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RS Belgium Holland Tour Review?

Having been on 7 RS tours.......all of them have been great.....I am now looking into the Belgium Holland tour. I need some feedback on this tour.

I know there is great beer and chocolate to be had, but I can get those in the US :-)

Why did you choose to go? What did you like most? Least? Looking back...."I wish I had opted for the _____ tour." or "I am so glad I went. Lots of "wow" moments"

Thanks

Posted by
1068 posts

I haven't been on the tour but have been to Holland and Belgium. I went the last week in April (2004) as that seems to be the peak time for the bulbs to be in bloom in Holland. Check the internet as far as peak bloom time because with global warming who knows when that might be now. It's spectacular to see field after field of spring blooms in Holland. The Keukenhof outside of Amsterdam is not to be missed. Definitely a wow.

Mary

Posted by
864 posts

Hi, John. I took the B&H tour in May 2013. We had really decent weather and got to go to Keukenhof instead of the Arnhem Open Air Museum and the flower auction. I chose the tour because I wanted something a bit low key, and that's what I got. It doesn't really have the wow factor that other RS tours have, but it's still interesting and worthwhile. One other factor in my decision to do the B&H tour was that I realized I could only name, like, two famous Belgians and couldn't really tell you much of anything about the country, so the opportunity to learn a bit was enticing. The World War I day and the water management day were both engrossing; it also helped that the tour was led by two wonderful guides. Bruges and Delft were both charming, and I definitely ate my share of impossibly delicious chocolate and drank rather a lot of Belgian beer. The Belgian and Dutch people were generally friendly.

I'm glad I went, even though there weren't a ton of "wow" moments.

Posted by
826 posts

HI. I did this tour when it was relatively new, in spring 2010. My motivation was similar to Teresa's. My knowledge was v. spotty: Battle of Waterloo and In Bruges, the movie, for Belgium, and tulips and my favorite band playing the Melkweg for Amsterdam/Netherlands. Oh, and Anne Frank. Timing was also a factor in my selection.

I have many fond memories from this trip, though it would be difficult to say if there was one best "wow". I took the day off in Delft when the group went on a road trip and walked to the delft factory past some wonderful arts and crafts homes. We were able to catch an open air performance of Aida set in the 20th century in Bruges. The frites are not what the RS show cracks them up to be, IMO, but the beer brewery was great fun with tasty beer. The wonderful little neighborhoods in Amsterdam had me wondering "what if?" I love when that happens, when I can be so transported that I can imagine walking in a cozy looking house and suddenly I'm home!

The food was quite good in Amsterdam, and in some of the smaller places, it felt so neighborhoody, a group of us could just fit in with the locals. I think we had a raw beef appetizer our last night - texture of raw tuna. And, where else can you experience Waterzooi?

The whole trip was filled with wonderful discoveries, if not exactly anything that was on my must-see list. One of the wonderful things about being an RS frequent traveler (8 time alum) is drawing connections that I would not have done otherwise: the Burgundian-founded charitable hospital in Bruges and then, surprise, a similar one in Beaune, The caissons used in the North Sea flooding of 1953 were used on Normandy Beaches (part of my most recent trip). I like making these connections.

Like most RS trips, this one has given me reasons to return - too many to detail here. Enjoy, if you go.

Posted by
260 posts

I took this tour and I must admit it wasn't my favorite. Loved Bruges and Delft but they were similar. Lot of time on the bus in traffic jams, w/o the distraction of gorgeous scenery. I liked the museums very much, and had nice tour members (guide not so hot). It struck me afterwards that I could have done this easily on my own (few language problems since most folks spoke great English, great public transportation options, etc.). I'm sure others might disagree of course!

Posted by
103 posts

My tour was the first one in April 2012. I chose this time to enjoy the spring gardens, less crowds, and lower airfare than summer season.

I added 1 pre night in Brussels and 2 post nights in Amsterdam. The new itinerary doesn't begin in Brusells. But it is the best place to fly into for the revised tour and it's worth an overnight.
I spent the afternoon walking around and visited Cathedral St.Michael & Gudula. I had dinner in Pl de Catherine neighborhood at La Villette Restaurant, Rue do Vieux Marche-aux-Grains 3. The owner is Belgium French. The diners were 90% locals. It's a quaint hole in the wall. She made a great stew!

The next day I spent over half of it at the Royal Army & Military Museum. They have an extended aviation hall, too. Their cafeteria is excellent and budget price.

Brussels Lodging: Hotel Aris Grand Place
Marché aux Herbes 78-80 Grasmarkt Tel: 011 32 2 514 43 00 Fax: 011 32 2 514 01 19 http://www.arishotel.be

Amsterdam's plans were 1 day for Keukenhof and 1 free day for Amsterdam. As Keukenhof had good showings the trip to Aalsmeer Flower Auction was replaced by a half day at Keukenhof. I spent my free time in Amsterdam visiting the Amsterdam History Museum, the The Dutch Resistance Musuem, and The Jewish Memorial. Another day I explored the side canals and shops of the Joordan. Surprises everywhere of art, cheese, chocolate and wine samplings along the way!

Tour highlights for me were the Maeslant storm barrier, the guided day of Flanders Field, Keukenhof, and learning about Flemish art and Dutch history.
Cons: The water is not free. I didn't like the tap water's taste or smell. So I always paid for bottled water.
Tossups: I didn't think highly of the Frites but others loved them.
Pros: Beautiful countries, good ground transportation, Chocolate- good beer- yummy mussels if you like em' and good guides(personal stories/connections to their countries).
Wows- The Maelstant barrier and Keukenhof. This is the most compacted
and diversified tour I have been on out of 4 tours to date (Ireland, Berlin-Prague-Vienna, Eastern France). One morning you're looking at fine masterpeices of art and in the afternoon you're relaxing at a brewery!

Don't think about it, just go!