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The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

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What vacation to Europe is complete without trips to art museums, scouting out important historical landmarks, and tasting tempting treats along the way?

You’ll experience all of that and more when you travel through the heart of Holland and France, two countries with deep histories, both classic and eclectic art, and delicious dishes for every meal (especially dessert!).

Here’s the perfect itinerary for 18 days in Western Europe:

 

Day 1: Preparing for your Day of Departure.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

You’ve booked your tour of Western Europe—you’re so excited! But there’s still a good amount of time before you head to the Old Continent. Use these months to read up on the places you are about to visit. Maybe there’s even some movies that capture the spirit of Holland and/or France An American in Paris, anyone?).

Your next step is one of the most important: packing for your European vacation. As long as you follow a few guidelines, you’ll be in good shape.

First, make sure that your suitcase adheres to the baggage allowances set forth by your touring company as well as your airline.

Secondly, be sure to pack comfortable clothes and shoes for touring every day. You will be doing a lot of bus riding as well as walking, so you want to make sure your clothes are appropriate for both activities.

Additional funds should be brought with you for optional excursions, souvenirs, tipping, and the like. Read up on more advisories for your trip here.

And now… It’s finally here! The day you leave for your terrific trip to Europe! You have an amazing journey ahead of you through Holland and France, so be sure to get some rest on your overnight flight.

 

Day 2: Welcome to Holland, also known as The Netherlands!

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

It’s your first full day in Europe, and it will be well-spent in the countryside of Holland. The country is known for its tulips, dikes, canals, and windmills. Since a good portion of the land is at or below sea level, dikes and canals help control flooding that has previously devastated The Netherlands.

Your day concludes in Rotterdam, where you’ll enjoy a delicious dinner before getting some shut-eye after a long, but enjoyable, day.

 

Day 3: Speaking of windmills, see 19 of them in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Today’s first attraction happens to also be a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the windmills of Kinderdijk. Built in 1740, these 19 ancient windmills have witnessed history unfold for centuries.

Continue on into Delft, known for its blue pottery, or Delftware. Be sure to grab a piece or two to bring back with you or give as a gift to loved ones back home.

A drive through The Hague takes you by Dutch Parliament and the Royal Family, but it’s not the final activity of the afternoon to look forward to.

You will experience all things “gouda” at a local dairy farm that produces gouda cheese. A traditional Dutch dinner is served here for a truly memorable evening.

 

Day 4: Zeeland’s Delta Works keep the island from the perils of the North Sea.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

In 1953, almost 2,000 people died in a horrendous flood from the North Sea. It was only 20 days later that a Delta commission was formed to decide how to best prevent future flooding catastrophes. And so, the Delta Works, were born. You will see them at work during your visit to Zeeland, an island off of Holland’s coast.

Your night will be spent, not in The Netherlands nor in France, but in Belgium. Dine in a cafe or restaurant along the cobbled streets of Bruges. Tomorrow, you will be in France.

 

Day 5: Rouen remembers Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart, and Claude Monet.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Your arrival in France brings you to Rouen, a city known for its history, art, and architecture. Joan of Arc was brought to the castle here in 1431, only to be later burned at the stake. There are now monuments to her in the city as well as a church in her name.

The Roman Catholic Gothic Cathedral is a fine example of gothic architecture. Here you will also find the tomb of Richard the Lionheart.

Claude Monet painted the Cathedral in more than 30 paintings during the 1890s. These paintings are on display all over the world, including Washington D.C.

 

Day 6: Spend a solemn day on the beaches of Normandy, honoring those who risked it all for their country.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

There may be no more memorable day on your tour than this. While it is sad to think of the lives lost in Normandy on D-Day, we will forever be grateful for their bravery in fighting for our freedom.

See Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the site where paratroopers landed in The Longest Day. Visit Utah Beach and see the bunkers there as well as the museum. The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach recognizes the heroism of those who never made it back home.

If you are interested, there is also the opportunity to see German fortifications at Pointe Du Hoc.

 

Day 7: Live luxuriously, like the French royals, in Loire Valley.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, French royals preferred living in the country as opposed to busy and congested Paris. The Loire Valley is an enchanting region to relax in, especially by the river.

But nothing compares to the charming chateau (more like castle), Chenonceau. This elite edifice spans the River Cher and is surrounded by gardens and forests. While it may look like you’ve stepped into a Disney fairy tale, it really is real.

