Travel with Australian Book Review, Australia’s leading cultural magazine, and relish the extraordinary art, architecture and history of Germany and the Netherlands, attending performances at world-class venues in congenial company. This 14-day tour travels from Frankfurt, birthplace of famed writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, to Cologne, Hamburg and Amsterdam, some of western Europe’s most dynamic cities. In each city, we explore rich histories and fabulous art collections, from Dutch Golden Age brilliance to Germany’s modern and contemporary masters. Four fine performances round out the touring program.
Seven centuries of European art, from medieval treasures to modern works by German artists, including Gerhard Richter, Josef Beuys and Anselm Kiefer
Rembrandt and Vermeer’s masterworks at Amsterdam’s recently renovated Rijksmuseum
The Dutch Golden Age at the Mauritshuis, The Hague
Lubeck, medieval capital of the Hanseatic League, and its distinguished Gothic in brick
Fascinating contemporary art collections, including Paul Klee and Salvador Dali at Dusseldorf’s K20 museum
Four performances, including a concert at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, one of Europe’s premier concert halls
Days 1–2: Arrive in Frankfurt, explore the city’s art collections at the Stadel Museum and take a walking tour including the Goethehaus.
Days 3–6: Travel to Cologne via Bonn to visit the Kunst Museum. Admire Cologne Cathedral and visit Augustusburg Castle. Day trip to Dusseldorf to visit the contemporary art museum K-20.
Days 7–9: In Hamburg, attend a performance at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall and visit the Kuntsthalle Hamburg. Day trip to Lubeck.
Days 10–14: Travel to Amsterdam. Take a city walking tour, visit the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and survey the masters at the Rijksmuseum. Spend the day at The Hague to visit the Mauritshuis.
The tour begins at our hotel in Frankfurt and ends with a group transfer to Amsterdam airport. Qatar, Singapore and Emirates offer direct flights into Frankfurt and out of Amsterdam from most Australian cities.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Wednesday September 15: Arrive Frankfurt
If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel, we will organise a transfer from Frankfurt airport to our hotel. Please note that hotel rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening meet Christopher Menz for welcome drinks followed by a light dinner. Overnight Frankfurt (D)
Thursday September 16: Goethe’s Frankfurt – Performance I
Following an introductory talk in the hotel, we enjoy a guided walking tour through Frankfurt that includes a visit to the Goethe House, where Germany’s most famous writer was born. In the afternoon we visit the Städel Museum, an exceptional art museum with masterpieces by Van Eyck, Vermeer, Botticelli, Picasso, Bacon and Baselitz. It is one of Germany’s premier art collections with works ranging from medieval to contemporary. Tonight we will attend a performance together. Overnight Frankfurt (B)
Performance details Venue: Oper Frankfurt
Program: to be announced
Performers: to be announced
Friday September 17: The Rhine
Today we leave Frankfurt for Cologne. Our coach takes us first to Bonn to see the Kunstmuseum, with its outstanding collection of twentieth-century German art displayed in a dramatic modern building designed by Axel Schultes. After lunch at leisure in Bonn we head to Cologne, where we will check into the hotel and enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant. Overnight Cologne (B, D)
Saturday September 18: Cologne – Performance II
This morning we visit the Museum Ludwig, famed for its collection of art from the early twentieth century to the present day. In addition to holding one of the most important collections of German expressionist art, the Ludwig has an outstanding collection of works by Picasso, Pop Art, photography and the Russian avant-garde. In the afternoon we visit the majestic baroque palace Schloss Augustusburg in nearby Brühl. In the evening we attend a performance together. Overnight Cologne (B)
Performance details Venue: Oper Köln
Program: to be announced
Performers: to be announced
Sunday September 19: Düsseldorf
Today we have a day trip to Düsseldorf for a guided walking tour through this attractive city on the Rhine. Cologne and Düsseldorf have a centuries-old rivalry – they even brew beer using different methods. While Cologne’s museums are certainly impressive, Düsseldorf has been the pre-eminent centre of German art after World War II – Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Keifer, Candida Höfer and Andreas Gursky are just a few of the leading artists among its alumni. Today we explore the city and its exceptional collections, including visits to K20, the Kunsthalle and the Kunstpalast and enjoy a group lunch. Each gallery has a distinct collection, interesting history, and quite wide-ranging special exhibitions. We return to Cologne in the early evening. Overnight Cologne (B, L)
Monday September 20: Cologne Catherdral
After a morning talk we have a guided walking tour of Cologne that ends at the cathedral. The medieval Cologne cathedral, was completed in the nineteenth century and damaged during World War II. Nevertheless, it remains one of the great cathedrals. It contains many treasures, including the Shrine of the Magi, one of the greatest examples of medieval goldsmithing, and a magnificent stained-glass window designed by Gerhard Richter. The afternoon is free to enjoy Cologne. Overnight Cologne (B)
Tuesday September 21: To Hamburg
Today we take the coach via Osnabrück to enjoy some sightseeing. Then we make our way to Hamburg in the north of Germany. This important ancient trading city is picturesquely located on waterways. Despite extensive war damage, Hamburg has been rebuilt as a most dynamic and attractive city. After checking into our hotel, we enjoy dinner together. Overnight Hamburg (B, D)
