LONDON Guided sightseeing, visit St.Paul’s Cathedral and see the Changing of the Guard, if heldLONDON–BRUSSELSBy high-speed Eurostar trainBRUSSELSVisit Grand’Place; welcome dinnerAMSTERDAMCanal cruise; visit a major diamond centerCOLOGNEVisit the cathedralRHINE CRUISERÜDESHEIM Wine tasting and dinnerBLACK FOREST Hear about the art of woodcarvingRHINE FALLSLUCERNEWalking tour including the Lion Monument & Chapel BridgeVADUZVisit the capital of LiechtensteinINNSBRUCKWalk to the Golden RoofMUNICHOrientation driveSALZBURG Guided walking tour, visit Mirabell Gardens and St. Peter’s ChurchyardVIENNA Guided sightseeing, visit St. Stephen’s CathedralVENICEPrivate boat ride; guided walking tour, visit St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doges’ Palace and the Bridge of Sighs; glassblower demonstrationFERRARAWalk along Este Castle to the cathedralROMEGuided sightseeing, visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Colosseum and Roman ForumFLORENCE Guided walking tour, visit Michelangelo’s David and Signoria SquarePISAMarvel at the legendary Leaning Tower ÈZEVisit a perfume factoryAVIGNONWalk through the Old Town; visit the Palace of the Popes PARIS Guided sightseeing, ascend the Eiffel Tower; farewell dinner with wine and Seine River cruiseHeadsets throughout the tour
- In the rare event that the Eurostar train is unavailable, alternative services will be provided.
DAY 1Arrive in London, England
Welcome to London! Uniformed Globus Hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide includes all the famous landmarks: the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben beside the River Thames, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall’s mounted horseguards and the Prime Minister’s Downing Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace. Visit ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL and see the Changing of the Guard, if held. (Breakfast)
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."
Houses of Parliament
"Big Ben may be the most famous feature of the Houses of Parliament, but equally impressive is the hammerbeam ceiling of Westminster Hall. The Hall dates back to 1097 and, at that time, the roof was supported by pillars. During the reign of King Richard II (14th century), however, it was replaced by the hammerbeam roof seen today. This roof – its beauty and sustainability – is even more impressive when you know its history. It was built with beams made from trees that were ancient at the time, reputedly acorns, dating back to the 6th century (or earlier). If only these walls (beams, rather) could talk!"
"Amid the splendor of modern cities it’s hard to imagine what places looked like before they became what we know today. In a previous incarnation, the ground where Buckingham Palace now stands was a mulberry garden cultivated by King James I as food for silkworms. The silk industry he hoped to nurture never materialized, and eventually a roadhouse was built there, followed in due course by the Blake House, Goring House and Arlington House.Originally known as the Buckingham House, built as a townhouse by the Duke of Buckingham in 1709, the estate was acquired by King George III in 1762."
DAY 3London–Brussels, Belgium
Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and board the high-speed EUROSTAR TRAIN to Brussels. Walk to the GRAND’PLACE and admire its baroque guild houses and the gothic Town Hall. You cannot leave Brussels without rubbing the statue of Everard ‘t Serclaes, a 14th-century hero, for good luck, and taking pictures of the tiny but world-famous statue of Manneken Pis. A welcome dinner awaits you at your hotel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 4Brussels–Amsterdam, Holland
In Amsterdam, enjoy a CANAL CRUISE, the best way to see the 700-year-old capital, and visit a major DIAMOND CENTER. Later, maybe join an optional excursion to visit a cheese farm, a clog maker, a working windmill, and the pretty fishing village of Volendam at the former Zuiderzee. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 5Amsterdam–Cologne, Germany–Rüdesheim–Wiesbaden
Pass the locale of A Bridge Too Far on the way to Cologne. Here, visit the gothic CATHEDRAL. The afternoon’s highlight is a romantic RHINE CRUISE along the prettiest part of the Rhine River. Stop in Rüdesheim, capital of Riesling wine country, and enjoy a WINE TASTING at Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss followed by dinner with local specialties. Continue to Wiesbaden for your overnight stay. (Breakfast, Dinner)
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."
