Eastern Holland: Bike & Barge

Dates: October 7 – 15, 2016
Land Cost: $800
Single Supplement: $600
Difficulty Level: Easy
What’s Included: 7 nights, daily breakfast and dinner, group transfer from/to the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport; English-speaking guide, bicycle rental, all entrance fees, support vehicle and our famous t-shirt.

Immediate immersion . . .

. . . in all things Dutch marks your first day in the Netherlands, where you’re to bike and barge in the water-threaded reaches of Eastern Holland. From Amsterdam Airport you’ll be transported by coach to Zaanse Schans, a village where the making of wooden shoes (still in use for special purposes) is a local industry and windmills are in easy evidence, grinding things from seeds to paint pigments as well as being adapted to sawing logs. Lunch?  Pancakes. Before the afternoon is out the group will be aboard the barge and sailing toward Wijk bij Duurstede, our harbor for the night. Watching the scenery from a deck chair makes for a nice recovery from a night on the plane.

The following day finds you on the bicycle and in a forest – is that combination a first for you? Not for the Dutch, who provide fine bike trails for just about anywhere they might want to go. The barge will meet us at Arnhem, where we spend the night. Moving on, into country infrequently visited by Americans, heather fields as well as forests become part of the landscape. Our sightseeing includes a visit to Oosterbeek and the Airborne museum there as well as the World War II cemetery where many graves are those of American soldiers. The movie A Bridge Too Far is an account of activities there during the war.

We are discovering what is meant by “polder” – it’s land reclaimed from the sea – and like the locals, we are comfortable with our chosen transportation forms, bicycle and barge. The province of Flevoland, completely reclaimed from what once was called the Zuiderzee (now the IJsselmeer) is of course flat and hospitable to both our modes of transportation.

The area has fishing towns, of course, pastry shops you may remember for a long time, and gives you the opportunity to eat raw herring as the Dutch do.  What’s needed:  raw herring cut in small pieces, sprinkled with chopped onions, along with toothpicks as eating utensils of choice. The last is essential. A final introduction to Eastern Holland is a visit to the fishing and boat-building town of Spakenburg, where traditional costumes are still worn by the older women who live there.

The tour ends with the barge anchored for two nights in the Amsterdam harbor, allowing a day to enjoy the museums, the cafes, the shops of this sophisticated but wholly individual city. Amsterdam has a long history of being home base for adventurers and welcoming adventurers as visitors. As one of the latter, you will have a fine experience.