 

Day 8: Romans planted vineyards dating back to the 2nd Century in Saint-Emilion.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Saint-Emilion produces wine from vineyards that were planted by the Romans, all the way back in the 2nd Century. The fact that these vineyards are still around today is a big deal—so much so that the area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Be sure to sample the wine from these special vineyards as well as explore the village full of Romanesque churches and ancient ruins.

 

Day 9: Sip renowned Bordeaux wine at one of the many vineyards in the area.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Hopefully you didn’t get your fill of wine in Saint-Emilion because, today, you’re in Bordeaux. There are some 1,810 hectares of vineyards in this region (and guess what—they’re a UNESCO site!), so wine-tasting is a must.

You can also spend your day touring museums, shopping, dining, or strolling through parks. A drive through the wine roads will open your eyes to the lush vineyards throughout Bordeaux.

 

Day 10: Lovely Lourdes lies amongst the Pyrenees Mountains on the border of Spain.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Not all of Southern France is on the Mediterranean—quite oppositely, France’s border with Spain lies amongst the Pyrenees Mountains. And along that border is the town of Lourdes.

Many Catholics make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. Since then, the Torchlight Marian Procession has taken place nightly to pay tribute to the apparitions.

Those participating in the procession hold candles that have a covering with the story of the apparitions inscribed upon it. Come rain or shine, the procession takes place every night.

 

Day 11: Visit the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

In 1858, Bernadette Soubirous began having visions at the age of 14. These visions were of a white lady, who many believe to have been of the Virgin Mary. As the lady never confirmed that she was in fact Mary, she now is known as “Our Lady Lourdes.”

See the Grotto of Massabielle, where Bernadette experienced these visions. Then, tour The Sanctuary of Our Lady Lourdes and learn more about the 18 visions the young girl had.

Your journey continues east to Carcassonne, a fortified settlement built in the 12th Century. This hilltop fortress is famous for its 53 watchtowers and double walls.

 

Day 12: Be in awe of the ancient, but amazing, Pont du Gard aqueduct.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Looming three tiers high, stretching fifty kilometers, and made with over fifty thousand tons of stone, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct arches stoically across the Gard River. This Roman aqueduct was built in the First Century to carry water over the river to the city of Nimes. Unsurprisingly, this architectural and technical feat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After a photo opportunity, you’ll continue on to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for an afternoon of wine tasting before settling into Avignon for the night.

 

Day 13: Go see the inspiration for many of Van Gogh’s paintings.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

The famous Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, admitted himself into an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where you will visit today. The hospital gardens, Roman ruins near the property, and sur­rounding landscape became the subjects for some of Van Gogh’s paintings. Too bad his life would end only a year later.

Afterwards, explore Les Baux-de-Provence, a town carved into a mountain. With sandy colored buildings set into the rocks, it is not always certain where town and mountain meet in this intriguing town.

 

Day 14: Walk amongst the stars in Cannes, on the French Riviera.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Every year, the Cannes Film Festival brings celebrities from around the world to feature their new films. Chances are you won’t be visiting Cannes while the festival is occurring, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on walking amongst the stars…

The Walk of Fame (or Path of the Stars) can be found outside of the Palais des Festivals. Be sure to search out names of your favorite actors, such as Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, and Julie Andrews.

While you’re at the French Riviera, why not take a trip to Monte Carlo for some casino fun and games? Maybe luck will be on your side!

 

Day 15: Marvel at the village that Marc Chagall lived in and painted for the final years of his life.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Famed artist, Marc Chagall, dabbled in many different painting styles, including cubism and surrealism. He spent the last 19 years of his life in St. Paul de Vence, where he painted, but also created works of stained glass, for which he was highly praised.

See the town where he lived out the remainder of his life and was buried at the age of 97. Truly, he was one of the last great masters of modern art.

 

Day 16: Travel to Paris via one of Europe’s famed high-speed trains.

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Over the last two weeks, you have slowly, but steadily, made your way from The Netherlands to the South of France. It’s time to take things up a notch with a high-speed train to Paris. In just five hours, you will be there.

Enjoy an independent dinner in one of Paris’ famous streetside bistros. Grab a glass of wine and sit outside below the twinkling stars (or perhaps it’s just the lights of the city!).