DAY 6Wiesbaden–Lucerne, Switzerland
Morning stop in the BLACK FOREST, renowned for its cuckoo clocks. Hear about the art of WOODCARVING from a local woodcarver, Adolf Herr, and enjoy a taste of the local fruitwine. On the Swiss border, take your pictures of the thundering RHINE FALLS, and continue to picture-book Lucerne. This evening, you may wish to sign up for a folklore party with yodeling and alphorn blowing. (Breakfast)
During your walking tour, admire the emotional LION MONUMENT, dedicated to the fallen Swiss Guards who protected the Royal House of France during the French Revolution, and cross the famous covered CHAPEL BRIDGE to the Jesuit Church. Afterwards, shop for Swiss watches and choose from our optional activities: climb Mount Pilatus by cable car or take a cruise on the fjord-like lake. (Breakfast, Dinner)
“The Lion of Lucerne” (Lowendenkmal) is a compelling statue in the north section of Old Town dedicated to the 42 members of the Swiss Guard who were assigned to protect Louis the XVI, Maria Antoinette and their family at the Royal Palace. When the Tuileries was stormed on August 10, 1792 by rioting Parisians at the start of the French Revolution, the king ordered the soldiers to lay down their arms. They were subsequently slaughtered by the crowd and the royal family was captured. Louis had made a big mistake. In 1821 Danish sculpture Berthel Thorwaldsen finished the sculpture, a 30-foot likeness of a wounded and dying lion with a broken lance in its heart and his paw resting atop the fleur-de-lys shield of the Bourbon king. The Latin inscription translated “To the bravery and fidelity of the Swiss.”
DAY 8Lucerne–Liechtenstein–Innsbruck, Austria–Munich, Germany
A short stop in Vaduz, capital of the pocket-sized Principality of Liechtenstein. Next, a spectacular drive through the Tyrolean Alps to Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol. Walk through its quaint streets and take pictures of Emperor Maximilian’s GOLDEN ROOF before continuing to Munich. Your orientation drive features Munich’s most famous landmarks: the Olympic Stadium and 1,000-foot-high Television Tower. Tonight is your chance to try a Stein of beer at the famous Hofbräuhaus. (Breakfast)
"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. "
DAY 9Munich–Salzburg, Austria–Vienna
Arrive in Salzburg and follow your Local Guide for a pleasant stroll through the historic center. Admire exquisite MIRABELL GARDENS, the Great Festival Hall, and ST. PETER’S CHURCHYARD. Time to browse through the shops with their pretty ornaments and delicious Mozartkugeln, or to visit Mozart’s birthplace, if you wish. Then, drive past the lovely Salzkammergut Lake District, made famous by the movie The Sound of Music, and along the Danube Valley to Vienna, proud capital of Austria. (Breakfast)
Guided sightseeing features the State Opera House, the Jewish quarter, a stop at Hofburg Palace, and a visit to ST. STEPHEN’S CATHEDRAL. Choose from our optional excursions to magnificent Schönbrunn Palace or to Grinzing, for a taste of Heurigen wine, to enhance your stay. (Breakfast)
DAY 11Vienna–Venice, Italy
Journey across scenic Semmering Pass and through the loveliest parts of Austria to Italy and the Adriatic Sea. Arrive in Venice, the city for romantics. Tonight you may wish to join an optional evening featuring an exciting water-taxi ride along the Grand Canal followed by dinner, Venetian style. (Breakfast)
Highlights of your guided walking tour are ST. MARK’S SQUARE and its BASILICA, lavish DOGES’ PALACE and the BRIDGE OF SIGHS. Also enjoy a GLASSBLOWERS’ DEMONSTRATION. Then, explore Venice at your own pace or join an optional gondola ride. (Breakfast, Dinner)
"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."
