Day 01 DEPART USA FOR YOUR OVERNIGHT FLIGHT TO FRANKFURT.
Day 02 ARRIVE FRANKFURT AIRPORT - TRANSFER TO YOUR HOTEL.
A warm welcome awaits you upon arrival airport this morning by your Tour Director, followed by an orientation tour of Frankfurt. You will be visiting the "Roemer", a diverse block of reconstructed burgher houses dating back to the Middle Ages, Frankfurt’s landmark and cathedral with an outstanding Gothic tower of the 15th C and its Dow-Treasure that contains sumptuous ornaments, some even of the 14th C worn by the ecclesiastical Electors at their coronations. Later, transfer to your hotel for the next two nights in Frankfurt, enjoy a welcome reception and a dinner this evening. (D / OV)
Day 03 FRANKFURT - EXCURSION TO MAINZ, A RHINE RIVER CRUISE AND TO THE MOSELLE RIVER VALLEY.
Your day starts with a comfortable drive to nearby Mainz to visit first its Gutenberg Museum with a collection of rare and antique Bibles and see Gutenberg’s hand press of the 15th C. - You will stop at the city’s Cathedral to admire some impressive archiepiscopal funerary monuments, a gold reliquary of the saints of Mainz and a cloister with fine statues adorning the doorway. - A short drive from here takes you to the charming town of Ruedesheim, where the Rheingau vineyards cease and the Bingen Gap opens to the entrance of the Rhine Gorge. You will enjoy its picturesque Drosselgasse lined with ornate wine bars to invite visitors for a tasting. - From here you are boarding for a leisurely Rhine river cruise downstream passed lovely villages, terraced vineyards and atop medieval castles. You will be listening to the story of Lorelei Rock, where mermaids are said to have lured sailors to their death. - At St. Goarshausen you step ashore to enjoy its old town center before our motor coach takes us into the beautiful Moselle Valley to Cochem amid numerous vineyards, dominated by a fortress surrounded by turrets and pinnacles. Right here, we will have a wine tasting before our journey continues way back winding its route through quaint and unspoiled valleys and along historic castles crowning hills. - We stop at Koblenz again to view its commanding Citadel Ehrenbreitstein, one of the strongest of its kind in Europe. Later, return to Frankfurt in time for freshen up and for dinner. (B & D / OV)
Day 04 FRANKFURT - WUERZBURG - ROTHENBURG - HEIDELBERG
Another day of a "Romantic Germany" is waiting this morning as we leave Frankfurt with our first stop in Wuerzburg to visit the Residenz with a grand staircase and an imperial hall, a splendid room with an outstanding decoration and its Hofkirche, an architectural fantasy with paintings by Tieplo, "The Assumption" and "The Fall of the Angels". Time left to enjoy its elegant gardens before our drive takes us further south, travelling on the Romantic Road to see Rothenburg, picturesque situated on the Tauber river, surrounded by ramparts and watch towers still preserved in their original style of the 17th C. A walking tour will show you the beautiful Town Hall at the old market square, the Baumeisterhaus of Renaissance which represents with a number of statues the seven cardinal virtues and seven deadly sins. At St. James Church you will enjoy seeing its early 16th C altar, a masterwork by T. Riemenschneider, also known as the Altarpiece of the Holy Blood that forms the main group of the Last Supper. - Ample time is yours before we continue with our today’s journey arriving later this afternoon at Heidelberg on the Neckar river. A sightseeing tour will show you the old university with its beginnings in the 14th C, a Knight Mansion from 1592 and up the castle hill you will be visiting its museum to admire the Great Wine Vat that holds a capacity of about 50.000 gallons. - From its castle terrace enjoy an unforgettable view down to the roofs of this old city and river and then check-in at your booked hotel for dinner and overnight. (B & D / OV)
Day 05 HEIDELBERG - BADEN BADEN - KAISERSTUHL -FREIBURG - BLACK FOREST
