Please sign in to post.

Got my list of Tour Mates and Hotels - Heart of Belgium and Holland. So Excited!

I have been checking my tour account the last two days to see if there is any new information. This evening I noticed my hotel list and my tour mates first names and towns. I am on the March 30th tour. We have 19 people on our tour. We will certainly be able to spread out on the bus! I will be so excited to meet my new travel companions. We actually have a couple that both have the same first name as my husband and myself. What are the chances of that? Pam, from Idaho … we will be staying at Hotel de Plataan in Delft. That will be an adventure! My final payment for this tour isn’t due until Sunday. I will be sending my payment in tomorrow or the next day. I will be using a credit card because I get some good travel benefits if it is cancelled or cut short due to illness. It’s getting close. I’m hoping that Belgium and the Netherlands loosen up more restrictions in the next few weeks.

Posted by
7696 posts

That is great, Janet ! It is really becoming real now !

Posted by
943 posts

Your going to have a great time! We are on the Scandinavia tour in July and just like you we’re anxious to travel again. Good Luck!!

Posted by
11 posts

I am so excited for you! Belgium is on my bucket list and I look forward to hearing your trip report! I have a trip with RS booked in September and I'm anxiously awaiting!

Happy Travels!

Posted by
2143 posts

I’m so excited for you! I love Holland, I took the train to The Hague and Delft for the day. I stayed in Haarlem, it was so easy to take the train everywhere.

Posted by
1102 posts

YEAH!! So excited for you and looking forward to that feeling myself in May for our tour in June on the BOEE!

Posted by
2541 posts

So excited for you and your tour mates. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
9914 posts

This is awesome! Want to share who your guide is?

Getting that list of others is so much fun....makes it feel "real".

And laughing about the Hotel de Plataan. I can't wait to see which room you get! Will it be the jungle theme? Nautical theme?

I do recommend you have lightweight glove liners along with either a puffy vest or jacket that will go under your rain layer. I'd expect the day you transit from Bruges to Delft and do the Deltaworks site that it will be windy as all get out on the levee areas. BTW, I don't usually care much for mines, industrial stuff, etc but this was quite interesting and the views from when we were up on one of the dams was awesome.

So happy!

Posted by
920 posts

Janet- How fun is that to get the info. We went in April 2016. Ours was the first tour they changed because of the Brussels bombing. It was the best tour! We had 18 tour mates. Hans and Nica were the best. Even had Ben Cameron join us for a few days before he left to catch up with Rick for research. We stayed in the Adam and Eve room at the delft hotel right above their breeze-way.

I would love a re-do on this tour but wish they would extend it to a 14 day tour.

Have fun

We are off to Scandinavian tour end of July , fingers crossed

Kim

Posted by
382 posts

Thanks to Kim (Paris), Donald, Patrice, Jkelman, Barbara and Debbie for all your good wishes. I hope the time flies so that you all can travel soon.
Pam, I haven’t received the official email from Rick’s office. I just happened to look at my tour account and saw the information. Unfortunately, the tour guide’s name wasn’t listed. I will post my guide’s name as soon as I find out who it is. Thanks for the head’s up on the layers to wear on this trip. I will be taking a light down jacket and a wind/rain jacket and gloves. I will also be writing a trip report, so I will let everyone know what kind of room we get when we arrive in Delft.
Kim, when Brussels was on the tour was it a longer tour? I feel like this tour is a little short. My husband and I will be flying in to Brussels for a few days and I feel like there is plenty to see. Then we are headed to Bastogne for a Battle of the Bulge tour before heading to Ghent. I’m seeing lots of negatives about Brussels, but I see quite a few things to visit while we are there. It is the largest chapter in Rick Steves’ Belgium book. If we run out of things to see, we might take a day trip to Arnhem.

Posted by
1781 posts

Hi Janet, so excited for you! I did this tour a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. Especially loved Bruges (biking along the canal right next to the old windmills plus best chocolate ever), the Keukenhof Gardens, and Amsterdam. Have fun!

Posted by
920 posts

Janet- no still 11 day. I had already made plans before the airport incident. We were to arrive in brussels three days prior to start of tour. I had a hard time finding a hotel. It was in April and they had a seafood convention going on. Finally found one by the midi train station. We had United change our flight flights in/out of Amsterdam, took the train to brussels into midi station. Found our hotel. Enjoyed brussels for three days. Caught the train to ghent (start of the tour).

