Masters and Artisans 2 - Itinerary
Day 1: Arrivals, Introductory Tour of Amsterdam, Welcome Dinner Cruise
On arrival at the Amsterdam airport, you will be met by your private chauffeur, who will bring you to our canal-side boutique hotel in the center of Amsterdam. After some time to rest and refresh, you will meet other guests on this tour and together, we will start our exploration of the Netherlands with an introductory walking tour of Amsterdam. This impassioned introduction to Dutch history and the people of Amsterdam will make the city come alive for us. At the conclusion of the tour, we will board a private boat for a canal cruise, where we will be served an elegant catered dinner, as we sail along the magically lit canals of Amsterdam.
Day 2: Amsterdam's Museums
We'll spend our first full day in Amsterdam touring two of the city's most celebrated museums. In the morning, we'll visit Anne Frank's House for a vivid, firsthand experience of her life while hiding in the Secret Annex during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. After an authentic Dutch lunch, we'll enjoy an in-depth visit to the Van Gogh Museum. The museum houses the world's largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh, and provides an opportunity to learn about the artist's life and compare his paintings to works by his contemporaries. The evening will be free to immerse in the spirit of Amsterdam and peruse the city according to your individual interests.
Day 3: Edam, Zaanse Schans, and Haarlem
After breakfast today, we will venture outside of the city and travel to the frozen in time village of Edam known for its quaint scenery and its Old World cheese markets. Here, we'll learn about the world-famous Edam cheese and of course taste several varieties, before we continue to the Open Air Museum of Zaanse Schans, with its beautiful old wooden houses, picturesque windmills, and flower fields awash with color. We will also witness a fun, interactive wooden clog-making demonstration. Our last stop today will be the historic town of Haarlem. During our guided walk of the town, we'll see why this charming medieval market town gave its name to American Harlem in the 17th century, when New York was still a Dutch colony. This evening, we'll celebrate our journey through Dutch history with dinner at an upscale restaurant.
Day 4: Aalsmeer, Keukenhof, and Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum
This morning, we'll set out from the city and travel through the storybook Dutch countryside to the town of Aalsmeer. Here, we'll visit FloraHolland, and watch from a special guests' gallery the world's largest flower auction, where more than five billion flowers are sold every year. This is a very unique experience that will allow us to get a taste of life behind the Dutch tulip fever. Afterwards, we'll continue to Keukenhof, the most beautiful spring garden in the world, with more than seven million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths filling the manicured and meticulously designed gardens. After ample time to admire the flower fields, we'll return to Amsterdam for a guided tour of the world famous Rijksmuseum, featuring many of the readily recognizable paintings: from Rembrandt’s Night Watch to Vermeer's Milkmaid, and from extravagant costumes to complete, original 18th-century period rooms. In the evening, we'll celebrate our Dutch adventures with a traditional Dutch dinner.
Day 5: Amsterdam to Bruges via Delft and Kinderdijk
After checking out from our Amsterdam hotel, we'll continue our journey, as we visit to the city of Delft, known for its distinctive blue and white ceramics. With its tree-lined canals, great museums and famous monuments, Delft is also one of Holland's most charming towns. We'll start with a tour of the Porceleyne Fles, the Royal Dutch Delftware Manufactory, established in 1653, where the Royal Delftware is still hand-painted according to centuries-old tradition. We'll have some time to stroll through the town to admire some of its churches, visit the Vermeer Museum or have lunch, before we continue to the fairytale site of Kinderdijk, where 19 windmills, originally built around 1740, still do their work draining the marshy lowlands. Here, we'll take a wooden, canal boat to admire the windmills from different perspectives and to soak in the beauty of this historic area to fully appreciate the "Vermeer's light" on the fields and on the water. In the afternoon, we'll continue to the historic town of Bruges in Belgium, our home for the second part of the tour.
Day 6: Guided Walk of Bruges, Canal Cruise
This morning, we'll wake up in one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, Bruges. We'll start the day with a guided walk through the historical city center, meandering along its narrow cobbled streets and contemplating its weathered beauty reflected in the dark mirror of its peaceful canals, as we learn about its history from a knowledgeable local expert. A visit to Bruges would not be complete without a boat trip on its canals, so we'll take a cruise on the picturesque waterways to admire the city’s beautiful buildings from a different viewpoint. We'll enjoy an authentic Belgian lunch at a peaceful café, then, we can take advantage of a free afternoon to pursue individual interests, shop or just relax and enjoy Belgium's most mesmerizing city.
Day 7: Belgian Chocolate Village, Guided Walk of Brussels
Today, we'll tour Brussels, the capital of Europe. Our first stop will be at the Chocolate Museum, where we'll learn about the chocolate making process and make some of our own chocolate, followed by a mandatory chocolate tasting. Next we'll enjoy a traditional Belgian waffle lunch then take a historian led walk through the center of Brussels, adorned by such architectural masterpieces as the Grand Place with its flower market, the impressive Gothic town hall, and rows of lavishly decorated, flamboyant Gothic guild houses. There will be some free time to explore the city, including its famous chocolatiers or to indulge in more Belgian mussels, beer and waffles.
Day 8: Walking Tour of Ghent
Today, we'll visit Ghent, a historic medieval city, yet filled with youthful energy created by its renowned university. This is a city where a modern ambiance and contemporary daily life plays itself out against a gorgeous historical backdrop. After a guided tour of the city, including St. Bavo's Cathedral, St. Michael's Bridge, and the photogenic riverfront, we'll enjoy some free time to enjoy the canal side dining, the gorgeous architecture and the youthful atmosphere of this city. We'll return to Bruges in the afternoon, and in the evening, we'll celebrate the memories and friendships we created during this trip with a festive farewell dinner.
Day 9: Bruges to Brussels Airport - Departures
This is our last day in the Low Countries, and after breakfast, we'll have an early morning group transfer to the Brussels Airport (BRU). We expect to arrive at Brussels Airport around 8:30 AM, so please schedule your return flight after 10:30 AM.