28-Nights Great European End Amsterdam
$8495 per person
Buckle up for an unforgettable Great European tour, filled with local flavours, the scents of France and artistry of Gaudí and Michelangelo in Spain and Italy. Discover Bordeaux’s rich culinary heritage, learn about La Belle Époque in Biarritz, and count the 100 spires of Prague.
- 28 Breakfast (B)
- 1 Welcome Reception (WR)
- 1 Be My Guest (BMG)
- 7 Dinner (D)
- 1 Lunch (L)
- Villandry: Return to 17th-century France and join the de Montferrier family on their farm near the famous Chteau de Villandry for a traditional three-course Tourangelle Be My Guest dinner paired with local wines.
- Florence: Eight generations of history with plenty of stories to tell. Enjoy a traditional Be My Guest lunch with the Landi family at their home near Florence, set within a garden of oak trees against the backdrop of Tuscan vineyards and olive groves.
- Madrid: Visit the Prado Museum in Madrid, where you'll have time to admire its extraordinary collection of European art dating from the 12th to early 20th centuries.
- Provence: The scents of France are yours to enjoy at Fragonard, a famous French perfumery that has been creating perfumes since the 1920s.
- Paris: Explore the iconic sights and streets of Paris on an orientation drive this evening.
- Paris: Join a Local Specialist to discover the hidden squares and secret lanes of Paris.
- Biarritz: Appreciate the prestigious history of Biarritz as you explore the city's charming streets.
- Pamplona: Spend time exploring this city, known for its annual Running with the Bulls festival.
- Madrid: See the highlights of the city with your Local Specialist. Visit the Old Town, travelling along the elegant Paseo de la Castellana, past the Cibeles fountain, Cervantes Monument and Royal Palace.
- Barcelona: With your Local Specialist, see Las Ramblas and the elegant Passeig de Grcia to take in some of the city's finest Modernist architecture. Journey past the beautiful façades of the Eixample district to see Gaudi's extraordinary masterpiece, the mesmerising Sagrada Família.
- Monaco City: See the cathedral where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were married.
- Pisa: During an orientation, your Travel Director will show you the baptistery, cathedral and the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Florence: Join a Local Specialist to view the multi-coloured marble cathedral, bell tower and baptistery, adorned by Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise. Visit the political heart of the city, Signoria Square.
- Passignano Sul Trasimeno: Stroll along the medieval streets of this scenic lakeside city.
- Vatican: Visit Vatican City and tour St. Peter's Basilica with a Local Specialist. Witness the early genius of Michelangelo as you take in the Piet.
- Rome: Experience Rome through the eyes of a local, as a passionate Roman guides you past the city's most iconic sites.
- Tuscany: View the stunning landscape of Tuscany on your drive today.
- Venice: An introductory orientation of Venice reveals the famed canals and labrinthine streets of this eminent city.
- Carnic Alps: Remarkable geography sets the stage today as your travels continue through the Carnic Alps.
- Vienna: Walk through the first district, Inner Stadt, as your Local Specialist reveals the historic core of the city. Tour the Ring Road to see the Hofburg Imperial Residence, Opera House, Parliament Building and Karlskirche.
- Bratislava: Explore Bratislava's city centre. Take a walk through the charming squares and see the iconic Michael Tower.
- Prague: Led by your Local Specialist, explore the delightful Old Town Square and see the detailed Astronomical Clock that attracts onlookers each hour.
- Regensburg: Visit Regensburg and explore this enchanting UNESCO-listed town at your leisure.
- Munich: During your orientation of the city with your Travel Director, see Feldherrnhalle in the Odeonsplatz, the Palace of the Dukes of Wittelsbach, the English Garden, the Hofbräuhaus, St. Peter's Church and the famous Marienplatz.
- Vaduz: Explore Vaduz and admire the Royal family's residence, Vaduz Castle, which overlooks the capital.
- Lucerne: During an orientation with your Travel Director, see the Lion Monument, Old Town Hall and Chapel Bridge, the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe.
- Heidelberg: See the magnificent castle built in red sandstone, overlooking the Student Prince’s town.
- Rhineland: Cruise beneath the semi-ruined castles and terraced vineyards. Sleepy villages slip by as you saunter upstream to the Lorelei Rock where the enchantress lured sailors to their doom.
