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Belgium and the Rhine Valley: Tradition and Innovation in Art & Garden Design 2021

Status: open

2 Jun – 22 Jun 2021

Overview

Belgium and the Rhine Valley: Tradition and Innovation in Art & Garden Design 2021
Tour Highlights

See the work of modern European giants of landscape design including Jacques Wirtz, Chris Ghyselen, Cassian Schmidt and Daniël Ost, as well as a new generation of rising stars.

Led by Sandra McMahon and Diane Perelsztejn, this tour is a feast of splendid classic and contemporary private gardens, great museums and natural landscapes of Belgium, Southern Netherlands and the Rhine Valley.

  • View the work of leading Flemish designers and horticulturalists including Daniël OstErik Dhont, and Piet Blanckaert.
  • By special invitation explore the private gardens of Jacques Wirtz featured in Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens.
  • Visit The Potager, private garden of Sybille de Spoelberch partly designed by Jacques Wirtz, adjacent to Arboretum Wespelaar.
  • Visit the private Domain Hemelrijk, the former home of Robert and Jelena de Belder who designed their private garden with their close friend, Russell Page.
  • Meet landscape architect Chris Ghyselen, known for his use of fine grasses and perennials, who will show us his own private garden.
  • Explore classic Dutch country gardens, and designs by Mien Ruys at the 14th-century Kasteel van Oostkerke which features flower-filled gardens, moats and polder meadows.
  • Learn about the New German Style: at Hermannshof where Cassian Schmidt has developed one of the finest and most exciting modern gardens in Europe; and at HORTVS the garden of Peter Janke, a rising star in German landscape design.
  • View the abundant rose collections in the traditional ‘kasteel’ gardens of Hex.
  • View the great Gothic churches, town halls and merchant palaces of Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp.
  • In Antwerp, Brussels and Bruges visit world-class collections of paintings, sculptures and drawings; we view works by Peter Paul Rubens, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Frans Hals, Peter Bruegel, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Anthony van Dyck and René Magritte.
  • Explore the Art Deco home of David and Alice van Buuren; the private house and studio of Art Nouveau Architect, Victor Horta; and the house and studio of Rubens with a garden inspired by his painting The Walk in the Garden.
  • Spend two nights in the charming medieval town of Durbuy; walk through the Forest of the Ardennes, and view ancient dolmens and menhirs in the neighbouring village of Wéris.
  • Take a cruise from Boppard to Rüdesheim am Rhein; this UNESCO World Heritage listed stretch of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley is dotted with castles, historic towns and vineyards.
  • Enjoy fine food, dining at the 2-star Michelin restaurant Le Chalet de la Forêt, in Brussels, after taking the aperitif in its vegetable garden where Erik Dhont combines landscaping with art and the use of abstract forms.

21-day Cultural Garden Tour of Belgium and the Rhine Valley

Overnight Antwerp (5 nights) • Bruges (3 nights) • Ghent (2 nights) • Brussels (3 nights) • Durbuy (2 nights) • Maastricht (1 night) • Boppard (2 nights) • Rüdesheim am Rhein (2 nights)

Itinerary

Itinerary

The following itinerary describes a range of gardens which we plan to visit. Several are accessible to the public, but many require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & dinners indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Antwerp - 5 nights

Day 1: Wednesday 2 June, Brussels – Antwerp
  • Arrival Transfer for participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
  • Welcome Meeting
  • Short Orientation Tour

Our tour commences in Antwerp. Participants taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight are scheduled to arrive into Brussels in the mid-afternoon. Upon arrival we transfer by private coach to the Hilton Antwerp Old Town hotel in Antwerp. If you are travelling independently, please make your own way to the hotel or contact ASA for assistance with a private transfer.

After checking into our hotel, there will be a Welcome Meeting with drinks. Time permitting, we will take a short orientation walk around the hotel precinct. (Overnight Antwerp) 

Day 2: Thursday 3 June, Antwerp – Berlaar-Gestel – Lier – Haacht – Antwerp
  • ‘Morishof’: private garden of Marc Moris, Berlaar-Gestel
  • ‘t-Kranske’: City garden renovated by Marc Moris, Lier
  • Arboretum Wespelaar, Haacht
  • The Potager, private garden of Sybille de Spoelberch, Haacht
  • Welcome Dinner at the Sir Anthony Van Dijck Restaurant

Flanders was once the leading horticultural nation of Europe. Sixteenth century Antwerp was a centre of botany. In the 18th and 19th centuries dozens of fruit varieties were created and the rarest plants grown and improved. In recent years a remarkable revival of gardening has created beautiful new gardens.

