European Heritage Tour 1, April 23 - May 4, 2018.
Keukenhof, Holland and Belgium, 12 day Hotel Tour, English spoken.
The story that unfolded in what is now Netherlands and Belgium in the sixteenth century is one of the crucibles for shaping much of subsequent Mennonite history. The story of Menno Simons and the early Anabaptists is one of heroic faith, suffering and martyrdom. The Dutch Mennonite story, however, is much more than that. It is a template for North American Mennonites. Join us as we revisit the drama of Menno and other early Anabaptists as well as the subsequent development of the Dutch Mennonites and their role in society.
Out of an environment that was religiously intolerant, where more Anabaptists suffered martyrdom than elsewhere, the Dutch authored the documents that most shaped the early Mennonite story - the writings of Menno Simons, the Dordrecht Confession and the Martyr's Mirror.
After religious toleration came to the Netherlands the Doopsgezinden – as Mennonites are called – very quickly moved into positions of prominence in society. The subsequent story is one of religious vitality, artistic creativity, scientific achievement, political engagement, theological sophistication, economic success and a sense of social responsibility. Because they became so integral to Dutch society they are also an interesting lens for viewing the broader historical and cultural landscape of the low countries.
The tour will be led by Ayold Fanoy.
This tour is presented in cooperation with the North American Mennonite Tour Operator Tourmagination.
Tour Price and registration: Please visit the Tourmagination website.
Day 1, Monday, April 23. Arrival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Arrive and settle in at your hotel in the heart Amsterdam– your home for the next five nights. Plan to arrive in Amsterdam in the afternoon. Get acquainted with your tour leader and fellow travellers over an orientation dinner at a traditional Dutch restaurant.
Day 2, Tuesday. Amsterdam
Our adventure begins with a historic tour of Amsterdam. See Damrak Street; Begjinhof, one of the oldest inner courts in the city; the Singel Mennonite Church; and the world-renowned Mennonite library at the University of Amsterdam. Cap off the afternoon with a relaxing cruise through Amsterdam canals.
Day 3, Wednesday. Amsterdam
Start your day at the Rijksmuseum, a gallery known for its extensive collection of Rembrandt paintings, and learn about his Anabaptist connections. This afternoon, explore the city on your own. Possibilities could include Rembrandt’s house, Anne Frank House, or the Maritime Museum. Browse the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat for antiques and art or simply walk along the canals and take in the views of the city.
Day 4, Thursday. Edam and Zaanse Schans
This morning, we’ll tour a historic Mennonite church in Edam. From there, travel to Zaanse Schans, a traditional Dutch village with typical Dutch houses, working windmills, and artisans making wooden shoes and cheese. After a midday rest, we will visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, home to the works of the world-renowned artist.
Day 5, Friday. Haarlem
A short drive brings us to the town centre of Haarlem. Tour the Cathedral of Saint Bavo, a sanctuary that includes a small museum of artifacts from the town’s Catholic past. Visit the local Mennonite Church and meet with long-serving minister, Arno Thimm. See Teylers Museum, established by Haarlem Mennonite Pieter Teyler van der Hulst. There are many sightseeing options this afternoon including the home of Corrie ten Boom, a Christian who helped many Jews escape the Holocaust during World War II, and the Frans Hals Museum with the work of many Golden Age painters. After a traditional Indonesian dinner, return to Amsterdam for the evening.
Day 6, Saturday. Friesland: Menno Simons birthgrounds
Today, we’re off to the rolling countryside of Friesland after crossing the impressive Afsluitdijk. Along the way, make a stop at the city centre of Hoorn and pay a visit to Foreestenhuis for coffee and tea. Spend the afternoon visiting two villages, Pingjum and Witmarsum, both rich in history related to the life of Menno Simons and other Mennonites.
Day 7, Sunday. Harlingen
Begin a memorable day with a worship service at the Harlingen Mennonite church. Socialize with members of the congregation over lunch. On a walking tour, learn more about the Mennonite history in Harlingen. During free time this afternoon, cruise on the canals, ride a bike, take a snooze, or stroll along the waterfront.
Day 8, Monday. Keukenhof and Bruges
The Keukenhof is one of the largest and most remarkable gardens in Europe. Surround yourself with incredible colours and scents as you browse the market during Holland’s peak tulip season. Arrive in Bruges, Belgium in the late afternoon and spend the evening sightseeing.
Day 9, Tuesday. Bruges
BExplore Bruges, a charming UNESCO world heritage city. Take a guided walking tour in the morning, and spend the afternoon perusing the city. This is the ideal place to shop for lace, table runners, and tablecloths—not to mention irresistible Belgian chocolate.
Day 10, Wednesday. Ghent and Antwerp
Ghent and Antwerp are nearby. We first stop at Ghent to take in the Gravensteen - a place full of our martyr stories. The dungeons, looking much like they did in the sixteenth century, were once full of Anabaptists. There is no better place to review the early Flemish Mennonite story. Antwerpen has the bright vestiges of its once glorious history. A few hours will require us to make choices: the Grote Markt; the Rubenshuis introduces us to the art and lifestyle of Peter Paul Ruebens - the most famous of the Flemish painters or the Cathedral of Our Lady which is also a Ruebens gallery. We return to Bruges for dinner.
Day 11, Thursday. Delft and The Hague
It is hard to take leave of Bruges, but we are off to Delft. Rick Sterns says Delft wins "the cuteness contest". Our interest is a tour of the Royal Delft earthenware factory. After a "factory lunch" we are on to Den Haag (Hague) to visit the Mesdag museum. Hendrik Willem Mesdag is one of many Dutch artists with Mennonite roots. He was born in Friesland after his Mennonite ancestors fled Flanders to the safety of Friesland (like my own ancestors). Every biographer notes that Mesdag’s character was formed by his Mennonite tradition. Today his paintings hang in major museums around the world. We go to see the famous "Panorama"- a 360degree painting of the Scheveningen coastline housed in a cylindrical building. Check it out on the web - it is a very interesting piece.
Late afternoon of our last full day brings us to a quiet hotel in Amstelveen, adjacent to Schiphol Airport. We have dinner together, share impressions, bid our friends au revoir and try to stuff all the new acquisitions into our suitcases.
Day 12, Friday, May 4. Departure home
After breakfast we go our separate ways, but the friendships, memories and insights are imprinted and linger for years to come.
The tour involves walking in a number of cities and at various sites. While the walking will not be strenuous, persons contemplating the tour should be able to manage a moderate amount of walking.
Tour Price includes:
- 11 nights lodging (5 in Amsterdam, 2 in Harlingen, 3 in Brugge, 1 in Amstelveen).
- All breakfasts.
- 7 suppers (July 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21).
- Lunch with the Harlingen Mennonite congregation and 2 packed lunches
- All guide services. All gratuities for organized group activities.
- All entrance fees to places identified for group entrance in the itinerary.
- A canal boat tour in Amsterdam.
- A 48 hours public transport ticket in Amsterdam.
- All taxes, including VAT.
- Beverages with included suppers.
- Trip cancellation and holiday medical insurance.