Day 1 – Arrive into New York and settle into your hotel. Dinner in an ethnic restaurant of your choice. Explore that ethnic neighborhood with your knowledgeable, funny guide.
Day 2 – Go to Ellis Island, explore the museum with your guide and look up the records of your family members.
Day 3 – In the morning, visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. After lunch, board your flight to Brussels, Belgium.
Day 4 – Upon arrival, meet your guide who will travel with you to Antwerp. Explore the magnificent train station, and after checking into your hotel, spend the afternoon at the famous Antwerp Zoo, located next to the train station.
Day 5 – Visit the Red Star Line Museum in the former headquarters on the Antwerp docks where 1,000’s of European immigrants passed through before being transported to New York, Philadelphia and Halifax in the late 1800’s. Access the Red Star Line databanks to search for family members who were admitted through Ellis Island. Typical dinner of mussels and fries.
Day 6 – Visit the Museum Aande Stroom, not far from the Red Star Line. This museum features a viewable storage area where you can see and discuss how museums store, preserve and rotate their collections. Other floors explore Prestige and Symbols, the Life of a City – Past, Present and Future, Trade and Shipping and Life and Death. The view from the roof is spectacular over the port and city of Antwerp.
Day 7 – Take the train with your guide to the city of Mechelen, a once magnificent, now sleepy port on the River Dijle. Your walking tour will illuminate the history of the trade and emigration throughout European history and how the confluence of rivers in Belgium played a part in that over time. After lunch in a local brewery, visit Kazerne Dossin Memorial and Holocaust Museum to understand how the same trade routes which moved goods and immigrants also were used by the Nazis to move European Jews to Buchenwald. Museum includes an exhibit which explains the progressive events which lead to genocide in a way that young people can relate to and another which chronicles other genocides past and present.
Day 8 – Take a train to the beautiful and charming walled town of Bruges. Spend time on the river and canals there, explore the Beguinage, an example of the semi-monastic communities of wealthy women which existed from the 12th to the 19th centuries in the Low Countries. They ministered during the day through various charities to their city residents, retreating at night to protected compounds. Feed the famous swans and sample Belgian Waffles at one of the many stalls.
Day 9 – Return by train to the Brussels airport for the flight home.