Today we encounter two of Belgium’s leading landscape designers, Marc Moris and Jacques Wirtz. Marc designs simple, mature, ‘timeless’ gardens. His nursery cultivates naturally developing trees and large shrubs which are up to 100 years old for his ‘timeless’ gardens. This morning we visit ‘Morishof’, Marc’s private 3ha garden which includes a vegetable garden, a meadow, natural swimming pool and a flower garden.

We next visit ‘t-Kranske, a monastic complex restored by Marc Moris. As part of his renovation, Marc cleared its courtyard to develop a 6000m2 city garden. The original convent’s the main chapel were also restored. We shall tour the gardens and visit the flower shop of resident artist Raf Verwimp.

This afternoon we visit the Arboretum Wespelaar, in Haacht. Philippe de Spoelberch’s house is surrounded by 9 hectares of botanic gardens. An extension to the garden has become the Arboretum Wespelaar, with 2,000 different species and cultivated varieties in the the 20-hectare grounds. The main focus is on trees and shrubs, with many varieties of oaks, maples, magnolias and rhododendrons.

Adjacent to the Arboretum is The Potager, previous kitchen garden of Château de Wespelaar. By special invitation, we visit this 10 hectares private garden of Sybille de Spoelberch. In 1983, the old kitchen garden was partly re-designed by the famous Belgian landscape architect Jacques Wirtz. Hedges of CarpinusTaxus and Buxus provide structure. Lemon trees in pots decorate both sides of a path and walls are covered with Ceanothus, roses and other climbing plants. An Italianate water garden was followed by a Japanese garden and latera very contemporary garden of blue stone rocks. The garden has many perennials, a collection of old roses and choice shrubs, with antique garden ornaments and baroque decorations. A new woodland garden, under the canopy of oak trees holds a collection of remarkable trees and shrubs.

Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at the Sir Anthony Van Dijck Restaurant located in the medieval quarter of Antwerp. (Overnight Antwerp) BD

Day 3: Friday 4 June, Antwerp – Schoten – Essen – Antwerp
  • Private garden of Jacques Wirtz, Schoten – featured in Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens (to be confirmed)
  • Private garden designed by Jacques Wirtz (to be confirmed)
  • Domain De Hemelrijk, Essen
  • Museum aan de Stroom (exterior only) and Antwerp’s historic port

This morning we visit the private garden of the late Jacques Wirtz, the world-renowned Belgian landscape architect who, in his innovative gardens, enhanced his sculptural treatment of boxwood and yew hedges by drawing on his deep knowledge of plants and flowers. Wirtz has been likened to André Le Nôtre, the great French landscape architect who designed the gardens of Versailles. Jacques’ son, Martin, who is now CEO of Wirtz International, has kindly agreed to show us the family’s private garden. Nearby we visit another private garden designed by his father.

We next visit Essen, located just south of the Netherlands border. After lunch at Restaurant Kiekenhoeve we visit the private arboretum and gardens of the De Belder family’s De Hemelrijk. These private gardens were designed by Jelena and Robert De Belder and the internationally renowned garden designer Russell Page. The result has been described as ‘a natural looking, idealistic, Arcadian landscape’.

During our return drive to Antwerp we view the impressive exterior of Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) an extraordinary ultramodern tower, composed of great blocks separated by undulating glass walls, was designed by the acclaimed Rotterdam firm Neutelings-Riedijk Architecten. Across from the MAS is Antwerp’s new Port House designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and the Red Star Line Museum designed by New York architects Beyer Blinder Belle. A short visit to the rooftop of the MAS provides panoramic views of the city and its historic port. (Overnight Antwerp) BL

Day 4: Saturday 5 June, Antwerp
  • Rubens’ House
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady)
  • The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) (subject to reopening in 2021)

This morning we visit the house and studio that the great 17th-century artist, Peter Paul Rubens.  Having garnered great wealth, Rubens was able to build this palatial house and his adjacent studio. He displayed his impressive art collection in a beautiful art room. We visit the house, the workshop and Rubens’ charming garden inspired by his painting The Walk in the Garden (c. 1631).

