Depart from the U.S.
The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight
itinerary and airline tickets.
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, Tel +32 50 36 36 49.
Please note that hotel check-in time is 3 p.m. but the staff will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking in, you have free time to explore Bruges. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what to see and do in Bruges.
Seek out a restaurant for dinner on your own tonight.
Day 3 - Full Day in Bruges
Today, join our local guide at 9 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 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 and 1:30 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 the barge 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 listed in the back of your Final Travel Booklet for your specific barge.
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 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 beautiful cities.
Day 5 - Tour Ghent/Cycle to Dendermonde
After breakfast, take a boat excursion to the center of the
city 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 an insight into water
management systems. You can also enjoy a Belgian beer tasting and crew
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 enjoy a free evening for you to enjoy
the town and maybe dine in one of the many restaurants.
Day 7 - Visit Antwerp/Cycle to Tholen
This morning, visit Antwerp,
known as the “Diamond
City” and the hometown of
the painter Rubens. In the middle of the city, you find the Cathedral of Our
Lady and beautiful old townhouses around the Market Square. During lunch on board,
cruise 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. Spend the
afternoon exploring Dordrecht, one of Holland's oldest towns and birthplace of
the state of the Netherlands, fathered by William of Orange. This evening we
will dine in a regional restaurant in town.
Day 9 - Cycle and cruise to Kinderdijk en Vianen
During breakfast, we sail the River Noord to Kinderdijk, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, where 19 of Holland's
famous windmills — some more than 260 years old — decorate the horizon. We
visit one of these windmills and learn how these gems were used well into the
20th century. Then we cycle to Schoonhoven, known as the “Silver City.”
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
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 a.m. Please refer to
the information listed in the tour handbook.
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 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. or
begin optional Amsterdam
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast*, meet in the hotel
lobby for transfer to the Amsterdam airport and your departing flight back to
the U.S. Be sure you are waiting at the designated time and transfer location.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests.
* Note: 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.