"Benelux" as this part of Europe is collectively known today, historically Belgium, Netherlands/Holland and Luxembourg were called “The Low Countries.” Considering each country’s compact size, each has an amazing array of delights for visitors!
Belgium is split into two main regions, each with their own language and vibe. Flanders in the northern region, where locals speak Flemish, and Walloon/Wallonia in the French speaking south. Explore masterpieces of art, from the works of the Masters - Rubens, Vermeer, Van Gogh and Rembrandt - to irreverent comic book art and modern day haute couture fashion. Explore historic cities - the canals in Bruges/Brugge, the towers of Ghent/Gent, the cathedral and old town of Antwerp, the stunning town hall of Lueven, and the Grand Place and magnificent Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels. Nearly every town is an enchanting scene of bell towers, mediaeval grote markts, quaint cobbled streets and peaceful local gardens.
Sample the local cuisine from frites with mayo (yes, fries are a Belgian creation, not French!) to mussels, waterzoi (fish stew) or Flemish beef stew carbonade. And shall we talk about the world famous chocolates and beers?! There are more varieties of beer in Belgium than anywhere else on earth, from white beer to pale ales to fruity lambics to deep stouts to champagne style. The official estimates suggest that there are more than 700 beers available from over 180 different breweries!
Despite half of the country once being under water, The Netherlands/Holland is one of the most populated places, today the nature is maintained yet manipulated by man. The flat landscapes are punctuated by many canals, dykes and windmills. The country also boasts one of the world's most diverse national park programs. Netherlands is home to individually unique mediaeval townscapes, each with its own feel, many criss-crossed by canals and featuring gabled townhomes and high church spires. There is typically Dutch cuisine to try including a wide variety of amazing cheeses, pancakes, herring, hutspot (stews,) and Indonesian rice table dinners.
And some might say the whole of the country is one giant art gallery! There are dozens of galleries of all sizes and genres across the “Holland Art Cities” of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Delft and Den Haag/The Hague. Also home to the international Peace Palace and seat of the Dutch Parliament, Den Haag has much to offer. Each spring, throngs flock to Kuekenhof and the bulb fields to see the landscapes burst into a rainbow of tulips and other flowers but this nations has a wide variety of gardens to explore year round. Heaps to discover here!
Belgium-Holland: Spring Blooms, Mediaeval Splendour
The ‘Low Countries’ are home to dozens of Europe’s finest gardens, medieval villages and world famous gourmet cuisine, chocolates and beers. Sample a selection of the area’s best gardens. There’s the stunning spectacular that is Keukenhof and Holland’s famed bulb fields, April is indeed Tulip Time!
As an added treat, enjoy the Spring Show in Groot–Bijgaarden, Belgium’s rival to Keukenhof. Also explore the National Botanical Gardens of Belgium, Kalmthout Arboretum plus stunning Mediaeval towns/cities Leuven, Antwerp, Gent/Ghent, Brugge/Bruges, Delft and the option to go into Amsterdam.
Experience the distinct local cultures of each country, sample the fine local cuisine, dishes that can be found nowhere else – there are specialty treats, different types of Belgian waffles and the best chocolates in the world. This is a lovely week in an area all too often overlooked!
Commonwealth Experience, WWI & WWII in France & Belgium
Experience the battle sites of both world wars, from the Normandy Beaches and Dieppe to the Great War reminders on the Somme and Ypres Salient. Our tour will trace the paths of the Commonwealth troops, focusing on the brave contributions of the American, Canadian and Australian divisions. Do you have a loved one who was lost here? Advise us and we will endeavour to incorporate sites of your personal interest, seeking out specific battle and/or grave sites as time and distance will permit. Folks seeking to discover the experiences of a loved one may find our small, intimate journeys the way to go. Our guides are retired military and/or historians with a personal interest in the tours that they lead.
Canadian European Battlefields, WWI & WWII: Normandy, Somme, Ypes Salient, Vimy Ridge, ‘Operation Market Garden’
They came between 1914 and 1918, from across the seas in answer to the desperate call of the Motherland. They came as representatives of a dominion; they left as representatives of a new Nation. Then in 1939 they again heeded the call, this time to help liberate Europe from the Nazi horde.
This tour visits some of the most memorable and important sites where young Canadians fought and died for their new county’s honour and the countries of their ancestors. Their ferocity and courage, on both land and in the air, earned them legendary status. They were often ‘shock troops’ who achieved victories where others had failed. The names of the various sites are etched into Canadian history for all time; Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, Courcellette are but a few. This is as much a pilgrimage as a tour, honoring those whose actions helped ‘The Forging of a Nation.’
Holland Tulip Time and Dutch Gardens
The Netherlands is home to dozens of Europe’s finest gardens, medieval villages and gourmet cuisine. We will sample a selection of the area’s best gardens.
Along our specialty trail, we will uncover some hidden gems such as the country’s largest collection of orchids and amazing ornamental water displays. Then there’s the famed stunning spectacular that is Keukenhof Gardens and Holland’s famed bulb fields. Their website says, “Haven’t seen Keukenhof? Then you haven’t seen the Netherlands.” The claim that you won’t find such an abundance of colours and fragrances anywhere else is certainly true!
Gardens of Belgium & Southern Holland
The area of Flanders and Southern Holland is home to dozens of Europe’s finest gardens, medieval villages and world famous gourmet cuisine, chocolates and beers. We will sample a selection of the area’s best gardens, formal and backyard, rock gardens, Japanese and botanicals.
This is a lovely few days in an area all too often overlooked!