We also visit the Cathedral of Our Lady. Four of Rubens’ most important paintings, including the Raising of the Cross and his Descent from the Cross, embellish this vast seven-nave UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral.

In the afternoon we visit KMSKA, whose collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings includes work by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Frans Hals, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, and Anthony van Dyck.  (Overnight Antwerp) B

Day 5: Sunday 6 June, Antwerp – Hoeven – Schijf – Vrasene – Antwerp
  • Tielens and Tielens, Hoeven
  • De Jorissenhoeve, Schijf
  • De Wiedenhof, Vrasene

This morning we visit two private Dutch gardens. We first visit the garden of Albert Tielens in Hoeven with its sumptuous plantings. A 50-metre long swimming pond is lined with mixed borders. Avenues of pear, lime and maple trees divide peaceful lawns, and to the garden’s rear is a vliedberg – an artificial hill surrounded by a canal. Such man-made hills were climbed to escape rising flood waters.

We next visit De Jorissenhoeve, an historic 19th century farmhouse owned by garden designer Ineke Lambregts. His garden ‘flows’ between verdant ‘rooms’: a stunning flower court with scented roses, a herb garden, a heritage vegetable garden, water features, a woodland garden, and a pasture where Lakenvelder cows graze.

We return to East Flanders to visit De Wiedenhof, the private garden of Leo and Suzanne Laureyns-Wynter. This brilliantly innovative long, relatively narrow garden has a most unconventional layout. The length of the garden is emphasized by two 90m-long grass strips with superbly maintained pleached hornbeam hedges forming a powerful framework for sumptuous seasonal plantings of roses, iris and many other perennials. (Overnight Antwerp) BL

Bruges - 3 nights

Day 6: Monday 7 June, Antwerp – Oosteekloo – Damme – Sijsele – Bruges
  • Bijsterveld, Oosteekloo
  • Medieval village of Damme
  • Kasteel van Oostkerke, Damme
  • Private garden of Katrien Vandierendonck, Sijsele

Today we visit three very different private gardens. Bijsterveld is an old walled farm that belonged to a 14th-century Cistercian Abbey. Its wall, lined with majestic pollarded willows, encloses a romantic garden originally created by artist Nina Balthau. A series of hedged enclosures leads to arches which groan under roses, and to meadows that erupt in sheets of wildflowers. Lovely old canals surround the farm. Its present owner, Birgit Rouseré, has continued to develop it assisted by landscape architect Steven De Bruycker.

Before visiting Oostkerke Castle, there will be time at leisure for lunch and to explore the picturesque medieval village of Damme, its magnificent Gothic Town Hall, impressive Church of Our Lady, and canals lined with poplars. Allison Campbell-Roebling and her husband Baron Joseph Van Der Elst restored ruined Oostkerke Castle, aided by the great Dutch landscape architect Mien Ruys. Mien Ruys had a special feeling for the use of axes and perspectives. The result is an idyllic combination of intimate spaces and grandiose avenues. Separate gardens, including a private courtyard, a Maria garden and a rose garden, combine harmoniously. Footpaths run along the foundations of the old ramparts, and the ancient moats have been excavated and planted.

Our final visit today is to the private garden of Katrien Vandierendonck, an internationally celebrated floral designer. We visit Karein in her own idyllic garden, with numerous garden ‘rooms’, a huge Wisteria arch, and a pond and flower borders. At the end of the visit we will be treated to afternoon tea with delicious home-baked waffles.

We continue to UNESCO World Heritage listed Bruges,  one of a few canal-based northern cities.  (Overnight Bruges) B

Day 7: Tuesday 8 June, Bruges
  • Private gardens designed by landscape architect Piet Blanckaert
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of our Lady)
  • Saint John’s Hospital & the Hans Memling Museum
  • Canal Cruise of Bruges

In the morning we visit private gardens designed by internationally acclaimed landscape architect Piet Blanckaert. His recent projects include the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden, London.

This afternoon we take a walking tour of Bruges. We first visit the Church of Our Lady, a treasure house of art such as the gilt-bronze tombs of Charles the Bold, last Valois Duke of Burgundy, and his daughter, Mary. The most celebrated treasure of the church is, however, Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna (1504).

