Day 1 ARRIVE IN AMSTERDAM AREA, HOLLAND.
Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore Amsterdam on your own. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers. (D)
Day 2 AMSTERDAM AREA.
For centuries, this tiny nation of seafaring traders played a leading role in world history. It reclaimed 40% of its territory from the sea, and produces a healthy agricultural surplus in the midst of Europe’s most densely populated area—yet Holland manages to remain quaint and scenic. Your day begins with sightseeing with a Local Guide pointing out the city highlights. Later, see the city from a different perspective on the CANAL CRUISE. Watch skilled craftsmen cut and polish precious stones at a DIAMOND CENTER. Time in the afternoon to explore on your own or to join an optional excursion. (B)
Day 3 AMSTERDAM AREA–AALSMEER/KEUKENHOF–THE HAGUE–DELFT–ROTTERDAM.
Begin your day with a visit to the fascinating AALSMEER FLOWER AUCTION or, when the tulips bloom, see some of the 7 million flowers on your visit to world-famous KEUKENHOF (departures 0407-0505), one of the world’s largest flower gardens (weather permitting). Carry on to historic Delft for a visit of the famous ROYAL DELFT POTTERY FACTORY. See how this precious pottery is made and marvel at its magnificent collection of hand-painted earthenware. Continue on to Rotterdam, the world’s busiest port to marvel at the city’s futuristic architecture. (B)
Day 4 ROTTERDAM–GROESBEEK–ARNHEM AREA.
Today is all about recent history. Visit Groesbeek, where Allied forces launched Operation Market Garden during WWII, the largest airborne battle in history and the only major Allied defeat of the northwest Europe campaign. Also, explore the NATIONAL LIBERATION MUSEUM, which commemorates Holland’s occupation and liberation during the war. Next is Arnhem, site of the disastrous Battle of Arnhem, where you will see John Frost Bridge, named for the commander of the British forces that held the bridge for four days. Enjoy time on your own to do some independent exploring. (B,D)
Day 5 ARNHEM AREA–STAPHORST–GIETHOORN–GRONINGEN.
This morning, head for the rustic town of Staphorst, dating back to the 13th century when monks began cultivating the area’s bogs and swamps. Inhabitants today still live according to strict Calvinist principles. Stop in the quaint village of Giethoorn, built on canals but very different from busy cities like Venice or Amsterdam. Spend the night in the provincial capital of Groningen. (B)
Day 6 GRONINGEN–ZAANSE SCHANS–VOLENDAM–AMSTERDAM AREA.
Explore Groningen this morning, an important trade center in the 13th century that today is hailed as the “World Cycling City.” Later, enjoy a scenic drive through the lovely Frisian Lake District. Cross over the 19-mile Barrier Dam, which is part of an incredible system of 1,200 miles of dikes, dams, and dunes built over the last 900 years to protect the part of Holland that is below sea level. Visit a renowned WOODEN CLOG and DUTCH CHEESE WORKSHOP in Zaanse Schans. Continue to the fishing village of Volendam, then arrive back in Amsterdam to enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 7 AMSTERDAM AREA.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)