Itinerary – Tulips, Cultural treasures & The Art of the Dutch & flemish Masters

April 12, Friday – Depart for Holland

April 13, Saturday – Amsterdam  

Arrival at Schiphol Airport. We’ll meet and welcome you at a designated location in the airport, then board the motorcoach to de Zaanse Schans (a historical recreation of a village complete with working windmills). After a tour of this charming village and a visit to a klompen maker (wooden shoes), enjoy a traditional Dutch pancake lunch before heading to our floating hotel, La Mar barge in Amsterdam. The captain and crew will welcome us and provide an orientation to the barge before checking into our cabins. Welcome dinner on the barge. (L, D)

April 14, Sunday – Haarlem                 

After a leisurely breakfast, the skipper and crew prepare to leave Amsterdam for the beautiful town of Haarlem.  While barging, relax on deck, and enjoy the fascinating and expert operation of locks and bridges while passing through canals lined with private homes and gardens. After lunch on the barge, we’ll spend the afternoon in Haarlem beginning with a guided tour of the Frans Hals Museum. In addition to several works by Hals, the collection includes works of art from former guilds, monasteries and churches of Haarlem, as well as objects and artifacts relating to Haarlem acquired by local donations and purchases. The St Bavo Church dominates the main square, and the town hall (a former hunting lodge from the 14th century) and meat market make for great sketching/photography subjects. (B, L, D) 

April 15, Monday – Leiden                    

An exciting day awaits us. A short bus ride will take us to the famous Keukenhof Gardens located in the center of the tulip fields. Over a million flowers have been planted by professional gardeners and garden centers, with many varieties named after royalty. The area around the Keukenhof is mostly fields of flowers as far as the eye can see – be sure to have your camera ready. We’ll enjoy lunch on our own at one of the many restaurants onsite. In addition to souvenir gift shops, one can order bulbs to be shipped home at planting time. In the afternoon, continue to Leiden, birthplace of Rembrandt van Rijn. Rembrandt is mostly referred to by his first name, his last name is Harmenszoon van Rijn. Explore the old town gate, de Zijlpoort, built in 1667 and enjoy a stroll in the center of Leiden. Many of the passengers on the Mayflower lived in Leiden prior to sailing to the New World. Ostracized for their religious beliefs, they escaped from England and settled in Leiden. (B, D)

April 16, Tuesday – Delft            

After breakfast, bus to Delft, home of the celebrated Dutch painter, Vermeer. Here, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), grew to be an artist of global scale. A visit to the Vermeer Center examines his paintings (reproductions) and the highlights of his life. The building dates back to the days when Vermeer was overseeing other painters as the Dean. We’ll lunch on our own in one of the many restaurants in the center of Delft. Following lunch, enjoy a tour of the lovely Prinsenhof Museum, once the court of William of Orange, father of the Dutch Nation.  Delft was a city full of talent and innovation and the Prinsenhof Museum features a collection of Delft ceramic, Delft tapestries, archival objects and artifacts providing a clear picture of the artistic and intellectual achievements of this city. Before returning to our barge, explore the oldest tile factory in the Netherlands and admire the pottery still painted by hand by artisans(B, D) 

April 17, Wednesday – The Hague & Gouda                   

Today, we coach to the Hague. The Mauritshuis Museum, located next to the government buildings is our destination. Home to some of the finest paintings from the time of Rembrandt and Vermeer, you’ll find paintings by Anthony van Dyck, Jan Steen, Vermeer’s famous Girl With the Pearl Earring, and View of Delft, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, and several paintings by Rembrandt, including a self-portrait. The Hague, officially known as ‘s Gravenhage, is the seat of Government. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. The Hague has the most embassies, as well as the International Court of Justice, currently not recognized by the USA. However, the President of the Court is Judge Joan E. Donoghue, an American citizen. We finish the day in Gouda where our trusted floating hotel is waiting. (B, D).

April 18, Thursday – Amsterdam        

Make sure you visit a cheese shop in Gouda, sample first, and then take some home. Today is market day in Gouda with lots of activity all around you. The town hall on the main square is a spectacular site as is St John’s church, dedicated to John the Baptist, and built in the 15th century. The stained glass windows in the church are of particular interest as they depict scenes from the bible in artistic detail. In the afternoon, while barging to Amsterdam, we have lunch onboard and enjoy the ever-changing landscape. Arrive in Amsterdam late afternoon. Dinner is on board the barge. (B, L, D).

April 19, Friday – Amsterdam       

After breakfast, we will head to the Museum Square in Amsterdam to view the masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Van Gogh at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Late afternoon, return to the barge in Amsterdam and get ready for our farewell dinner.  (B, D)

April 20, Saturday – Departure           

Group transfer to Schiphol airport for your return flight.

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change. We ask participants to remain flexible, as weather may dictate the activities for each day.Dinners on the barge will take place between 6-7 pm. Water, coffee and tea along with light snacks will be offered all day long free of charge. There is a self-serve bar on the barge where you can select wine or beer on the honor system. At the end of the tour, you may settle your tab.

We’ll see you in Holland, or as the Dutch say, tot ziens.