 

Day 17: Ah, Paris, the City of Light! What a finale to your trip!

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Today, be a true tourist. There is only so much daylight and so many wonderful places to see in the City of Light! Of course, you must go by the Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Just down the River Seine is Notre Dame Cathedral.

Walk down Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe or go shopping in the famous Galeries Lafayette department store.

Art-lovers, spend hours strolling the halls of the Louvre for classical artwork and Musée d’Orsay for the modern pieces.

Tonight, you might catch your last glimpses of Paris in the Old Town district of Montmartre, where at the top of the hill you can overlook the entire city.

Paris really does have it all.

 

Day 18: Bon Voyage, Europe!

The Best of Western Europe: 18 Days of Art, History, and Food

Somehow, your trip to Holland and France is over. As you wait for your airplane to depart, be sure to buy some last minute souvenirs. Postcards are a great choice—they’re easy to pack and have a picture so that you will always remember your trip.

As your plane ascends into the clouds, take time to reflect on your trip. What was your favorite part? Did you make any new friends? Plan on reaching out to them soon after you arrive home. Journal your favorite memories so that you will be able to relive your trip over and over again.

 

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5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

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People have lots of emotions when that last child leaves the nest. And not all of them are bad, by the way.

Many people find a lot of advantages in the Empty Nester lifestyle. In fact theres more freedom to come and go, more time to do the things they enjoy, and often, more money to spend on guilty pleasures and postponed plans like bucket-list travels.

If you’re an empty nester who has put off personal dreams for the needs of your kids, there’s something you should know.

Now is the perfect time to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe.

Here are five reasons why it’s going to be better than you ever imagined, now that you’re on your own.

You Choose Your Own Travel Priorities

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

If you’re used to taking trips with your kids, you are probably used to skipping the galleries and museums that tug at your soul because you know your kids won’t enjoy them.

You probably pretended you weren’t really interested in that botanical garden anyway, just to avoid a squabble.

As an empty nester in Europe, however, all that’s about to change.

Want to spend a day Toledo, Spain admiring the Cathedral and Synagogue followed by a sipping Sangria at a sidewalk café? Does your dream tour of Spain include hours spent wandering the Prado Museum.

Exploring the fascinating grounds of the Granada Alhambra, free from the mutters of “Can we leave now?”

If you’re an empty nester traveler, that dream is your reality. You can visit every single World War II memorial and battlefield that captures your interest without constantly worrying that your children are bored.

And if you’re doing the Big Three (Paris, London, and Rome), you can check off all those bucket-list sights you’ve only ever read about until now.

Think of the places you can visit; Notre Dame, the Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, the British Museum, the Tate, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Navona (the list goes on and on).

You’ve got all the time in the world to see things your way.

In fact, the travel advantages start before you even leave home. Imagine being able to choose an itinerary based around the cities and countries you and your partner really want to see.

If you’d rather skip the more traditional European hotspots in favor of a deep dive into the glorious countryside of the British Isles, it’s your choice.

You shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about skipping the tourist attractions if you want.

Enjoy the Most Unusual and Delectable International Cuisine

 

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Let’s face it, traveling, especially internationally, with kids often means looking for restaurants that serve boring American cuisine like burgers and chicken nuggets.

You may even find yourself lunching at McDonald’s when your kids turn up their noses at that charming fish and chips place on the Thames you want to try. That’s a tragedy when you’ve waited for years for your dream trip to Europe.

Traveling without kids, however, means you don’t have to account for their picky appetites. You can enjoy long, leisurely meals in true Italian style, as course after course—the primo, the secondo, the contorno, and the dolce—arrives at your table.

If you’re lucky enough to find a tour of a lovely Tuscan winery or sample a sip at a Munich biergarten—all the better. When you’re an empty nester, the sky is the limit when it comes to enjoying international cuisine.

Of course, you can’t overlook the sheer pleasure of waking up early and launching your day with nothing but a croissant and coffee.

Children need three squares a day, but you’re free to eat what you want when you want. And if that’s a bite on the go so you don’t miss a moment exploring, there’s no one to whimper, “I’m hungry.”

Best of all, perhaps, is that you can order even the most unusual dishes—think morcilla (blood sausage) in Spain, escargot (snails) in France, or gerookte paling (smoked eel) in Holland, for example. No one at the table will pull a face and call you weird.

Just one more reason it’s not so bad to travel without your kids.

