DAY 1 - Overnight Flight to Europe.
Refer to 'Preparing for your Departure' in your Trip Documents for easy check-in procedures. Take time to relax on your trans-Atlantic flight with the assurance that Image Tours has taken care of all the details.
DAY 2 - HOLLAND . . Arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport - Dutch Lowlands - Lelystad.
Upon arrival, disembark, clear passport control and collect your luggage. Refer to your ‘Arrival Instructions’ page in your Trip Documents for directions on where and when to meet your tour manager. Board your deluxe motor coach for a pleasant drive through the neatly-groomed Dutch lowlands. Much of the Dutch countryside is at or below sea level and is characterized by canals, dikes and windmills. Continue to your hotel in Lelystad, which is situated on reclaimed land known as a Polder. Your two-night stay in Holland will introduce you to Dutch “gezelligheid,” a kind, convivial, comfortable feeling which you will experience in the days ahead. Time allowing, the tour manager may offer a late afternoon excursion to one of the old-world villages nearby. This evening, enjoy the “Welcome to Europe/Get-acquainted” dinner at the hotel with your fellow tour members. (Dinner)
DAY 3 - HOLLAND . . Country Stay in Lelystad.
The day is yours to spend as you wish. Communicating is no problem, as English is widely spoken in the Netherlands. Consider taking advantage of the efficient bus and railway network to a myriad of interesting places, many of them less than an hour away. Bikes are available for rent in many cities. There’s also a full-day optional Grand Holland excursion, featuring a kaleidoscopic overview of Holland, including the unique countryside, a picturesque Dutch village, and an afternoon in Amsterdam, one of the great cities of the world. In the evening, return to your hotel for dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 4 - BELGIUM . . Antwerp & HOLLAND . . Margraten American Military Cemetery - Maastricht.
This morning you will cross three major rivers on your way to Belgium’s province (state) of Flanders and its capital, Antwerp, known for its lively atmosphere and cozy outdoor cafés. Join a short orientation walk and explore the old city center. Be sure to try the Belgian waffles. There are also fine lace and irresistible chocolate shops in the area around the city’s attractive Grand Square. Next, head for the hilly Ardennes region of eastern Belgium. For many, the stop at the Margraten American Military Cemetery is an emotional experience. The graves of over 8,000 American servicemen stand in everlasting memory to the sacrifices of World War II. For the location of specific graves, write to: The American Battle Monuments Commission, Washington, DC 20314. Your hotel this evening is conveniently situated near the converging borders of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 5 - GERMANY . . Rhine Cruise - Heidelberg - Schriesheim.
In Germany, some of your travel will be on the Autobahn, the first state-of-the-art superhighway system, which was expanded by Hitler. Near Koblenz, leave the Autobahn and wind through the Rhine River Valley to Boppard. A pleasure boat awaits you for an upstream cruise on the Rhine River. You will glide past endearing towns, a variety of castles and hillside vineyards known for producing the distinctive Rhine wines. Continue to Heidelberg, situated on the Neckar River and dominated by the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. This renowned university town is considered by many to embody the spirit of Germany. Your tour manager will accompany you on a walking tour of the Old Town. Following your visit to Heidelberg, proceed to the neighboring village of Schriesheim, where your hotel will serve dinner shortly after your arrival. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 6 - GERMANY . . Rothenburg - Romantic Road - Adelsried.
This morning, travel to the storybook town of Rothenburg, a beautifully-preserved, medieval village surrounded by the original town walls. When you see the narrow cobblestone streets, distinctive inns and quaint shop fronts, it might feel as if you are walking into a fairy tale. During your free time, climb to the top of the town hall Bell Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city, walk atop the old city walls, check out the Medieval Criminal Museum which exhibits tools of punishment from more draconian times, or stroll through the castle gardens overlooking the River Tauber. Delightful shopping awaits you at Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf, a sprawling, year-round Christmas shop. Your afternoon journey leads south on the Romantic Road. This area is rich in unspoiled countryside, historic castles and quaint villages. Enjoy dinner tonight at your hotel in Adelsried. Your meal will be enlivened by accordion music. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 7 - GERMANY . . Munich & AUSTRIA . . Innsbruck - Tyrolean Village.
Munich, the elegant capital of Bavaria, lies 60 kilometers (37½ miles) to the east. Step out for free time at the Marienplatz, a pedestrian-only zone where historic buildings are cleverly interspersed with modern store fronts. The focal point of the square is the Rathaus (Town Hall) with its captivating Glockenspiel clock tower. For lunch, consider the Hofbräuhaus, a one-of-a-kind beer hall, which exudes an Oktoberfest atmosphere year-round. After lunch, head south to the Austrian border and travel along the Inn River as it winds its way through the Alps to the Imperial City of Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol and two-time host of the Winter Olympics. Bisected by the Inn River and surrounded by mountains, Innsbruck is a stunning setting. See the Imperial Church, the Golden Roof, the Maria Theresia Boulevard and the Triumphal Arch. A short distance from Innsbruck lies the Tyrolean village where you will spend the next two nights in a chalet-style hotel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 8 - AUSTRIA . . Tyrolean Village near Innsbruck.
The peaceful villages, tucked in the valleys around Innsbruck, provide the perfect location for a relaxing day. Frescoed and flower-adorned chalets create an idyllic atmosphere as you walk through town. Viewed from an outdoor café or along one of the numerous hiking paths, the Tyrolean Alps present breathtaking scenery. For further exploration, trams or trains offer easy and direct transportation between the villages and Innsbruck. Another choice is the full day optional Bavarian Palace excursion, which includes a guided tour of the extravagant Linderhof Palace. Try a local restaurant for your independent dinner or join the optional Tyrolean Show & Dinner for an evening of authentic Austrian folklore, music, and dancing. (Breakfast)
DAY 9 - ITALY . . Dolomite Mountains - Lake Garda - Verona - Bussolengo.