We next visit the St John’s Hospital Complex, which includes the small Hans Memling Museum. Hans Memling (1430-1494), who was born in Germany and worked in Bruges from 1465. His late masterpiece, The Shrine of St Ursula, is a carved and gilded wooden reliquary containing panel inserts painted by the master.

Until around 1600, Bruges was an important Hanseatic League port city. Canals were dug to facilitate the passage of exports to the harbour at Damme. We conclude the afternoon with a short canal cruise. This evening we dine together at a local restaurant. (Overnight Bruges) BD

Day 8: Wednesday 9 June, Bruges  – Zedelgem – Oedelem – Beernem – Bruges
  • Private garden designed by André and Wim Van Wassenhove, Zedelgem
  • Private garden of landscape designer, Chris Ghyselen, Oedelem
  • ‘Boereweg’ in Beernem: Chris Ghyselen’s first garden design
  • A cottage garden ‘Kroempelhoef’ designed by Chris Ghyselen

This morning we visit a private garden designed by well-known landscape architect the late André Van Wassenhove, accompanied by his son Wim Van Wassenhove and garden designer Chris Ghyselen. In the rural municipality of Beernem Chris will show us his own private garden. Chris’s garden features playful hedges, water features, and a double border of high and small perennials. There is also a swimming pond and a flower meadow.

In the afternoon we visit two other gardens by Chris Ghyselen: a new cottage garden, and ‘Boereweg’, Chris’s first design project.  Chris developed an original farmyard and garden using low hedges to preserve the open character of the farm garden. The house has two terraces: one with a pond, the other with a view of a perennial ‘room’. Other garden ‘rooms’ contain an orchard, a nut garden with vegetables and cut flowers, and a meadow with pollarded willows. (Overnight Bruges) BL

Ghent - 2 nights

Day 9: Thursday 10 June, Bruges – Deinze – Ghent

Today we travel to Ghent via Ooidonk Castle which stands on a bend of the River Leie. We make a private visit to this medieval fortress, rebuilt in 1595. One of Belgium’s finest castles, it is a unique example of Hispano-Flemish Renaissance architecture. Its salons are filled with original paintings, engravings and antiques.

The castle is surrounded by gardens landscaped in the French style. Roses adorn its garden beds, supplemented by orange trees. Red beech and age-old oaks are planted together in groups of five. A bridge leads to a formal English park, laid out around a 19th-century pavilion.

This afternoon we view the huge 24-panel altarpiece, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in Ghent’s Cathedral of St Bavo. Begun by Hubert van Eyck (c.1390-1426) and completed after his death by Jan van Eyck in 1432, it is the greatest painting of the Northern Renaissance. St Bavo’s other treasures include Rubens’s Conversion of St Bavo (1623). (Overnight Ghent) B

Day 10: Friday 11 June, Ghent – Temse – Ghent

Daniël Ost is arguably the world’s leading floral artist. His design team is highly sought after for projects, from roof terraces in Tokyo to public and private gardens all over Europe. Daniël will accompany us (or if unavailable his General Manager) for a full day in Ghent, as we visit four of his gardens, including the garden of interior designer Marc Massa and Roger Liekens. This garden is noted for its beautiful wild shadow garden and a stylised south garden. (Overnight Ghent) B

Brussels - 3 nights

Day 11: Saturday 12 June, Ghent – Lasnes – Brussels
  • Private garden designed by Erik Dhont, Lasnes (to be confirmed)
  • Parc Reine Verte by Erik Dhont, Schaarbeek
  • Brussels: Orientation Walk

Erik Dhont is an internationally renowned landscape architect known for his historic garden design. His prolific work includes private and public gardens, urban developments, farms and restoration work. He has created a number of spectacular private gardens throughout Belgium and Europe. His numerous large-scale projects including the gardens designed for the Musée Picasso in Paris (2014) and the 55-acre park for fashion designer Dries Van Noten.

Erik Dhont accompanies us today and invites us to discover his designs in a very large private property south of Brussels. Among its many features are a rose promenade, camellia promenade, Japanese garden, vegetable garden and aster garden.

After lunch we head for Brussels, where Dhont shows us one of his social and urban development projects. The 1.3-acre Parc Reine Verte was once a derelict site in a low-income neighbourhood. Dhont designed the site with architect Philippe Serck. It includes an orangerie and terraced retaining walls, newly planted trees that provide a translucent view through the park and a dense and colourful understorey of shrubs such as hazelnuts, lilacs, and rhododendrons.