Slow or Fast, the Pace of Your Tour Is up to You

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Remember what is was like taking your children to the zoo? They could dawdle for hours at the monkey enclosure laughing at their antics, but they’d rush right by the exotic birds you love to watch without even a passing glance.

They were in charge of the pace.

As an empty nester in Europe, however, nothing is further from the truth. Imagine you’re on a guided tour of European capitals on the day you’re exploring Berlin. In just one day, you might—

  • Visit the Reichstag and marvel at the huge glass dome.
  • Walk through the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Take your picture at Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Explore the bombed tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
  • Meander through the Kurfurstendamm and do a little shopping
  • Tour the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror—or any of Berlin’s amazing museums.
  • Enjoy a romantic dinner at the Restaurant Hof Zwei or other swanky inn.

There’s no space in that itinerary for dawdling or naps, something you have to consider traveling with kids.

And when that romantic dinner runs late in the night? Well, there’s no curfew for empty nesters. You can even go dancing in the moonlight when you’re done if it catches your fancy.

Your Schedule Is More Flexible Without School to Consider

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Empty nesters aren’t bound by the rigid schedules of children in school, when the only acceptable times to travel are winter break and summer vacation. Which are not the best times for visiting Europe, truth be told.

Of course, you could take two weeks in summer to visit Italy with the kids, but you’d have hot weather, large crowds, and higher airfare. You might even squeeze in a trip to London over Christmas break, if you don’t mind cold, wet weather and a crush of holiday shoppers.

Europe is really at its finest when most children are in school.

Springtime in Paris is the stuff of Hollywood love stories and Frank Sinatra songs. The cherry blossoms explode over the Ile de la Cite and the magnificent chestnut groves along the Champs Elysees erupt with sweetly scented flowers.

Holland is especially colorful at Tulip Time in April and early May, when the fields are bursting with colorful flowers.

And there’s nothing like autumn in Tuscany with its magnificent colors and fabulous weather. It’s the season of festivals and celebrating the harvest.

Truffles and porcini mushrooms, lush sweet grapes, and rich black olives and fresh-pressed oil are abundant in fall, making it the best time to visit for gastronomes.

When you’re an empty nester on vacation, you don’t have to miss a thing and you can stay as long as you like.

Even a three-week grand tour of the Heart of Europe® is possible.

You Can Spend More Money on Yourself for a Change

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Be honest, when you travel with kids, about 90% of your vacation budget is consumed on keeping them happy. Theme park tickets, silly souvenirs, and $6 sodas add up fast when you go to Disneyland.

As an empty nester, however, you can spoil yourself for a change.

Treat yourself to an opera in Vienna at the Vienna State Opera House followed by a luxurious dinner with fine wine and a sumptuous slice of sachertorte slathered in chocolate ganache.

Buy that one-of-a-kind Murano glass sculpture you can set on your mantle at home to remind you forever of your dream tour of Europe.

Take in the cabaret in Paris, a flamenco dance in Spain, a fado performance in Portugal or a theater production in London.

If you’re on a guided tour, go ahead and book that optional excursion to visit the Linderhof Palace in Bavaria or enjoy a Tyrolean Show. Marvel over the crown jewels in the Tower of London, glide along in a riverboat cruise on the Seine, or listen to a fascinating explanations of Pompeii.

Buy yourself something fabulous from a fashion house on the Rue Saint Honore or the Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. Have your portrait drawn at the Tuileries outside the Louvre. Purchase a painting from a sidewalk artist or gallery.

Indulge your interests and, visit a vineyard, tour a sherry bodega, or learn how Waterford Crystal is made.

Treat your European tour like the once-in-a-lifetime adventure it is and enjoy every minute with yourself as the star. That’s something only an empty nester can do.

Final Thoughts…

Europe is always a marvelous place to travel, with or without your family.

But empty nesters have the advantage. You can make it the trip you’ve always imagined and see everything you’ve always wanted to see. And you’ll have lovely memories to share with your kids once you get home (and maybe even a box of exquisite chocolates, too).

If you’re ready to plan your empty-nester European tour of a lifetime, get in touch today. Why not spend Paris in spring next year?

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

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Ever wish you could go backpacking through Europe without the backpacking part? It’s possible to see the most magnificent places throughout the Old Continent with transportation and lodgings provided—all you have to do is go!

