Holland and Belgium

Surprising Journey
After arriving in Amsterdam for a river cruise along the waterways of Holland and Belgium, I quickly discovered that my tour itinerary couldn’t do justice to what I was about to experience. That’s because of the many surprises that I and the fourteen other Badger travelers in my group were about to enjoy — such as the pomp and circumstance surrounding the coronation of the new king of the Netherlands.

As if being a part of royal history wasn’t enough, some of my other personal highlights include:

Canal Cruises. No trip to this part of the world would be complete without exploring the area’s famed canals. So we hopped aboard private canal boats in Amsterdam and Bruges to set out on excursions that had us marveling at (and ducking under) ancient, arched bridges and dodging swimming swans.

Art Museums. After being closed for renovations for the past ten years, our group was among the first to reenter the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and gaze upon famous paintings by Rembrandt and other Dutch masters. How’s that for good timing? We also toured the Kroller Muller in Arnhem and its vast van Gogh collection. Being in the presence of such artistic geniuses was awe inspiring … and made me want to get out my paint-by-number set.

Culinary Delights. We ate like kings and queens throughout the journey. Every evening our shipboard dinners were five-course palate-pleasers. Then there was the special lunch that our Badger group enjoyed when we visited a historic marketplace in Bruges. I ordered what I thought was a ham and cheese roll … but what I got appeared to be a scalloped potato dish. Whatever it was, it was delicious! Oh, and then there was the waffle I ate while walking the streets of Bruges after lunch. C’mon, a waffle to go?! It doesn’t get any better than that.

Flower Power. Visiting the Keukenhof Gardens and its tons of tulips was the most anticipated excursion for many on our tour. But not having a green thumb myself (maybe it’s because I’m all Badger red), I had a hard time working up much enthusiasm … until I arrived at the “Disney World of flowers.” I was blown away by the flowers’ vibrant colors and the stunning sculpture gardens. And even though it was a rainy day, none of our spirits were dampened.

Now, I could go on about climbing a windmill in Kinderdijk or conducting an impromptu rendition of “Varsity” with our Badger group in the ship’s lobby, but I want to leave plenty of surprises for future Badger travelers who embark on this tour to discover.