August 27-September 9, 2022
Ciscoe is touring gardens in Europe again! This time we’ll experience two of the three Low Countries, with our time divided between Belgium and the Netherlands (sorry Luxembourg, no time). Focal points of this tour are the Floriade and Bloemencorso Zundert.
Floriade is Europe’s international garden festival, held every ten years, near Amsterdam. Bloemencorso Zundert is the largest parade of flowers in the world made entirely by volunteers. In addition to these main events, we’ll have the opportunity to tour one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, enjoy mussels in Bruges, visit an historic Belgian brewery, walk through Flanders Fields, and much, much more.
Here’s what’s included in the tour…
- 12 nights in The Netherlands and Belgium
- 3 nights Dinant, Belgium
- 3 nights Bruges, Belgium
- 2 nights Breda, Netherlands
- 4 nights Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Most meals
- Breakfast each morning
- 8 Dinners
- 2 Lunches
- Services of local guides throughout
- Air-conditioned motor coach transportation
- Admission and tours to historic, cultural, and gardens sites as indicated
This tour will begin at noon at Brussels Airport on August 28. Most polar-route flights will arrive in Brussels mid-morning. There is a Delta (via AMS) flight arriving shortly after 10 AM and a British Air flight (via LHR) arriving at 10:30 AM. Belgium has three official languages and, though English isn’t one of them, I’ve found that Brussels has no shortage of English-speaking locals. If you like to arrive early to acclimate to the time change, Brussels is a good city for this.
Once we have our guests gathered, we’ll meet our driver and travel the very short distance to the Meise Botanical Garden. Because we’re likely to be ready for lunch and stretch our legs, we’ll begin our day here with lunch in the Orangerie followed by an orientation tour of one of the largest botanic gardens in the world.
Later that afternoon, we’ll begin the 75-minute drive to the southeast to the picturesque town of Dinant, located on the banks of the River Meuse, and our home base for the next three nights. You’ve got free time to relax or stroll through the town until we meet for welcome drink at 6 PM, followed by dinner near the hotel. Overnight Dinant. (LD)
Monday, August 29
We’ll have two gardens and free time for lunch and to explore the medieval city of Durbuy. Our first visit is to the sprawling Topiary Garden situated on the banks of the River Ourthe. After free time in town and lunch on your own, we’ll journey back toward Dinant with a tour of the grounds and castle of Château de Vêves. We’ll end the day with a refreshment stop at Maison Leffe, because it wouldn’t be a tour of Belgium without a visit to one of the better-known Belgian brewers. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight Dinant. (B)
Tuesday, August 30
We’ll start the day with a tour of the premier garden in the region, Jardins d’eau d’Annevoie, just a short drive from Dinant. These water gardens were first established in 1758, enchanting visitors for over 250 years. After lunch at the gardens and a little free time to explore on your own, we’ll journey back to Dinant with a visit to Freyr Castle and Gardens. We’ll have dinner this evening near the hotel. Overnight Dinant. (BD)
Wednesday, August 31
This morning we leave idyllic Dinant for the even more idyllic village of Bruges. The silting up of its harbor, thereby losing any sort of strategic significance, saved Bruges from destruction in the many wars that raged around it. The result is a nearly intact medieval center that has been on the Unesco Heritage list since 2000.
On the way west, we’ll make a mid-morning stop at perhaps the best-known garden in the country, the Van Buuren Garden and Museum. The garden and Art Deco house are located in the outskirts of Brussels. We’ll spend the lunch hour in Brussels’ version of Central Park, the Bois de la Cambre. You’re free to sit at one of the outdoor restaurants, grab a sandwich from a kiosk, or skip lunch altogether. There are walking trails, pony rides, boat rentals, and even a brewery.
