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Germany & France
Aachen ... Strasbourg ... Colmar ... the Black Forest ...
Stuttgart ... Esslingen and more!
Day One - Departure: Today we begin our journey to Europe. Meals will be served aboard our overnight flight.
Day Two - Düsseldorf / Aachen: On arrival at Düsseldorf Airport we will meet the tour manager and coach driver who will accompany us throughout our tour. As we travel by motorcoach to Aachen, our tour manager will share information about our tour and details of today’s schedule. On arrival in Aachen we will check into our hotel for our overnight.
Day Three - Aachen: Following breakfast this morning we will enjoy a walking tour of Aachen. Two thousand years ago, the city’s thermal springs were a playground for Roman legionaries. 800 years later, on the site of the Roman baths, were built the palace and cathedral of Emperor Charlemagne, the Father of Europe. For 1000 years the city has stood at the crossroads of Europe, on the border of the French and German cultural spheres. Highlights of our walking tour include the Cathedral, which houses the shrine of Emperor Charlemagne, the City Hall on the site of Charlemagne’s Palace with its countless art treasures, and the unique experience of the drinking fountains of Elisenbrunnen, whose thermal springs are known to cure all ailments! The afternoon and evening are free to enjoy the unique flavors and fragrances of Aachen Christmas Market, which is particularly famous for its Printen gingerbread.
Day Four - Aachen / Trier / Strasbourg: This morning we will departAachen to continue our journey along the crossroads of Europe. Two thousand years ago, it was Julius Caesar himself who brought this region under the influence of Roman civilization and nowhere is Roman heritage more evident than in Trier, with its treasure of perfectly preserved Roman structures - the Porta Nigra gate, the ruins of Roman baths, the amphitheater and the stone bridge across the River Mosel. In the Middle Ages Trier was ruled over by the Church and, like Aachen, stood at the crossroads of German and French cultures - it became a symbol of the ethnic and religious conflicts which have traditionally torn Europe apart. Our walking tour will explore the history of this fascinating city and there will be free time to enjoy its Advent Market, before we cross the border into France and continue to Strasbourg for our overnight.
Day Five - Strasbourg: Few regions have played a more important historical role than Alsace in the creation of the Europe of today. For centuries at the crossroads of German and French cultures, Strasbourg is not only a potent symbol of the conflicts which have torn Europe apart in the past, but also a signpost to the future as the seat of the European Parliament. Our walking tour this morning will reveal the unique charm of the old city, dominated by one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe and characterized by its half-timbered houses and network of canals. Strasbourg boasts one of the oldest Advent Markets in Europe, more than 450-years-old, so the afternoon and evening will be free to explore the Alsatian specialties and handcrafts.
Day Six - Strasbourg (Colmar Excursion): Today we will explore some of the Alsace Wine Road en route to Colmar. At the heart of the Alsace Wine Road, Colmar is the picture-perfect town of canals and cobblestoned streets, lined by half-timbered houses. Our walking tour of the town will include a visit to the Unterlinden Museum, housed in a former Dominican convent, to see its most exquisite treasure, the Isenheim Altarpiece of Matthias Grünewald. There will be time to enjoy Colmar’s Christmas Market, before we return to Strasbourg for our overnight.
Day Seven - Strasbourg / Black Forest / Stuttgart: This morning we will depart Strasbourg and France to return to Germany. We will drive through the northern part of the fabled Black Forest, pausing in Gengenbach to view the world’s largest Advent calendar house on the facade of the City Hall. We will arrive in Stuttgart in the early afternoon to enjoy its Christmas Market, centered on the Castle Square. We will check into our hotel in the early evening for the last two nights of our tour.
Day Eight - Stuttgart (Esslingen Christmas Market): This morning we will enjoy an orientation tour of Stuttgart, before we drive the short distance to Esslingen for the most unique of all our Advent Market experiences. In Esslingen the spirit of Advent takes us a step back in time, to experience Christmas of the Middle Ages - craftsmen, street entertainers and merchants in historical costume against the authentic backdrop of Esslingen’s medieval half-timbered houses make this the most unforgettable of our Advent Markets. We will enjoy our farewell dinner, before our final overnight in Stuttgart.
Day Nine - Stuttgart / USA: This morning we drive to Stuttgart Airport to begin our journey home. Meals and beverages will be served during the trans-Atlantic flight. Welcome Home!