July 27 – August 4, 2019
About This Tour
Toto Tours is becoming known for its annual Gay Pride tours in different parts of the world. We’ve done Reykjavik, Berlin, and now we’re heading to a place where the Pride Parade is unique in all the world — a colorful floating procession on the canals of Amsterdam! We get the party started in Brussels, Belgium, a multicultural hub of the European Union with one of the continent’s liveliest and friendliest LGBT scenes. We work our way through the dazzling historic cities of Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp before reaching Amsterdam for the final four nights of the tour.
It’s hard to imagine a more gay and lesbian friendly travel destination than Amsterdam. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to officially recognize same-sex marriages. Other countries like Belgium, South Africa, Argentina and most Scandinavian countries followed shortly after. The annual Gay Pride celebration boasts the world’s only pride parade on water. The cavalcade of colorful canal boats packed with hundreds of extravagantly costumed gays is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Don’t miss our best Pride tour to date!
- The Grand Place of Brussels *
- Royal Palace of Brussels
- Beguinages of Ghent*
- Gravensteen Castle in Ghent
- Bruges Historic Center*
- Belfry of Bruges
- Antwerp Historic Center
- Dam Square
- Grachtengordel, Three Concentric Canals*
- Royal Palace of the Netherlands
- Gay Pride Canal Parade * UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Arrive in Belgium
Your international flight should land in Brussels, Belgium (airport code BRU) by mid-afternoon today. Collect your luggage, exit the terminal and take a taxi to the city center and our hotel. Our group will gather for the first time in early evening to have a cocktail in the hotel lobby, before taking a short walk to a nearby restaurant for our Welcome Dinner. Overnight in Brussels. (Dinner included)
Enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of Brussels, known for its breathtaking medieval center and Parisian-style wide boulevards, and also for its bustling 21st-century modern city center. Sights will include the Gothic Cathedral St. Michel, the Palace of Justice (reputed to be the largest structure built in the 19th century), the ornate Royal Palace, and Grand-Place, one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe. The square is dominated by the 15th century Flamboyant Town Hall, the Neo-Gothic Breadhouse and the Baroque guildhalls of the Guilds of Brussels. Overnight in Brussels. (Breakfast)
Ghent / Bruges
This morning, we make the 35-mile, hour-long journey to the town of Ghent. Enjoy a panoramic overview tour of the city, known for its glorious medieval buildings, with a stop for lunch in the center of town. We drive another hour (30 miles) and arrive in the city of Bruges by mid-afternoon. Along with other canal-based European cities, Bruges is often called “Venice of the North” for its close connection to the waterways that run throughout the city center. Upon checking in at our hotel, the rest of the day is free. Overnight in Bruges. (Breakfast / Lunch)
This morning enjoy a walking tour of Bruges’ medieval center. Bruges is filled with historic monuments and fantastic Flemish architecture dating back to the 14th century. It is such a significant place that the entire city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. In terms of sheer beauty, Bruges has few rivals. The afternoon and evening are free to explore the city on your own. A great way to see some of the hidden, out-of-the-way spots is on an optional cruise along the city canals. You might also want to climb the Beffroi Tower for a birds-eye view of the city. Overnight in Bruges. (Breakfast)
Antwerp / Amsterdam
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and make the 90-minute drive from Bruges to the city of Antwerp, known for its diamond trade. The city is home to an array of 16th and 17th century architectural marvels. We take a walking tour of Antwerp’s town center with a break for lunch. We continue driving north for another 2 hours, crossing into The Netherlands and arriving in Amsterdam in late afternoon. After checking in to our hotel, the evening is free to explore the surrounding area of our hotel and enjoy the delights of this vibrant city, which is our home for the final four nights of the tour. Dinner is included at our hotel tonight. (All Meals)
This morning, embark on a half-day sightseeing tour of Amsterdam, getting an overview of the city and its main attractions. We will visit the National Monument, the Royal Palace of the Netherlands, and the three concentric canals known as Grachtengordel (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Dam Square, with its notable buildings, lies in the historical center of Amsterdam. The name derives from the square’s original function: as a dam on the Amstel River (hence also the name of the city). Today it is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors. After a stop for a nice three-course lunch, we have tickets to tour the world-famous Rijksmuseum, with its large collection of masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Overnight in Amsterdam. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Canal Cruise / Farewell Dinner
Enjoy a free morning to sleep in late or do some leisurely strolling near our hotel. This afternoon, we take a canal cruise, which is a lovely relaxed way to see much of historic Amsterdam from the waterways which ring the city. The rest of the day is at your leisure, and you may want to take an optional tour of the Anne Frank House or visit some of the city’s many museums. This evening, Toto Tours hosts an early Farewell Dinner, so we can keep tomorrow’s Gay Pride celebration completely free. Overnight in Amsterdam. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Gay Pride Canal Parade
Amsterdam Pride happens every August, attracting several hundred-thousand visitors. It is one of the largest publicly held events in The Netherlands each year. Almost a week of activities for the LGBTQ community culminates in the Canal Parade, a procession of many different decoration-festooned boats filled with costumed revelers, that floats through the center of the city. Our group will scout out a prime viewing spot, and the entire day is free to participate in the merriment. Overnight in Amsterdam. (Breakfast)
The tour officially ends after breakfast this morning. Your tour hosts will help to organize small group transfers to the airport by public taxis (optional). If you wish to extend your stay in Amsterdam, please let us know on your reservation form so that we can keep your room available for another night. (Breakfast)
Entry Requirements - For U.S. Citizens a valid passport is the only document required to enter Belgium and The Netherlands for stays of up to 90 days.