Wednesday September 22: Hamburg – Performance III
After a talk in the hotel, we head to the Kunsthalle, which has one of Germany’s finest art collections. It is especially noted for its holdings of famous paintings by the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. In the afternoon we take a boat cruise to enjoy Hamburg from the water. We also visit the Elbphilharmonie, one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world. The new glassy construction resembles a hoisted sail, water wave or quartz crystal; it sits on top of an old warehouse building near the historical Speicherstadt and is designed by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. Overnight Hamburg (B)
Performance details Venue: : Elbphilharmonie or Staatsoper Hamburg
Program: to be announced Performers: to be announced
Thursday September 23: Hanseatic League
Today we visit Lübeck, the important Hanseatic city and birthplace of Thomas Mann, winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize for his novel Buddenbrooks, which charts the decline of a merchant family. We take a walking tour through Lübeck, ending at the St Annen-Museum which has an outstanding collection of late medieval altar pieces, including a spectacular one by Hans Memling. We also enjoy a group lunch. Overnight Hamburg (B, L)
Friday September 24: To Amsterdam
Today we depart Hamburg by coach for Amsterdam. En route we make a stop in Bremen, Germany’s second largest port (Hamburg is the largest). Together with Hamburg and Lübeck, Bremen was an early member of the merchant-run Hanseatic League, and its rivalry with the larger port on the Elbe River is still tangible. We take a guided tour of the town before continuing on to Amsterdam, where we will have a group dinner. Overnight Amsterdam (B, D)
Saturday September 25: Amsterdam
After a talk in the hotel, we go on a walking tour of this beautiful city. Stroll along Amsterdam’s World Heritage-listed canal belt. These rings of canals are feats of hydraulic engineering – a series of timed locks and sluices keep water flowing almost uphill – and were a new model of rational town planning for a burgeoning city. The merchants, artists and religious minorities who flocked here made it one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities and its canals are lined with the townhouses of the wealthy burghers of the Golden Age. In the afternoon we visit the Rijksmuseum for its unrivalled collection of Dutch seventeenth-century art, including Rembrandt’s TheNightwatch, and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. Overnight Amsterdam (B)
Sunday September 26: The Hague – Performance IV
Today we visit The Hague, a city whose fascinating history is inseparable from the House of Orange and as the modern seat of the International Court of Justice. The great prize of our visit today, however, is the extraordinary collection in the Mauritshuis, famed for its Golden Age Dutch paintings, whose impressive collection includes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft, Carol Fabricius’ The Gold Finch, and many excellent portraits by Rembrandt. Tonight, we enjoy a performance together. Overnight Amsterdam (B)
Performance details Venue: Concertgebouw
Program: to be announced
Performers: to be announced
Monday September 27: Van Gogh and Modern Art
On our final full day in Amsterdam, we visit the Van Gogh Museum. Van Gogh is one of the modern world’s most prolific artists, although recognition of his work and its impact on modern art only came after his untimely death. This morning we visit one of the most significant collections of the master’s work. This stunning collection of masterpieces – including Sunflowers, Almond Blossom and nine self-portraits – spans the artist’s whole life, from his early works and influences through to his final paintings. In the afternoon we visit the Stedelijk Museum for modern and contemporary art. We end the tour with a farewell dinner at local restaurant. Overnight Amsterdam (B, D)
Tuesday September 28: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. Departing group members transfer to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for outgoing flights. (B)
A former art museum director and curator, with expertise in the arts and music throughout Europe, the USA and Australia.
Christopher Menz is a former art museum director and curator and has been leading cultural tours in Europe, the United States and Australia since 2013. He has expertise and interest in the visual arts and music.
Christopher has a BA (Hons) from Flinders University. He is a former director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Before that he was a curator, specialising in decorative arts, and worked at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, and National Gallery of Victoria. He has published and lectured extensively on Australian and European decorative arts, notably on the design work of William Morris, and curated numerous exhibitions. Christopher is based in Melbourne where he is an art consultant and valuer, and Development Consultant for Australian Book Review.
Christopher has led cultural tours to Germany, England, the United States, as well as in Australia. He has also been a tour leader on European river cruises.
We asked Christopher, what do you think clients get from travelling with you?
“It is always a great thrill to be able to introduce clients to new experiences and to places they might otherwise not have visited or not have visited recently. I always hope to give tour guests something that adds to the experiences of the places, cities, museums and art galleries, and performances that they would not get if travelling alone.”
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity