Road Scholar : Home
Belgian Cities and Waterways by Barge

Program Number: 20370RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/3/2015 - 4/11/2015; 6/5/2015 - 6/13/2015; 8/14/2015 - 8/22/2015;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Belgium
Price starting at: $2,995.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 15; 7 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

While barging the delightful canals and rivers of Flanders, discover the superb artistic heritage of Belgium, particularly in the famed "Flemish Primitives." Marvel at the works of Memling, van Eyck and Bruegel with art experts at some of Belgium's best museums. Taste sublime chocolates, Belgian brews and other local delicacies. In Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels, admire architectural grandeur that has transcended time.




Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day and standing for up to two hours a day; uneven terrain, stairs and cobblestones common. Embark/disembark barge via ramp. Cabins located on lower deck and reached by steep, narrow stairs with hand rails. Barge does not move at night and only motors during the day.



April 3 departure will be on the Fleur. June 5 and August 14 departures will be on the Fiep.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aboard vessel, 7 nights.



Day 1:
Overnight flight from the U.S.A.


Day 2: Arrival Brussels (Belgium) / Motorcoach to Bruges / Embark Fiep:

Independently explore the historical heart of Bruges, then board the barge where you meet the crew and become acquainted with the safety rules on-board and have your welcome dinner.



Day 3: Ghent:

Begin your discovery of the Flemish Primitives with a visit to the former St. John’s Hospital in Bruges. After lunch, board a motorcoach to Ghent and discover this medieval city at the junction of the Leie and Scheldt Rivers and marvel at Jan van Eyck’s 12-panel altarpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" at St. Bavo Cathedral.



Day 4: Motorcoach to Oudenaarde / Laarne / Sint-Amands:

Venture by motorcoach to the town of Oudenaarde to marvel at its Gothic town hall and learn about the history and watch the restoration of the verdure tapestries. Visit Castle Laarne, a fortress from the 12th century.



Days 5-6: Barge to Antwerp:

Relax on the barge in the morning as you barge to Antwerp. After lunch on board, explore the impressive Renaissance Grote Markt and Brabo Fountain. Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady, the largest Gothic cathedral in Belgium and home to four early canvases by Rubens, including his "Assumption." Visit the Rockox House Museum, home to 16- and 17th-century artworks. Explore the Red Star Line Museum to follow in the footsteps of millions of emigrants embarking for the New World.



Day 7: Barge to Willebroek:

Walk in Rubens’ footsteps as you visit his former home and studio in Antwerp along the River Scheldt, then sail on for an afternoon exploration of Willebroek.



Days 8-9: Motorcoach to Breendonk / Motorcoach to Brussels / Brussels Independent Exploration / Disembark Fiep / Departure

Visit the former concentration camp, Breendonk. This imposing fortress housed 3,500 prisoners during World War II and is one of the best preserved camps in Europe. Independently explore Brussels and marvel at the medieval buildings on the Grand'Place.



Fiep

The Fiep, formerly known as the Anna Cornelia, was built in 1912 as a cargo ship. She was converted into a passenger vessel in 2001 and underwent a total renovation in 2013. There are two sundecks with awnings, tables and chairs, a sitting lounge and dining area. The 10 twin-bedded and two single cabins are all located on the lower deck of the barge.


Belgium

Throughout its long, storied history of monastic dynasties and conflicts, Belgium has always held a strong, centralized geographic and political position in the heart of Western Europe. In its modern role as headquarters of the European Commission, the Council, and many institutions linked to the EU, this small country continues to serve as a crucial political, commercial and cultural crossroads.



