Great Journey Through Europe

Join alumni and friends on an 11-day "Grand Tour" of Europe from June 13 - 23, 2018.

Strasbourg

Accompany the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) from June 13 – 23, 2018, on this Great Journey through Europe, a unique opportunity to retrace the traditional “Grand Tour” undertaken by enlightened ladies and gentlemen of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Travel through four countries and the western heart of the continent on this carefully planned itinerary. Cruise the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-designated Rhine Valley, passing the lush vineyards of its Rheingau wine region on the river’s bank, and through Holland’s picturesque waterways, surrounded by polder land reclaimed from the North Sea. Experience three of the world’s great railway journeys and visit four important UNESCO World Heritage sites.

In Zermatt, marvel at the iconic Matterhorn as you travel aboard the Gornergrat Bahn, the country’s oldest cog railway. Then, cross the mountainous backbone of Switzerland aboard the celebrated, ingeniously engineered Glacier Express railway and spend two nights in lovely Lucerne in the Five-Star Hotel Schweizerhof, where glorious Alpine panoramas surround you. From Lucerne, journey overland through the verdant, picturesque countryside of Switzerland to Basel. Stop in the medieval gem of Berne and in scenic Interlaken in the foothills of the magnificent Bernese Oberland Alps.   

The specially chartered, deluxe Amadeus Silver II, launched in 2015, provides elegant accommodations en route from Basel to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Port calls along the way include the lovely Alsatian city of Strasbourg, France, a fusion of both French and German cultures, and Rüdesheim, Koblenz, Cologne, and Mannheim for Heidelberg, Germany.

This extraordinary travel program is an excellent value with all excursions and deluxe accommodations included. Shared with cosponsoring associations, space is limited and sure to fill quickly. Please contact the Travel Study Program office at 866-325-8664 or travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details and to reserve your place today.

Dates & Prices

Trip Dates:     June 13 - 23, 2018
Prices:  from $4,595 - $8,695 per person based upon double occupancy

Itinerary:

Day 1 and Day 2: U.S./Geneva, Switzerland/Zermatt
Depart the U.S. for Geneva. Following your morning arrival, enjoy a scenic motor coach transfer to Zermatt, located beneath the dramatic pinnacle of the iconic Matterhorn. Check in to the chalet-style Hotel Alex. Enjoy dinner this evening in the hotel's traditional Swiss restaurant.

Day 3: Zermatt
Today, travel aboard the famous Gornergrat Bahn, the highest cog railway in Europe. Ascend through forests of pine and larch and cross meadows ablaze with wildflowers to the 10,000‑foot‑high Gornergrat. From the observatory atop the Gornergrat, look out over sweeping vistas of Europe’s most breathtaking Alpine scenery—the serrated profiles of the Matterhorn, the Liskamm and Dufourspitze mountains and vast Gorner Glacier. Return to Zermatt at your leisure, with the option to stop en route at Riffelberg for the panoramic view of Monte Rosa and the majestic Matterhorn. Join your fellow travelers for a welcome reception and enjoy dinner in the hotel this evening.

Day 4: Zermatt/Andermatt/Lucerne
Relax during a scenic transfer from Zermatt to Andermatt aboard the fabled Glacier Express, “the world’s slowest fast train.”  Travel through the heart of the Alps, where the natural beauty of the mountains rivals the skill and ingenuity of the engineers who created this rail route across Europe’s most challenging terrain—requiring the construction of 291 bridges and 91 tunnels. Enjoy lunch in Andermatt before transferring to Lucerne and checking in to the lake-side Five Star HOTEL SCHWEIZERHOFF.

Day 5: Lucerne
A long-favored destination of travelers, Lucerne is set against the backdrop of its deep blue lake and the rugged grandeur of Mounts Pilatus and Rigi. Begin your morning walking tour in the Weinmarkt (Wine Market), surrounded by historic burghers’ houses. See the Hofkirche (Court Church), one of the finest examples of German Renaissance architecture, and the Lion Monument, dedicated to the Swiss Guards who gave their lives defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Walk across Lucerne’s most famous landmark, the delightful, 14th-century wooden Chapel Bridge, which spans the Reuss River and is adorned with 17th-century paintings.