Then stayed 2-3 days in Amsterdam after the tour

Kim

Posted by
69 posts

I am going on the Best of Sicily next week. We went from “Sign up fir the Waitlist” before Omicron to down to 11 tour members. A Canadian was just added yesterday, so now we’re up to 12. That’s about half of the normal tour size. Like someone said, lots of room to spread out on the bus! My last RS Tour was Ireland in 2019. I am excited to Keep on Traveling once again!

Posted by
382 posts

Still haven’t received the list with the tour guide. It will probably be posted after the final payments are all in.
Jaimemayo - enjoy your Sicily tour. That looks like a great tour. I’m glad they had enough people to run the tour. I think Rick is just trying to get people back touring.

Jis Ganga, and Continental - thanks for the good wishes. I can’t wait to see the Tulips at Keukenhof gardens. My husband and I ran a garden center / landscape business for 28 years. We are looking forward to seeing all the color and designs.

Posted by
3335 posts

Janet, with your extensive background, you will be dumbfounded! The ornate, meticulous architecture of the flowers (tulips, hyacinths & daffodils) will blow your mind. You will also love the giant greenhouse. On the drive to and from Keukenhof, you will see enormous fields of tulips on both sides of the road that will be a dream come true. This may sound strange, but I hope when you are there it is a cloudy day because it won’t be jam packed. Keukenhof is also a bit of an amusement park for kids too. But you can escape that and walk the many paths that will introduce you to tulips like you have never seen. This is tulip heaven! I’m so happy for you!

Posted by
7696 posts

Oh my gosh Janet, I didn't know you had that background. This visit is going to be special indeed !

Posted by
382 posts

Continental and Kim, Yes, Keukenhof is the biggest part of my bucket list for this trip. I’m hoping that we won’t be too early. We will visit on April 6th which is a Wednesday. Hopefully the crowds will be lighter during the week. We visited the Chelsea Flower Show on the last Saturday it was open in London in 2015. It was crazy packed, but we loved it, especially the big greenhouse with all the new introductions. We had a great time talking with some of the growers about their different plants. Everything was very different than what we had at our garden center in Texas. It was wonderful.

Posted by
3335 posts

If you can get there as soon as it opens in the morning, you will have the place to yourself. They time the blooms so there are flowers in peak bloom from March through the end of April/early May. It is pure genius.

Posted by
9914 posts

When I did this tour in 2019 the guide did indeed time it so we left Delft early enough to arrive by 815-830. I was stunned to be told that they were expecting 900! buses that day...those were parked buses and did not include the transport buses. The bus lot was immense but our driver got us right next to a canal so it was easy to find our way back at the appointed time. Of course this was pre-Covid so will likely be much less this year. There were lots of Asian tourist buses and I don't think that tourist trail has re-opened yet.

I was surprised at the demonstration displays from some US tulip growers. If you look at the map, I believe they were over on the right side by the mill. Of course, Covid could have changed who they invite to plant (not sure how that works).

The Keukenhof site is fun to look thru. You'll get a map at the front gate and it's good to have to locate toilets. The ones at the front had lines when we were there and someone on the tour had read that it was recommended you skip by those if you could and move further into the park.

https://keukenhof.nl/en/discover-the-park/

Posted by
2050 posts

I know you will have an awesome time! I am excited for you and look forward to your (promised?) trip report. Bruges is one of my favorite cities in Europe. We spent 10 days there one fall and enjoyed every minute of our stay!

Posted by
382 posts

Continental, I will be at the mercy of the tour. Hopefully, we will have an early entry. We will use every minute that we have looking, enjoying and taking lots of pictures. I looked at a YouTube video of “Keukenhof gardens in early April”. There were some areas where all the tulips are green, but there are a lot of tulips that are showing color. All the hyacinths are blooming, so I think we will have some good color to see.

Pam, I’m glad to hear that your tour had an early departure for Keukenhof. I would think that most people on this tour would be highly interested in seeing the gardens. Otherwise, they would probably go on this tour when it is a little warmer. I’m hoping that the number of people are down due to Covid. Thanks for the advice about the bathrooms. I will wait until I get further into the park. Does the Rick Steves tour guide give you a running tour of the gardens or are you dropped off and told when to be back at the bus?

Andi, thanks for the well wishes. I am very excited to see Bruges. I watched a YouTube video of a walk through town and it was beautiful! Can’t wait to see it.

