1. 1.Thursday, May 11, 2017-Leave Washington Dulles for Amsterdam on United Flight 946 (Boeing 767-400, Business Class) at 5:20 PM (Jim).

  1. 2.Friday, May 12-Arrive Amsterdam (3,867 miles) at 7:15 AM. Banks Mansion Hotel.

  2. 3.Saturday, May 13-Amsterdam. Banks Mansion Hotel. PHOTOS

  1. 4.Sunday, May 14-Depart Amsterdam on Holland America ms Koningsdam at 4 PM.

  1. 5.Monday, May 15-At sea.

  1. 6.Tuesday, May 16-Arrive Flam, Norway at 8 AM. Flåm is located in the innermost part of the 127-mile-long Sognefjord. Embark the Flåm Railway -- a masterpiece of engineering climbing from sea level to 2,800 feet, crossing back and forth over rivers and through 20 tunnels.At the overwhelming Kjosfossen Waterfall, leave the train to take some pictures.Leave the train again at Vatnahalsen and walk the approximately 300 feet to the Vatnahalsen Mountain Hotel. Coffee or tea and homemade waffles with sour cream and jam have been prepared. After 60 to 90 minutes to wander and explore, re-board the train for the return ride to Flåm. Depart at 6 PM. PHOTOS

  2. 7.Wednesday, May 17-Arrive Stavanger, Norway. Cruise through the Stavanger Archipelago for an overview of how the Norwegians live in this area, with plenty of small idyllic islands and many holiday homes by the sea. A guide will accompany and point out various attractions along the way.In splendid Lysefjord, discover one of Norway's spectacular natural wonders -- Pulpit Rock. This promontory juts more than 1,500 feet above the sea, and we will cruise directly under it. In this beautiful fjord, the water surrounding is as deep as the mountains are high. Stop en route in idyllic surroundings for a snack of coffee and waffles, served in traditional Norwegian style with sour cream and jam. Depart at 6 PM.


  4. 8.Thursday, May 18-Arrive Kristiansand, Norway at 8 AM.   Charming Kristiansand is the fifth-largest city in Norway, but is small enough to be enjoyed on a leisurely and informative walk with a local guide. The history of Kristiansand spans more than 370 years. See areas that embody this long history, from the stunning Kilden Performing Arts Centre, which opened in 2012, to the Old Town's timber buildings and houses dating back to the 1700s. Even though many of the houses are painted white, this area's history is rather colorful.The guide will point out the fortress built the 1670s and the Gothic-style cathedral from the late 1880s. Stop at the fish market and the marketplace next to the cathedral. In summertime is it packed with flowers and fresh farm produce.During a guided visit to the Sørlandets Art Museum, the history of Kristiansand comes to life, particularly in the Olaf Isaachsen painting depicting the devastating city fire of 1892. After a short stop at the museum's gift shop, walk back to the ship. Depart at 5 PM. PHOTOS

  5. 9.Friday, May 19-Arrive Oslo, Norway at 8 AM.Drive through the center of Oslo, passing the Akershus Fortress, the Parliament building, Karl Johan Street, the Royal Palace and the Nobel Institute.The amazing Vigeland Sculpture Park was created and completed by one man -- Gustav Vigeland. Centrally placed in the park is the 55-foot-tall monolith featuring 121 stone figures of men, women and children climbing on top of each other in their struggle for life. Walk with the guide through the park to see more than 150 stone and bronze sculptures, each symbolizing a different stage in the lifespan of mankind.Continue through some beautiful residential areas up to the Holmenkollen Hills for a fantastic view of Oslo. The first ski jump was built here in 1892 and was the main venue of the 1952 Winter Olympics. The ski jump was recently rebuilt in time for the World Championships.A buffet lunch will be served en route.On the Bygdøy Peninsula you will visit the Viking Ship Museum. It houses three authentic longboats dating from the Viking Age, around AD 900-1000, which were excavated from the mudbanks along Oslofjord. The museum also holds a large collection of items found on board the ships, such as household goods, tools, jewelry and clothing. Adjacent to the Viking Ship Museum is the Open-Air Folk Museum where you can 'tour' much of Norway in just an hour. Catch a glimpse of Norwegian culture and history, as the museum features 150 authentic buildings from different regions. This includes one of the country's oldest structures, the Gol Stave Church, built in the 13th century.Return to the city where the tour ends back at the pier. Depart at 6 PM. PHOTOS

