Bike and Barge Holland — Flowers, walled towns and typical Dutch!

April 21-28, 2018

Late April is glorious in Holland-- A perfect bicycle tour to see the flower fields of the renown Keukenhof, and acres of blossoming trees adorning Hollands "Green Heart". We'll harbor in the famous cities of Gouda, oldest city-Dordrecht, quaint Gorinchem-- and the University town of Utrecht. Along the way we'll enjoy a working cheese farm, beautiful Loevenstein castle, real clog shoemaker, working windmill, and Kingsday!

Trip Itinerary

Utrecht (26 miles)

Our trip starts Saturday at noon when we board our barge/hotel, settle into our cabins, and get our bikes fitted and ready to go.

We will sail by boat along the Rhine Canal to the tiny town of Breukelen where we start our cycle along the famous Vecht River.

We have entered the Province of Utrecht - a region of centuries-old villages, expanses of flat and watery pastureland punctuated by windmills, castles and dozens of mansions built by Amsterdam merchants as weekend retreats during the 17th and 18th centuries.

We'll stop for a tour to a working windmill in the village of Oude Zuilen before heading into the historical center of Utrecht.

Utrecht

Historical Utrecht

Like many European cities, at one time Utrecht was a Roman fortress built by Emperor Claudius along the river Rhine which still flows along the oldest canal in the city.

Gorinchem (30 miles)

Our boat sails during breakfast and drops us at tiny Vianen- a lovely walled town from the 1200s. We’ll take some time to explore before heading off cycling.

We’ll join the famous Linge Route — a meandering voyage along the beautiful Linge River — passing farmhouses and quaint old Dutch villages. It's here we will break for lunch by a working fruit farm.

At the Waal River we cross by ferry to the medieval town of Brakel and skirt the river dike until we reach the medieval castle Loevenstein built in 1361. After a tour we will water taxi to our destination of Gorinchem- itself a beautiful walled town with charming city center.

Day off-Gorinchem (30 miles)

Today is a “free day” but we have lots planned. Of course you are welcome to enjoy your day as you please and Suzie has even prepared a “cue sheet” of the countryside along the river for those that would enjoy cycling on their own.

Monday is Market Day in Gorinchem and great fun to partake of this popular community event .

Then, we head for a visit to a "Ambachtlijke" traditional Dutch shoemaker, Pieter Den Dekker. We'll enjoy cake and coffee and then he'll show us his old craft only practiced today by a few passing on an honored trade.

Den Dekker Shoemaker in the Netherlands

In the Shoemaker's workshop

We finish our day with a typical Dutch treat- delicious Pannekoek- at a restaurant in the town square.

Dordrecht (30 miles)

Today we head west to the famous city of Dordrecht.

Our route will journey through the Biesbosch National Park — a green maze of several rivers, islands and a vast network of narrow and wide creeks. Known as one of the largest, valuable natural areas in the Netherlands, it's also one of the few remaining fresh-water tidal areas in Europe.

Over a thousand years old, Dordrecht lies on the confluence of three mighty rivers which made it a major trade stop in the 13th and 14th centuries for goods traveling north and south along the waterways. Most notably, Dordrecht was the sight of a famous meeting in 1572 where the Netherlands decided to declare its independence from King Philip of Spain.

We'll explore- with our local guide- the city's beauty and treasured history along its cozy harbor, past old merchant houses and beautifully reflected in nearly 1,000 well preserved monuments.

Gouda (30 miles)

We leave Dordrecht early to experience tourist-free Kinderdijk — honored as a World Heritage Treasure by UNESCO in 1997. Built in 1740 and preserved to this day, 19 sturdy mills were built in Kinderdijk — a concentration of this number found nowhere else in the world.

Kinderdijk Bike and the Like Bike and Barge

Snapping an early morning photo at Kinderdijk

We’ll be cycling through the Alblassarwaard- a pastoral landscape dotted by small towns and windmills. For those animal lovers, just born baby lambs will be scampering with their mothers and crossing our paths on the dikes.

I am still sorting through my 1500 photos…, gees!! What a fabulous trip. I have told so many people that the adventure was made even better by Suzie and Roger's fun, care, knowledge, and attention.