We leave Heidelberg, Germany’s so called "Heart of Romanticism", this morning heading south with our first stop at Baden Baden, one of Europe’s most luxurious spa resorts. - On an easy walking tour you will love the beautiful Kur-Garten and its world-famous Casino. - Following some leisure time to be on your own the journey continues still further south passing the fabled Black Forest and arrive district of Kaiserstuhl, a small isolated volcanic hill, known for its good wines such as Sylvaner, Rulaender and Riesling. You will try a glass of local wine here before we leave and stop again at Breisach and its rock, crowned by a large church towering above the Rhine river facing the fortified town of Neuf-Brisach in France. You will see the church’s most important work of art, a carved altarpiece of the 16th C. A complicated decoration of leaves, flowing hair and draperies blowing in tempestuous winds and an avalanche of cherubim emerge uneasily the figures of the Eternal Father and Christ crowning the Virgin. - A short drive from here takes you to Freiburg to stop at the city’s Minster, one of Germany’s greatest Gothic Cathedrals of the 13th C. Enjoy its pierced octagonal belfry, the Nave, adorned with graceful galleries, its Chancel with a skilful design of the vaulting and the Altarpiece showing for example the Coronation of the Virgin. Then and finally, the rest of our today’s drive takes us right into the Black Forest’s scenic Glottertal Valley for our dinner this evening and overnight. (B & D / OV)
Day 06 BLACK FOREST - RHINE RIVER FALLS - ZURICH - LUCERNE
Your morning drive leads first to Schaffhausen in Switzerland to view its mighty Rhine River Falls which poet Goethe has described as the "Source of the Ocean". - Afterwards, a short side trip from here takes you to the charming village of Stein, a most picturesque little medieval town with intact old burger houses of the 15th and 16th C, many facades displaying colorful paintings. - Some later, we arrive at Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city to visit here its impressive Cathedral Grossmuenster, flanked by a pair of three-storeyed towers surmounted by wooden doms, one of it crowned by a colossal statue of Charlemagne. - Time left to stroll on fancy shopping street Bahnhofstrasse and walk to its south end to find an inviting resting place with views over the lake Zurich. - Then its time to continue to Lucerne and to your hotel for dinner and for the upcoming two nights. (B & D / OV)
Day 07 LUCERNE - EXCURSION TO INTERLAKEN, GRUYERES - MONTREUX - BERN
A breathtaking excursion starts this morning with a drive to Interlaken, to enjoy from here an incredible scenery of its lake and Switzerland’s highest mountain Jungfrau rising up to 11.400 ft. Remarkable and of interest to be seen is the Church Unterseen with a rustic tower crowned by a steeply pitched roof and with its position right between the mountain Moench and Jungfrau in the background makes a genuine picturesque site. - Back to the road our motor coach takes us up the Jaun Pass with an altitude of about 4.500 ft and with a stop to enjoy its beautiful Alpine scenery. - Soon after, we arrive at fortified and medieval town of Gruyeres to view its 15th C castle of the former local Counts and visit here a model Swiss Dairy not only for a cheese tasting. You will have a closer look at its ripening area and see cheese wheels of up to about 80 lbs. - Following this demonstration of much interest we continue with our excursion to Montreux on Lake Geneva, stretching along the shore of a bay covered with woods and vineyards on hilly sides. Time is yours in one of the most frequented resorts on Lake Geneva to view also the Chillon Castle made famous by Lord Byron’s "The Prisoner of Chillon". Then, our roundtrip leads back northwards to Bern, capital of Switzerland and one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities. You will visit here its Cathedral of St Vincent, constructed between the 15th and 16th C, worth seeing its Last Judgement with a number of over 200 figures. Take a deep breath and climb up about 270 steps if you wish which lead you to a platform of the tower to enjoy from the top a panorama of the town and its roofs, turrets, belfries, bridges over the Aare river and in the further background the majestically spreading chain of the Bernese Alps. - Toward evening return to your hotel in Lucerne for dinner and another overnight. (B & D / O)
Day 08 LUCERNE - VADUZ - ST. GALLEN - INNSBRUCK
Beautiful scenery unfolds this morning as you travel some further south climbing up the Klausen Pass reaching an altitude of about 6.400 ft. to enjoy from its summit a spectacular view of snowy crests and rocky points. - Later, our routs leads along the Rhine river valley to small town of Werdenberg, dominated by a castle and surrounded by a picturesque lake. You will see a quaint alley here lined with well-preserved burgher houses, some dating back to the 15th C, still in its original architecture. - Following this stop and within a few minutes we enter the Pricipality of Liechtenstein for an orientation drive and soon arrive its capital Vaduz, situated at the foot of the imposing