Depart from the U.S. for Belgium. The particulars of your
arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.
Day 2 - Arrive in Bruges
Upon arrival at the Brussels airport, claim your luggage and
clear customs. If any portion of your luggage appears to be lost, fill in a PIR
form before leaving the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into
the customs area. (Please note: Also make certain that your VBT luggage tags
are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.)
After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for
your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. Please wait here while
your representative helps make arrangements for your transfer via taxi or
minibus to your Bruges hotel (transfer time is approximately 1 hour depending
upon traffic). The transfer company's name is Taxi Snel, telephone number 050
36 36 49.
Please note that hotel check-in time is 3:00 p.m. There will be a VBT group checking out of the
hotel, so please do not plan for your room to be available earlier. VBT and the hotel appreciate your
understanding and cooperation. You may
leave your bags with reception while you explore Bruges. There is so much to
see and do just around the corner. VBT
provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes
recommendations on what to see and do.
Seek out a restaurant for dinner on your own tonight.
Day 3 - Full day in Bruges
Today, join our local guide at 9:00 a.m. in the hotel lobby for
an orientation tour of Bruges. The rest of the day is yours to sightsee and
shop in Bruges, a city that has been compared to a vast open-air museum. Be
sure to go to the top of the Belfort Tower for a panoramic view of the city and
its entire medieval splendor. You may want to visit the 12th-century Basilica
of the Holy Blood, said to contain a small vial of Christ's blood that was
brought to Bruges from the Holy Land in 1149. Or stop by the Memling Museum,
housed in one of the oldest surviving medieval hospitals in Europe.
At 6:00 p.m., meet our VBT Trip Leader in the hotel lobby for
an introductory meeting. He or she can recommend a nearby restaurant for dinner
on your own.
Day 4 - Embark barge / Warm-up ride and cruise to Ghent
VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making
your own way to meet the barge, the Iris, between 1:00 and 1:45 p.m. Please note
that you cannot arrive before this time as the barge is being prepared for you.
If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to make alternative
arrangements as we will sail shortly after this time.
The barge will be moored next to bus parking Buiten
Katelijnevest in central Bruges. The
contact telephone number is +31 620 245 095.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast,
spend more free time in Bruges. Make sure your luggage is packed and ready to
be transported to the barge before 11:30 a.m. At 12:45 p.m., join our VBT Trip
Leader in the hotel lobby and walk together to our barge in time for a 2:00 p.m. departure. At the docks, meet the barge crew and our second VBT Trip Leader,
who welcome you aboard with refreshments. Cruise out of Bruges on a charming
canal. The barge stops before dinner so you can take a warm-up ride to Aalter.
This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner on board and learn a bit of Flemish and
Dutch during a brief language class. We moor in Ghent, one of Belgium's most
Day 5 - Tour Ghent / Cycle to Dendermonde
After breakfast, take a boat excursion to the center of
Ghent with a local guide, then explore on your own. Ghent is located at the
confluence of the Schelde and Leie rivers. This “City of 200 Bridges” was
founded around 600 AD and boasts many beautiful buildings dating to medieval
times, when the textile industry brought great wealth to Ghent's merchants.
Many old patrician houses have been preserved in the city center. One historic
building is the Cloth Makers' Hall, built in 1425, where textile merchants used
to meet. The city's major church is St. Baaf's Cathedral, constructed and
enhanced in various styles over many centuries. In the cathedral, admire a
number of masterpieces of medieval painting, including Jan van Eyck's famous
“Adoration of the Lamb.” (On Sunday morning there is a service in the
cathedral, and it is not possible to see this famous painting—only the
replica.) Lunch is on your own in Ghent.
The bike path we'll follow out of the city parallels the Schelde
River, so you're sure to find a nice spot with magnificent views for your
picnic lunch. Your destination today is Dendermonde, a centuries-old city with
a Benedictine abbey at its center. This evening, your Trip Leaders will give
you insight into the region's water management systems. You can also enjoy a
Belgian beer tasting and crew presentation.
Day 6 - Cycle from Dendermonde / Continue ride to Antwerp
Today we cycle from Dendermonde via Temse along the Shelde
River, arriving at Basel Castle in time for lunch on your own. After lunch,
continue cycling to Antwerp. Meet the barge at one of Antwerp's historic docks
in the afternoon, then walk into town to dine in one of the many restaurants
and enjoy a free evening.
Day 7 - Visit Antwerp / Cycle to Tholen
This morning we visit Antwerp, known as the “Diamond City”
and the hometown of the painter Rubens. In the middle of the city, you'll find
the Cathedral of Our Lady and beautiful old townhouses around the Market
Square. We'll have lunch on board while we're cruising through the impressive
port of Antwerp.
In the early afternoon, cycle across the Oesterdam in the
Oesterschelde. The dam connects Flanders to Tholen, today's destination along
the Wouwse Plantage, a wooded area. Tholen was once an island in the middle of
the extensive Zeeland streams, where many people fished for their living. Today
it is connected to the mainland, but it remains a picturesque village with
relics of an eventful past. After dinner, we will visit a family in their
Day 8 - Cycle from Tholen to Willemstad / Cruise to Dordrecht
This morning we cycle from Tholen to Willemstad, a rural
agricultural area. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the historic locks. You have time to
explore Willemstad, an old fortified town on the Haringvliet. From here, set
sail to Dordrecht. The barge moors in the city's historic center, making for an
easy and delightful afternoon exploring. Dordrecht is one of Holland's oldest
towns and birthplace of the state of the Netherlands, fathered by William of
Orange. This evening explore more of the town on your own and find a regional
restaurant for dinner.
Day 9 - Cycle and cruise to Kinderdijk en Vianen
During breakfast, we sail the River Noord to Kinderdijk, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, 19 of Holland's famous windmills—some more
than 260 years old—decorate the horizon. We visit one and learn how these
gems were used well into the 20th century. Then we cycle to Schoonhoven, known
as the “Silver City” for its long silversmithing tradition. Spend the night in
Vianen, a small city on the River Lek.
Day 10 - Arrive in Amsterdam
During breakfast this morning, we will cruise to Breukelen,
where we begin cycling toward Amsterdam. Follow the beautiful rivers Vecht and
Amstel, which lead you right into the city. Stop for a picnic lunch along the
way. Tonight enjoy our last dinner on board.
Day 11 - Depart barge / Explore Amsterdam / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends.
It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 a.m. so the crew can
prepare for their next guests.
VBT Air Package guests and Post-Trip Extension guests: After
breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and VBT Trip Leader, then join your
other Trip Leader for an orientation walk through Amsterdam's canal-lined
streets to our hotel. Please note that check-in time is 3:00 p.m. but the staff
will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking
in, explore Amsterdam and enjoy dinner on your own. VBT provides you with City
Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what
to see and do in Amsterdam.
Day 12 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby to transfer to the
Amsterdam airport and your departing flight back to the U.S. Please be sure you are
waiting at the designated time and transfer location.
Important: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests.
*For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast
at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify
the times that breakfast is served.