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EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR TOUR

The PURPOSE of this TOUR is to enable families as well as individuals to experience the warmth of a
TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN CELEBRATION

CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR

This is not a ‘Rick Steves’ tour: we stay in comfortable, accredited accommodation in small towns, rather in the big cities - with the exception of Vienna, therefore our cost is considerably less than that of the average escorted tour: these hotels pay us NO commission - we even have to pay for the guide’s accommodation. Apartments and family rooms are often available at an economical surcharge. Groups are small and limited to about 15 - 20 individuals: family groups are encouraged for this particluar celebration but accompanying children must be controllable at all times.

To allow you as much freedom as possible, there are few organised meals other than breakfast, so that you are free to indulge in your particular cuisine. With local transit passes in some areas, you are also free to choose the most convenient day and time for sightseeing - or join the organised excursion. On rail excursions one has to travel together in both directions, otherwise there is no regimentation. Long-distance travel by rail is in 1st class for maximum comfort and relaxation.

In addition to centrally situated accommodation, limiting the number of times that one has to repack one's bags, we have included a variety of exciting trips, mixed with relaxing days by the River Rhine.

These include a New Year's visit to the fabulous city of Vienna, the most livable city in the world; visiting one of the original coffeehouses; the River Rhine, a fabulous wine region; to the incredibly picturesque villages on the Rhine, such as Bacharach; to the famous distillery at Rüdesheim; and a shopping expedition to fashionable Düsseldorf. All at an attractive price, with breakfast included daily.

A traditional EUROPEAN Christmas and New Year is an experience to remember: one cannot always guarantee a "White" Christmas, but the atmosphere makes up for that. The variety of Christmas ornamentation and gifts is overwhelming: a real shopping experience. The "Christmas Fair" in Germany is unique in the world: we will visit several of these, the most famous being that in the city of Nürnberg.

The New Year celebration in Vienna is probably one of the world's great events: unfortunately, one has to book at least a year in advance to get tickets for the Vienna New Year Concert, broadcast annually from the Musikverein and hosted by Walter Cronkite.

Getting tickets to the famous Winterreitschule, where the Lipizzaners of the Spanish Riding School perform is also recommended in advance, but the cost is not covered in this tour.

Vienna of course is the cultural centre of Europe, and its production of composers and light music exceeds any other culture, with Johann Strauss and Mozart leading the way. Tickets for the Opera can be obtained a month ahead of time.

A trip to treasure and remember! Recommend it to friends and we will recompense you handsomely!
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NOTES on some of our DESTINATIONS

BACHARACH
One of our planned stops is in one of the most picturesque villages on the Rhine. Two minutes walk to your bench on the Rhine, where steamers call all day long including the only remaining paddle-steamer, the Goethe. Bacharch is a walled town, so walking along the wall can be an interesting experience: houses and hotels are actually built into the wall - as well as the railway, so we avoid these accommodations! It dates back to pre-Roman times. This is wine country but there is one elegant coffee-shop in town. This is also slate country, so the town walls and most of the buildings are made of slate, which is almost indestructible. Some of the numerous eating places are owned by local vintners. Ruins include the Castles Stahleck and Stahlberg, built about the year 1200, and the 11th century Wernerkapelle (chapel).

BOPPARD
In the valley of the famous Loreley, in one of Germany's greatest forests, Boppard is one of the country's most famous beauty spots; set on the meanderings of the Rhine, from one vantage point the river appears as four lakes. Bad Salzig, a famous spa, with two wells known for Glaubersalz (Epson salts), is a district of Boppard, a Roman settlement dating back to the 2nd century. The picturesque promenade (see picture) along the Rhine is an enjoyable three kilometres long. Das Bopparder Teehäusje "1001 Nights" is a tea shop worth visiting: it is one of the oldest buildings in the town, just off the promenade by the market square.

DÜSSELDORF
A major modern metropolis on the lower Rhine, a cultural centre, with high fashion shops (Königsallee) as well as numerous shopping centres and streets, a convention centre, numerous parks, expensive hotels, Schloß Benrath (Benrath Castle), major airport and railway station, and the famous "Altstadt" - Old Town.

KOBLENZ
Standing at the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Mosel, the city is a major centre and stopover for Rhine cruises. The Beethoven collection is found in the house where his mother was born. The castle Stolzenfels lies about 5km south of the town and was built about 1250, rebuilt 1842 and is today a monument to the culture and lifestyle of the 19th century. The fortress Ehrenbreitstein has looked out over the Rhine from its high perch (118 m) over the city since its beginnings in the year 1000. Enjoy the promenade on the Rhine as well as the Mosel.

RÜDESHEIM
Intriguing small shopping centre with lively lanes running back from the Rhine, the most famous of which is the Drosselgasse. In one of the shops here you can find the world's largest cuckoo-clock. The town lies on the right bank of the Rhine and still in wine country. There is a guided, motorised trip through the local vineyards available and a tour through the famous Asbach Distillery. The Abbey of St Hildegard, a Benedictine convent, lies behind the town on the Rupertsberg. Built in 1900, it replaced the original, which dated back to 1147. Built on the ruins of that original, the parish and pilgrimage church St Hildegard is worth a visit. A reliquary procession is held in her honor every year on the 17th day of September. Hildegard was a remarkable woman who lived 900 years ago and wrote most intriguing books on religion and healing, despite opposition from the Church - which went as far as the Pope, and despite the fact that she had never been educated - not to mention that she was also a woman!.

The ruins of Castle Ehrenfels include an outpost (the "Mouse Tower" or Mäuseturm) in the middle of the river which was used to collect tolls.

The Niederwald Denkmal, or Germania Monument, has fabulous views of the surrounding countryside and the Rhine and can be reached via cable car and chairlift.

VIENNA
Hotel Fürstenhof is directly opposite the Westbahnhof (railway station) and is right downtown, convenient for shopping. A full buffet breakfast is supplied daily until 10 a.m. The Vienna Card allows 72 hours of unrestricted travel throughout Vienna and is provided to every participant. A full day of sightseeing in this elegant capital can include the Schönbrunn Palace (one of the most colourful of European palaces), the Opera House, the Hofburg and Belvedere Palaces, St. Steven's Cathedral, the Prater (famous amusement park with extensive gardens) a miscellany of monuments to musicians, composers and inventors and many other wonderful historic buildings. In the evening a visit to one of Vienna’s famous coffee-houses. The New Year's concert in Vienna is sold out more than a year in advance.

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