While off on Europe tours that survey the western portion of the continent, seniors may be exposed to the intriguing culture and history of Germany and the Netherlands. History buffs especially will love these destinations for the rich World War II history that can be found all throughout their streets and museums. Whether they're traveling by boat or train, visitors can explore major cities such as Berlin, Weimar, Rüdesheim and Cologne. Expect to come across these major attractions - and many more - during the tour:
One of the first stops on a tour of Germany will be Berlin's Reichstag building. The structure, which was designed by famed architect Paul Wallot, was finished in 1894 after the unification of Germany and the development of the empire. The building suffered a massive fire in the 1930s - the original dome was destroyed and eventually had to be demolished. It was largely abandoned for decades, particularly after undergoing additional damage during World War II, until 1961, when it was restored and became a meeting place for the parliamentary committee. Today, it's one of the city's highlights, letting visitors ride a lift to the top to view the cityscape from the rooftop terrace.
Once they reach Dresden, senior travel clubs can visit the city's Frauenkirche, or "Church of Our Lady." Built between 1726 and 1743, this Lutheran church (it was originally Roman Catholic) is a stunning display of sacred baroque architecture. Its most characteristic feature was its "stone bell" - the impressive dome that collapsed in 1945 during a World War II bombing. During the German Democratic Republic period, the church served as an anti-war monument. Today, it still serves as a symbol of reconciliation after the conflict; however, the dome has been restored to its original splendor.
A romantic Rhine River cruise will take passengers through the Loreley passage as they travel from Rüdesheim to Cologne. The narrow valley is renowned for its breathtaking slate rock walls that rise up nearly 450 feet above the water. During your voyage, your guide may also tell you about the captivating lore pertaining to this passage. German legend has it that a lovely young maiden jumped into the river due to the anguish caused by an unfaithful lover. When she died, she was transformed into the sound of a siren that would beckon sailors and lead them to their deaths.
After arriving in Rotterdam, senior travel tour members can choose to take a side-trip to Gouda. This exquisite city is what made the Netherlands famous for its cheese, but there's a lot more to see here than just dairy products. Along the streets, visitors will find stunning architecture, including a city hall that dates back to the 1400s and a cheese market that has been running for centuries. In the heart of the city is the Market Square, which has a Gothic-style town hall and plenty of shopping opportunities. For a regal escape, head to the banks of the Gouwe River to find a castle that was once the home to the Van der Goude family, who founded the city.
Located in and around Arnhem, the Liberation Route takes visitors along the path that the Allied Forces followed from 1944 to 1945 when trying to liberate Europe. The route starts off in Normandy and continues through Nijmegen and Arnhem before ending in Berlin. Throughout, guests will come across 48 boulders that serve as listening locations - each is equipped with audio that tells the story of soldiers who walked this path during World War II. Arnhem is a spot of particular importance on this path: It was where one of the biggest airborne operations in history took place.
Munich, the final stop on this Germany river cruise, is home to Marienplatz, a square located in the heart of the city. During the Medieval period, it was a thriving marketplace and hosted many major public events, such as tournaments, executions and festivals, though the market was relocated in 1807 to its current site at the Viktualienmarkt. The Marienplatz continues to be a major gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Guests will find a large column at the square's center - the column of Saint Mary - which was built in 1638 to commemorate the end of the Swedish occupation. The site also contains the New Town Hall, Old Town Hall, Rathaus-Glockenspiel and Fish Fountain.
This is only a sampling of the wide array of historical and cultural features that seniors will discover as part of their affordable travel packages. Other highlights include the Brandenburg gate, the home of Goethe and the magnificent Castle Cecilienhof, and travelers can even explore the regional cuisines at eateries in Munich and Heidelberg - all with the help of a knowledgeable tour guide.