Bike and Barge Holland — Flowers and Typical Holland!
EARLY BIRD $1,299 per person
April 23-30, 2016
April is glorious in Holland! A perfect bicycle tour with colors of flower fields, visit to the renown Keukenhof, and acres of blossoming trees adorning Hollands "Green Heart". We'll harbor in the famous cities of Gouda, Leiden, Dordrecht and Haarlem to enjoy their history and beauty. Along the way we'll enjoy beautiful landscapes, visits to walled towns and medieval castles and the famous windmilled village of Kinderdijk. This trip may be cycled in reverse if flowers already in bloom!
Utrecht (20 miles)
Our trip starts Saturday afternoon 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 town of Bruekelen (from where our N.Y. borough gets its name!) and depart to start our cycling.
We have entered the Province of Utrecht - a region of centuries-old villages, beautiful pastureland punctuated by windmills, castles and dozens of mansions built on the lovely river Vecht during the Dutch Golden Age of 17th and 18th centuries.
We'll stop at Oud Zuilen to meet with the mill keeper and take a tour of the windmill. Not far away lies the city of Utrecht where we'll take some time to walk the old town before heading to the barge for our first nights dinner.
Gorinchem (30 miles)
Today we'll cycle some of the beautiful area surrounding the Province of Utrecht in search of some of Holland's medieval history.
Just in case we did not see enough of the historic sites, we will take time after breakfast on a quiet Sunday morning to see more of Utrecht- the famous Dom Tower among some of our beautiful sights.
We leave the city center passing some old waterline forts and a restored castle. Soon we are emersed in the Spring landscapes of the Betuwe region — Holland's largest fruit producing area also known as the "Orchard of Holland".
April is prime blooming season and we hope to catch the beauty of hectars of flowering apple, pear and cherry trees!
Midway in our day we'll join the famous Linge Route — a meandering voyage along the beautiful Linge River — passing lovely farmhouses and quaint old Dutch villages. It's here we will break for lunch by an Orchard.
Crossing the great Waal River at the small medieval town of Brakel, we'll skirt the river dike until we reach the great castle Loevenstein built in 1361. After a tour we will take a water taxi to our destination of Gorinchem- itself a beautiful walled town with charming city center.
Dordrecht (30 miles)
We'll water taxi in the morning to nearby Woudrichem — one of Holland's most beautifully preserved Medieval fortress towns dating back to the 800s.
Historic walled towns abound in the Netherlands
Today we head for a visit to an "Ambachtlijke" traditional Dutch shoemaker-Pieter Den Dekker. We'll enjoy morning cake and cofee and then he'll show us his old craft only practiced today by a few passing on an honored trade.
In the Shoemaker's workshop
A little further we enter 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.
We reach Dordrecht — our stop for the night. Over a thousand years old, Dordrecht lies on the confluence of three mighty rivers.
We'll explore the city's beauty and treasured history as we walk after dinner along its cozy harbor, past old merchant houses and beautifully reflected in nearly 1,000 well preserved monuments.
Gouda (30 miles)
We head north to explore the wonderful village of 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.
Today is our day to count windmills- usually 30 of them as we cycle the dike of the Lek River and enjoy panoramic views reaching miles. For those animal lovers, just born baby lambs will be scampering with their mothers and crossing our paths on the dikes.
We cross the Lek by small ferry and reach Schoonhoven - founded in 1280 and called Silvertown because of its famous past in Silversmithing. We will take time to enjoy lunch in the beautiful town square and to sightsee the town's little canals, intimate streets, beautiful walls and patrician houses.
The touring and sites that you took us to were all excellent, the towns were something that you could only imagine unless you were there. The accommodations on the boat were more than any of us could have expected and so much more.
~ Mike Affrunti, Massachusetts
Heading north we'll travel through the Krimpenerwaard — a vast area of Holland's Green Heart — polderlands separated by hundreds of canals and dotted with charming old villages.
We cross the "Dutch Ijssel" by bridge to enter Gouda.
Snapping an early morning photo at Kinderdijk
With over 300 preserved buildings, Gouda boasts a vibrant historic center including the 123-metre long St. Janskerk (St. John’s Church) with its world-famous stained-glass windows, the fabulous Gothic Town Hall, the Waag (Weigh House), and many wonderful museums such as the pipe and earthenware museum and the Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland (Resistance Museum).