- Cologne Cathedral: The towering Cathedral of Cologne is an impressive introduction to this riverside city.
- Amsterdam: Cruise along the old waterways with your Travel Director and fellow travellers. Discover the architectural gems of the old city, including mansions dating from the Golden Age of the 17th Century.
- Amsterdam: Led by your Travel Director, wander the city to see the floating flower market, Dam Square and the Royal Palace.
- Venice: Learn about the history and ancient skill of Venetian glassblowing, playing your role in ensuring the survival of this traditional craft through your visit.
- : Discover Bordeaux, Biarritz, Pamplona, French Riviera, Monaco, Pisa, Passignano sul Trasimeno, Venice, Bratislava, Regensburg, Munich, Vaduz - the capital of Liechtenstein, Lucerne, Heidelberg, Cologne and Amsterdam
- : Visit the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Fragonard Perfumery in Grasse, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and a glassblowing factory in Venice
- : View the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedr...
Paris, world capital of art and culture, gathers some of the most famous museums and monuments in the world. Like all the world's great capitals, Paris lives at a fast pace, by day, by night and especially at rush hours. Bear in mind that museums and monuments are often less crowded during the week. Sights that should not be missed include: The Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. Visit any of the many others according to your tastes and interests: the Musee Picasso, Musee Rodin, Musee Carnavalet, Musee Marmottan and the Arab Institute are just a few. Essential Paris monuments are the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe or the Grande Arche de la Defense.
London is undoubtedly one of the world's finest cities. In addition to numerous monuments from its more glorious past, London is equally well-known for its pageantry and tradition. London has something for everyone - wide boulevards buzzing with excitement far into the night, quiet squares and explorable alleyways. Visit this famous city's parks, museums, galleries, monuments, abbeys and churches, skyscrapers and ruins, Georgian squares. Take in such events as the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower, or the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, or even one of the many theatrical productions. Some of the most exclusive shops are found along Oxford, Bond and Regent Streets. An old favorite and one of the world's premier institutions is Harrods - offering everything from Chanel suits and sliced salmon to caviar and even pets.
The capital of Spain since 1562, Madrid is located on the geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula. Because of its central location and high altitude, the climate of Madrid is characterized by warm dry summers and cool winters. Madrid is a city of great monuments. Among its highlights are the medieval center dating back to the Habsburg Empire and the Prado Museum. Madrid is not just a cultural destination. It is also a lively metropolis with many pubs, cafes, discotheques and nightclubs open late into the night.
Cosmopolitan Amsterdam is most famous for its narrow, gabled houses lining the canals. Interesting attractions include the medieval weighhouse, Royal Palace on Dam Square, and New Church. Its most glamorous industry is the diamond trade. Not too far from Amsterdam are the flower centers of Aalsmeer, the picturesque fishing villages of Volendam and Marken, cheese markets at Edam and Gouda, and historic Haarlem, the main center of the bulb-growing industry. Enjoy the city’s sights from a glass-topped sightseeing boat which passes characteristic gabled houses and negotiates picturesque arched bridges. Facing Dam Square, the Royal Palace was built in 1648 and is still officially the royal residence, although the royal family resides in The Hague. The marbled Citizens Hall with inlaid maps of the world is worth seeing. One of Amsterdam’s most visited sites is historic Anne Frank House. Rijksmuseum, the city’s most prestigious museum, houses the largest collection of Dutch paintings in the world. Van Gogh Museum houses a striking collection.
Barcelona, the self-confident and progressive capital of Spain, is a tremendous place to be. Though it boasts outstanding Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, and some great museums – most notably those dedicated to Picasso and Catalan art – it is above all a place where there's enjoyment simply in walking the streets, stopping in at bars and cafés, drinking in the atmosphere. A thriving port and the most prosperous commercial centre in Spain, it has a sophistication and cultural dynamism way ahead of the rest of the country. In part this reflects the city's proximity to France, whose influence is apparent in the elegant boulevards and imaginative cooking. But Barcelona has also evolved an individual and eclectic cultural identity, most perfectly and eccentrically expressed in the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. Scattered as Barcelona's main sights may be, the greatest concentration of interest is around the old town (La Ciutat Vella). These cramped streets above the harbor are easily manageable, and far more enjoyable, on foot. Start, as everyone else does, with the Ramblas.
