By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
If you and your family have not made summer vacation plans, may I recommend you investigate Trafalgar’s Family Experiences 2011. The itineraries are packed with activities specially chosen to engage and entertain families. You and your family can see all the famous sights that you’ve learned about in school. Included in your family’s vacation will be what Trafalgar calls “Hidden Treasures.” These authentic local experiences would probably never occur if you might be traveling on your own. Here are the highlights of Trafalgar’s Family Experiences 2011, the nine-Day “Magic and Make Believe.”
• In London, visit the Royal Horse Guards in Whitehall or ask a London Bobby (policeman) how to get to Platform 9-3/4 at Kings Cross Station to see where Harry Potter left for Hogwarts! You can schedule a Charles Dickens or Sherlock Homes tour of London.
• Board an air-conditioned luxury motor coach for an excursion to the historic town of Royal Windsor. This includes a visit inside Windsor Castle, the weekend retreat of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Your visit to Windsor will also probably include a visit to St. George’s Chapel and the final resting place of King George VI and the Queen Mother Elizabeth.
• For dinner, your Tour Director can recommend any number of fine restaurants located nearby. After dinner why not take in a play? How about the musical version of “The Wizard of Oz”?
• A morning sightseeing tour will show you Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace with an opportunity to see the Changing of the Guard. In the afternoon why not visit the National History Museum and see the Crown Jewels in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. Children will find it fascinating to view the armor worn by King Henry VIII that is on exhibit in the Tower, or see the chopping block where Anne Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh were executed.
• Take a cruise on the River Thames to Greenwich. At the Palace of Greenwich, do as I did, and place one foot in the East and the other in the West Hemisphere. I was amazed at the historical clock collection and especially interesting is the clock the clock from which the world’s clocks are set. Another suggestion is to visit Hampton Court, Henry VIII’s palace. You might even encounter the purported ghost of Catherine Howard who has been seen running down the halls begging Henry to spare her lovely head.
• Leave London where you’ll board the famous fast train, the Eurostar. This train will whisk you and your family into Paris in just over 2 hours and 15 minutes. You’ll be transferred to the Novotel Tour Eiffel and have a chance to see some of the incredible sights of this fabulous city. How about the “Museum of Man” with its fabulous exhibits of the Neanderthal Man.
• Board your luxurious motorcoach for a sightseeing tour which includes ascending the Eiffel Tower to the very top for awesome views of The City of Light. You’ll also see Notre Dame Cathedral, drive along the famed Champs Elysees. You’ll drive by the square where lovely Marie Antoinette lost her lovely head, the site of The Bastille, the dungeons where so many anti-revolutionaries where kept until their ride to the square where Messieur Guillotine’s invention awaited them. You’ll have time then to explore Paris on your own. Why not take a glass-topped boat cruise along the River Seine and see the sights from a different angle. You might want to unwind at one of France’s famous bistros. How about sampling some real French onion soup?
• During your last full day of your European holiday, may I suggest a visit to the Louvre and the famed Greek statue, Winged Victory that greets visitors on the Grand Staircase? Or, wander past a rather small painting by Leonardo di Vinci of a beautiful lady, La Giacondo (we call the painting the Mona Lisa), whose eyes seem to follow you as you move across the painting. Did you know that when this beautiful lady visited the United States several years ago, she traveled uninsured. You see, the value of this painting is “priceless.” Why not visit the hall with famous Greek statue like the Venus di Milo? If you extend an invitation to other members of your family, you and them can save 5 percent. If nine or more of your family and friends want to travel with you on Magic and Make Believe tour, one of your party can qualify for a 50 percent discount off the land-only portion of the tour.