Escape to Europe on a delightful ten-day jaunt for one couple through two of the continent’s most distinctive, charming and beautiful cities—Amsterdam when the tulips are in full bloom and vibrant Venice—plus a luxurious overnight excursion on the famed Belmond Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
You’ll follow the footsteps of Rembrandt to begin your fascinating Dutch adventure. Embark with your guide on a refreshing walking tour through the historic city center. You’ll stroll by 17th-century merchant houses and antique streets on your way to the Rijksmuseum where you’ll learn about the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn and see his masterpiece, “The Nightwatch.” Then, what better way to wrap up your first day exploring Amsterdam than on a private cocktail cruise, nibbling on traditional Dutch snacks and enjoying a bottle of wine.
It’s time for your “Tulip Tour,” wandering on and off the beaten path for the very best viewing opportunities! Slide into a stretch limo—a Citroen 2VC, called the “ugly duck” locally—greet your English-speaking driver and head to the Keukenhof gardens with the top down if weather permits. What a sight to behold: flower fields, a magic carpet of daffodils, hyacinths and tulips, all ablaze—you are in the most beautiful spring park in the world!
North of Amsterdam you’ll find the professional flower growers’ fields and visit a family-run bulb farm. Driving through the polders of the Beemster (a UNESCO World Heritage site) with their narrow dykes, farms and flower fields, you’ll be fascinated to learn what a “polder” and “the Beemster” are! During this picturesque tour, you’ll be far from the tourist crowds as you visit quaint 17th-century villages.
Restaurant de Kas is a renovated greenhouse, where all ingredients served are cultivated and produced on their own plots of land. The chef will invite you for a walk through the herb garden and the vegetable nursery, and a special chef’s menu will be accompanied by Dutch wines. Yes, they make wines in Holland!
The Zaanse Schans is a fully inhabited, open-air conservation area and a museum. Sixteen windmills dating to the 17th and 18th centuries stand amid authentic green timber houses and a historic shipyard. A vivid depiction of Dutch life in former days, you’ll see clogs being made and you can make your own chocolate. On a leisurely, one-hour cycling tour, your guide will take you over winding bike paths, through the “polders,” along windmills, through villages and by fortifications dating back to 1896. You may also visit the Anne Frank house where the family lived in hiding during the Nazi occupation.
Finally, enjoy dinner at the one-table restaurant Naylor’s by chef Chris Naylor. Long before it was a trend, Michelin-starred chef Chris Naylor had veggies playing the main role in his menus. A unique and exclusive one-table restaurant, it is only open when the chef is there. It is mainly a creative lab for Chris to create new dishes and a new experience for special guests—like you. It is special farewell from a special city!
You are then off to Venice where you will spend three luxurious nights at the Aman Venice Hotel. That evening enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to glide through the canals of Venice at night with the lights of the great palazzi shimmering on the water and stopping along the way for delicious homemade gelato. The next morning, your insider tour of legendary Venice begins with incredible fresh-roasted coffee in an out-of-the way coffee shop near the Rialto Market, where the most famous torrefazioni (coffee shops) began. Across the bustling market, take the traghetto—the gondola ferry—across the Grand Canal to see the sights and the local library, which is closed to the public. That evening, your private guide will take you on a once-in-a-lifetime, after-hours, private tour of the glorious Basilica of San Marco—a masterpiece of art and architecture and the spiritual heart of Venice. Explore the dazzling, world-famous mosaics, the priceless Pala d’Oro, and the amazing subterranean crypt—all with stories to tell!
A 14th-century masterpiece of Gothic architecture and treasure-trove of art, the grand Palazzo Ducale offers another rare opportunity for a private, after-hours tour. Travel back into time to the days of the glorious Republic to explore the richly ornamented chambers filled with masterpieces of Venetian art, sculpture and architecture, decorated with dazzling frescoes by Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto, among many other treasures, including Domenico Tintoretto’s spectacular “Paradise” ceiling in the Grand Council Hall.
Hop in a water taxi with your private guide and explore the island of Murano, world famous for its glassmaking and lamp-working. Continue to the mystical island of Torcello where you can explore the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639 AD, and the neighboring island of Burano, celebrated for its lacework and brightly colored homes.
Welcome your final Venetian evening with a grand tour of ombre e cicchetti for early evening drinks and light appetizers. Stop at a series of lively, local pubs a few hours before dinner for a taste of Prosecco, spritz or a famous Bellini cocktail, accompanied by a delicious variety of Venetian appetizers.
Adventure and style are intimately bound in journeys that crisscross Europe on the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a true Art Deco icon. You’ll be part of one of the world’s most celebrated travel experiences as you head to London in train cars that are the original 1920s models. Along the way, you’ll relax in a sumptuous vintage cabin complete with private ensuite facilities, enjoying gastronomic cuisine and a lively onboard atmosphere.
Upon arrival into London the next afternoon, enjoy two luxurious nights in a Stafford Mews Suite at the Five-star hotel, The Stafford London, located in the heart of historic St. James and Mayfair. Spend your days at leisure to shop or explore London’s many iconic landmarks and galleries.
Experience three beautiful cities for just one bid!
Business Class Airfare from the United States to Amsterdam, Netherlands and return from London, England must originate from and return to a major city, such as New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas or Miami, Florida. Trip dates are recommended for April 2021 when the tulips are in bloom. Dates of travel must be determined by April 1, 2020 to guarantee accommodations in a Grande Suite aboard the Belmond Orient Express. All accommodations, tours and meals as listed are included. Dinner at Restaurant de Kas doesn’t include additional beverages, tax or gratuity. Dinner at Naylor’s in Amsterdam is subject to availability and doesn’t include beverages, tax or gratuity. On the Belmond Orient Express, 24-hour steward service, free-flowing Champagne, a private welcome at the station and accommodations are included. Reservations at The Stafford London are subject to availability and are to be scheduled for mutually agreeable dates. Ground transportation in London is not included.
The Dutchman Travel, Perfetto Traveler, Belmond Orient Express, The Stafford London and with thanks to Christin McKay, Luxury Travel Advisor with SmartFlyer
Airfare donated by Carol & Tom Lund