We spend three nights based in a charming boutique hotel in the historic centre of Brussels. On arrival there will be an optional short orientation walk to Brussels’ Grand Place. (Overnight Brussels) B

Day 12: Sunday 13 June, Brussels
  • Musée Victor Horta
  • The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium: Musée Magritte
  • Time at leisure

Brussels was the cradle of Art Nouveau. Victor Horta, the Belgian who developed the style inspired architects like Hector Guimard, France’s most important exponent of Art Nouveau, who applied Horta’s whiplash design in his work for the Paris Métro.

Today, we first visit the Musée Victor Horta, located in Horta’s private house and studio (1898 – 1901). Both have utterly exquisite, finely detailed interior decoration that has largely been retained, with the mosaics, stained glass, and wall decorations forming a harmonious and elegant whole.

We next explore the museum dedicated to Brussels’ most famous modern artist, the Surrealist painter René Magritte. The Musée René Magritte, displaying some 200 original paintings, drawing and sculptures, is the world’s largest collection of his work.

The remainder of the day is at leisure. You may wish to continue exploring the wonderful world of Brussels’ Royal art collections. Artists represented include Northern Renaissance artists Rogier van der Weyden,  Hans Memling, Hieronymus Bosch, Lucas Cranach, and Pieter Brueghel the Elder, whose Fall of the Rebel Angels and The Census at Bethlehem are collection highlights. Later artists include Rubens, Anthony van Dyck,  Rembrandt, Claude and Tiepolo. (Overnight Brussels) B

Day 13: Monday 14 June, Brussels

We begin this morning with a visit to the Arboretum Kreftenbroek.  Etienne and Rose-Marie Van Campenhout transformed an old farm and adjacent land into a magnificent series of gardens. The ‘natural garden’ focuses on a small pond. The classical garden behind the house features a canopied alley of apple trees linking two large Louis XVI urns. Intimate green ‘rooms’, an alternating serpentine pond and an elegant staircase then lead to the ‘Valley Garden’ designed by Jacques Wirtz.

We eat lunch at the 2-star Michelin restaurant, Chalet de la Forêt, located at the edge of the Sonian Forest of European beeches and oaks. With Erik Dhont, we take the aperitif in the structured vegetable garden that he designed for chef Pascal Devalkeneer. It features local varieties such as plum trees, mirabelle plum trees and apple trees.

We end with a visit to the extraordinary house of the banker and art patron David van Buuren. Its interior decoration presents a feast of Art Deco by Belgian, French and Dutch designers. Van Buuren and his wife Alice Piette collected rare furniture, carpets, stained-glass windows, sculptures and masterpieces of painting from the 15th to the 19th century. The collection includes two Brueghels and works by Fantin-Latour, Ensor, van Gogh, Signac and Max Ernst.  Its gardens were initially designed by Jules Buyssens, proponent of the Belgian Picturesque Garden movement. His geometrical ‘Picturesque Garden’ reflected the Art Deco style of the house. It includes a wild garden, water and bog gardens, a rock garden, a walled garden, a fernery and herbaceous border.  In 1969 the Brussels designer, René Pechère, added the ‘Garden of the Heart’ and the ‘Labyrinth’. (Overnight Brussels) BL

Durbuy - 2 nights

Day 14: Tuesday 15 June, Brussels – Wépion – Dinant – Durbuy

We spend the day in the Meuse Valley visiting a private garden, the garden of a beautiful château and the lovely provincial town of Diant.

Outside Wépion we visit Le Sous-Bois, a private garden designed by owners Philippe Taminiaux and Karine Fonsny. It includes an English garden and over 100 varieties of climbing roses and affords sweeping views of the Meuse Valley. Its biodiversity includes expanses of shade-loving plantings and long, lushly planted mixed borders that lead the visitor deep into the garden. These borders mingle perennials with shrub roses and a huge variety of other colourful shrubs.

Our second visit is to the Jardins d’Annevoie in the Haute-Meuse, a region of forests and rivers. Annevoie’s gardens combine the splendour and majesty of the French formal style with English romantic whimsy and Italian refinement. These 250-year-old water gardens comprise cascades and fountains, majestic hundred-year old trees, trimmed hornbeam lanes and false grottoes.