Surrounding Bordeaux are world-renowned vineyards and châteaux. Visitors from all over the globe come here to learn about the winemaking process - from growing grapes to harvesting, fermenting and bottling these top-quality wines. Here in the wine region the title of château can mean anything from a palatial residence to a basic winery. There are thousands of châteaux that rank from very modest family establishments to large famous properties where grapes are raised, fermented and then matured to produce the area’s famous wines. Visit Rue Ste. Cathérine - a half-mile-long pedestrian street leading through the Old Town’s major shopping area and marking the beginning of the elegant 18th-century city. - and Musée des Beaux Arts -- a museum with a large collection of 17th-century paintings by Flemish, Dutch and Italian masters as well as works by Delacroix.
Sprawled across seven legendary hills, romantic and beautiful Rome was one of the great centers of the ancient world. Although its beginning is shrouded in legend and its development is full of intrigue and struggle, Rome has always been and remains the Eternal City.
Rome enjoyed its greatest splendor during the 1st and 2nd centuries when art flourished, monumental works of architecture were erected, and the mighty Roman legions swept outward, conquering all of Italy. These victorious armies then swept across the Mediterranean and beyond to conquer most of the known world. With Rome's establishment as capital of the western world, a new ascent to glory began.
Today's Rome, with its splendid churches, ancient monuments and palaces, spacious parks, tree-lined boulevards, fountains, outdoor cafes and elegant shops, is one of the world’s most attractive and exciting cities. Among the most famous monuments is the Colosseum. As you walk its cool, dark passageways, imagine the voices that once filled the arena as 50,000 spectators watched combats between muscled gladiators and ferocious animals.
Stop to see the remains of the Forum, once the city's political and commercial center. In later times, Rome's squares were enhanced with such imposing structures as the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and grandiose fountains like the Fontana di Trevi. Join the millions who stand in awe of Christendom’s most magnificent church and admire the timeless masterpieces of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.
Rome jars the senses and captures the soul. Grasp all you can during the short, precious time you have available in the Eternal City. With so much to see and do, a day or two will only allow you a sampling of the city's marvelous treasures.
Caution: As in many big cities and tourist destinations purse snatching and pickpocketing is common. Valuable jewelry and excess cash are best left in a safety deposit box in your hotel.
Shopping For most visitors shopping for beautiful Italian leather articles, designer shoes, fashions for men and women, linens, knitwear, silk scarves and ties is a favorite pastime. Except for tourist-oriented shops, the majority of stores are closed on Sundays. Some of the department stores, such as Rinascente, open in the late afternoon on Sundays.
Cuisine Rome's choice of restaurants is mindboggling as is the variety of cuisine. Whether your meal is at a top-rated restaurant or a rustic trattoria, you can be sure that you will enjoy your food, especially when accompanied by wines from the hill towns surrounding Rome.
Other Sights Rome's attractions are endless, and depending on how much time you have at your disposal a careful selection has to be made about what to see. Be aware of horrendous traffic conditions and major construction work all around the city in preparation of Jubilee 2000, the Holy Year. Some of the sights not to be missed:
Piazza Venezia - This busy square is easily recognized by its imposing Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. The white marble structure was inaugurated in 1911 as a symbol of Italy’s unification.
The Forum - Once the civic heart of ancient Rome, today the remains include a series of ruins, marble fragments, isolated columns and some worn arches.
Colosseum - No visit to Rome is complete without a stop at this awe-inspiring theater, which is among the world’s most celebrated buildings. Here ancient Rome flocked to see gladiatorial contests and numerous other spectacles.
Trevi Fountain - Take a stroll to Rome's famous fountain. A spectacular fantasy of mythical sea creatures and cascades of splashing water, the fountain is one of the city's foremost attractions. Legend has it that visitors must toss a coin into the fountain to ensure their return to Rome.
St. Peter's Square - Part of Vatican City, this square created by Bernini is considered one of the loveliest squares in the world. Twin Doric colonnades topped with statues of various saints and martyrs flank either side of the square. In the center stands an 84-foot obelisk, brought from Egypt in 37 A.D.