~ Terry Burrows, Maine

Heading north through Holland's Green Heart we stop to visit the De Jonge family run dairy and cheesemaker. Here we'll take a tour and participate hands-on with a working farm and learn about the important dairy industry in the Netherlands.

Time permitting we hope to see Schoonhoven - founded in 1280 and called Silvertown because of its famous past in Silversmithing. From here it's only a few miles along a quiet river into Gouda.

Our town walk this evening will enjoy Gouda’s vibrant historic center- including a visit to the 123-metre long St. Janskerk (St. John’s Church) with its world-famous stained-glass windows, the fabulous Gothic Town Hall, and the Waag (Weigh House).

Groene Hart

The Green Heart

Gouda Cheese Market -Oude Wetering (25 miles)

We will linger a bit this morning for the Thursday morning GOUDA CHEESE MARKET -a spectacular and historic scene with lively cheese trading and a market square full of assorted vendors showing their foods and trades.

We take leave of Gouda into the Goudse Hout (woods)- a recreational area surrounded by a huge lake that we cycle across like we're floating on the water while gazing upon a beautifully preserved grassland landscape.

Gouda Cheese Market

Gouda Cheese Market

As tomorrow is Kingsday, you will see beautiful decorations everywhere in anticipation of this most celebrated day in the Netherlands.

Keukenhof and Kingsday! (33 miles)

Today is Kingsday- the most important holiday of the Netherlands, celebrating the birthday of King Willem Alexander. It’s a huge party in the Netherlands and we will start our party by enjoying the most celebrated flower garden in the world.

The gardens are only a few miles from our boat docking so we plan on arriving when they open.

We enjoy about 2.5 hours, taking in the spectacular grounds and all the pavilions packed with Expos, history and background of flowers, including all kinds of interesting information!

After our visit we have time to spare to cycle the bulb fields-hopefully full of color.

Our final miles skirt a beautiful lake, the Amsterdam Forest, and some unusual car-free cycling through the city of Amsterdam to enjoy the final hours of Kingsday.

Tulip Fields  Bike and Barge Holland

Our group posing in the beautiful Flower Fields

Good Bye to the Netherlands

Saturday morning we will have a farewell breakfast, say our goodbyes to cycling friends and the wonderful hospitality of our captain and crew. We disembark at 9 a.m. for home.

Trip Difficulty

The Netherlands terrain is mostly flat, but we can experience wind and rain which are weather factors that impact cylcing experience and ability.

So, we recommend this trip for an athletic person or experienced recreational cyclist who can average 25-30 miles/day and likes to average 8-10 m.p.h. on easy/flat terrain while enjoying a leisurely trip. Leisurely means that we are never rushing and like to stop every five or so miles to explore and take pictures.

Of course, you can always take a break from cycling and enjoy sailing from the sundeck of our barge — quite a delightful experience!

We do not use the assistance of a support vehicle on our Bike and Barge tours.

Transportation

Amsterdam is serviced by Schiphol Airport, located just a few miles from the city center where our boats are located. There is both excellent public transportation and reasonably priced shuttle service available from the airport to the city.

As with all European trips, we advise our cyclists to arrive a few days early to acclimate to the time change, get acquainted with the new culture and sightsee beautiful Amsterdam.

Additional Information

Our boat provides a comfortable base from which to explore.

The Sarah provides a comfy base from which to explore.

WELKOM onboard the Sarah! Owners and hosts, Jur and Connie, are proud of their lovely vessel with roomy bedrooms featuring two lower beds and a private bath.

Our boat also features a spacious & comfortable dining area and salon for relaxing amd mingling. There is also a wonderful sundeck where we can enjoy afternoon snacks, socializing or quiet time while sailing.

More information including what to pack, pre-trip lodging in Amsterdam, traveling abroad, tips on airfare, and other important pre-trip details will be provided in our detailed WELCOME LETTER sent to you when we receive your registration for the trip.

Please visit the Trip Information page for more general trip information and registration. Also feel free to e-mail Suzie and Roger with any questions.

Francien, Suzie and Roger

Suzie, Roger and our Dutch host Francien

A comfortable bedroom on the Sarah

The Sarah features comfortable bedrooms

Some bedrooms have bunkbeds

All beds on floor level-2 triple rooms available.

A well-appointed bathroom on the Sarah

A well-appointed bathroom on the Sarah