From Annevoie we journey to the pretty, historic riverside town of Dinant, home of Adolphe Sax (inventor of the saxophone) and Joachim Patinir (the ‘inventor’ of landscape painting in Western Europe). There is time at leisure to explore the village, to visit the Collegiate Church of Our Lady or the Citadel, to walk across the Charles de Gaulle Bridge with its giant saxophone sculptures, or to visit the Adolphe Sax House Museum.

From Dinant we travel east into the province of Luxembourg, the southernmost province of Wallonia. About 80% of this sparsely populated province is covered by the densely wooded Forest of Ardennes. (Overnight Durbuy) BLD

Day 15: Wednesday 16 June, Durbuy – Wéris – Durbuy
  • Nature walk to view the Wéris megaliths (6kms, 2.5hrs)
  • The Maison des Mégalithes, Wéris
  • Afternoon at leisure

Durbuy, on the banks of the Ourthe River, is one of Wallonia’s most charming medieval towns. It has tiny cobbled streets, timber-frame houses and a castle. It provides an excellent base from which to explore the Ardennes, a mountainous region of extensive forests, rich in fauna and flora, with steep-sided valleys, swift-flowing rivers, and picturesque villages and castles.

This morning we enjoy a guided six-kilometre walk to the village of Wéris, well known for its half-timbered houses of limestone or sandstone, and its megaliths, including dolmens (chambered tombs) and menhirs (standing stones) which date from 3000 BC. We shall visit the Maison des Mégalithes which traces the history of the region’s megalithic sites.

This afternoon is free for you to explore Durbuy at leisure. (Overnight Durbuy) B

Maastricht - 1 night

Day 16: Thursday 17 June, Durbuy – Heers – Stokrooie – Maastricht
  • Kasteel van Heks (Hex Castle), Heers
  • Dina Deferme, Stokrooie

This morning we visit Hex Castle to view its world-famous rose collection. The 18th-century castle was originally a hunting pavilion surrounded by 12 acres of formal gardens including a rose garden, a Chinese garden, and a vegetable garden. A landscape park inspired by Capability Brown was added later. The original formal Renaissance garden includes a Nut Garden and a walled vegetable garden. Its celebrated rose garden contains an exceptional assortment of about 250 varieties.

At midday we continue north to a wonderful 4-hectare romantic garden  constructed around a restored farmhouse. Here, landscape architect Dina Deferme has used plant combinations which change colour every month. The garden, which also includes a natural pond, a shadow garden and herb garden, offers magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. .

In the late afternoon we drive to Maastricht, located on the River Meuse in the Southern Netherlands. (Overnight Maastricht) BL

Boppard - 2 nights

Day 17: Friday 18 June, Maastricht – Neusse – Hilden – Boppard
  • Museum Insel Hombroich, Neusse
  • HORTVS Peter Janke Gartenkonzepte, Hilden

This morning we visit the Museum Insel Hombroich. Art and nature unite in perfect harmony at this beautifully designed private modern art museum set within a large nature park. Landscape designer Bernhard Korte created an arcadian landscape of meadows punctuated by remnant trees and overgrown box plants. The Museum’s valuable art collection includes Persian sculptures, Khmer art and Chinese figures dating back to the Han period and works of Franz Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse and Kurt Schwitters.

We next drive north of Hilden to visit HORTVS, the garden and nursery of Peter Janke, a rising star in German landscape design. Peter is that rare combination, a true plant collector with an excellent design eye. His garden, which contains over 4,000 plant varieties has a very strong sense of structure and rhythm, yet it is in no way a ‘formal’ planting.

In the late afternoon we drive to the beautiful small town of Boppard located in the UNESCO heritage-listed Middle Rhine. (Overnight Boppard) BLD

Day 18: Saturday 19 June, Boppard – Eltz – Braubach – Boppard
  • Eltz Castle
  • Medieval town of Braubach
  • Marksburg Castle, Braubach
  • Time at leisure

This morning we drive through the forest to medieval Eltz Castle, nestled in the hills above the Moselle River. Eltz Castle is still owned by the Eltz family who have lived here since the 12th century. It was never destroyed, so many of its original furnishings still remain in situ. The castle is surrounded on three sides by the Eltzbach River, sitting on a 70-metre rock spur between rich farmlands. To reach Eltz Castle, we take a short walk through the Eltz Forest. Victor Hugo wrote enthusiastically about the castle and J.W.M. Turner regularly visited and painted the castle from many different angles.