  6. 10. Saturday, May 20-At sea (Jim). Leave Washington Dulles for Amsterdam on United Flight 946 (Boeing 767-400, Business Class) at 5:15 PM. Arrive Amsterdam (3,867 miles) at 7:15 AM on May 21.(Vicky).

  7. 11. Sunday, May 21-Arrive Amsterdam at 7 AM. Amsterdam is the city of canals and bridges, and is full of its own special charm.During a short canal cruise, watch for the many mansions and guild buildings dating from the Golden Century, when Dutch merchants traded prolifically with the Far East.The Amstel River flows through Amsterdam, and on its northern bank is the beautiful Hermitage Amsterdam Museum -- counterpart to the world-famous Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia. The Amsterdam facility, which opened in 2009, is a satellite museum exhibiting both visiting and permanent-loan artworks from the Hermitage St Petersburg, allowing Europeans and visitors to the Netherlands to experience part of the wealth of art that comprises the enormous Hermitage collection.You will have plenty of time to explore the museum on your own before you return to the ship at the pier in Amsterdam. Depart at 4 PM. PHOTOS

  8. 12. Monday, May 22-At sea.

  9. 13. Tuesday, May 23-Arrive Copenhagen, Denmark at 7 AM. Copenhagen is one of the most interesting cities in the Baltic region. A panoramic drive showcases some of its better-know landmarks -- City Hall Square, City Hall and the Glyptotek Art Museum. Watch for Christiansborg Palace, home of the Danish Parliament and -- in Old Copenhagen -- the old Stock Exchange and the colorful canal area of Nyhavn.Visit the courtyard at Amalienborg, the royal winter residence consisting of four identical Rococo palaces surrounding a spacious octagonal palace square.Fairytale Rosenborg Castle was first built as a country summerhouse in Dutch Renaissance style (1607) and is now a museum. The basement houses the Royal Treasury, displaying the Danish Crown Jewels and Crown Regalia, gleaming with gold, diamonds and precious stones. It is located in the King's Garden -- a royal green oasis in the middle of Copenhagen and a public park that is immensely popular with city-dwellers who use it for picnics, games and relaxation. You will also find here the old barracks of the Danish Royal Guards.Board a modern and comfortable canal boat to explore many of Copenhagen's highlights from the canals and inner harbor on a 50-minute canal tour. Christianshavn and Frederiksholm canals feature picturesque old buildings and National Landmarks. Nyhavn Canal is lined with 500-year-old step-gabled houses. View the old naval base of Holmen. Your guide will point out the new Royal Library, known as the Black Diamond, and the Copenhagen Opera House.Spend time at leisure at the world-famous Tivoli Gardens in the heart of Copenhagen. This amusement park and pleasure garden opened in 1843, making it one of the world's oldest amusement parks. After sunset, thousands of lights bathe the garden in a magical glow. Try out any of Tivloi's 26 rides, from the hair-raising rollercoaster to the child-friendly merry-go-round. Enjoy an open-air concert, and drink or dine at any of the more than 30 eateries. Depart at 4 PM. PHOTOS