Enter Italy via the Europa Bruecke (Bridge), a remarkable feat of mountain highway engineering through the Dolomites, a mountain range known for its reddish appearance. After the customary morning break, you are in for a special treat as you descend to Italy’s largest lake, beautiful Lake Garda. In some places, the rocky cliffside rises straight up from the water. Its sheltered location gives the area a sub-tropical climate rich in vegetation, including oleander bushes, olive groves and fruit trees. An extended stop affords ample opportunity to stroll along the lakefront, browse the quaint markets, and enjoy an Italian ice cream (gelato). From here, it’s a short ride to the legendary city of Verona, made famous by Shakespeare’s tragic love story of “Romeo & Juliet.” Experience an authentic Italian meal during your independent dinner in Verona before transferring to your hotel in nearby Bussolengo. (Breakfast)
DAY 10 - ITALY . . Bussolengo near Verona.
Spend the day studying the fascinating architecture and browsing the fashionable shops of Verona, or relax along the shores of Lake Garda, sipping a Campari or cappuccino. Direct bus connections are available to either location and the hotel concierge can provide schedules and offer additional assistance. Another choice for today is to join the optional excursion to Venice, famous for its canals and bridges, colorful gondoliers, magnificent St. Mark’s Square, and engaging outdoor vendors. The Venice excursion includes dinner at a typical Venetian restaurant. After a memorable day of sightseeing, return to Bussolengo to spend the night. (Breakfast)
DAY 11 - SWITZERLAND . . Lake Lugano - Gotthard Pass - Lake Lucerne Region.
Travel north towards the unsurpassed splendor of the Italian and Swiss lake districts. As you enter Switzerland, snow-capped peaks emerge in the distance while palm trees greet you along the shores of Lake Lugano. Often referred to as the Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent, Lugano is the perfect spot for a lunch break. In the afternoon, the 11-mile-long St. Gotthard Tunnel takes you from the Italian section of Switzerland into the German section. Traveling through William Tell country, you descend upon Lake Lucerne. The soaring peaks of Rigi, Stanserhorn and Pilatus, standing guard over this vast water basin, create one of the most imposing sights in Europe. Your hotel resides in one of the scenic villages in the Lake Lucerne Region. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 12 - SWITZERLAND . . Village of Stans - Lucerne & FRANCE..Alsace Wine Region.
Today's first stop is the old mountain village of Stans with an optional Swiss Mountain excursion by funicular and cable car. Next, motor along the lake to the city of Lucerne, where you will see the Old Town Wall and famous Lion Monument. After an orientation tour, enjoy time to explore the old town, or relax on one of the lovely lakeshore promenades. Lucerne is also a shopper’s paradise. You will enjoy browsing through displays of wood-carved music boxes, delicate Swiss lace, delicious chocolates and world famous watches. After an independent lunch, depart Lucerne and travel into France’s Alsace wine region. Here, the mountains give way to hilltop villages and rustic vineyards. During dinner at your hotel, you may wish to try one of the local wines. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 13 - FRANCE . . Reims – Paris.
After breakfast, travel past vineyards which produce some of France’s renowned Champagnes. Stop in Reims to visit the magnificent cathedral which has been the site for coronations of French Monarchy since the 9th century. Following an independent lunch in Reims, continue to the exciting capital of Paris. After check-in, enjoy an independent dinner at a restaurant near the hotel or take an easy metro ride to the Montmartre district, where Paris still looks like it does in old paintings. (Breakfast)
DAY 14 - FRANCE . . Paris.
Enjoy a full day in Paris. Your tour manager will direct you to the location of the principal sights, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Opera, the famous Galleries Lafayette department store, and the Champs-Élysées. Before beginning your free time, we suggest joining your tour manager for the optional Seine River Cruise excursion for unsurpassed views of some of the major sights. For dinner tonight, venture out on your own or join the optional Paris Evening excursion, with dinner at a characteristic French bistro located in the heart of Paris. (Breakfast)
DAY 15 - FRANCE . . Paris & ENGLAND . . London.
Spend the morning in Paris, providing the opportunity to visit one more point of interest in La Ville Lumière (The City of Light). The Louvre Museum is open daily except Tuesday. Shopping enthusiasts will be thrilled with the fashionable boutiques and department stores surrounding the Opera. In the afternoon, the high-speed Eurostar train takes you under the English Channel and into London in just three hours. A private motor coach will transfer you to your London hotel where a “Farewell Dinner” will be served after check-in. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 16 - ENGLAND . . London.
Today begins with a guided bus tour of London, including popular sights such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Royal Parks and Buckingham Palace, where you may be able to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony (performed on select dates posted one month in advance, subject to special events and weather conditions). Following the city tour, the afternoon is open for you to pursue your own interests. For transportation, use the red, double-decker buses or the ‘Tube’. Both are easy to use and are an experience in themselves. Shoppers will delight in the selection at Harrods department store along fashionable Regent Street. For more cultural endeavors, view the unrivaled collection of paintings at the National Gallery. In the evening, London offers numerous options for dining and entertainment. You might want to catch a West End show on your own or join your tour manager for the optional London Dinner & Theatre excursion. (Breakfast)
DAY 17 - Daytime flight back to the U.S.A.
Transfer to the London airport for the return flight home. (Breakfast)
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