Meals and Lodgings
   Fiep
  Bruges, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Sint-Amands, Belgium
Antwerp, Belgium
Willebroek, Belgium
Brussels, Belgium
7 nights
 Fiep
Type: Barge
  Ship Information: The Fiep, formerly known as the Anna Cornelia, was built in 1912 as a cargo ship. She was converted into a passenger vessel in 2001 and underwent a total renovation in 2013.
  Contact info: No street address available as
the barge continually moves,   Netherlands
phone: +31 06 2037 8041
  Room amenities: Central heating, air conditioning, closet/storage space for luggage, porthole that opens and WiFi (limited connectivity in Belgium). Each cabin has a private bath with hairdryer, shower, sink and toilet.
  Facility amenities: Chartered exclusively for Road Scholar participants, the Fiep is a comfort class barge, with a salon where meals are served, a sitting area, a reading-corner, flat-screen TV, two sun decks and a small bar. There are ten twin-bedded double occupancy cabins with lower beds and two single cabins with lower beds. Please note that there are no laundry facilities on board.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Check out time: 9:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
10:30 AM - group meets at Brussels International Airport. You will be staying at Fiep that night.
  End of Program:
Early morning group transfer to Brussels International Airport. You will be staying at Fiep the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. International Barging Tours, the entity that will provide the barging trip during this program, is required by its insurance carrier to obtain signed liability release waivers from all customers. Participants will be required to sign IBT's liability release waiver to participate in the program's barging activity. That waiver will be included in the preparatory material participants will receive after enrolling in the program and must be returned prior to the program's commencement.
  Parking availability:
Parking not available.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Taxi, bus, tram and train available. Review schedules and fares online: Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (STIB/MIVB) http://www.stib-mivb.be/ or Belgian Rail (SNCB/NMBS) http://www.belgianrail.be/.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Bruges
  Transportation to site: If you cannot make the 10:30 AM meeting time, please follow the below instructions for traveling from Brussels Airport to the barge in Bruges: Take a direct train from Brussels Airport to Bruges. Direct trains depart every hour. Train travel time is about 2 hours, 15 minutes and fare will cost approximately €22. On arrival at the Bruges train station, take a taxi to Bargeweg, where our barge, the Fiep, will be moored. Please refer to the included map for the barge location in Bruges. Taxi travel time is about 5 minutes and will cost approximately €15. The barge can only be boarded after 3:00 PM. If you arrive in town before this time, you are welcome to leave your luggage on board and then return to the barge after 3:00 PM. If you are departing the U.S. prior to the group departure and plan to connect with the group at the airport on the day the program commences, be sure to be at the meeting point at the time indicated. If you plan to meet the group at the barge, please notify our office prior to your departure: (860) 767-7005 or info@internationalbicycletours.com.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Brussels
  Transportation from site: There are two options for traveling from the barge to Brussels Airport: 1) Take a taxi from the barge in Brussels to Brussels Airport. Travel time is about 15 minutes and taxi will cost approximately €30. 2) Take Tram 7 (direction Vanderkindere) from the Van Praet stop and disembark at Diamant. From the Diamant bus stop, take Bus 21 (direction Brussels Airport) to Brussels Airport. Travel time is about 60 minutes and fare will cost approximately €6.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: International Flight
(Friday, August 14)
   
 Depart From: Overnight flight from U.S.

Day 2: Arrive in Brussels / Transfer to Bruges / Bruges Independent Exploration / Orientation / Welcome Dinner
(Saturday, August 15)

Note: Please note that the barge does not move at night and only motors during the day.



   
 Arrive To: Brussels International Airport.
 Morning: We proceed to the picturesque medieval city of Bruges by motorcoach to our barge. Participants drop off their luggage as the barge cannot be boarded before 3:00 PM.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Bruges. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for independent exploration in Bruges to do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. If you want to relax, seek out one of the popular local cafés to sip a glass of wine or cup of coffee while watching the locals. During free time, the Group Leader will often be available to guide informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with associated costs (if any) on your own, or explore independently.

Orientation: The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date daily program schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that indicated times are approximate and that program activities and schedules could change due to local circumstances such as weather, traffic conditions, etc. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

During free time, the Group Leader will often be available to guide informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with associated costs (if any) on your own, or explore independently.
 Dinner: This evening, and for other dinners aboard the barge, we will have plated three-course meals featuring tasty local cuisine: appetizer, entrée and dessert plus water; other beverages available for purchase (that can be charged to your tab and settled prior to departure with cash payment in Euros on the last night aboard).
 Evening: At leisure. The evening is free to continue becoming acquainted with your fellow participants or set out exploring Bruges on your own. Get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: St. John's Hospital Museum / Transfer to Ghent / St. Bavo Cathedral
(Sunday, August 16)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge, the breakfast buffet will offer a changing hot item each day as well as meats, cheeses, eggs, yogurts, cereals, breads, juices, and hot beverages.
 Morning: Begin your discovery of the Flemish Primitives with a visit to the St John’s Hospital Museum in Bruges. View the six exquisite paintings by artist Hans Memling, as you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a former medieval hospital.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Bruges. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Motorcoach to Ghent, an attractive medieval city which sits on the junction of the Leie and Scheldt Rivers. In the 14th century, Ghent was one of Europe's largest cloth producers. Marvel at Jan van Eyck's 12-panel altarpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" during a visit to St. Bavo Cathedral.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure. Your evenings are free to spend time with new Road Scholar friends, relax, or go exploring on your own.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Transfer to Oudenaarde / Museum of Oudenaarde / Saint Walburga Church / Transfer to Castle Laarne / Transfer to Sint-Amands
(Monday, August 17)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Motorcoach to the delightful Flemish town of Oudenaarde, known for its magnificent wall tapestry industry in the mid-16th century. Marvel at the Gothic town hall, home to an impressive collection of genuine tapestries. Further your knowledge of Oudenaarde's verdures, green carpets with beautiful landscapes, during a guided introduction at the Museum of Oudenaarde (MOU) followed by a field trip to Saint Walburga Church, an early Gothic church.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Oudenaarde. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: After lunch continue by motorcoach to Castle Laarne, a pentagonal fortress built to defend Ghent in the 12th century. View the Flemish tapestries depicting hunting scenes of Emperor Maximilian before returning to our barge moored in Sint-Amands by motorcoach.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Barge to Antwerp / Antwerp Grote Markt / Antwerp Cathedral / Belgium History Lecture
(Tuesday, August 18)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Our destination today is the city known as Europe's place to be. Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish and Anvers in French) is a cultural hub for lovers of art, diamonds, chocolate, and architecture. Sit back and relax on the sun deck as we barge leisurely to Antwerp. Take this opportunity to survey the towns and villages along the waterways.
 Lunch: Aboard the barge, light lunches will typically be soup and salad or sandwich.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a walk to explore the impressive Renaissance Grote Markt and Brabo Fountain. Visit the Cathedral of our Lady, the largest Gothic cathedral in Belgium, which is home to four early canvases by Rubens, including his "Assumption."

