This southbound tour combines the river delta landscapes of 3 major European rivers: Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt. Cycling over the dikes of the majestic waters of the low lands is breathtaking. On our way fortified towns like Vianen, Gorinchem, Woudrichem, Heusden and Geertruidenberg are historical witnesses of the value of these old European routes.
The river clay landscape changes into the woods and heather fields of the former Duchy of Brabant. In the Independence War of the Netherlands - the Protestant cities of Holland against the Catholic Spain of Philips II - Brabant eventually was split up in 2 parts. The former capital Hertogenbosch en Bergen op Zoom ended in the northern Netherlands. The gothic cathedral of ‘s Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) is still one the most beautiful testimonies of Catholic heritage.
Antwerp was a booming harbor city in the 16th century until the Dutch blocked it from the Spanish. Its splendid Cathedral of Our Sweet Lady - 4 Rubens paintings - and the City Hall Square with its guild houses show the prosperity of the days gone by. Nowadays Antwerp is the center of a vibrant economical Flemish revival. It makes it an ideal city for a day of exploring along the old alleys, the markets, and the museums. Amongst them Rubens House, the former house and studio of Peter Paul Rubens, the Diamond Museum, and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
On our way to Bruges we follow the Scheldt river valley. The Scheldt is tidal with a spectacular, sometimes more than 5-meter difference in water level. Scenic rides, bike ferries, and pastoral dike villages lead us to the Scheldt towns Dendermonde and Gent. The latter has an independent and revolutionary history and is probably the best kept Flemish pearl; beautiful as Bruges, lively as Antwerp.
The amazing medieval center of Bruges is on the list of Unecso World Heritage Sites and is possibly the most renowned historic Flemish city. Here our tour ends with a city walk along the most beautiful sites. Your last full day is spent in Bruges.
Bruges is about a four-hour train ride from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Trains run usually twice an hour.Tours begin on Saturday in Europe; you must leave the USA on Friday to arrive on Saturday. Guests need to arrive at the barge by noon the day the tour starts. On the last day of the tour guests debark by 9:00 AM.