Ascend Mount Pilatus by panoramic gondola to its 7000-foot summit for a magnificent 360-degree panorama of central Switzerland’s mountains, peaks, forests and lakes. Enjoy lunch in a summit restaurant followed by free time. Board the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, then descend more than 5300 feet in less than three miles on return to the shores of Lake Lucerne, where you will enjoy a scenic lake cruise.

Day 6: Lucerne/Interlaken/Berne/Basel
After breakfast in the hotel, continue on through one of the most beautiful areas of Switzerland, the spectacular Bernese Oberland, traveling from the snow‑crowned heights of the Alps to subtropical lowlands. Admire its impressive natural treasures, including soaring jagged peaks, rolling green hills, crystal-clear glacial lakes and densely wooded forests. Stop in the charming resort town of Interlaken, located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Here, you will find the perfect vantage point for admiring the towering Jungfrau, an imposing summit in the Bernese Alps known as the “Top of Europe.” Transfer across the rolling Swiss countryside to Berne, Switzerland’s historic capital, and visit the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site and beautifully preserved medieval gem noted for its arcaded sidewalks. Have lunch in a traditional Bernese restaurant. In Basel, embark the ship and join fellow participants this evening for the Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner.

Day 7: Strasbourg, France
The lively Alsatian city of Strasbourg fuses the Old and New Europe. The Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of medieval houses, and the charming Ponts-Couverts, covered bridges flanked by watchtowers at each end, span the picturesque canals. It was in Strasbourg that John Calvin first established a reformed parish. See remnants of the Reformation in the beautiful Protestant and Catholic Church of St‑Pierre‑le‑Vieux; and see the graceful sandstone Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame, a Romanesque‑Gothic masterpiece that, according to the poet Goethe, rises “like a most sublime, wide‑arching tree of God.” In the Petite‑France district, the historic millers’, tanners’ and fishermen’s quarter along the Ill River, the fairy‑tale look of a past era lives on, while nearby, 27 nations engage in the daily discourse of the European Union Parliament. Enjoy lunch aboard ship. The afternoon is free for independent pursuits.

Day 8: Mannheim (Heidelberg), Germany
This morning, from Mannheim, transfer to Heidelberg, where luminaries such as Goethe and Schumann came to experience the intellectual atmosphere of Heidelberg University, Germany’s oldest, founded in 1386. To many on the “Grand Tour” of Europe, fashionable in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Heidelberg epitomized Germany, nestled in the densely wooded valley of the Neckar River and alive with the spirit of German Romanticism. Heidelberg has preserved its authentic Renaissance‑Baroque character, including the eight remaining arches of the famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) that span the Neckar River. Visit imposing Heidelberg Castle, a magnificent, 13th‑century edifice perched above the river. The stately ruins preserve Heidelberg’s links to its medieval past. Reboard the ship and cruise through the Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine‑growing region, known particularly for its Riesling.

Day 9: Rüdesheim/Koblenz
Go ashore in the medieval town of Rüdesheim, the heart of Germany’s wine country. Enjoy a tour aboard the unique Winzerexpress mini‑train, traveling through bucolic countryside vineyards and passing historic castles, followed by a private tasting of German wines. Cruise through the spectacular Rhine River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, legendary for its scenery and riverside architectural treasures. Be on deck for a front row view of the steep terraced vineyards rising on the slopes of the riverbanks. With each bend in the river, a medieval castle crowns the crags and a tranquil village nestles along its banks. See the famous Lorelei Rock—legend holds that a beautiful siren lured sailors here with her enchanting song. Dock this afternoon in Koblenz, where Germany’s Roman past dates to nine B.C., during the reign of Augustus Caesar, when it was strategically established at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. From the famous Deutsches Eck (German Corner), enjoy a view of the impressive 19th‑century fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, once the residence of the powerful Archbishop‑Electors of Trier. The twin‑towered Basilica of St. Castor, built between the ninth and 13th centuries, features the Rhineland’s distinctive Romanesque architecture.

Day 10: Cologne
One of Germany’s most ancient cities, Cologne was founded as a Roman military outpost in 38 B.C. From the time of Charlemagne to present day, it has flourished as the Rhineland’s foremost mercantile and religious center and is the birthplace of the original world‑famous Eau De Cologne perfume. Explore the Altstadt (Old Town) and visit the historic Kölner Dom (cathedral), a UNESCO World Heritage site and the finest example of High Gothic architecture in Germany; construction began on the cathedral in 1248 and lasted for six centuries. Among its artistic treasures are the Milan Madonna and the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings. Enjoy the afternoon while cruising along the picturesque Rhine River. This evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

Day 11: Amsterdam, the Netherlands/U.S.
Following breakfast, disembark the ship and continue on the Amsterdam Post-Program or depart for the U.S.

ACTIVITY LEVEL - Moderately Active
Many of the cities and towns being visited were founded centuries ago, and motorized vehicles arenot allowed into several of the old parts of the cities visited, therefore, a fair amount of walking alongbrick streets, stone floors or uneven terrain and climbing several flights of stairs (some without railings)is to be expected. Walking excursions often cover distances of at least one mile and are approximately three hours in length.
 
Please note:
Mount Pilatus (6,995 ft.), the Gornergrat (10,275 ft.) and the surrounding Alps are located at high altitude, which may subject some people to shortness of breath. The train rides are day excursions, and participants will have the option of getting off the train at various altitudes and returning to the hotel at their leisure. Participants with heart or lung conditions may want to consult their physician before departure. To minimize the effects of the higher elevation, avoid cigarettes, alcohol and heavy foods; drink plenty of water; and get plenty of rest.

Included Features:

Ten-day program, including a five-night Rhine River cruise and four nights in the Swiss Alps, featuring the celebrated Glacier Express.

In Zermatt
• Two nights in the chalet-style HOTEL ALEX, with Swiss breakfast each morning.
• Two dinners with house wine in the hotel.
• Welcome Reception.
• Rail journey aboard the scenic Gomergrat Bahn, one of the most picturesque train rides in the world, for breathtaking views of the great Matterhorn.

One of the great rail journeys of the world from Zermatt to Andermatt aboard the legendary Glacier Express, followed by lunch and a scenic transfer from Andermatt to Lucerne.

In Lucerne
• Two nights in the Five-Star Hotel Schweizerhoff Luzern with Swiss breakfast each morning.
• Walking tour of historic Lucerne.
• Panoramic Mount Pilatus gondola ascent with lunch at the summit, and the dramatic descent aboard the Pilatus Railway, the world's steepest cogwheel train.
• Scenic cruise on lake Lucerne.

Scenic transfer from Lucerne to Basel, with stops en route in the idyllic village of Interlaken and Switzerland's historic capital of Berne. Tour Berne's Old Town , a UNESCO World Heritage site, with lunch in a traditional Bernese restaurant.

On board the exclusively chartered, deluxe M.S. AMADEUS SILVER II
• Five-night cruise from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with port calls at Strasbourg, France; and Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cologne and Mannheim for Heidelberg, Germany.
• Deluxe, river-view, air-conditioned Suite or Stateroom, each with a private bathroom.
• Featuring fine continental cuisine. All meals served at single, unassigned seatings, early-risers' coffee, buffet breakfast and lunch, afternoon tea, four-course dinner and late-evening snack.
• Complimentary house wine and beer are served with lunch and dinner.
• Captain's Welcome Reception and Farewell Dinner
• Walking tour of Strasbourg's historic Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Excursion to Heidelberg's 13th-century hilltop castle.
• Visit to the charming medieval town of Rudesheim in the heart of the Rheingau, including a private tasting of local wines.
• Cruise through the scenic Lorelei Passage of the Rhine River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Walking tour of Koblenz, picturesquely located at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers , the famous Deutsches Eck.
• Cologne walking tour, including a visit to the magnificent ~ Kolner Dom, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Additional inclusions
• All transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfers.
• All excursions and visits, as outlined above.
• Gratuities to local guides and drivers for included excursions.
• Complimentary use of a state-of-the-art audio headset for each participant while on guided excursions during the cruise.
• Hospitality desks in the hotels and aboard ship.
• The services of professional Travel Directors throughout the travel program.
• Travel document wallet, name badge and pre-departure information.

Not included:
Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed in the "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.


Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.