We’ll gather again at a time to be determined to journey to the second visit the day, the garden at Gaasbeek Castle. Bruges is a little more than an hour away from this garden. Once we arrive, we’ll check in, then gather for a cruise through the canals that bisect the town. Dinner is planned near the hotel at 7 PM. Overnight Bruges. (BD)
Thursday, September 1
A mix of history and gardens on the itinerary today. We’ll begin the day at the private garden of designer Chris Ghyselen, located near Bruges. We’ll then travel south to tour some of the notable WWI historic sites and the dressing station where Canadian John McCrae, penned the poem “In Flanders Fields.” We’ll break for lunch in the city of Ypres, painstakingly rebuilt from the ravages of WWI. Dinner tonight is on your own. If you like Mussels, walk to one of the outdoor cafés that front the main square (Markt) which face the Belfort Tower. Order ½ kilo of Mussels and Frites, or an entire kilo if you think you can handle it. Overnight Bruges. (B)
Friday, September 2
There is an abundance of private gardens in the Bruges Area. We’re keeping the day on the light side to allow more free time to spend on and around the canals of the town. Cottage Tuin Loppem is a small private garden just 20 minutes from Bruges. We’ll enjoy a tour with the owner. A ploughman’s lunch will be served at the garden, then we’ll visit another privately held garden, Rientjes Hoveke, in the area with a tour by the owner. Overnight Bruges. (BLD)
Saturday, September 3
We’re departing Belgium today for Holland with the next two nights in the fortified town of Breda. Our first stop is the castle garden at Kasteel Van Oostkerke. We’ll pass through the city of Antwerp on the way north. This city is the home of Peter Paul Rubens and a tour of his house and gardens is the second stop we’ll have today. We’ll arrive in Breda mid-afternoon and will meet a local guide for a tour of the fortified town. Overnight Breda. (BD)
Sunday, September 4
Your morning is free to catch your breath and walk the town on your own. Later this morning, we will travel 30 minutes to the south to attend the Bloemencorso (Flower parade) in nearby Zundert. Founded in 1936, this event is heralded as the largest flower parade in the world made entirely by volunteers. The parade floats are powered by humans only, no engines are allowed. We’ll spend the entire afternoon partaking in the festival events taking place in town. We’ll return to the hotel the late afternoon with dinner planned for early evening. Overnight Breda. (BD)
Monday, September 5
Today we check out of the hotel in Breda and travel to the UNESCO world heritage site of Kinderdijk, known for its iconic 18th-century windmills. Its water-management network features 19 mills and three pumping stations, plus dikes and reservoirs that control flooding in the polder (low-lying land). Waterways, footpaths and bike trails crisscross the area, leading to the main visitor’s center and museums in preserved working windmills.
We’ll continue on to Delft with a break for lunch on your own, then visit the Royal Delft Museum and learn about this beautiful hand-painted pottery, tableware and artwork. Enjoy a walk through this charming town where Johannes Vermeer painted the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” We’ll continue on to Amsterdam and check in to our hotel. Dinner will be near the hotel this evening, but not before we take a 90-minute orientation canal tour of the capital. Overnight Amsterdam. (BD)
Tuesday, September 6
We’re traveling to the town of Weesp this morning to visit the garden of Jacqueline van der Kloet. Her Tea Garden was created over 30 years ago behind the fortified walls of this reclaimed island. After our return to the city and lunch on your own, we’ll visit Hortus Botanicus, founded in 1682 as a resource for medicinal herbs. The garden has a large collection of Cycads, including a specimen of Eastern Cape Giant that is over 300 years old.
Tired of gardens? Amsterdam is a world class museum city. There’s the National Museum of The Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum. You’ll find many works by Van Gogh, the Dutch Masters and historic and cultural artifacts. Spend as much time as you like at the museum. You may also consider a visit to the Van Gogh Museum or to the Anne Frank House. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight Amsterdam. (B)
Wednesday, September 7
The day is devoted to attending the Floriade. Held every 10 years, this European garden festival takes place in land reclaimed from the sea just outside Amsterdam. Given the efficiency of public transit, I expect that we’ll travel by train to this suburb. You’re free to enjoy this festival on your own with a return time established as we arrive. There are many options available for lunch and English is widely spoken. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight Amsterdam. (B)
Thursday, September 8
We’ll wrap up the tour with a visit to two private gardens north of Amsterdam in The Netherland’s newest province (1986) of Flevoland. This region of 400,000 residents is almost entirely reclaimed from the sea with a network of dikes. We’ll start the day with a tour of de Stekkentuin. Our next garden, just a few kilometers away, is called de Pegasushof. We’ll wrap up our tours at these gardens before dropping you at the hotel for lunch on your own and free time in the city for shopping or visiting one of the many museums and galleries. We’ll have our farewell dinner near the hotel at 6 PM this evening. Overnight Amsterdam. (BD)
Friday, September 9
Early morning transfer to Schiphol Airport for the 10:15 AM nonstop Seattle departure. Exact time will be announced. Breakfast will be arranged before we go. (B)
Our Hotels are all deluxe properties with climate control. Each of these hotels was chosen because of their unique properties.
Dinant Hotel La Merveilleuse
Bruges Grand Hotel Casselbergh
Breda Hotel Nassau Breda
Amsterdam The Craftsmen
This tour is available to book now and is limited to 16 participants. There are limited single rooms available for this program. The tour cost is $5,950 per person, based on double occupancy. The single supplement is $1,100. A deposit of $1,500 per person is required to confirm your reservation. Balance of the tour cost is due April 1, 2022.
Published pricing assumes payment by Visa or MasterCard. A discount of $200 per person is applied for payment by check.
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If you have any questions about this tour, please contact Brad Cilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 425 375 2676.