Tour: HBT - 2013 (HBT) - 2013 / 2014

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Buckingham Palace in London
Buckingham Palace in London

Itinerary

DAY 1Arrive in Amsterdam, Holland

Welcome to Amsterdam! At 6 pm, meet your traveling companions and Tour Director for a welcome dinner at your hotel. (Dinner)

Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands Enjoy the lovely canals of Amsterdam 
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DAY 2Amsterdam

Guided sightseeing features a CANAL CRUISE aboard a glass-roofed launch, which is the best way to get a good impression of how this city was built and how much still remains from the Golden Age. Next, visit a major DIAMOND CENTER. Later, maybe an optional excursion to visit a cheese farm, a clog maker, a working windmill, and dinner in the pretty fishing village of Volendam at the former Zuiderzee? (Breakfast)

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DAY 3Amsterdam–Cologne–Heidelberg, Germany

In Cologne, visit the awesome twin-spired gothic CATHEDRAL. Time to shop for the traditional “4711” Eau de Cologne before the afternoon’s highlight: a RHINE CRUISE along the prettiest part of the Rhine River past castle-crested cliffs and terraced vineyards. Arrive in Heidelberg, and take pictures of its castle. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Pay a visit to Cologne’s awesome gothic cathedral 
The beautiful Rhine Valley

A Short Wine Guide


"Historically, Germany’s wine has suffered with an “inferiority complex” fueled by the reputation of wine powerhouses France and Italy. And in modern times, they’ve tacked of “how to compete with a Bordeaux or a Chianti” by improving quality, while keep prices reasonable. Finally, German vintners are starting to reap the rewards. The world famous Riesling region, centered on the Rhine and its tributaries and in eastern Germany near Dresden, is the biggest success story to come out of Germany’s 13 wine growing regions. White grapes form 80 percent of the harvest, but reds are on the rise, as well as the general reputation of German wines."
Mark Twain

Mark Twain's Heidelberg


"“One thinks Heidelberg by day – with its surroundings – is the last possibility of the beautiful; but when he sees Heidelberg by night, a fallen Milky Way, with that glittering railway constellation pinned to the border, he requires time to consider upon the verdict.” Mark Twain wrote this ode to Heidelberg in his humorous travel book, “A Tramp Abroad” (1880). During the three months that Twain spent in the city in 1878, many of his recorded experiences aren’t entirely dissimilar from activities that travelers and residents still enjoy today. He gazed out over the Nektar River; strolled across the Old Bridge; and watched university students dueling in a tavern."
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DAY 4Heidelberg–Rothenburg–Munich–Oberammergau Area

Admire the ramparts, towers, and 16th-century houses in picture-book Rothenburg, famous for Christmas ornaments. Hear why this town was spared during the Thirty Years War. Next is Munich, capital of Bavaria. Drive by the Olympic Stadium with its 1,000-foot-high Television Tower, walk to MARIENPLATZ with its Old and New Town Halls, and see the famous Hofbräuhaus, dating back to 1589, before continuing to the peaceful village of Ettal. (Breakfast, Dinner)

View Marienplatz in Munich, Germany 
"Munich, Germany

"Munich, Germany's Secret Capital"


"Munich is the only German metropolis that seems to have everything – wealth, beauty, prominence, fame. Some even call it Germany’s “secret capital.” Unlike Berlin, which some dub “architecturally challenged,” Munich bursts with historical buildings reconstructed after the devastation of World War II. Its grand Residenz, the former home of Bavarian kings, dominates the city center, which also boasts the flamboyant, gilded Cuvillié Theater. Nearby, the neo-gothic Neues Rathaus gives a medieval touch to the Marienplatz, the heart of Munich. "
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DAY 5Oberammergau Area

A special highlight today: visit beautiful Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite ETTAL ABBEY, nestled at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Founded in 1330 by Benedictine monks, the original structure was destroyed by a fire in 1744 and later rebuilt in the baroque style. See the beautiful frescoes that adorn the ceilings and walls, and the marvelous altars. Also on the agenda: a TASTING of the LIQUOR produced by the abbey monks. Later, free time in Oberammergau to get acquainted with the history and traditions of this Passion Play village. To round off your stay in this area, maybe join the exciting optional excursions to Linderhof Castle with its beautiful terraced gardens, and a Bavarian dinner to try out traditional dishes and enjoy local entertainment. (Breakfast)

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Oberammergau

Oberammergau


"Promises to God are notoriously hard to keep. The townspeople of Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps have not only kept their renaissance promise, they’ve turned it into euros and cents. Flashback to 1633. Oberammergau was a stop on the market road between Augsburg and Venice. When the plague hit, the town elders swore to heaven: Protect us and we’ll do a play about Jesus’ crucifixion every ten years. The first began in 1634. Today the village of Oberammergau lives because of theater. Half of the 5,400 residents break a leg in the Passionsspiel, performed in years ending in zero from May to October."
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DAY 6Oberammergau Area–Neuschwanstein–Innsbruck, Austria–Dolomites, Italy