Immunizations & Health-- No immunizations are currently required for travel to Belgium and The Netherlands, but it is wise to have your inoculations up-to-date. Is your tetanus booster current?
Exit Requirements - There is currently no separate departure tax required of visitors leaving Amsterdam other than that included with the cost of your airline ticket.
Making Travel Arrangements to BelgiumOn this tour, international airfare is NOT included. You will need to get your international air to Brussels, Belgium (BRU), and returning from Amsterdam, The Netherlands (AMS), back to the U.S.A. We encourage you to work with Steven Goldberg at Frosch Travel in Chicago, who knows the best flights to get you there and back again.
Please arrive in Brussels by mid-afternoon on Saturday, July 27, 2019.
Departure is from Amsterdam, The Netherlands on Sunday, August 4, 2019.
Steven Goldberg / Frosch TravelToll-Free in USA: 1-800-323-1276
International guests, please call +1-312-371-9686
When calling, please identify yourself as a Toto Tours participant. If you leave a message on Steven’s voice mail, he will return your call promptly. He will be happy to discuss your travel plans and help you decide when to purchase your ticket for the best rate.
NOTE: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible we often must turn away last minute registrants because we relinquish hotel space and air reservations 8 – 12 weeks prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.
WHAT TO BRINGIn July and August, average daily temperatures in Belgium and The Netherlands range from 55 to 72 degrees. You won’t need a suit jacket or tie, as the tour is informal and dinner attire will be casual. Try to pack light and bring only one piece of luggage plus your carry-on. Create mix and match outfits, and think about layering! Pack any medications you require in a carry-on bag and leave expensive jewelry at home.
Suggested Packing List:
- Proof of citizenship. Passport required.
- Nice casual wear for dinners.
- Long pants (2 – 3 pairs), belt.
- Long-sleeve shirts (3 – 4).
- Socks, underwear for 8 days.
- Sweater or fleece for cool evenings.
- Personal toiletries.
- Camera, lots of digital memory, extra batteries.
- Ziploc Bags (sandwich size for documents, gallon size for wet items or toiletries).
- Electrical Adapter. The electricity supply in Belgium is 230 Volts/50 Hertz. Sockets are type E, requiring two round plugs, which can be used in both C and F sockets. In Amsterdam, the current is the same at 230 Volts/50 Hertz, but they use the C and F sockets. Click here to see examples and obtain more information.
- A good book for the long flights.
Money MattersThe Euro is the national currency of both Belgium and The Netherlands (the code is EUR when looking up exchange rates). American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in larger establishments. click here to see the current exchange rate.
Tipping: In restaurants the law requires menu prices to include service charge, and tipping is a matter of personal choice. Most people leave some small change if they’re satisfied and 5% is usually plenty. It’s common to leave small change at tables in bars and cafés. We will present collective tips to guides and drivers at appropriate times throughout the tour.
The Toto SpiritToto Tours provides Adventure Travel Experiences as differentiated from tours in the traditional sense. Adventure Travel allows (even encourages) you to be an active participant. Adventurers can be identified by certain traits. They are:
- fun-loving optimists who have a sense of humor and accentuate the positive;
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist;
- undaunted by the unexpected, like occasional delays or bad weather;
- willing to forego some of the amenities we normally take for granted;
- eager to try new things & test limits;
- not whiners!
Travel InsuranceWe recommend you purchase travel insurance with Travel Guard to cover for unforeseen events prior to and during your trip. Please follow the link below or call us for more information.
Tour prices per personPrice: $3,600 in double occupancy hotel accommodations.
Private Room: $1,000 additional, for a total tour price of $4,600. (Paying a single supplement is not required. Toto Tours will try to match you with a roommate if you are traveling alone and prefer to share a room. If this is not possible, a single supplement will be applied to your reservation before the final payment date.)
Deposit: $600. (Due at time of registration for the tour. May be paid with a credit card.)
Remaining Balance (main tour): $3,000 double / $4,000 single
Remaining Balance Due: May 8, 2019 (80 days prior to departure) (Full payment required with reservation form if enrolling after this date.)
Note: The tour price does not include bank service charges for processing credit card payments, and assumes that the balance of the tour price will be paid by check. If you would like to pay the final balance with a credit card, a 4% service charge will be applied. Let us know if you wish to pay by credit card, and we will adjust your invoice accordingly.
Included: 8 nights hotel accommodations; hotel breakfasts daily plus Welcome & Farewell Dinners; ground transportation in climate controlled motorcoach; sightseeing activities and entrances as listed in the itinerary. This is a fully escorted tour, with guides added during tours.
Not Included: International airfare to Brussels, Belgium (BRU) and returning from Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS); hotel transfers; ground transportation for sightseeing on your own (taxis, local guides, etc.); meals and optional activities not specifically listed in the itinerary; camera fees; alcoholic beverages; insurance; laundry, telephone calls, faxes, or any other expenses of a personal nature. Tips to drivers and guides and other conveyance attendants are not included; tipping guidelines for our group tips will be provided prior to departure.