medieval castle. - Time is on your own now perhaps to rest at one of various inviting outside door cafes or just explore this small sovereign state and don’t miss to buy some of Liechtenstein’s colorful and famous stamps. - On a little side trip you have to see St. Gallen back in Switzerland and its beautiful monastery as well as its world-famous Library with an exhibition of outstanding art and manuscripts starting from the 8th to the 16th C. - Further east then we cross border into Austria, travelling through the Arlberg Mountain Pass Tunnel by way of Austria’s ski resort St. Anton with stops en route and arrive Innsbruck and our hotel in time for freshen up, dinner and for staying two nights in the capital of Tyrol. (B & D / OV)
Day 09 INNSBRUCK - EXCURSION TO GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN AND TO OBERAMMERGAU
Before we leave for our excursion this morning, a city tour of Innsbruck will show you all sights of interest, starting with its lovely arcades and arches of this 800-year-old university town, the City Tower and its landmark Golden Dachl, an ancient mansion noted for its gilded copper roof. You will of course visit the 16th C Court Church to admire 28 huge bronze statues of Emperor Maximilian I, his ancestors and other famous rulers like King Arthur of England. - From Maria-Theresien-Strasse you will have an impressive view of the Austrian Alps, passing now mountain massifs of Wetterstein and Karwendel and crossing border into Germany’s Bavaria to stop at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You will enjoy too this well-known summer & winter sports and health resort amid a breathtaking mountain scenery. See its Parish Church of the 15th C with remains of wall paintings and stop near Eibsee Station for a magnificent view of Germany’s highest mountain Zugspitze. - Then, your drive continues to Oberammergau, home of the world-famous Passion Play to see here its theatre which holds up to 5.000 visitors. The next spectacular performances are presented by the natives of this little mountain village from May to October in 2010, fulfilling a vow made in 1634. - Ample time is yours now to browse around, see its beautiful painted burgher houses or check with one of the inviting woodcarving shops. - Way back to Innsbruck we stop at Seefeld in Tyrol, a most elegant ski resort due to Olympic Games and known for its much visited Parish Church of the 15th C, built by the Princess of Tyrol to perpetuate the worship of a miraculous host that had been an object of pilgrimage since 1384. (B & D / OV)
Day 10 INNSBRUCK - SANKT JOHANN - BAD REICHENHALL - SALZBURG
Our tour today continues with a stop in Rattenberg, known for its engraved and finely modelled crystal and glassware, for a workshop demonstration. - At Woergl we take the route to Sankt Johann in Tyrol, a domain of mountaineers and of the peaceful heights of its Kitzbuehl Alps. Enjoy here the lively market square and its clean Tyrolean houses with beautiful outside paintings. - Following this stop we travel up some mountain passes, down again through tunnels and soon arriving back at the border for Germany’s Bavaria and with another stop at Bad Reichenhall. This spa is famous for its salt that has developed a salt industry ever since Celtic times. On its main street much of interest is the 12th C. Church of Zeno, remodelled during the later centuries and dedicated to the same saint in Verona with a Lombardian influence in design and decoration. From here after a short drive arrive Salzburg in Austria, truly one of Europe’s most loved cities, for staying the next two nights. (B & D / OV)
Day 11 SALZBURG - EXCURSION TO BERCHTESGADEN AND TO THE "SOUND OF MUSIC COUNTRY"
Following breakfast your morning sightseeing tour of Salzburg starts with an orientation drive and to Mirabell Castle with its beautiful Gardens. - Then its on to the impressive Hellbrunn Castle to enjoy its fabulous fountains and the 35 bells "Glockenspiel". You will enjoy also a closer view at the city’s landmark Fortress Hohensalzburg of the 11th C. Experience the charming shopping street Getreidegasse on an easy walk, Mozart’s birthplace and museum, the Domplatz and its Cathedral, a huge construction of the 17th C in which Baroque style shows through the last features of the Italian Renaissance. The interior will impress you by its size and richness of stucco, marble and paintings. Here at the Romanesque font Mozart was baptized in 1756. - Free time at leisure before our route takes us back into Bavaria with a stop in Berchtesgaden to view first its Schlossplatz, a picturesque