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River Cruising with Avalon Waterways
I attended a travel conference in March on Avalon’s beautiful Illumination. The ship was awesome and the food delicious. The bed in my stateroom faced wall to wall windows, which opened, and looked out onto the river. The bathroom was oversize with plenty of storage room in cabinets below the sink. I cannot say enough good things about the crew and the service, from the captain on down.
We started in Brussels with a tour of that beautiful city. The main square is literally that, and on all sides lined with beautiful buildings, many of them starting out as Guild Houses.
From Brussels we went to Ghent and Bruges, called the Venice of the north because of all it’s canals. Those are both medieval cities that have been lovingly preserved and they are two of the most charming places I have ever been. Our guides were excellent, giving us an overview of the history up until modern times. The joke became that whoever was against France, the Belgium’s chose as their ally. We also learned that Belgium is very dependent on the Germany economy and consider it the strongest country in the EU. If you go to Belgium, and I highly recommend that you do, you will fall in love with it. I could have spent weeks there.
From Belgium we crossed over to the Netherlands and our stops included Willemstad. There we saw the still preserved German bunkers from WWII. It was a very eerie feeling being there and thinking about that terrible was. But the windmills were everywhere and they were enchanting.
The Kukenhof gardens were next and although we were a little early for most of the tulip beds, there were huge greenhouses with all of the varieties of flowers that are featured there. I can understand why people return there year after year.
The biggest surprise of the trip was Rotterdam. Most of the old city was destroyed by bombing during WWII and has been rebuilt with the most amazing modern architecture. I wouldn’t’ have thought myself such a big fan but this city really is the best of the best.
We reluctantly left our ship in Amsterdam for the flight home. This trip was one that I will remember fondly for years.
Next month I will be aboard Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum of the Seas. I can’t wait to report back to you on this amazing ship. Another travel conference, this time with most of our vendors represented onboard. I will have a lot to tell you.
Then in May, we will have a report on Vikings new sea ship and it’s itinerary through Scandinavia and Russia.
Til then, happy travels!
Connie Maher, Vacation Inspirations Director of Travel Services
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