Estimated Prophet, I booked a Battle of the Bulge tour with Reg Jans. Unfortunately, he emailed me last week that he will not be able to guide us, but he said that his colleague Roby Clam will guide us. He said that he is very knowledgeable and fun. I hope he is good. I wish that the train went all the way to Bastogne. My Rome2Rio app shows that the train goes from Brussels to Marloie and then we take a bus to Bastogne. I hope we’ll be able to figure it out.

Posted by
9914 posts

Our RS guides walked us thru the entry gates, gave us maps and then we were on our own with a time to meet back at the bus.

And yes, I think this was a highlight for most of us. I believe it was our earliest departure morning and I think we left between 730 and 745. Maybe left the hotel at 730 for a walk to the bus (it has to park a few blocks away), then loading and away we went maybe by 745. It had also been a very cold night with what the guide called “snow” but which someone from snow country would call graupel (more like hail).

Posted by
1134 posts

I'm looking forward to your trip report as I'm planning a trip to Belgium and The Netherlands for autumn this year.

Posted by
382 posts

Just an update… none of the documents that I received ever listed our tour guide. I called the Rick Steves office. I got a recording that they were very busy and to leave a short message. I received a call the next day. My guide is Nico Favoreel. I don’t remember seeing that name on any reports or scrapbooks, so I guess I’ll be surprised. I also asked how long the Rijksmuseum tour would last because I wanted to purchase tickets to the Van Gogh museum for the afternoon. They said that the tour would finish around noon. I booked tickets for Van Gogh for 1:15. They are relatively close to each other. I am guessing we will be taking mass transit to see the museum area and will have a ticket back to the hotel area afterwards, That evening is our farewell dinner, but we are staying an additional 3 days in Amsterdam.
The excitement is building!

Posted by
9914 posts

Nico!!! He is awesome! I had him as an assistant on my tour in April 2019. He was a guide for Viking for years and is Belgian. He is very knowledgeable and fun to tour with. I completely cracked up as one day I was behind him going up stairs and realized his jeans were Carhartt brand. Well, I'm used to that brand as it is the winter choice for folks who work outdoors during extreme cold - insulated coveralls, etc. His Carhartts were RED jeans...not anything the Carhartt users here in the Inland NW would be using!

Here's what I wrote in my Trip Report from April 2019:

"Nico has been a guide for Viking for years but wanted to guide for Rick. After a couple of days I asked him his impression of the tour group and he laughed and said – well, the first day he had jumped to his regular station by the bus steps to help people off and he was shocked when everyone just popped off the bus on their own and off they went! I saw him counting a couple of times on the bus and teased him about it as he is not used to the “buddy” system. A few days later my buddy wasn’t on the bus when we were ready to go and he saw how well it worked. I called out “no buddy” and he went off to look for her. She had gotten turned around coming back from lunch and was easily found. I think he will be an excellent asset to the guide contingent."

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/trip-report-rs-belgium-holland-4-6-4-16-2019-plus-time-in-paris

Oh...I am so excited for you!

editing to add: Not that I am a stalker but...

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/audio/radio/programs/program-617

Posted by
382 posts

Pam
Thanks for the update on Nico. I am doubly excited now. Especially since he has Pam’s “Seal of approval”. That is really funny about the differences between a Rick Steves tour and a Viking tour. I don’t think I’ve seen red Carhartt jeans either.

I am starting to set out my clothes and make sure everything is clean and in good condition. I’m not sure all the extra stuff I’m taking (Masks, proctored Covid test kits etc.) will fit in my small Rick Steves rolling backpack. Plus, I’m taking more warm clothing than on my last trip (Best of Ireland in 14 days). We will see how it all fits.

Posted by
9914 posts

I'm glad you are doing a trial pack. Really, that was the hardest thing for me to do when I traveled in October. Just had completely lost my touch, lol!

Another story: We were doing a walking tour in Bruges and all the Viking guides had their little paddles saying VIKING and were all leading their groups in the opposite direction to ours. They were all saying hi to Nico as they went past. We asked Nico for the scoop on where they were going and he said they were headed back to the boat for lunch. We were shocked...uh...wouldn't you want to just eat lunch somewhere in Bruges and keep on touring. It turns out many enjoy going back to the boat for lunch as it's already paid for. So...that's another difference. RS tour members may be more in to touring and seeing a location as thoroughly as possible!