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Barge and Bicycle: Holland and Belgium

Program Number: 10530RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/16/2014 - 5/31/2014; 8/8/2014 - 8/23/2014; 9/5/2014 - 9/20/2014;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: Netherlands/Belgium
Price starting at: $3,985.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Bicycling Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 29; 14 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 14 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the Dutch provinces of South Holland, Brabant, Zeeland, Limburg and Gelderland and the Flanders region of Belgium as you barge along rivers and canals and bike through the fields and towns of these picturesque areas. With experts onboard the barge and in the field, discuss windmills, Dutch history and architecture, Roman influence in the Netherlands, the difference between the Flemish and the Walloons and much more.




Highlights

• In Antwerp, visit the elegant guild houses of the 16th century and the Cathedral of Our Lady, home to three Peter Paul Rubens masterpieces.
• Ride along Holland’s abundant bicycle paths to see its charming small homes and famous tulips and other flowers.
• Sample local food specialties as you go, including Belgian beer, hot chocolate, mussels and fries, “Dutch gin” and broodjes (rolls stuffed with meat and cheese).



Activity Particulars

Biking 25 to 35 miles per day at a speed of 11 miles per hour with rest stops; bike as a group in single file on flat bicycle paths, some paved secondary roads with light traffic. Wind and rain may affect degree of difficulty. Personal bike helmet required.



Program itinerary subject to change due to water levels, lock and bridge schedules, local conditions.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Amsterdam (Netherlands), coach to de Zaanse Schans, barge to Utrecht, 1 night; bike and barge to Willemstad, 1 night; to Antwerp (Belgium), 2 nights; to Hasselt, 1 night; to Maastricht, 2 nights; to Roermond, 1 night; to Arcen, 1 night; to Cuyk, 1 night; to Den Bosch, 1 night; to Vianen, 1 night; to Amsterdam, 2 nights; departure.



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Coach to Zaandam
Barge to Utrecht
1 night
Bike and barge to Willemstad
1 night
Bike and barge to Antwerp
(Belgium)
2 nights
Bike and barge to Hasselt
1 night
Bike and barge to Maastricht
2 nights

Barge through picturesque Dutch villages, admiring classic windmills. Enjoy expert-led bicycle rides to villages including medieval Bergen op Zoom. Explore the city of Antwerp and try monk-brewed beers. Discover the beautifully preserved city of Maastricht.



Bike and barge to Roermond
1 night
Bike and barge to Arcen
1 night
Bike and barge to Cuyk
1 night
Bike and barge to Den Bosch
1 night
Bike and barge to Vianen
1 night
Barge to Amsterdam
2 nights
Departure

Take in the scenery as you barge along the Meuse River and the Juliana Canal. Enjoy a bike excursion to Thorn, known for its uniformly white houses, and watch your surroundings change from cow pastures to tall buildings as you barge into Amsterdam.




Accommodations
Double-occupancy barge cabins, each with basin, toilet, central heating. Ship features day room, small bar, outdoor seating on upper deck.
Meals and Lodgings
   Fiep
  In Flight
Utrecht, Netherlands
Willemstad, Netherlands
Antwerp, Belgium
Hasselt, Belgium
Maastricht, Netherlands
Roermond, Netherlands
Arcen, Netherlands
Cuyk, Netherlands
Den Bosch, Netherlands
Vianen, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands
15 nights
 Fiep
Type: Barge
  Ship Information: The Fiep, formerly known as the Anna Cornelia, was built in 1912 as a cargo ship. She was converted into a passenger vessel in 2001 and underwent a total renovation in 2013. There are two sundecks with awnings, tables and chairs, as well as a sitting lounge and dining area. The ten twin-bedded and two single cabins are all located on the lower deck of the barge.
  Contact info: No street address available as
the barge continually moves,   Netherlands
phone: +31 06 51552268
  Smoking allowed: No


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
10:30 AM - group meets at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. You will be staying at Fiep that night.
  End of Program:
Early morning group transfer to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. You will be staying at Fiep the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. International Bicycle Tours, Inc., the entity that will provide the bicycling and barging activity during this program requires signed liability release waivers from all customers. Participants will be required to sign IBT's liability release waiver to participate in the program's bicycling and barging activity. That waiver will be included in the preparatory material participants will receive after enrolling in the program and must be returned prior to the program's commencement.
  Parking availability:
Parking is not available.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Taxi, bus & train available. Refer to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport's website for specifics and to review schedules & fares: http://www.schiphol.nl/Reizigers/VanNaarSchiphol.htm
To Start of Program
  Location:  Utrecht
  Nearest airport:  Amsterdam Schiphol
  Transportation to site: Directions to the barge in Amsterdam before 1:00 PM: take a taxi to Oosterdok. Tell the driver you want to go to NEMO; all the barges dock in front of NEMO, look for the Fiep. If your flight arrives late: take a train from the airport to Utrecht. From the Utrecht train station, take a taxi to Keulse Kade/Douwe Egberts. The barge will be there no earlier than 5:00 PM. If you are departing the U.S. prior to the group departure and plan to connect with the group at the airport on the day the program commences, be sure to be at the meeting point at the time indicated. If you plan to meet the group at the barge, please notify our office prior to your departure: (860) 767-7005 or info@internationalbicycletours.com.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Amsterdam
  Nearest highway: Amsterdam Schiphol
  Transportation from site: Take a taxi from the barge in Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport; approximate travel time is 25 minutes. Taxi will cost about €50. You may also take a train from Centraal Station to Schiphol Airport. Centraal Station is a 15-minute walk from the barge. Travel time by train is 15 minutes. Review schedules and fares online: http://www.ns.nl/.
Equipment Requirements: Participants must bring and wear their own bicycle helmet.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart US
(Friday, September 5)
   