In the heart of the Bavarian Alps you will see two castles practically facing each other. Hohenschwangau is the castle where King Ludwig II grew up, but the most famous one is Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, built by Ludwig and later copied by Disney. Next is Innsbruck, capital of the Austrian Tyrol. Stroll through the Old Town to Emperor Maximilian’s GOLDEN ROOF. Time to shop for crystal, for which the city is famous, before continuing across spectacular Brenner Pass into Italy. Your overnight is in Bolzano, which used to be part of Tyrol until the end of World War I and where street signs in two languages still remind you of its Tyrolean past. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Enjoy some time exploring the beautiful Innsbruck 
Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle


"As it rises from its alpine backdrop, Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen has all the drama of a well-planned stage scene. And so it is. The late 19th century dream castle joins various architectural styles with the eccentric fancy of Ludwig II, Bavaria’s most peculiar sovereign. From afar he adored the anorexic Austrian Empress Elisabeth, he wrote about suicide in his diaries and he bankrolled the composer Richard Wagner. He also loved building castles. In the process, he nearly bankrupted his government. Today, he’s the equivalent of a pop star in Bavaria for giving Germany its most popular tourist attraction."
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DAY 7Dolomites–Venice

Drive through the impressive Dolomites, the “Rocky Mountains of Europe,” and stop in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s most famous ski resort. Before arriving in Venice, stop in Conegliano, where Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite a Prosecco WINE TASTING awaits you. (Breakfast)

A majestic view of the famous Italian Dolomites Venice is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world 
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DAY 8Venice

Enter in style by PRIVATE BOAT and meet your Local Guide. Highlights of your walking tour are ST. MARK’S SQUARE and the Byzantine basilica, the Clock Tower, lavish DOGES’ PALACE and the BRIDGE OF SIGHS. Also watch skilled GLASSBLOWERS fashion their delicate objects in an age-old traditional manner. Then, enjoy Venice at your own pace or join an optional gondola ride. (Breakfast)

St. Marks Square 
Venice

Venice


"It is no accident that one of history’s greatest explorers, Marco Polo, came from Venice. His hometown had been Europe’s gateway to the East long before he set sail in 1271; the influence of the Orient could be seen in its art, its fashion and its architecture, creating, in the words of one historian, “the most colorful, sumptuous, and sensually bewitching civilization that history has ever known.” Thanks to Venetian conquests in the eastern Mediterranean, the 17-year-old Marco had the first leg of his travel route mapped out for him – he was able to island-hop through friendly territory as far as Constantinople, from there he was seduced by China for more than 20 years. When Polo returned to Venice in 1295 as a bearded and vaguely Eastern middle aged man, even his relatives did not believe he had been in China the entire time."
The Bridge of Sighs in Venice

Bridge of Sighs


"The world’s most poetically-named bridge, Il Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs, was built in 1614 so that prisoners of the Venetian state could be transferred in secret from the Doge’s Palace to the so-called Nuovi Prigioni, or New Prisons. The wistful name was actually conceived by the English poet Lord Byron in the early 1800s that imagined the horror of prisoners taking their last glimpse of Venice before going underground to captivity. "
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DAY 9Venice–Lake Maggiore–Zermatt, Switzerland

A comfortable drive to the Italian-Swiss Lake District. In elegant Stresa at Lake Maggiore, an optional boat ride to enchanting Isola Bella can be arranged before crossing lofty Simplon Pass into the Swiss Valais, an area renowned for its excellent wines and great mountain resorts. To reach the most famous of them, leave the coach behind in Täsch and board a MOUNTAIN TRAIN to climb the last few miles up to Zermatt, a picturesque cluster of rustic chalets beneath the Matterhorn. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Cannero Riviera Lake Maggiore The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland Stunning view of the beautiful Lake Maggiore 
Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore

Isola Bella


"Isola Bella. Beautiful Island. Rising out of the waters of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, a gardener’s paradise awaits. When Count Carlo Borromeo decided to give his wife, Isabella, a gift back in 1632, he was thinking big. The expansive island villa and garden he planned for her are considered the epitome of Baroque-style architecture and garden design. With terraces built straight to the water’s edge, the island appears as if it is a floating flowering ship. Many of the rooms are of notable historical interest, like the Music Room, where Mussolini hosted the Stresa Conference in 1935 that should have ensured peace in Europe, and Napoleon’s Room, where he often stayed in the company of Giuseppina Beauharnais."
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DAY 10Zermatt–Montreux

Morning at leisure. A suggestion: ride Europe’s highest rack railway to 10,272-foot Gornergrat for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Alps. Next, motor through the vineyards and apricot groves of the lower Rhône Valley and arrive at Lake Geneva in Montreux, of festival fame. (Breakfast, Dinner)

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Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva


Stretching along Switzerland’s southern border with France, Lake Geneva (also called Lac Leman by the Swiss) is the largest lake in Europe. It’s pristine shores support a strong fresh water fishing industry. Some would argue that it offers the most beautiful views of any waterway. They are jaw-droppingly amazing; especially the snow capped Jura Alps across the lake from Montreux and Vevey. The temperatures are moderate along the lake in winter; most of the weather takes place in the mountains. In summer numerous music festivals and artistic events are held in towns along the lake, especially Lausanne, the third most popular city for travelers in Switzerland, next to Zurich and Geneva. It is a sophisticated artist’s haven and the city where T.S. Eliot lived when he wrote “The Wasteland.”
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DAY 11Montreux–Lausanne–Paris, France

Drive along the coastline of Lake Geneva, the “Swiss Riviera,” to Lausanne, home to the International Olympic Committee. Here, board the high-speed TGV TRAIN to Paris. On arrival, sightseeing with a Local Guide features the most famous sights: the Opéra, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, and more. For a bird’s-eye view, take the elevator to the second floor of Paris’ most famous landmark: the EIFFEL TOWER. (Breakfast)

The Arc de Triomphe standing in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle The Eiffel Tower in Paris 
Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva


Stretching along Switzerland’s southern border with France, Lake Geneva (also called Lac Leman by the Swiss) is the largest lake in Europe. It’s pristine shores support a strong fresh water fishing industry. Some would argue that it offers the most beautiful views of any waterway. They are jaw-droppingly amazing; especially the snow capped Jura Alps across the lake from Montreux and Vevey. The temperatures are moderate along the lake in winter; most of the weather takes place in the mountains. In summer numerous music festivals and artistic events are held in towns along the lake, especially Lausanne, the third most popular city for travelers in Switzerland, next to Zurich and Geneva. It is a sophisticated artist’s haven and the city where T.S. Eliot lived when he wrote “The Wasteland.”
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DAY 12At Leisure in Paris

Another day to enjoy what this extraordinary metropolis has to offer. To enhance your stay, choose from our list of optional excursions: the magnificent Louvre Museum with the Mona Lisa, the lavish baroque Palace and Gardens of Versailles, built by the Sun King, Louis XIV, and for tonight, maybe a lively cabaret show, the best way to say, “Au revoir, Paris?” (Breakfast)

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Louvre

Louvre


Today, a thick pane of bullet-proof security glass keeps artlovers a safe distance from the most famous painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco Giacondo,” known in French as “La Joconde” and English as the “Mona Lisa.” But back in 1911, it was simply hung on the walls of the Musée du Louvre like any other canvas. That was until a former museum employee named Vincenzo Perrugia strolled into the gallery before opening hours on August 21, noticed the room was empty, took down the Mona Lisa and walked out of the Louvre with it under a painting smock. When the loss was finally noticed, the police were mystified. For two years, the whereabouts of the masterpiece was unknown, while French detectives made various wild guesses. (It had been stolen by the Germans. By anarchists. By evil geniuses. By lunatics.) They actually arrested the country’s top art critic, Guillame Apollinaire, then let him free. Then, out of the blue in 1913, an Italian art dealer in Florence was contacted by a man calling himself “Leonardo” who claimed to have the Mona Lisa and wanted to see it hang in the Uffizi, Italy’s top art museum. Although he found it hard to believe that the thief could be so reckless, the dealer tipped off the police and agreed to meet the strange Leonardo in a Milan hotel room. There, the nondescript fellow opened his suitcase, emptied out his socks and underwear, opened up a false bottom in the case to reveal the Mona Lisa – and was immediately arrested.
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DAY 13Paris–London, England

You will be transferred by high-speed EUROSTAR TRAIN to London, arriving in the afternoon. (Breakfast)

London’s Tower Bridge over the River Thames The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel Ride the iconic double decker bus in London Pomp-and-ceremony in London 
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DAY 14London

Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes the most famous landmarks, a visit to ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, and the Changing of the Guard, if held. Optional afternoon excursions to Windsor Castle or the Tower of London are available. And tonight, maybe a leisurely cruise on the River Thames? (Breakfast)

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Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard


"Changing the Guard dates to Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509) and was designed to show military discipline as well as ceremony. The tall bearskin hats were introduced in the 18th century to make the soldiers look taller and thus more frightening, and they were adopted for ceremonial use in 1832. The ceremony we know today started in the late 1800s and involves real soldiers who fulfill all military duties, guarding the Queen being just part of their service."
Tower of London

Tower of London


"Since its founding in the 11th century, the Tower of London has served many roles: impregnable fortress, royal residence, armory, treasury, home of the famed Crown Jewels, and a prison for those who offended the monarchy. To this day it is guarded by the “Beefeaters,” a name that likely originates from when Tower guards were paid part of their salary with chunks of beef, a practice that continued until the 1800s."
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DAY 15London

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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