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Holland & Belgium in Springtime 2014

Pre-trip: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Extend your time in Amsterdam to experience the many delights of this fascinating city. Included tours introduce you to the historic neighborhood known as Zaanse Schans—an old hamlet on the River Zaan—as well as culturally-rich Haarlem. Then spend time exploring on your own, with expert suggestions from your Grand Circle Program Director—or join an optional tour of charming Volendam. Whether you choose to admire Van Gogh originals, browse an amazing variety of markets (from a floating flower market to elegant antique shops), or simply stroll along narrow canals, you'll find something to suit every traveler.

It's Included:
Accommodations for 3 nights at the Superior First-Class Moevenpick Amsterdam City Centre or similar
3 meals: 3 breakfasts
Included tours: Zaanse Schans, Haarlem
Exclusive services of a resident Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
  • Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Amsterdam. Please refer to your personal air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

  • Arriving in Amsterdam, you’ll be met at the airport and assisted to your hotel. Later, enjoy a walk around the vicinity of your hotel and get acquainted with your Program Director—your guide throughout your entire vacation—and fellow travelers over a Welcome Drink.

  • After breakfast this morning, visit Zaanse Schans—an old hamlet on the banks of the River Zaan. Some of the buildings are original to the site while others have been moved here. You’ll find eight windmills along the river—a far cry from the original 200, when the region was heavily industrialized. Some of the buildings are open for viewing, and you’ll find a cheesemaker’s store, a wooden shoemaker’s shop, and restaurants as well.

    After lunch on your own, the rest of the day is free for you to relax or to explore independently. If you choose the latter, you’ll find that Amsterdam, like so many of Europe’s most inviting cities, truly rewards the walker.

    Or enjoy a timeless taste of Dutch traditional life today on an optional tour of Edam-Volendam and nearby Marken peninsula. Travel overland to Volendam, a fishing village that has preserved centuries of tradition. As your Program Director leads a guided stroll through the quaint streets, you might note some of the local women still wearing the pointed white bonnet of their ancestors. With its small houses, canals, and drawbridges, Volendam is only half of a municipality; the remainder is charming Edam, home to a market best known for the flavorful cheese that bears the same name.

    Leaving the red-roofed skyline of Volendam’s harbor behind, you’ll enjoy a ferry ride to Marken, where clusters of traditional wooden homes form little villages on what once was an island.

    Return to your hotel this evening, and enjoy dinner on your own.

  • After breakfast this morning, you’ll transfer by motorcoach to the nearby city of Haarlem. Upon arrival, enjoy a guided walking tour that showcases Haarlem’s rich history and features notable sights like the 14th-century City Hall and Amsterdamse Poort, the former gateway to the city of Amsterdam. Learn about Haarlem’s proud tradition of beer brewing, as well as its present-day prominence as a major trading center for tulips. Then take some time at leisure to explore before returning to Amsterdam.

    After lunch on your own in Amsterdam, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to further explore the city.

    • Meals included:

    Miss anything in Amsterdam? This morning you’re free to get a few more hours of exploring in before transferring to your river ship, where you join the travelers arriving for Holland & Belgium in Springtime River Cruise.