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. "
Enter the Po area and arrive in Ferrara, “City of Bicycles.” Stroll along imposing Este Castle, former residence of the ruling family, to the marble cathedral. Time to explore the shops and little cafés before continuing to the “Eternal City.” (Breakfast)
Sightseeing with your Local Guide starts with a visit to the VATICAN MUSEUMS and SISTINE CHAPEL. Continue to monumental ST. PETER’S SQUARE and BASILICA. Cross the Tiber and visit the COLOSSEUM and the ROMAN FORUM. To make the most of your stay, join our optional Roman Highlights excursion and see the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and the sites and squares of medieval Rome made famous in the movie Angels and Demons. (Breakfast)
The Roman Forum
"Visitors can be a little confused by the Roman Forum; at first glance, it is a rather lifeless array of marble fragments. But we must remember that in ancient times, this space was far more than the temples and monuments whose ruins we can explore today. It was filled with bustling, noisy life as the popular crossroads of the city – the predecessor, in fact, of the modern Italian piazza. Every morning at dawn, average Romans would escape their cramped, dark apartment blocks (called insulae, or “islands”) and spent their days outdoors. "
"In the early 1500s, Rome was full of neglected ruins from the days of the ancient Empire, which still contained artworks buried amongst the rubble. The Renaissance had seen a sudden growth of interest in all things classical, and the popes – cultivated men who were in touch with the intellectual currents of the day – were the richest art collectors in Italy. They began offering substantial cash rewards for any sculptures, until Rome was scoured by freelance treasure hunters on the hunt for pagan masterpieces. The most dramatic discovery occurred in 1506, when a Roman father-and-son team of excavators reported a promising find near the ruined Baths of Titus. The artist Michelangelo himself excitedly hurried over to help with the work, followed by the pope’s official agent, Guiliano da Sangallo. When the excavators brushed away the dirt of 1,000 years, they found an enormous marble sculpture, perfectly intact, of a muscular Trojan hero being attacked by giant snakes. Guilano cried out in amazement, “This is the very Laocoön described by (the ancient Roman author) Pliny!” The sculpture was carted off to the Vatican Museum."
"Thanks to Hollywood recreations such as Gladiator, nothing symbolizes the cruelty of Imperial Rome as much as the Colosseum. In truth, the games held there were even more extreme and theatrical than modern film directors dare to suggest. A day at the Empire’s most famous arena was a total entertainment package, mixing bouts of savage violence with solemn religious pageantry, sexual titillation, slapstick comedy and kitschy stage shows."
"Rome is one of the most filmed cities on earth, with its signature set location being the Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain, a romantic, 85-foot-high baroque masterpiece depicting the god of the sea, Neptune, and his Tritons. Not surprisingly, the best time to visit Fontana di Trevi is late at night, when the crowds have gone, the din of Rome’s traffic has died and floodlights dance magically on the water. In fact, the whole centro storico takes on a calm, timeless aspect after dark, and it is well worth stretching your legs after dinner on your own Fellini-esque promenade."
An easy morning drive to Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance.” During your walking tour with a Local Guide, visit the ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS with Michelangelo’s celebrated David. Admire the magnificent cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry’s heavy bronze “Gate of Paradise,” and visit sculpture-studded SIGNORIA SQUARE. Time to shop for leather goods and gold, for which the city is famous, before continuing to the resort town of Montecatini in Tuscany. (Breakfast, Dinner)
La Piazza Della Signoria
"What’s the best vantage point to ponder the most illustrious town square in Florence, the Signoria? An outdoor table in the venerable Caffè Rivoire – preferably over a delicious, if not painfully expensive cioccolata con pane, a dark and mud-thick hot chocolate. Late at night, when the crowds have gone, you can search the long shadows and imagine that very little has changed here since the 1400s. The Signoria is the most elegant sculpture garden in Europe. Masterpieces include the splendid Neptune Fountain by Ammannati, Hercules and Cacus by Bandinelli and a precise copy of Michelangelo’s David, all strategically poised in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. This grand public space has been the centerpiece of Florence since the 15th Century, the golden age when the city was established as the most beautiful in Europe. Eminent merchants in their ostentatious finery met here to discuss business in the midst of Florence’s raucous daily life."
