Belgium and the Germanic 2011 Itinerary

Day 1 – 08 Jul/Fri –Board your overnight transatlantic connecting flights from Washington-Dulles Airport.

Day 2 – 09 Jul/Sat –Arrival in Brussels, Belgium.
Upon arrival in Brussels, claim your luggage and pass through customs where you will be greeted by your professional English speaking Tour Director.  Next, we transfer to our hotel for check-in.  Later this afternoon, enjoy a walking tour with a Local Guide of UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE site the GRAND PALACE, have  a picture stop at Manneken Pis, and enjoy a walk to Upper Brussels for an inside visit of the ROYAL PALACE.  This evening, enjoy your WELCOME DINNER at a local restaurant.  Overnight Brussels. (D)

Day 3 – 10 Jul/Sun –Brussels. Excursion to Bruges.  
Depart early this morning for the medieval canal city of Bruges.  A CANAL CRUISE (weather permitting) will give you a feel for this delightful town.  Afterwards, stop in Bokrijk for a guided tour of the FLEMISH OPEN AIR MUSEUM, known for its old Flemish houses and farms.  Enjoy time here on your own to indulge in a traditional Flemish dish.  Return to Brussels where you will have dinner at your hotel.   Overnight Brussels, Belgium (B,D)  
Note: If weather does not permit for Canal Cruise in Bruges, an alternative is to stop in Ghent for sightseeing of the CATHEDRAL. 

Day 4–11Jul/Mon–Brussels-Charleroi-Luxembourg. 
This morning, depart Brussels for Luxembourg. En route stop in Charleroi, Pittsburgh’s sister city and the area where many of West Virginia’s Belgian glassblowers emigrated from, for a guided visit of the MUSEE DU VERRE, the Charleroi Glass Museum.  The museum addresses the legacy of glassblowers from this area as it comprised two large departments; one concentrating on the history and production, while the other concentrates on the development of Belgian glass industry in particular.  Exceptional examples are displayed as well.  Afterwards, continue onto Luxembourg. Upon arrival, enjoy an orientation drive of the capital city of Luxembourg with your Local Guide, which covers the city’s past and present, from fortifications and the Old Town, perched high atop sandstone outcrop with striking views on the Alzette and Pétrusse Gorges, to the modern administrative center of European Institutions.   Stop for a guided visit of the turreted GRAND DUCAL PALACE, the Royal Castle.  Later this evening, enjoy dinner at the hotel.  Overnight Luxembourg. (B, D)

Day 5  – 12 Jul/Tue –Luxembourg- Oberalben, Germany-Mainz
This morning, cross the German border into Olberalben for a guided visit of the MUSEUM OF EMIGRATION. The museum commemorates the emigration of the Palatinate people to the Americas from the 17th to 20th Century.  This afternoon, continue to Mainz for some time on your own before dinner is served at the hotel.  Overnight Mainz, Germany.

Day 6 –13 Jul/Wed –Mainz. Excursion to Kaiserslautern & Ludwigshafen
Continue the Palatine history with a visit to Kaiserslautern’s INSTITUTE FOR PALATINE HISTORY AND FOLKLIFE STUDIES.  This facility serves as a point of contact for both scientists and individuals.   Then, head for the Arbeitsgemeinde fur Pfalzich-Rheinische Familienkunde genealogy library in Ludwigshafen.  Enjoy time to explore here on your own.  Return to Mainz for dinner at the hotel.   Overnight Mainz, Germany. (B,D)

Day 7–14Jul/Thu–Mainz-Gutach-Wurttemberg.
Early this morning, depart Mainz and make a stop in Gutach for the Black Forest open-air museum of SCHWARZWALDER FREILICHTMUSEUM.  Enjoy a guided tour of the museum as well as time on your own to experience some of the daily craft demonstrations. Later this afternoon, board your motorcoach and continue to the Wurttemberg area where you will spend your overnight.   Overnight Wurttemberg/Freiburg, Germany.  (B)

Day 8–15Jul/Fri–Wurttemberg-Augsburg-St.Ottilien--Munich.
This morning, stop in Augsburghead. Afterwards, continue to St. Ottilien and  visit the SACRED HEART ARCHABBEY.  Here you will meet with the individual responsible for researching the Swiss-German ancestry from  Windisch to West Virginia.  Later, continue to Munich and visit the MARIEN- PLATZ before dinner at the hotel.  Overnight Munich, Germany.  (B,D) 

Day 9 – 16 Jul/Sat - Munich- Hohenschwangau-Oberammergau.  
Travel through the Bavarian Alps to your highlight of the day; a visit to King Ludwig’s NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, placed on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau. Follow your Local Guide through this fairytale castle on its craggy outcrop high above a sparkling blue lake.  Afterwards, continue on to the quaint Bavarian village of Oberammergau.  Enjoy your overnight here surrounded by the Bavarian Alps. (B)

Day 10 –17 Jul/Sun – Oberammergau-Zurich, Switzerland.    
Today, cross the Switzerland border and head for Zurich.  Upon arrival, enjoy an orientation walk of Zurich’s OLD TOWN, Switzerland’s center of banking and commerce.  Next, stop for a visit of an original CHOCOLATE  FACTORY.  The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the historic center  and lakeside promenade.  Dinner is at the hotel.  Overnight Zurich, Switzerland. (B,D)

Day 11 –18 Jul/Mon – Zurich.  Excursion to Luzern and Ballenberg.
Head to Luzern and enjoy a walking tour this morning, admire Thorwalden’s LION MONUMENT and ornate patrician houses of the walled Old Town, then, cross the famous covered CHAPEL BRIDGE of the Jesuit church.  Afterwards, enjoy your 1-hour CRUISE on Lake Lucerne. Board the motorboat for an enchanting and relaxing cruise on glassy Lake Luzern also known as the Vierwaldstattersee or "Lake of the Four Forest Cantons". Marvel at the spectacular mountain scenery and admire fjords, bays and rolling meadows, while enjoying your included lunch.  See also the Rutli meadows, where the Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291.  After lunch, continue to Ballenberg for a visit to the SWISS OPEN-AIR MUSEUM. There are buildings and homes from all areas of Switzerland. The museum focuses on the history of rural, everyday life in general, and the history of women in particular. Tonight return to Zurich for dinner on your own.  Overnight Zurich, Switzerland.  (B,L)

Day 12 –19 Jul/Tue – Zurich.  Excursion to Windisch and Berne.
Travel to the village of Windisch in the Canton of Aargau and see the MONASTERY OF KÖNIGSFELDEN, which is well known for its eleven glass windows in the choir. They are among the most outstanding works of European glass painting of that era.  Also take time to view the aqueduct and the amphitheatre, both dating back to the 1st century.  Windisch is the area that our Swiss-German settlers of Helvetia, West Virginia originated.   Afterwards, continue to the stately capital of Berne.  Your guided walking tour features the beautifully preserved Old Town. Witness the hourly parade of painted figures at the Clock Tower and take pictures of ornate, flower-adorned fountains.  Stop in for a visit of the PARLIAMENT BUILDING (subject to availability), as well as the BERN BEAR PARK. Later, return to Zurich for your FAREWELL DINNER at a local restaurant.   Overnight Zurich Switzerland. (B,D

Day 13 –20 Jul/Wed – Your homebound flight arrives the same day.
Late morning, transfer to the Zurich Airport for your homebound flight, which arrives back to Washington/Dulles in the late afternoon.  (B)