Here is the ideal itinerary for 22 days in Europe to see the ultimate sights:

 

Day 1: There’s nothing like that first sight of Europe as you come through the clouds during your descent.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

The moment you’ve been waiting for for months and months has finally arrived! Your international flight to Europe is about to touch down in Holland.

But let’s talk about preparing for this moment. Make sure to pack the appropriate clothing, shoes, electronics, toiletries, etc., before heading to Europe for three weeks. Travel insurance is always a good idea. Your tour operator will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have before heading out on your European extravaganza!

 

Day 2: Travel through Holland’s charming countryside, most of which is at or below sea-level.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Your first full day in Europe begins with a drive through the Dutch Lowlands. Because the majority of the Dutch countryside is at or below sea level, you will see many dikes, canals, and windmills throughout the idyllic landscape.

Your stay in Holland will introduce you to the Dutch “gezelligheid,” a kind, convivial, comfortable feeling, which you will experience in the days ahead.

 

Day 3: Take a deep-dive into Dutch life during your day-trip to Delft.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

It’s all about the canals, cafes, and ceramics during your day-trip to Delft! As you walk through the picturesque streets, medieval architecture is everywhere you look. Corner cafes offering Dutch pancakes lure you in with their sweet scents. Be sure to stop and admire the charming canals that wind their way through the city.

In any store you go in, you’re all but sure to find the famous blue Delftware pottery. Pick some up for your dining room at home to always remember your time spent in Delft.

 

Day 4: “Lunching” Belgian-style includes sampling their world-famous waffles.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Head to Antwerp, Belgium today. Arrive in Antwerp for a full day of very different activities. On the way, sYou may want to stop atby the Margraten American Military Cemetery for an important and, which is an incredibly important and emotional experience. The graves of over 8,000 American servicemen from World War II are here. Pay your respects to the men who fought for liberty and justice for all.

 

Day 5: Glide through Germany aboard a pleasure boat on the Rhine River.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Willkommen in Deutschland! Welcome to Germany! And what a welcome indeed—you’ll board a boat to ride down the Rhine River. Your voyage takes you by quaint villages, medieval fortresses, and hillside vineyards known for their distinctive wines.

The village of Heidelberg and its castle exude the spirit of Germany. Explore the Old Town and be transported back in time to the days of knights and squires.

 

Day 6: Feel as if you’ve entered a fairytale in romantic Rothenberg.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Nothing can compare to the romantic hamlet of Rothenberg. This Medieval village seriously looks like it is straight out of a story book. Walk the cobblestone streets, hear the sounds of the bell tower, and stop in the many shops, including Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf where it’s Christmas year-round.

The Medieval Criminal Museum is a must. Learn about the different devices of torture and tools of punishment from more draconian times before lightening things up as you travel on the Romantic Road (one of the Top 10 Road Trips in Europe!).

 

Day 7: You can’t leave Germany without observing Oktoberfest!

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Even if you aren’t in Germany at the end of September (when Oktoberfest is celebrated), you can still enjoy the experience of drinking German beer and eating schnitzel to your heart’s content. The Hofbräuhaus is a one of a kind beer hall where the celebration of Oktoberfest goes on all year long. Be sure to try the traditional foods and hoppy beers during your visit.

 

Day 8: Austria’s Innsbruck ignites inspiration with its incredible mountain vistas.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Austria’s Innsbruck is one of those European cities you will fall in love with. The Imperial City (as it’s known) has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, has great skiing, and is an architectural beauty thanks to Maximilian I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 to 1519.

Be sure to check out the Bavarian Palace or Tyrolean Show and Dinner to get immersed in Innsbruck’s culture.

 

Day 9: Experience a subtropical climate while traipsing through the Dolomites.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

On the other side of the Alps lies Italy, a country full of history, culture, and good food (and wine!). In the north lies Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. Amidst the Dolomites, its sheltered location gives the area a subtropical climate rich in vegetation, including oleander bushes, olive groves, fruit trees, and grapevines.

Stroll along the lakefront and stop in the various shops and cafes for tasty treats. Gelato (Italian ice cream) is a wonderful way to cool off on a warm summer’s day.