  10. 14. Wednesday, May 24-Arrive Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany at 7 AM. The tour begins on a train for an approximately 2½ -hour escorted ride to Berlin. Enjoy a light breakfast snack, accompanied by tea and coffee, along the way.In Berlin, board a motor coach with a local guide for a panoramic drive to view the city's main highlights. Snap photos of the remnants of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie -- the point separating East and West Berlin. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced off at this location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.Continue to 17th-century Gendarmenmarkt Square -- site of the twin French and German cathedrals and the Schauspielhaus (Concert Hall). Pass Unter den Linden Boulevard -- a tree-lined, east-west thoroughfare through the city of Berlin, the State Library, Alexanderplatz (a beautiful town square), and the Humboldt University -- Berlin's oldest university. Driving past Bebelplatz, you'll see the square where the burgeoning Nazi Party held its infamous book burning.Head to a local restaurant where a typical German lunch awaits.The Brandenburg Gate is the only remaining city gate of Berlin, and used to represent the separation of the city between East and West Berlin. It has now come to symbolize German unity.Stroll to see the Reichstag -- seat of the German parliament. Originally constructed to house the parliament of the newly founded German Empire, the glass dome designed by architect Sir Norman Foster is one of the city's major landmarks today.Drive by the Victory Column -- a landmark that celebrates the military successes of Prussia over Denmark. Pass Bellevue Palace -- the official residence of the President of Germany -- and Congress Hall. Approximately 30 minutes of free time is provided to stroll and shop along the broad, tree-lined Kurfürstendamm -- Germany's most famous shopping boulevard brimming with department stores, designer boutiques, shops, cafés, clubs and restaurants.The Allied Museum traces the history of Cold War Berlin and commemorates the US, British and French presence in Berlin from 1945 to 1994. Here is the original Checkpoint Charlie guardhouse, a Berlin Wall watchtower, an aircraft from the Berlin Airlift, and an American spy tunnel.When it's time to call it a day, relax and enjoy the rail journey back to the ship. A light snack will be provided on the return. Depart at 10 PM. PHOTOS

  11. 15. Thursday, May 25-At sea.

  12. 16. Friday, May 26-Arrive Tallinn, Estonia at 9 AM. Asmall-group outing (maximum 15 guests) goes first to Tallinn's beachside region of Pirita. This place may bring back memories of the 1980 Olympic Games, held here at the yachting complex. See the 16th-century ruins of St Bridget's Convent and the Song Festival grounds. At Tallinn's Old Town, disembark the motor coach at Tall Hermann Tower; then walk up Toompea Hill to Palace Square. The Baroque palace at the top is now the seat of the Estonian Parliament.Visit the outstanding Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, complete with gorgeous mosaics and icons, dominating the Upper Town's skyline. Narrow cobblestone streets lead to the Gothic Dome Church (St Mary's Cathedral). Step inside to see more than one hundred Coats of Arms on display.Look out over the rooftops of the Lower Town from a scenic viewpoint before walking back to the motor coach. Depart at 5 PM.

  13. PHOTOS

  14. 17. Saturday, May 27-Arrive St. Petersburg, Russia at 7 AM. In the morning, view the largest collection of French art outside of France, exhibited in the General Headquarters building. Impressionist favorites by Dégas, Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Matisse are on display here, including some unexpected and less recognized (albeit stunning) works.The General Headquarters -- a magnificent 19th-century building with a sweeping, porticoed façade -- is a newly incorporated part of the Hermitage Museum. Located on the Palace Square, opposite the Winter Palace, its original purpose was to accommodate the officers of the Imperial Army.Visit the Fabergé Museum, opened in St Petersburg in 2013. It is housed in the palace that belonged to the Shuvalov family and is now the setting for a wide variety of exhibits dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. More than 4,000 items reside here, including nine bejeweled Fabergé eggs once owned by the czars. Among them are the famous Coronation Easter Egg which belonged to Nicolas II, the Lily-of-the-Valley Egg and the Orange Tree Egg. The museum itself is located in one of the most beautiful palaces of St Petersburg.This is an amazing chance to see the Fabergé eggs, along with other exhibits including royal silverware, precious icons, paint on enamel, objects of decorative and applied art, and paintings by famous Russian and foreign artists.In the evening, embark on a fascinating spiritual journey through different regions of Russia, with energetic dances of Don Cossacks, melodic Russian, Ukrainian and Gypsy songs including the world famous Kalinka and Katyusha. During the intermission, Russian sparkling wine and mineral water will be served. PHOTOS (May 27/28)

  15. 18. Sunday, May 28-Combine a love of cooking and culture on this half-day tour that introduces the history and significance of pelmeni and vodka -- two of Russia's culinary staples.Begin with a visit to one of the oldest culinary stores in St Petersburg. The Eliseev Merchants' Store is located in the very heart of the city on Nevsky Prospekt. The store was built in the early 20th century in Art Nouveau style, and its luxurious exterior trim, stained-glass windows and sculptures stand out against the Classical architecture of Nevsky Prospekt. The interior is designed to showcase prosperity. Quality items make their way here from the best international manufacturers.Next, transfer to a local restaurant for a warm welcome from the chef. Don an apron and prepare for a hands-on cooking demonstration that introduces pelmeni -- one of Russia's most beloved national dishes. A pelmeni is a delicious meat dumpling seasoned with savory spices. A plate of pelmeni might not look the part, but this specialty is the soul of Russian cuisine and is prepared in every home across the country as a hearty family meal. Learn the cooking techniques and work side-by-side with the chef in a relaxed and friendly environment. You will learn not only the steps involved in the recipe but the history of this dish as well. Take a seat with your host and savor your creation along with additional snacks.Taste some Russian vodka -- a potent and legendary liquor ingrained in Russian culture, famous for inebriating 12th-century peasants and 20th-century presidents alike. Learn more about the spirit's 500 years of history and sample several iconic brands. While Czar Alexander III set a standard of 80-proof for Russian vodka in 1894, it was Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev who is said to have created the formula for the perfect 40-proof vodka that continues today. Taste different brands to find the one you like best. Raise a glass and say "za vashe zdorovie," which means "to your health." Relax on the motor coach ride back to the pier with a newfound appreciation for the traditions of Russian gastronomy. Depart St. Petersburg at 6 PM. PHOTOS (See previous day)

  16. 19.Monday, May 29-Arrive Helsinki, Finland at 7 AM. Helsinki's tree-lined avenues, graceful parks, and distinctive architecture make the city a wonderful venue for walking.The tour (Jim) will begin at Senate Square, where the Lutheran Church stands near the Senate Building, and the University boasts a neo-Classical style. Along the way, note the formidable buildings that dominate Helsinki's skyline -- the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Finlandia Hall, the National Museum and Parliament House. Begin the walking tour past the central railway station, designed by Eliel Saarinen, to the National Theater and Sanomatalo. A cup of coffee or tea will be served with a pastry snack at a waterfront café near the Opera House.Walk up to the Töölö residential area and through Hesperia Park. Visit the famous Rock Church -- a modern-day structure built, amazingly, entirely into bedrock and quarried stone. The walking tour ends here and return to the pier by coach (Jim)..........Depart the pier (Vicky) for a delightful drive through the wooded Finnish countryside to Porvoo -- Finland's second-oldest city. On the agenda today is a look back into the city's genteel past. The City of Porvoo grew up around the point where the sea meets the Porvoonjoki River, functioning as a trading hub for Porvoo Parish inhabitants. It was named after the ancient fortress Borgå, the Swedish name for Porvoo, and was granted town rights by Swedish King Magnus Eriksson in 1346. Old Porvoo is one of the great treasures in the history of Finnish architecture, and the town looks the same as it did during the Middle Ages. See the age-old red riverside warehouses that formed the medieval harbor, where salt and other products were imported. Today, these old buildings have become the symbol of Porvoo, and are among the most photographed attractions in Finland. Porvoo has traditionally attracted a host of artists who have lived and worked in the town -- Finnish poet J.L. Runeberg, painter Albert Edelfeldt and sculptor Ville Vallgren were all inspired by Porvoo's unique charm.A short drive leads to a completely ecologically sound farm not far from Porvoo. Visit the magnificent Castle of Malmgården and the surrounding estate. A soup lunch is served before continuing to the farm's own eco-brewery. The brewmeister introduces the secrets of their products. Taste several types of beer. The story of the farm's history and how it became involved in ecological farming is quite interesting. View the farm's shop with several products made on site or purchase some items to take home. Return to Helsinki after your enjoyable day around Old-Town Porvoo (Vicky). Depart at 4 PM. PHOTOS

