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Experience WWI centennial history with a European river cruise

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Updated: 2/03 12:12 pm

Only a handful of people around the world are old enough to remember World War I, yet as the 100th anniversary of the first truly global war approaches, its impact on the world can still be felt today. In many ways, WWI set the stage for all world-wide conflicts to come; it was the first war that truly affected almost all the world, the first in which aircraft played a role, and the first conflict in which modern weapons created casualties in the millions.

And one of the world's most poignant remembrances - red poppies to memorialize fallen soldiers - springs from a WWI poem, 'In Flanders Fields.' Penned by a Canadian physician following a pivotal battle, the poem encompasses both the tragedy and heroism of fallen soldiers in the symbol of the red poppies that grew in the famous field.

Today, Flanders Fields draws visitors who, although they don't remember the war, wish to remember those who served in it, and the lessons WWI taught the world. As people around the world prepare to commemorate the centennial of WWI, many will plan a trip to this historic spot.

An all-inclusive tour, like those offered by Tauck, can take care of the details for travelers, allowing them more time to enjoy the experience of travel and immerse themselves in the culture and history of a location. A tour ensures everything is taken care of - hotel accommodations, on-tour transportation, sight-seeing and special entertainment - often for far less than you would pay if you arranged everything yourself.

This year, travelers who wish to take part in the WWI 100th anniversary have a unique opportunity to visit Flanders Fields on Tauck's 'Belgium and Holland in Spring' European river cruise. On the fourth day of this 10-day cruise, guests will visit the Flemish city of Ieper (Ypres), where the Battle of Flanders was fought. Travelers will also visit the In Flanders Fields Museum and partake in an exclusive dinner in the reconstructed Cloth Hall, commemorating battles fought from 1914 to 1918.

History, culture and scenic beauty permeate the other nine days of the itinerary, with stops in historically significant locations throughout the inland waterways of Holland and Belgium, including:

* Brussels - Sightsee in Belgium's capital city, taking in once-in-a-lifetime sights such as Grande-Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Motor from Brussels to Margraten to visit the Netherlands American Cemetery, where thousands of World War II American soldiers are interred.

* Antwerp - A key Belgian port city and the capital of Flanders, Antwerp offers many sights, including a historic center where you'll find the Grote Markt (old market square) and the Cathedral of Our Lady. Visit the Red Star Line Museum and absorb the history of the shipping company that ferried more than 2 million European immigrants from the Netherlands to new lives in North America.

* Rotterdam - Devastated by the Luftwaffe in WWII, the Netherlands' second-largest city has rebuilt over the decades to become a thriving 21st-century commercial, transportation and cultural hub, often called the 'Gateway to Europe.'

* Alkmarr - The windmill is an iconic symbol of the Netherlands and what journey to the region would be complete without a visit to the Schermer Museum Molen. Dating to 1634, the windmill structure now houses a museum that explores how windmills influenced the region's culture and economy.

* Amsterdam - From the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, journey to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, where you'll see another Dutch icon - millions of blooming tulips, along with daffodils, hyacinths, lilies crocuses and bluebells. You'll also enjoy a canal cruise through Amsterdam's network of Renaissance-era waterways, lined by quaint architecture. A stop at the world-renowned Rijksmuseum affords guests a chance to admire masterpieces by Dutch masters such as Rembrandt.

For a full itinerary and to learn about other European river cruises, visit tauck.com.

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