St. Peter's Basilica - At the head of the square stands Christendom's most magnificent church, which was begun in 1452 on the site where St. Peter was buried. Throughout the following 200 years, such Renaissance masters as Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini worked on its design and created an unparalleled masterpiece. Of special note are Michelangelo's Pieta and the bronze canopy over the high altar by Bernini. The immense dome was designed by Michelangelo.
Vatican Museum - To see this museum's immense collection would take days. As you enter, there are special posters that plot a choice of four color-coded itineraries. They are repeated throughout the museum and are easy to follow. It is a good idea to pickup a leaflet at the main entrance and concentrate on exhibits of major interest. Of course, the Sistine Chapel is a must. Most likely you may have to wait in line to enter.
With a great historic past and incomparable art treasures, Venice is renowned as one of the world’s great cities. Its 118 islands are separated by more than 150 canals and spanned by 400 bridges. During Venice's artistic golden age many magnificent structures were erected to create world-famous masterpieces. One of the best sightseeing routes is along Grand Canal, with many palaces lining the famous waterway. St. Mark’s Square offers access to some of Venice’s most famed attractions - St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. From Piazza San Marco, a maze of narrow streets are lined with shops, cafés and restaurants. A popular pastime is sitting at an outdoor café facing the square while people-watching and letting the whole marvelous scenario unfold. Venice’s Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands comprise an area famous as home of Venice’s glass-blowing industry and known for their charm, skilled lace-making and medieval monuments. Relax on a gondola ride, see art treasures in museums, churches and palaces, and have a sumptuous meal - all in this incomparable city.
The creative explosion of the Italian Renaissance happened right here, leaving petite Florence more art treasures than most national capitals. View the masterworks of local heroes like Michelangelo and Botticelli, visit countless unforgettable basilicas, then climb up into Brunelleschi's soaring dome to watch the sun set among cypress-clad Tuscan hillsides.
Vienna is dominated by imperial castles and places: Schonbrunn, the magnificent summer residence, the Imperial Coach Collection, the Palm House, the Butterfly House, Belvedere Palace, magnificent state rooms in Hofburg, and the imperial crown in the Treasury. Stop by Ringstraße - the showplace of the monarchy built where Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the demolition of city walls. Important buildings include the State Opera, the Museums of Fine Arts and Natural History, Parliament, City Hall and Vienna University. The world capital of music. A long line of great composers Johann Strauss, Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, Mahler and Schonberg all worked here. A city with splendid concert halls, such as the Golden Hall, from which the Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert is broadcast annually. International stars love to appear here in the State Opera, Volksoper, Konzerthaus, and at festivals like the Vienna Festival, the Klangbogen concerts during the Musical Summer, the Jazz Festval and the Haydn, Mozart and Schubert festivals.
Home of tworld-famous Oktoberfest, the Hofbrauhaus and beergarden-experience, Munich has become one of the most modern and prosperous cities in post-war Germany. Munich offers museums, art galleries, concert halls and historical buildings, beergarden athmosphere on a warm summer night and the hottest dance hall scene in Germany. The area around Munich has mountains, lakes, fairy-tale-castles, wintersport centers and treasures like the monastery-and-brewery of Andechs. Among "must-sees" in Munich, are a walk on the high-level-shopping mile of Maximilianstrasse, a visit of Monopterus building and the "Chinesischer Turm" beergarden on a warm summer day, a match of two main local soccer clubs in Olympic stadium, a visit to "Deutsche Museum", a beer in the students' pubs, and an afternight breakfast in the cafe "Schmalznudel" at Viktualienmarkt. For history, go to a museum, visit the castle of Nymphenburg or get confronted with the dark side of German history in Dachau concentration camp memorial site.