  1. 20.Tuesday, May 30-Arrive Stockholm, Sweden at 8 AM. Visit Stockholm's imposing City Hall -- a magnificent red brick building that was the result of a 12-year effort by the combined elite of Swedish construction workers, sculptors, artists and craftsmen. It is renowned for its architecture, murals and mosaics, and as the site of the Nobel Prize Banquet. Experience the grandeur and spaciousness of the impressive, stately Blue and Golden Halls.Back on the coach, pass through the city center to finally reach Stockholm's Old Town (Gamla Stan), dominated by the Royal Palace. Stroll along the narrow, twisting alleys and cobblestone streets of this living historical monument. Wander with the guide and savor the romantic atmosphere of the buildings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, with Baroque doorways and regal Coats of Arms. Visit the Stortorget (Great Square) -- the hub of the Old Town on which the former Stock Exchange stands -- now the home to the Swedish Academy. Depart at 6 PM. PHOTOS

  2. 21. Wednesday, May 31-At sea.

  1. 22. Thursday, June 1-Arrive Kiel (Hamburg), Germany at 7 AM. The Hanseatic City of Hamburg is Germany's second-largest metropolis and one of Europe's largest ports. After a 90-minute escorted journey by coach, arrive in Hamburg and meet the city guide. Elegant and cosmopolitan Hamburg is now a city of palatial office buildings, magnificent promenades, international musicals and extravagant shopping malls.The magical aura of far-away places is still alive in the Warehouse Quarter with its little canals, but Hamburg is also Germany's greenest city with many spacious lawns and lovely parks.Set out on a 60-minute walking tour through the Hafencity (harbor area) and the Speicherstadt. The latter is a century-old warehouse quarter, built in Gothic redbrick architecture and housing fine spices, coffee and tea from all over the world. The Speicherstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.Tour the amazing Miniatur Wunderland (Miniature Wonderland) -- one of Hamburg's most popular tourist attractions. This is the world's largest model railway, with 930 trains, 14,000 railway wagons, 228,000 trees, 215,000 figures, 8,850 cars, eight miles of track, and 3,660 buildings and bridges. The railway and the equally fascinating model airport, USA, Austria and Switzerland in miniature are all computer controlled, making it feel as if you have stepped into a Lilliputian world and are watching from a giant's perspective. Return to the coach for a panoramic drive past the main sights of Hamburg, including City Hall and Germany's oldest Stock Exchange. See the Jungfernstieg shopping area and drive through the Outer-Alster Lake upscale residential area, complete with consulates and businesses. Drive past the St Pauli Landungsbruecken, where the old sailing vessels used to dock, and continue along the world famous Reeperbahn. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Reepers made riggings here. Nowadays this street, together with the Grosse Freiheit and Herbert Strasse, comprise the red-light district. You will see St Nikolai War Memorial Church and St Michael's Church. The latter is the largest North German Baroque church and is Hamburg's primary landmark.Enjoy some free time in the city center before returning by coach to the quayside in Kiel. Depart at 5 PM. PHOTOS


  3. 23. Friday, June 2-Arrive Arhus, Denmark at 8 AM. It's a short ride from the port area into the very charming city of Århus, to see its many highlights.Begin with a drive by the City Hall; then, continue to the University -- the second-largest in Denmark with 13,000 students. Leave the coach for a walk through the virtual open-air museum of Den Gamle By (the Old Town), with a collection of half-timbered medieval houses gathered from all over Denmark. The very quaint cobblestone streets are full of Danish handicraft boutiques. Drive through Marselisborg Forest; make the most of a photo stop at Marselisborg Palace -- one of the many residences of the Danish Royal Family. Depart at 5 PM. PHOTOS

  4. 24. Saturday, June 3-At sea. PHOTOS

  5. 25. Sunday, June 4-Disembark in Amsterdam at 7 AM. Leave Amsterdam on United Flight 947 (Boeing 767-400, Business Class) at 12 PM for Washington Dulles.  Arrive Washington Dulles at 2:35 PM (3,867 miles).


OTHER TRIPS (click to view)

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Scandinavia 2017

With Germany, Estonia, Russia and Finland