DAY 16Tuscany–Pisa–Nice, France
In Pisa, marvel at its amazing Leaning Tower. Next, enjoy a spectacular drive along the Italian and French Rivieras towards France. Leave the highway for the panoramic Moyenne Corniche and visit one of the PERFUME FACTORIES for which the area is famous. This evening, you might want to sample some French cuisine. (Breakfast)
"It was the most perfect experiment in the history of science. Holding both a cannon ball and a small musket ball, the 30-something Pisa native Galileo Galilei scaled the steps of his city’s famous Leaning Tower, and held them dramatically over the edge. Eight stories below, the town’s most learned scholars and priests were gathered as observers. They watched as the two balls dropped to the ground at the same speed – disproving, with a single stroke, the ancient idea that objects fall at different rates depending on their weight and size. This archaic concept, which had been espoused by the ancient Greek author Aristotle, had been accepted without question for more than 2,000 years, Galileo’s great innovation was to put it to a practical test of observation. Unfortunately, this famous story is probably not true. Galileo never wrote about it himself – it was recounted in a late biography penned by his secretary, Vincenzo Viviani. Most historians now believe that it was Galileo’s imaginative disciples who invented the Leaning Tower tale in order to make the theory so clear that even a child could understand it. "
DAY 17At Leisure in Nice
Full day to enjoy this enchanting resort on the Côte d’Azur at your own pace. Exciting optional excursions are available to the picturesque artist village of St. Paul de Vence and to famous Monte Carlo. (Breakfast)
Stop in Avignon, the medieval residence of several popes and antipopes. Walk through the Old Town, visit the gothic PAPAL PALACE, and admire the bridge of the popular song. Time to browse through the many shops for traditional Provence region products: herbs, honey, and candy, like nougat, before proceeding to Lyon, the country’s second-largest city. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Drive past the Burgundy vineyards and Fontainebleau Forest to Paris, the traditional climax of a European vacation. Afternoon at leisure to explore the world capital of chic and style at your own pace or join an optional excursion to the famous Louvre Museum to see the Mona Lisa. Tonight, a lively cabaret show might just be the ticket! (Breakfast)
There’s more than one way to conquer the world. The flabby, charismatic “Sun King,” Louis XIV, knew that he could impress the French people with his insanely lavish royal lifestyle, but he also wanted to make his mark on Europe. Throughout his 55 year rule in the 17th Century, he campaigned vigorously to establish Paris as the continent’s capital of style, promoting its gourmet food and wine, haute couture, cutting-edge perfumes, opulent furnishings and exquisite jewelry. Every new innovation required Louis’ personal imprimatur, making him the world’s first fashion dictator. Author Joan DeJean claimed in “The Essence of Style” that Louis’ devotion to elegance has shaped the culture of indulgence today – “Without the Sun King’s program for defining France as the land of luxury in glamour, there would never have been a Stork Club, a Bergdorf Goodman, a Chez Panisse or a Christophe of Beverly Hills.”
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.
Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide includes the Opéra, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, and more. For a bird’s-eye view, take the elevator to the second floor of the EIFFEL TOWER. An optional excursion to the Palace of Versailles is available, and a special farewell dinner with wine at the foot of the Eiffel Tower awaits you, followed by a CRUISE on the River Seine as a proper way to say, “Au Revoir, Paris.” (Breakfast, Dinner)
Fans of Victor Hugo’s famous novel, “Les Misérables,” should detour to the Seine, between the two bridges of Le Pont Notre Dame and the Pont-au-Change. It was to these famously turbulent waters that Hugo sent the obsessive Inspector Javerts, nemesis of Jean Valjean, when he suffered a crisis of conscience over his life-long duty to the law. “There was a splash,” Hugo wrote, “and that was all.”
Imagining Paris without the Eiffel Tower is like London without Big Ben or San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge. But no sooner had the architect Gustav Eiffel beaten his 700 competitors in the design competition for the 1889 Centennial Exposition, celebrating a century since the French Revolution, than a vocal outcry began to halt construction of the edifice. Three hundred famous French artists and writers signed a petition in the newspaper “Le Temps” denouncing Eiffel’s radically modern design as “useless and monstrous,” a blight upon the elegant fabric of the City of Light. Others critics were even more vicious, describing the proposed tower as a “tragic street lamp,” a gymnasium apparatus…incomplete, confused and deformed,” “a giant ungainly skeleton,” “a half-built factory pipe,” “a carcass” and even “a hole-riddled suppository.” Nature-lovers argued that it would disturb the flight patterns of Parisian birds. Even as the iron lattice began to rise, Parisians continued to refer to it by the less-than-flattering nickname, “the metal asparagus.” Of course, no sooner had the tower opened in 1889 than the rabid criticism evaporated.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)
High-speed Eurostar train; motorcoach with free Wi-Fi; canal cruise in Amsterdam; private boat ride in Venice; Seine River cruise in Paris
Full buffet breakfast; 8 three-course dinners, including a welcome dinner in Brussels and special dinners with wine in Rüdesheim and Paris