River cruise from Nijmegen in the Netherlands to Bruges in Belgium in July/August 2021. Organizer: Reisebüro Mittelthurgau, Switzerland.
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Day 1 Swizerland > Nijmegen
A bus trip of about 12 hours brought us to Nijmegen. Due to storms we had to take some detours.
Happy at the ship, we immediately went to dinner and the Excellence Pearl departed in the direction of Maastricht.
Maastricht, situated on the river Maas, sees itself as the "balcony of Europe". Its history goes back to the time of the Celts. On a city walk we saw the French influence of the nearby Wallonia and visited the old Stokstraat quarter.
In the afternoon we enjoyed the boat trip. Especially fascinating was the 12 km long trip on the river Meuse through the middle of Liège.
In the evening we arrived in Huy. After dinner we explored the town of Huy on a walk and admired the very special gothic cathedral overlooked by a castle.
After breakfast, our car took us to Dinant - also called the "Pearl of the Meuse". Dinant has the most spectacular panorama of the Ardennes. The brass craft and the cradle of the saxophone are at home here. During a city walk we explored the town and the cathedral
We continued by bus to Namur, which is already in Wallonia and at the confluence of the Sambre and the Meuse, about 65 kilometers southeast of the Belgian capital Brussels.
In Namur we tasted Belgian beer in a brewery. In the afternoon we explored the university town of Namur on our own and took the cable car up to the citadel. Walking down, we had magnificent views of the city and the two rivers Meuse and Sambre.
The city of Mons presents a delightful blend of tradition and modernity. During our visit to Mons, we explored the old town with its Belfry, which watches over the city and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Afterwards we visited the collegiate church and its treasury with a guided tour.
Day 5 Luttre > Strépy-Thieu > Tournai
The highlight of the day was the impressive crossing of the huge Strépy-Thieu ship lift with the Excellence Pearl. The ultra-modern ship lift went into operation in 2002. It overcomes a height difference of 73 metres in one go. Through two separate basins filled with water, the ships are transported to the other level as if in a lift. With a glass of champagne in the hand, we experienced the impressive passage.
Founded in 50 BC, the heart of the city of Tournai bears witness to its glorious past. During a city tour we explored the well-preserved medieval city. Worth seeing are the cathedral Notre-Dame and the oldest Belgian Belfry, which are medieval witnesses of history.
At noon we were back at the ship and enjoyed the trip on the Scheldt to the lock Baafssugue.
After breakfast the car took us from Harelbeke to Lille. Guided tour of Lille. Lille is located in France on the border with Belgium and is also known as the "Capital of Flanders". Mansard houses surround the rectangular Grand Place with the important stock exchange and a bell tower over 70 m high.
At noon we were back at the ship, which continued to Moerbrugge. And we enjoyed a wonderful gala dinner.
After a short boat trip from Moerbrugge we arrived in Bruges. In the morning we took a guided tour of the city and tasted Belgian chocolate. While some stayed in the city, we went back to the ship for lunch and to rest a bit. In the afternoon we took the shuttle bus to the Church of Our Lady to visit the tombs of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy, experienced the city with its canals and cobblestone streets and medieval buildings. Finally, we treated ourselves to a boat ride through the canals of Bruges. I was especially pleased to see the Nepomuk on the Nepomucenusbrug. My Nepomuk collection was completed with a page of Belgium.
Day 9 Bruges > Switzerland
Too bad, the wonderful river trip through Holland and Belgium was already over. The bus brought us back home again.