Without a doubt one of the prettiest towns in Switzerland, Lucerne lies in the heart of the country on famous lake of Lucerne. Dotted with Renaissance and Baroque fountains, colorful paintings on the gables and commanded by the exquisite wooden bridge, the Kapellbrücke and Wasserturm, the 13th century octagonal water tower, Lucerne's character is pure charm. Spectacular views and sights abound from almost every vantage point in and around Lucerne. The Old Town Hall is a fine example of a Renaissance building while the City Wall, built between 1350 and 1405 stands proud above the city. A stroll along the quay leads past the modern health resort and onto the largest, most important Transport Museum in Europe and the only Planetarium in Switzerland. The famous Lion Monument and Glacier Garden make for remarkable viewing as do the mountain peaks surrounding the city. A short drive from town takes visitors to some of the most breathtaking landscapes on earth, and a short drive from Viewaldstätter Lake leads to nearby winter resorts and many more lakes.
Amid Prague's cobblestone streets and gold-tip spires, galleries, cafes, and clubs teem with young Czechs and "expatriates." New shops and restaurants have opened, expanding the city's culinary reach beyond the traditional roast pork and dumplings. The arts and theater also thrive in Prague. Young playwrights regularly stage their works, weekly poetry readings are standing room only, and classical music maintains famous standards, while the clubs are jammed. The arts - nonverbal theater, "installation" art, world music - are as trendy in Prague as in any European capital but possess distinctive Czech flavor. All of this is set against a stunning backdrop of towering churches and centuries-old bridges and alleyways. Prague achieved much of its glory in the 14th century, during the long reign of Charles IV, king of Bohemia and Moravia and Holy Roman Emperor. Charles established a university in the city and laid out the New Town, charting Prague's growth. Prague Castle is the most popular sight and is the largest ancient castle in the world with three courtyards.
Germans call this area The Rhineland-Pfalz, the river valleys created by the Ahr, Lahn, Moselle (Mosel) and Rhine Rivers. In the Middle Ages the Moselle and Rhine river valleys were controlled by feudal lords who built castles at strategic intervals along the rivers, establishing dozens of "tollbooths."
From the elegant city of Cannes, home of the famous film festival, it's an easy drive to the other star attractions along the French Riviera. Enjoy the plunging cliffside scenery on one of the corniche roads to Monte Carlo. Or visit Antibes with its lush, bougainvillea-draped villas, or the medieval walled town of St. Paul de Vence.
Also known by its Basque name of Iruna, Pamplona, Spain, is a proud, prosperous, devout and usually conservative town with city walls and cobbled streets. The city, 195 mi/315 km northeast of Madrid, is the capital of the green province-region of Navarra, which borders France.
The central square is the Plaza del Castillo, dominated by the Neo-classical Palacio del Gobierno de Navarra and also home to one of Spain's finest cafes, the Cafe Iruna. The streets of the old town fill the space between this square and the cathedral, largely Gothic in style but with a facade added in the 18th century. The other main sight not to miss is the Museo de Navarra in a converted hospital, which has some large Roman mosaics among its other historical and archaeological exhibits.
The town's sedate personality gets turned upside down during the fiesta of San Fermin that runs 6-14 July each year. Immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, the fiesta's most famous event is the running of the bulls. Each day at 8 am, the brave, foolish or drunk take to the narrow, barricaded streets to run alongside (or away from) six fighting bulls.
Less dangerous (but still exhausting) are the other activities that run the full week of the festival, including parades of giant figures, marauding bands, fireworks, endless dancing and lots of drinking.
If you can handle only a day or two of such merriment, try to make it to the first day or two of the fiesta (the weekend is the busiest time). The celebration that explodes at noon on 6 July is an incredible sight (plan to be soaked by champagne).
If you hope to stay in the city, accommodations should be booked at least a year in advance—be sure to get a room facing away from the street because the noise is relentless. Temporary campsites are set up on the outskirts of the city, and shuttle buses provide transport into town. Note also that petty crime is rife at this time.
Pamplona makes a good base from which to explore the rest of Navarra. Highlights of the province are the restored fairy-tale castle at Olite, the carved portal of the church at Sanguesa, the medieval town of Estella (Lizarra), the pilgrim bridge at Puente La Reina, the two monasteries of La Oliva and Leyre, Javier Castle (birthplace of St. Francis Xavier) and, near the French border, the tiny town of Roncesvalles, a traditional starting point for pilgrims heading across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia via the Saint James' Way.
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Price are per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability and change without notice. Prices reflect land only accommodations, airfare is additional. Blackout dates/seasonal supplements may apply.
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