Onward, traveler. Pack your bags, spin your globe, prepare to explore. Learn about a place, enhance your craft, live what you love.
This October, travel to Belgium with Graduate Gemologist Kate Szirmay. Belgian culture is typified by a delightful merger of carefree attitudes with luxurious tastes, making the country a favorite destination for discerning travelers.
On this one of a kind European adventure, Discover Bel’gem’, we’ll visit three of the country’s loveliest and most fascinating cities to taste chocolate and beer, learn about history and fashion, see one of art history’s greatest masterpieces, soar in a hot air balloon, dine on Michelin- starred cuisine, and of course, go diamond shopping with Kate Szirmay, Diamond Concierge, who is changing diamond buying into the experience of a lifetime.
In partnership with the boutique travel experts at Onward Travel, Kate’s unique approach brings travelers to Europe on a bespoke adventure where no request is too large, or too small. Take advantage of rare access by private appointment to the famous diamond cutters of Antwerp, with Kate serving as your guide and personal shopper to help you choose the diamond of your dreams.
Monday, October 16—Welcome to Belgium!
- Get acquainted with one of the loveliest cities in Europe.
Welcome to Belgium! Your Onward Travel guide awaits you this morning at Brussels Zaventum Airport along with private luxury transportation to whisk you off to Bruges, less than 70 miles away.
Bruges,a wonderfully preserved Medieval city situated in the heart of Flanders, has a longtime reputation as one of Europe’s most beautiful and beloved destinations. We’ll enjoy a welcome brunch together followed by a local-led walking tour to orient us to this magnificent locale. We’ll end our tour with a chocolate tasting at one of the city’s best chocolate shops.
Then settle in at Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, the upscale boutique hotel occupying a historic building beside a canal where we’ll stay for the next two nights. An interesting aside, some scenes from the 2008 film “In Bruges” were shot here at our hotel. Tonight we’ll set out for a festive dinner together at a fantastic little bistro near our hotel.
Tuesday, October 17—Take to the Sky
- Soar over the impressive cityscape in a hot air balloon.
- Dine at one of the region’s most lauded restaurants.
We’ll be up early this morning and grab a simple breakfast on the go because we have a very special treat… let’s take in the gorgeous cityscape of Medieval Bruges from a hot air balloon! The
spired buildings, green countryside, autumn colors in the trees and networks of criss-crossing canals look best from the air and this is a morning sail through the sky that you won’t forget.
Once we come back down to land another treat is in store: lunch together at Michelin-starred Modern European restaurant De Gouden Harynck. After this fabulous meal at one of Northern Belgium’s finest restaurant the rest of the day is Bruges is yours to enjoy at your leisure. It’s hard to imagine a better place to do a little shopping and then relax and watch the world go by. Onward Travel will provide a destination guide to point you to all the best shops, historic sites, restaurants, cafes, beer bars and more that the city has to offer
Wednesday, October 18—Masterpiece Up Close
- Experience one of art history’s most prized works.
- Sip on local beer while cruising the canals of Ghent.
This morning you’ll enjoy the hotel’s beautiful breakfast buffet and then it’s time to bid farewell to Bruges – we’ll set off in our luxury transportation today and drive less than an hour to the cultural
hub of Ghent. Upon arrival a guide will lead us in a walking tour of the city center that ends at St. Bavo’s Cathedral – home of one of the world’s greatest treasures and an absolute masterpiece of rt
history, Jan Van Eyck’s nearly 700-year-old “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” known more commonly as “The Ghent Altarpiece.”
After you’ve been mesmerized like so many before you enjoy time for lunch and a little exploration on your own in the heart of this charming city. Then we’ll set out together for a private cruise through the canals during which our guide will teach us even more about the history of this important city – and also guide us in an on-board beer tasting of three delicious Belgian beers.
In the late afternoon we’ll transfer to our final destination, one hour away: Antwerp. Check in at Hotel de Witte Lelie, an absolutely chic one-of-a-kind tiny boutique hotel situated in a historic townhouse in the city center. Tonight our group will enjoy a classic Belgian meal together.
Thursday, October 19—Diamond City, Round 1
Experience the world’s best diamond shopping with a certified gemologist at your side.
Take part in various activities to get to know the fascinating and dynamic history of Antwerp past and present.
This morning we’ll grab a quick bakery breakfast together as we set out as a group for a guided bike ride that will orient us to Antwerp, with a special emphasis on the history of the city’s diamond trade along with its Jewish culture and traditions since all of these are intertwined.
In the late morning our group will divide into smaller groups. Between this afternoon and the following morning and afternoon everyone will go diamond shopping with Katie and also have their choice of two of the three other activities listed below.
Diamond shopping with Kate Szirmay: Each member of the group (or couple, or traveling companions) will be led by Kate Szirmay, Diamond Concierge, on a private diamond shopping trip. Kate has connections and know-how and will be able to help you find just what you’re looking for in the world’s greatest diamond district.
Rubenshuis: Enjoy a private guided tour of the home of Dutch Master Peter Paul Rubens, the “Palazzo on the Scheldt.” In the early 17th century he renovated and designed much of this home himself and a great deal of his work was created and is still housed here.
Plantin Moretus Museum: This printing plant and publishing house dates from the Renaissance and Baroque periods and is associated with the history of the invention and spread of typography. The oldest printing presses in the world are located here and you’ll enjoy a fascinating private tour that will truly take you back in time.
Fashion Walk: Find out more about Antwerp as a vibrant lifestyle city on this cultural exploration of the city, which focuses on contemporary design, architecture and history. The emphasis is on the more recent past when the city developed into a leading fashion centre. This isn’t a shopping trip, but an exploration of local fashion culture.
Spend this evening in Antwerp as you please.
Friday, October 20—Diamond City, Round 2
- Continue your adventures in Antwerp.
This morning everyone will enjoy the sumptuous champagne brunch spread at Hotel de Witte Lelie. Then the activities as described in Day 4 will be resumed.
This evening our group will gather for one final meal together – an unforgettable dining experience at De Godevaart, a fine dining restaurant where the chef is known for his experimental, creative cuisine with an emphasis on the local and the seasonal. We’ll dine festively tonight on the gorgeous six course menu with thoughtful wine accompaniments.
Saturday, October 21—Farewell!
- Head home with wonderful memories.
Our driver will transfer us the 30 minutes to Brussels Zaventum Airport this morning to catch flights home, and we’ll bring along a breakfast for the road. For those who wish to stay on in Brussels, it’s only a short train ride from the airport to the city. Vaarwel!
- $3,650 based on double occupancy.
- Air travel is not included but Onward Travel is happy to assist. Please see the Itinerary PDF for additional information on coordinating your flight.
- Contact Onward Travel with questions at 267.825.5880 or email@example.com.