 

Day 10: Venture around the Venetian canals, appreciating architecture along the way.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Italy’s city on the water has so much more to offer than just gondola rides. While those are fun and an absolute must while visiting, there is also St. Mark’s Square that includes St. Mark’s Basilica and the Clock Tower that can be explored on foot. Venice is a vibrant city with many restaurants, stores, and churches welcoming you to stop and admire their architecture.

A special Venetian Dinner can be arranged in a small courtyard, complete with wine and dessert! You don’t want to miss out on all that Venice has to offer.

 

Day 11: Cruise through the charming countryside of Italy en route to Rome.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

While today is primarily a “travel day,” no time is wasted as you wander through the hillside of Italy. Vineyards and olive groves sprawl across the tranquil landscape. Your journey takes you on the Autostrada del Sol (Highway of the Sun).

Consider during your trip the excitement that is to be had in Rome. What foods do you want to try? What wine do you want to sample? What historical landmark are you just dying to see?

 

Day 12: When in Rome, there’s more to see than just the Colosseum (although that’s a must!).

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Ah, Roma. The city is full of hustle and bustle while at the same time being incredibly ancient and historical. So many sites are waiting to be seen here. The Colosseum, of course, is a must. The Pantheon dates back to the 2nd Century AD, and while it used to be a temple, these days it serves as a church. And no trip to Rome would be complete without a stop by Trevi Fountain to make a wish.

The Vatican and Sistine Chapel are also essentials when in Rome. Be sure to check out Michelangelo’s famous art on the ceiling of the church.

 

Day 13: Roam through Italy’s capital city in search of authentic, delicious dishes.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Today is yours in Rome. If there are any sites you’ve yet to see, take time to go by them today. Another option? Eat and drink your heart out—well, not literally, but hey, you’re on vacation!

Try popular Roman dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all’amatriciana. Or sip a cappuccino at the Spanish Steps. And you can never go wrong with trying any of Italy’s wines.

 

Day 14: Time to take a picture of you holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Be honest, you know you want to get a picture that looks like you are holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While a bit cheesy, it’s a must if you’re in Italy!

After a stop there, head into Florence in the heart of Tuscany. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the various piazzas (town squares) complete with countless sculptures and architectural masterpieces. Shopping is fantastic in Florence—markets full of leather goods and jewelry at Ponte Vecchio Bridge never disappoint.

 

Day 15: Lovely Lake Lugano is lush with lavish and luxurious lifestyles.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Can you believe there are palm trees just across the Swiss border? At Lake Lugano, you can take a picture with both palm trees and mountains in the background. The town of Lugano is known for its international banking and tourist industry. The affluent vacation here during their summer holiday.

Architecturally, the town is Italian, but is within Swiss borders. You’ll enjoy walking through the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent” on your first day in Switzerland.

 

Day 16: Lucerne offers memorable mountain views and spectacular shopping.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Surrounding Lucerne and its lake of the same name are many mountains, including the mighty Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Pilatus. But if the breathtaking views aren’t enough to make Lucerne a must on your European “bucket list,” perhaps the shopping and swiss chocolate will take it to the next level.

Swiss lace, watches, and wood-carved music boxes are all superb souvenirs to take home to loved ones (or keep for yourself!). But what must be enjoyed in the here-and-now is the delectable Swiss-chocolate. Grab a cup of hot chocolate (better than Swiss-Miss, I promise!) while you gaze at the gorgeous mountain-filled horizon.

 

Day 17: Say “bonjour” to Beaune, a medieval town in France’s Burgundy wine region.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

For your first day in France, spend some time in Beaune, a well-preserved medieval town in the French countryside. Burgundy is famous for its wines, which you can taste during an independent dinner.

During the day, you will enjoy visiting the Hospices Museum. Once a hospital during the 15th Century, these buildings now house items used in the hospital during the Middle Ages as well as a collection of furniture, paintings, pottery, and tapestries.

 

Day 18: Paris holds the key to an amazing history, visible in its art, architecture, and many museums.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

If there was ever a city to see, it’s Paris. The romance, the architecture, the art—the City of Light has it all. And an amazing place to see the whole city? Montmartre. On top of the hill sits Sacre-Couer Basilica, meaning Church of the Sacred Heart. If you look away from the church, you have a fabulous view of the entire city.

Choose to have dinner Parisian-style in a French bistro. Indulge in French wines, savory meals, and decadent desserts.

 

Day 19: Capture the many highlights of the “City of Light.”

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

One of the best ways to get up close and personal with Paris is a scenic Seine River Cruise. The Seine is renowned for being incredibly romantic—many movies have filmed famous scenes along its banks.

On the cruise, you’ll see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and many other famous historical sites. Be sure to stop in the Louvre for Classical artwork or Musee de Orsay for more modern pieces, like those of Claude Monet.

 

Day 20: Travel through the Tunnel to your last city on this tour—London.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Can you believe you’re already headed to your final city of the tour? The weeks have just flown. Take the “Tunnel” train, which goes under the English Channel, from Paris to London in less than three hours.

Once there, hit all of the famous London landmarks such as Big Ben, Hyde Park, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. London is a fantastic mix of the old and new.

 

Day 21: Hop aboard a double-decker bus to go wherever your heart desires.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Today is your day to explore London as you’d like. Maybe you’re into shopping and are just dying to go to Harrod’s for floors and floors of stores! Or perhaps you’re enthralled by the idea of seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Piccadilly Square has a “Times Square” feel to it if you’re more into exciting nightlife.

However you choose to spend your day, be sure to soak in every second as its your last full day in Europe.

 

Day 22: Farewell to Europe—what a joyful journey.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

After a roaring trip through Europe, it’s time to embark on a plane towards home. Relive your trip on your flight with all of the pictures you took. Make sure to journal about your experience so that you’ll never forget it. Postcards make for great souvenirs—they forever capture the spectacular sights you saw and can easily be picked up in the airport.

 

Ready to pack your bags?

Can you see yourself experiencing the excitement of Europe? Get in touch today to start planning the trip of a lifetime.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

europe-traveler-book-advance

Arranging the European vacation of a lifetime doesn’t just happen two weeks before you depart.

It can take months to get all the details in order and properly prepare for your trip.

In fact, the best time to start planning your trip to Europe is up to a year before you take your trip.

Why? Here are 10 surprising reasons to book ahead:

 

1. Get the best possible discounts by booking your tour up to 17 months in advance.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

It’s no secret that if you wait until the last minute to purchase a tour to Europe, you’ll probably not get any early booking savings. In order to avoid steep costs for your international flights, buy the tour with air several months in advance.

While research shows that domestic flights are best priced around 54 days in prior to departure, for foreign flights, the earlier you reserve your seats the better.

Generally, international flights are available for booking 11 months in advance, and escorted trips can be booked up to 17 months in advance which means in June, you can schedule your trip through October of the following year.

If you are already planning to travel in 2018 then why not lock in your price, getting the best deal in the process?  And when you want us to take care of your flight just book the tour with air inclusive and we will take care of finding the best flight that will match up with your escorted Europe trip. We always offer the best prices to those clients who book the earliest.

 

2. Plan your Pre- and Post-Tour Extensions when and where you want.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

By booking escorted Europe tours months prior to your trip, you have a better choice of extensions.

European travel is incredibly popular, especially during the summer months. With a little advance planning, you can create great extensions — maybe even stop over in a city you’ve always wanted to explore for a few days after the tour is complete.

Popular extension cities like London are perfect for a short visit before or after your tour—but it takes time to do the additional planning.

Wouldn’t you love to see more of Big Ben or the Tower of London after your British Isles tour? That’s the beauty of planning your escorted Europe tour booking months in advance – with a little advance planning, you can see even more places on your bucket list.

3. Avoid sitting in the dreaded center seat at all costs.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Let’s be honest for a second: no one likes the center seat.

At some point during your transatlantic flight, you are both the “disrupted” and “disruptee.” Doesn’t it always happen that when you’ve just reached the best part of your book, the person at the window needs to stretch their legs? Or perhaps when you need to do the same, the passenger on the aisle has reached REM sleep?

Avoid the center seat dilemma by booking in advance. Then the only problem will be deciding between more leg room on the aisle or getting to see beautiful landscapes from the window!

 

4. Ensure your spot on the tour of your dreams.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Not only do seats on a plane fill up quickly, so do spots on a tour. Why wait, risking that the tour you’ve always dreamed of will be sold out? And if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, you won’t want to compromise with your second or third choice.

If you book ahead, you are virtually guaranteed to get a spot on the tour and departure date that works best for you.

Check out our 2018 tour dates to see what’s available.

 

5. Get your ducks in a row before you go.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

There are lots of details involved in international travel—give yourself plenty of time so there’s no last-minute stress.

For example: Your passport. Do you have one? If not, you’ll need a couple of months between applying for it and receiving it.

If you already have a passport, double-check that it’s valid at least six months from the date of your return flight or you’ll need a new one.

How’s your luggage situation? If it’s been awhile since you took a long trip, you may want to shop around for a new set of luggage with a good quality carry-on bag meeting today’s FAA regulations. Planning ahead means you can wait for a good sale!

Pick up a guide book and do some research about the places you are visiting. Make a list of the things you absolutely want to see while you’re in Europe.

Finally, go over your packing list to make sure you have everything you need for stress-free international travel—don’t forget comfortable walking shoes.

Talk with your cell phone service provider about international plans to save you expensive minutes. Buy outlet adapters so that you can charge digital cameras, cell phones, laptops, and other electronics.

 

6. Learn a few foreign phrases and enhance your experience.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Learning simple words and phrases may come in handy while traveling abroad. For instance, you may want to grab a taxi back to your hotel after a night at the Vienna Opera House.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know a few German phrases for tourists?

A little foreign language also makes for a great conversation starter when getting to know your fellow tour mates. Exchange the phrases you acquired before the trip with others, picking up some new conversation starters for your language rolodex. When in Rome, as they say!

 

7. Pick a time of year that best suits your schedule and best suits the weather.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Vacations provide an escape from our busy, busy lives—and sometimes, it’s hard to find two or three weeks to spend on yourself unless you plan many months in advance.

And of course, once you find your vacation sweet spot, you want to make sure the weather will be pleasant in your dream destination. A trip to Spain and Portugal, for instance, would be a completely different experience in October than in July.

The smart thing about reserving your tour well in advance is that you can see your favorite cities when they are at their best.

Haven’t you heard? You’ll love Paris in the springtime. And for that matter, London and Rome aren’t half-bad, either.

 

8. Organizing a trip abroad can be time consuming – take time to plan around everyday life!

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Life never stops, it never slows down. Summer months are full of vacations, weddings, sporting events, and more. As you move into fall, holiday activities pack your schedule, and before you know it, it’s a new year.

Arranging your European tour a year in advance lets you work vacation-planning around all of life’s activities.

Take time between school events, sports activities, business trips – you name it – to research all the sights you want to see and foods you’d love to try.

 

9. The kids are back in school, so you have more time to focus on your dream trip.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

September is back-to-school season for your children and grand kids. And that means you have a little more to spend on yourself and planning your bucket-list tour of Europe.

And if you’re planning a family adventure together, you’ll have everyone’s school schedule for the following year so you’ll know the best times to book.

 

10. And finally, planning a trip to Europe is just plain exciting! Why wait to get started?

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

The joy of a lifetime adventure to Europe goes beyond just the day you climb on the plane until the day you return to home base—the whole planning process before you go is packed with anticipation and excitement.

Who doesn’t love having something to look forward to? (And the sooner you book, the more time you have to dream about your journey and plan for each bucket-list experience you’ll check off your list.)

See yourself in Europe next year? Contact us today to get the planning process started.

Announcing 3 New Europe Tours for 2018

three-new-tours-for-20183

We are pleased to bring you three new Europe tours for the coming year:

16-DAY  SCANDINAVIA & BALTIC HIGHLIGHTS
• Includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
• Departs June 14
• Featuring Tour Manager Richard Munning

12-DAY  SCANDINAVIA HIGHLIGHTS
• Includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland
• Departs June 14
• Featuring Tour Manager Richard Munning

18-DAY  HOLLAND & FRANCE FAVORITES

(Also known as “Best of Our West Europe” Tour)

• Includes Rotterdam, Delft, Zeeland, Bruges, Rouen, Bayeux, Normandy, Chenonceaux Castle,  Bordeaux, Lourdes, Carcassonne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Pont du Gard, Avignon, Cannes, Nice and Paris
• Departs September 28
• Featuring Tour Manager Ron Lazet

For itineraries and prices, see our website www.ImageTours.com.

We have already announced the Tour Managers for these new tours. Ron Lazet will be leading the Best of Our West tour and Richard Munning will be leading both of our new Scandinavia tours. We are announcing Ron and Richard now so that if you’ve had either of them on a past tour and would like to travel with either again on a different tour, you now have that opportunity.

 

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