You can also visit the Cultural and Harbour Quarter with Weeshuisplein (Orphanage Square), the Catharinatuin (Catherina Garden, various hofjes (almshouses) and Museumhaven Gouda (Gouda Harbour Museum).
We'll make a special visit to see, and of course enjoy, traditional Stroop Waffles made fresh while we wait!
Leiden (30 miles)
The Groene Hart.
We leave Gouda today following the Gouwe River, one of the oldest trading routes in Holland. On our way we'll visit the town of Boskoop- famous for cultivation of landscape materials and time-permitting, an organic farm to see how Gouda cheeese is made.
We reach Leiden- an unuaully beautiful city, famous for being not only the birthplace of Rembrandt but where he developed his painting skills and where Clusius brought the first Dutch tulips into flower.
Then there are 12 museums, whose priceless and unique collections have gained international fame.
Of course, of significant importance is that Leiden is the home of the first university in Holland (1575), which has developed into a world-famous centre of science.
Every Wednesday in Leiden, a fantastic open-air market is held along the banks of the Rhine. Along with wonderful sighseeing we will also enjoy the festivity of this 900 year old event!
Keukenhof — A day to visit the Tulips! Night in town of Haarlem (30 miles)
We depart Leiden today for a 10 mile ride to the famous bulb fields of the Keukenhof — known also as the Garden of Holland. The latter part of April — when we will be visiting — is known to be the best time to see eveything in full bloom! In 2008 it was a remarkable showing which we include in pictures on this page and our Photo Album.
Our group posing in the beautiful Flower Fields
Just a few miles outside of Leiden we'll enter the old village of Warmond and cycle through the grounds of the old mansion that look out onto the Kager Plaasen (lake). Just beyond we reach the town of Sassenheim with fields bursting forth in colors of reds, yellows, pinks, purples and more!
We like to meander the miles of Tulip Fields so our cyclists can enjoy and snapshot every bit of color! Mid-day we reach the Keukenhof and spend about 3 hours-taking in the spectacular grounds and all the pavilions packed with Expos, history and background of flowers, including all kinds of interesting information!
The Keukenhof also offers many places on the grounds to choose for a leisurely picnic lunch!
Our day ends not far from the Keukenhof in the capital of North Holland — Haarlem. Known for one of the most beautiful Market Squares and famous Hofjes (courtyards) in Holland, we'll spend the evening sightseeing Haarlem's historical treasures.
Back to Amsterdam (25 miles)
After breakfast on Friday, we'll start our course back to Amsterdam. Depending on the group's energy today, we can start with a diversion west to visit the lovely Dunes in the National Park Kennermerland.
We come east again along beautiful woods to make a stop at the enchanting castle ruins of the Castle Brederode.
Heading along protected bikepaths on dikes with long vistas of canal laden landscapes we fill with the excitement of having traveled back into Amsterdam "ON TWO WHEELS."
We see the planes approaching Schiphol Airport as we head straight for the city center and cycle the bike lanes along the canals back to our boat.
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.
The Netherlands terrain is mostly flat, but we can experience wind and rain which are weather factors that impact cyling 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 10-12 m.p.h. on easy/flat terrain while enjoying a leisurely trip. Leisurely means that we are never rushing and like to stop frequently 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.
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.
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.
We include lots!
- 7 nights / 8 days on floating lovely dutch boat-hotel with lower beds and private bath.
- All hearty breakfasts, packed lunches for picnics and 6 wonderful dinners.
- Entrance to the Keukenhof Flower Gardens, Brederode castle in Haarlem, Kinderdijk working windmill, Dutch Shoemaker, working cheese farm, & other unexpected excursions along our route, plus fares for ferries.
- We like to treat you to Dutch favorites like Apple cake with coffee, famous Stroop Waffles of Gouda, pannekoeken, delicious ice cream, and afternoon snacks after cycling
- Town walks in most of our port towns with visits to Museums.
- Suzie and Roger; Ride Leaders on route
- Bicycle rental with pannier
Last year this week was warm with beautiful flowers and offers great excursions and lots of adventure!