Summer Garden Cruise of Holland and Belgium – by Eurostar
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Enjoy some of the best gardens that the Low Countries have to offer, at the height of their summer glory, as we cruise from Antwerp to Amsterdam.
As part of this trip you’ll enjoy three nights as a guest onboard the MS Gérard Schmitter. Our comfortable vessel transports us across rivers and sea, ensuring that our journey is just as special as the destinations it brings us to. Think welcoming cocktails with the crew, falling asleep to the water’s gentle motions, lunches and dinners with wine and beer, and – of course – the always convivial company of like-minded Brightwater travellers.
On land we visit a trio of top gardens, beginning with the Hemelrik Garden and Arboretum, described by Brightwater’s horticultural expert Colin Crosbie as “a heavenly garden, one of the most beautiful and special in Belgium”. In the Netherlands we visit two more gardens with the Crosbie seal of approval: the garden of Mien Ruys, described by Colin as “one of the finest and most inspirational gardens in Holland” and the nearby garden of Ada Hofman, which he says is “one of the best water gardens in Europe”. Praise indeed from the former curator of RHS Wisley!
Further visits include the Bloemenmarkt, a colourful floating flower market, and the magnificent ‘Golden Age’ canal-side residence and garden at the Museum van Loon, both in Amsterdam.
Supplements per person:
Single cabin lower deck £295.00
Single cabin middle deck £415.00
Single cabin upper deck £445.00
Twin cabin middle deck £120.00
Twin cabin upper deck £150.00
Insurance £65.00 (under 65); £130.00 (65-74); £195.00 (75-90)
Rail/air connections and/or overnight accommodation before or after the tour available in London on request
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary
- Train travel
David MacLennan Tour Manager
Since retiring from full time employment David has worked as a tour manager and guide, specialising in history and in particular the ramifications of WW1.
24 July 2020: Itinerary
We depart by Eurostar train from London St Pancras to Brussels, where we will change trains and continue our journey to Antwerp. From here we continue by coach to our first visit, the Hemelrijk Garden, in Essen. Hemelrijk, the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and once a monastery, has been created by Robert and Jelena de Belder over the last 40 years, in collaboration with Russell Page, the famous garden architect. Under the century-old planting of Oaks and Beech and throughout the meadowlands some 6000 trees and shrubs have been planted, including major collections of Acer, Betula, Hydrangea and Malus, of which around 60 are listed as Champion Trees of Belgium.
Later in the afternoon we return to Antwerp and board our ship, the MS Gérard Schmitter, a spacious and well-appointed river cruiser accommodating around 180 passengers. With its large, comfortable forward lounge, a well-stocked bar and a separate restaurant, the ship has a tasteful, relaxed and distinctively French ambience. There is also an attractive, partially-covered sun deck area and the friendly and attentive crew will cater for your every need. The cabins are spacious and well-equipped, with twin berths, shower and toilet, TV. All have windows which offer excellent views, the largest being on the upper deck.
Prior to dinner there will be a welcome cocktail reception with the chance to meet the crew and ask any questions you may have. We overnight here in Antwerp.
Meals include: Dinner
After breakfast we have a leisurely day on board ship, as we cruise from Antwerp to Rotterdam crossing the Westerschelde and Oosterschelde, two sheltered inlets off the North Sea. Lunch is served on board and in the evening we enjoy a gala dinner on the ship.
Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning we cruise from Rotterdam to Utrecht, arriving around midday. A picnic lunch will be provided so we can depart immediately by coach for our visits to two outstanding gardens. The first is that of Mien Ruys, who dominates the story of 20th century gardening in the Netherlands. Following a period of study in England, Ruys developed a keen interest in herbaceous plants and began experimenting in her parents’ garden in 1924. The garden now contains some 25 different areas, each with a distinct character, but many have been added since her death. Some are dedicated to habitats, the Water Garden and the Sun Border for example; some to specific types of plants like the Mixed Border and Herb Garden and some to special effects.
We move on to Loozen Gramsbergen, where we visit the dazzling garden created by Ada Hofman. This is the largest, most complex series of water gardens in Holland, with no fewer than 30 gardens, 50 ponds and 3000 different types of plants, developed with great vigour and creativity since 1987. The ponds are of differing sizes and reflect both the surrounding plantings and the sky, making the gardens appear spacious, colourful and bathed in light. Between the pools are many other inventive features – glittering rock gardens made from blocks of glass, a Japanese garden and, on the roof of Ada Hofman’s own house, a Chinese garden complete with pond.
We rejoin the ship in Amsterdam, where dinner is served in the evening. Following dinner this evening you are free to explore Amsterdam.
Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After breakfast on board we leave the ship and visit the Museum Van Loon, a magnificent canal-side private residence from the Dutch ‘Golden Age’, with a large collection of paintings, fine porcelain and silver. The formal gardens perfectly complement the Classical style of the house.
We continue to the Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market at Singel, a relic of the days when fresh flowers were brought to Amsterdam every day by barge. Nowadays the flowers are grown in glasshouses so there is a constant supply all year round and there is also a wide range of tempting souvenirs on offer.
After some free time here we transfer to Amsterdam Centraal railway station for our train to Brussels, where we board the Eurostar service back to London St Pancras, with arrival due in the late evening.
Meals include: Breakfast