square with typical Bavarian buildings and an arcaded gallery from the 16th C. The nearby Stiftskirche of Romanesque architecture shows a network vaulting in the nave and a chancel of the 14th C. - A side trip from here will lead you up to Obersalzberg and to its history, where Hitler took residence at the chalet Berghof after he seized power in 1933. Later, in April 1945 the greater parts of the buildings were destroyed by an air attack of the 101st US Airborn Division. Today, only a few basement walls mark the site of Hitler’s Berghof. - From dark history we are getting back to the beauty of Austria’s district Salzkammergut to visit its Abbey Church of Mondsee, used for the wedding scene in the wonderful film "The Sound Of Music" ... Take some photos of this lovely place and return to Salzburg for dinner and one more night. (B & D / OV)
Day 12 SALZBURG - ALTOETTING - DACHAU - MUNICH
This morning we leave beautiful Salzburg and soon re-enter Bavaria with a first stop in Altoetting, the oldest and best known goal of pilgrimage in Bavaria. Veneration of the Virgin has been practiced since the early Middle Ages and brings about 300.000 pilgrims each year to this town. You will be visiting here its Holy Chapel surrounded by arcaded galleries with thousands of painted ex-vows and petitions covering the walls and ceilings, some dating back to 1517. - Another visit will be made at the pariah Church of late Gothic style and its treasury with exhibits of a Flemish Crucifix of 1580 and another masterpiece of a small but pure gold horse of French goldsmith’s work of 1392. Of further interest is the crypt, where Count of Tilly lies buried, a general on the side of the Catholic League during the Thirty Years War. - Coming back to Germany’s dark history, the name Dachau has evoked only horror since 1933 and throughout World War II. The museum gives an idea of this former Nazi concentration camp system. A Catholic expiatory chapel has been built on the ground in the form of an open tower, named "Todesangst-Christkapelle" = "Christ in Agony". - Within a few miles from here, finally arriving our today’s destination Munich, Germany’s cultural center and capital of Bavaria. - Before we check-in for the upcoming two nights, the city tour will show you all highlights such as the old Marienplatz with its landmark and imposing Church Of Our Lady, the remarkable City Hall with a mechanical carillon, the "infamous" Hofbraeuhaus, the former and impressive Olympic Ground and Nymphenburg Palace to visit King Ludwig’s outstanding Horse Carriage Museum. (B & D / OV)
Day 13 MUNICH - EXCURSION TO VISIT CASTLE NEUSCHWANSTEIN AND THE CHURCH IN THE MEADOWS
Another great excursion is waiting this morning as we travel south, back to the Bavarian Alps and to its charming town of Hohenschwangau to visit Castle Neuschwanstein, one of three castles built for King Ludwig II. This white and dream-like fortress was erected 1869 by sketches of a theatrical decorator which explains its fairy-tale atmosphere. You will tour some of the inside rooms, showing heavy tapestries in Romanesque and Byzantine style and will enjoy the Singera Hall displaying fine candelabra and chandeliers. Admire King Ludwig’s outstanding bed room with artistic woodcarvings and you will experience an artificial grotto of stalactite which recalls opera themes of his composer friend Richard Wagner. - Later, and outside enjoy from the Marienbruecke that spans a deep gorge, an unforgettable view of the Upper Bavarian mountains and its lakes. - The picturesque landscape continues as we stop and arrive at small town Wies to visit here its so called "Church in the Meadows". You will be more than impressed by its interior of marvelous woodcarvings, gilded works, frescoes and stuccoes and most colorful paintings of the 18th C, symbolizing Earth and Heaven with the "Return of Christ", the "Gate of Paradise" and the "Last Judgement". Do now as you please before we later this afternoon return to Munich. - Dinner tonight is a special occasion as you are invited for a typical Bavarian meal, including beer or wine with local music and folklore entertainment, followed by a surprise-drawing with everyone winning a valuable gift. We wish this last evening to be the most enjoyable one of your great 4-country Christian group travel tour. (B & D / OV)
Day 14 MUNICH - LAST DAY OF TOUR
After a hearty last breakfast in Bavaria this morning, your motor coach transfer is waiting to take you to Munich’s Airport for your flight home. Your Tour Director bids "Auf Wiedersehen" to all of you, wishing a happy return! (B)