Back on the barge, take in a lecture about the history and culture of Belgium.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Rockox House / Red Star Line Museum
(Wednesday, August 19)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Start the day with a lecture at the Rockox House Museum, the former home of Nicholaas Rockox, a 17th-century burgomaster and patron of Pieter Paul Rubens. Rockox was an avid collector of art and was instrumental in the success achieved by Rubens by commissioning major works. View the fascinating collection of 16th- and 17th-century Flemish artists.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Antwerp. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Further your discovery of Belgium at the Red Star Line Museum where you will have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of two million emigrants leaving Antwerp between 1873 and 1934 for a better life in the New World.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Rubens' House / Barge to Willebroek
(Thursday, August 20)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Walk in the footsteps of Rubens as you visit his former home and studio in Antwerp. Marvel at this stately house with its palazzo on the River Scheldt. Visit the Italian baroque studio where Rubens indulged his passion for collecting.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Antwerp. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Board the barge and motor to Willebroek where the locals are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Transfer to Breendonk / Transfer to Brussels / Brussels Independent Exploration / Farewell Dinner
(Friday, August 21)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Start the day with a motorcoach excursion to the former concentration camp, Breendonk. This well-preserved World War II camp housed many Belgian Jews before being deported to extermination camps in the East. Continue by motorcoach to Brussels where the street signs are both in Dutch and French.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Brussels. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for independent exploration in Brussels to do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. If you haven’t already been there, venture to the Musée des Beaux Arts, Parc of the Cinquantenaire or the Royal Palace and Brussels Park.
 Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants tonight at our farewell dinner aboard the barge. Get a good night's sleep and prepare for departure in the morning.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Program Concludes / Departures
(Saturday, August 22)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge. This concludes our program.
 Morning: Transfers to Brussels International Airport for onward travel.

We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you return on more rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Belgium/Luxembourg Map


Author: HEMA Maps


Description: A colorful map of Belgium and Luxembourg at a scale of 1:250,000.



Bruegel


Author: Walter S. Gibson


Description: A volume in the excellent "World of Art" series, Gibson's book dispels the myth of Bruegel the simpleton artist and replaces it with a portrait of a man who understood the needs of his patrons. With many black-and-white and color reproductions of the paintings.



Culture Smart! Belgium


Author: Mandy Macdonald


Description: A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.



Eyewitness Guide Belgium and Luxembourg


Author: Inc. Dorling Kindersley


Description: Another gem in the Eyewitness series, this superb guide is handsome, convenient and up-to-date; it's the guide to carry. Featuring color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions.



Eyewitness Guide Brussels, Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp


Author: Rebecca Miles


Description: This superbly illustrated guide features color photos and maps of city neighborhoods, with information on history, culture and sightseeing.



Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700


Author: Hans Vlieghe


Description: A lavishly illustrated overview of the art of the southern Netherlands from 1585-1700.



Good Beer Guide Belgium


Author: Tim Webb


Description: The sixth edition of Webb's invaluable guide to breweries, beers and bars.



Mammals of Europe


Author: Priscilla Barrett, David W. MacDonald


Description: Published by Princeton, this is a field guide to land and marine mammals throughout Europe, both endemic and introduced. With more than 600 color illustrations of over 200 mammals.



Niccolo Rising


Author: Dorothy Dunnett


Description: From the reigning queen of historical fiction comes this fast-paced, thoroughly-researched novel of ambition and worldly goods in 15th-century Bruges. This is the first volume in her House of Niccolo series.



Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp


Author: Elizabeth Honig


Description: An insightful, illustrated study of the transformation of Flemish society.



Resistance


Author: Anita Shreve


Description: Shreve adeptly explores the themes of love and loss in her WWII story of a married Belgian woman who falls in love with the British pilot she is sheltering as part of the underground resistance movement.



Rubens


Author: Kristin Lohse Belkin


Description: Belkin chronicles the 17th century artist Peter Paul Rubens from his early family life to his influential interactions with the Italian Renaissance masters and finally to Antwerp, where he rose to fame as a renowned painter and diplomat to the royal courts of Europe.



The Autumn of the Middle Ages


Author: Johan Huizinga


Description: A pioneering work of social and cultural history, this well translated classic is a richly detailed portrait of life, thought and art in 14th- and 15th-century France and the Netherlands.



The Undutchables


Author: Colin White


Description: A laugh-out-loud, irreverent guide to Dutch character and habits, including how to drink coffee and why you shouldn't even think about haggling over prices.





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