton by private airport shuttle, where will say “dag” (bye) and “tot ziens” (until we meet again).