Who cares if the Netherlands was experiencing the coldest May in 100 years! It only rained for a short time each day and biking the quiet roads and visiting the historic villages in the Netherlands made it all worth while.
Ray's bicycle accident in mid-April put an end to his plans to bicycle in the Netherlands, but Joan Potter gladly accepted our invitation to be my room mate on the river barge Angeline. Joan left her husband Ric taking care of Ray in our home in Ottawa and flew to Amsterdam the same day I arrived in the city by train from Bruges. We had two days to explore the city before switching from our cozy Amsterdam condo to the Angeline to start our two week bicycle tour. We were busy. We joined a walking tour of Amsterdam, visited the newly renovated Rijksmuseum, the Van Loon House, once the home of an East India company director, Rembrandt House and the Aalsmeer Flower Market. We were never at a loss for places to visit.
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The two week bicycle tour worked beautifully. Joan and I shared a compact, well designed cabin, with our own bathroom, one of 14 on the boat. It was a real Can-Am trip, with 12 Canadians, all friends of Al and Liz Robinson, who suggested the trip to us, and 15 friendly Americans. We shared our meals in the onboard dining room, seated around four circular tables. The food, prepared by our chef, Daniel, from Malta, and his assistants, Mary and Jeff, from Australia, and our trusty Dutch Captain, Jeroen, was varied and excellent. Our buffet breakfast included the makings to prepare a picnic lunch to take on our bike ride that day. Each dinner brought a tribute to the cuisine of another country.
Our two Dutch guides, Josée and Willemina, were excellent. We had a choice of two tour lengths, one a bit longer than the other. The first day we were fitted out on our sturdy, well maintained Dutch bikes. With mostly flat terrain, we didn't need our lighter road bikes. The Dutch bikes rolled along very well. Each day the Angeline motored down the rivers to our next overnight spot while we toured a different section of the roads and villages bordering the IJssel River and other bordering rivers. Some of the stops we made were to Utrecht, Arhem, De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Zutphen, Deventer, Appledoorn, and Geithorn. The itinerary was varied and well paced. We even had time in the evening for a guided walking tour of several of the villages. Before we knew it, our two weeks were up and we pedalled back to Amsterdam for a last visit in the city before flying home.
Joan and I would jump at the chance for a return visit to the Netherlands. We highly recommend the company that arranged our trip.
For more information see www.bikeandbarge.com and browse the IJssel Tour.
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Read Bruges May 2013
Read Granny at Eurocamp 2013
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