We next drive to the beautiful small city of Braubach that nestles below its grand castle. You will have lunchtime at leisure to explore its picturesque streets lined with half-timbered old houses before we drive up to Marksburg Castle on a dramatic high spur above the town. We shall take a guided tour of the castle before returning to Boppard for the night. (Overnight Boppard) BD

Rüdesheim am Rhein - 2 nights

Day 19: Sunday 20 June, Boppard – Rüdesheim am Rhein
  • Cruise along the Rhine Gorge: Boppard to Rüdesheim am Rhein

Today we cruise along the Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage region, from Boppard to Rüdesheim am Rhein. This 65-kilometre stretch of the Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen with its castles, half-timbered medieval villages and vineyard terraces, graphically illustrates the long history of human life in this dramatic and varied natural landscape. (Overnight Rüdesheim am Rhein) BL

Day 20: Monday 21 June, Rüdesheim am Rhein – Weinheim – Rüdesheim am Rhein
  • Sichtungsgarten Hermannshof, Weinheim
  • Afternoon at leisure in Rüdesheim am Rhein
  • Farewell Dinner

This morning we drive to the charming medieval hilltop town of Weinheim to visit Sichtungsgarten Hermannshof, a renowned experimental botanical and trial garden encompassing a centuries-old rolling parkland. It is considered one of the finest and most exciting modern gardens in Europe. Director Cassian Schmidt is internationally recognised for his work using natural plant communities as models for sustainable plant combinations in urban environments and private gardens. The garden contains over 2,500 different types and species of perennials and a number of notable trees.

This afternoon we return to Rüdesheim am Rhein where there will be time at leisure to explore this winemaking town with its cobbled streets lined with historic buildings. In the evening we gather for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Rüdesheim am Rhein) BD

Day 21: Tuesday 22 June, Rüdesheim am Rhein – Frankfurt Airport
  • Morning at leisure
  • Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

The tour finishes in Rüdesheim am Rhein. Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the Frankfurt Airport to take their flight home to Australia in the early afternoon. If you wish to extend your stay in Germany please contact ASA for further information. B

Accommodation

Accommodation

21-day Cultural Garden Tour of Belgium and the Rhine Valley

ASA has selected 3- and 4-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Antwerp (5 nights): 4-star Hilton Antwerp Old Town – housed in an ornate 19th-century department store, overlooking the Cathedral of Our Lady. antwerp.hilton.com
  • Bruges (3 nights): 4-star Grand Hotel Casselbergh – housed in three former 18th-century residences located in the historic centre. www.grandhotelcasselbergh.com
  • Ghent (2 nights): 3-star Novotel Ghent Centrum – a modern hotel located in the historic centre, 350m from St Bavo’s Cathedral. www.accorhotels.com
  • Brussels (3 nights): 4-star Hotel Le Dixseptième – a charming boutique hotel situated in the historic centre, 240m from the Grand Place. www.ledixseptieme.be
  • Durbuy (2 nights): 4-star Le Sanglier des Ardennes – situated in the centre of town overlooking the medieval castle. www.sanglier-des-ardennes.be
  • Maastricht (1 night): 4-star Crown Plaza Hotel – a modern hotel overlooking the Meuse River. www.cpmaastricht.com
  • Boppard (2 nights): 4-star Bellevue Rheinhotel – housed in an elegant 19th-century Art Nouveau building overlooking the Rhine River. www.bellevue-boppard.de
  • Rüdesheim am Rhein (2 nights): 4-star Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss – a family-run hotel housed in an 18th-century building. ruedesheimer-schloss.com

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published

ASA INTENTION TO TRAVEL APPLICATION FORM

Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD $100.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD $400.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of AUD $500.00 is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.

Or

  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD $100.00 per person deposit, less a $33.00 service fee (including GST).

Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20 minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication.
Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day Garden Tour of Belgium & the Rhine involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs, along cobbled streets and uneven terrain. You therefore need to be a good walker and be prepared to stand for some time in front of buildings and artworks.
  • Extensive coach travel – often on minor roads, and boat.
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.30-6.30pm).
  • 3- and 4-star hotels with seven hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares, please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3- and 4-star hotels
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour Notes
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Brussels, Frankfurt-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if applicable)
Tour Map

Tour Map

Gallery
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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