 Afternoon: Overnight flight.
   
Accommodations: Fiep

Day 2: Zaanse Schans/Wooden Shoe Making Demonstration/Bicycle Fitting and Test Run/Welcome Dinner
(Saturday, September 6)
   
 Morning: Arrival Amsterdam. By coach to de Zaanse Schans, a picturesque village with many windmills and a shop where wooden shoes are made. Your guide will explain the various uses of the windmill, which among other things, was once used to keep the land from flooding.
 Lunch: Enjoy a wonderful pancake lunch as your first introduction to Dutch food.
 Afternoon: Barge to Utrecht. After docking, test your bike and gear for proper fit.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner and orientation.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Windmills/Willemstad
(Sunday, September 7)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Lecture on safety, rules of the road, and the IBT corner system as you barge to Schoonhoven, a town known for its silversmiths. Then a stop in Kinderdijk provides for an unbelievable view of a row of windmills along the dike.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Board the barge in Dordrecht and continue on to Willemstad. Before dinner, attend a lecture on the history of The Netherlands.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Medieval Bergen op Zoom/Province of Zeeland
(Monday, September 8)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Bicycle to the medieval town of Bergen op Zoom, and attend a lecture on its history and traditions. There is even a Dutch song named for the town.
 Lunch: On your own. Explore the masterful and delectable pastries in the city's bakeries!
 Afternoon: Bicycle along a dike to the locks where the barge will depart and continue on through the province of Zeeland, to Antwerp, Belgium.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Antwerp: Home of Rubens' Paintings/Sampling Belgium's Cuisine
(Tuesday, September 9)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Explore Antwerp, the diamond capital of Belgium. A lecture on the city's history is followed by a field trip to the elegant guild houses of the 16th century and the cathedral, home to three of Rubens' works, including his masterpiece, Deposition.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free for independent exploration of Antwerp. Try french fries with a platter of mussels - nothing is more Belgian! Sample one of the many beers brewed by monks; it is not likely you'll find these brands stateside. Before dinner, attend a lecture on Belgian history.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: The Albert Canal/Heather Fields and Bicycle Trails
(Wednesday, September 10)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Depart Antwerp by barge via the Albert Canal, a busy commercial hub. Learn about the governing and operation of the canal's locks as the barge cruises into the Kempen, a peaceful region of moors, heather fields and forests.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: After lunch (which might be a picnic!), bicycle on a quiet trail along the Albert Canal to Hasselt.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Hasselt: Patrician Houses/Dutch Gin
(Thursday, September 11)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Explore Hasselt and learn about the 12th-century cathedral with its 18th-century tower, as well as the patrician houses on the big square, which date to the 1600s and have names such as "The Pelican" and "The Sword."
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Before leaving Hasselt, look into the town's specialty: Dutch gin, which has nothing to do with the Dutch, but that's what the Belgians call it. You may not want to try this drink during the day as there is still a way to go to Maastricht after crossing the border into Holland.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Maastricht: Roman Roots/Exploring Maastricht
(Friday, September 12)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Discover the beautifully preserved city of Maastricht. Learn about its Roman roots through a lecture and field trip. Explore the gothic St. Servaas church and Hellgate, the only gate left from 1229 CE.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration of the delightful city of Maastricht and a chance to sample beer, gin or a hot chocolate at one of the many terraces.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Thorn: The White Village/Limburg's Specialty: Vlaai
(Saturday, September 13)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Barge to Born via the Juliana Canal, where you debark at the locks. From here, bicycle to Thorn, the White Village on Belgium's border known for its patterned, cobblestone streets and white painted houses. The only non-white building is the 14th-century church.
 Lunch: On your own. Try the province of Limburg's local specialty, a delicious cake called "vlaai." Our next stop is Roermond.
 Afternoon: Pleasant biking as we enjoy the homes around us with their little gardens and the owners' cars parked in front (not many homes have a garage). You'll note that cars in The Netherlands tend to be smaller than those in the USA.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Ancient Venlo/Limburg's Forest
(Sunday, September 14)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Bicycle to Venlo, an ancient city dating back to the Romans. As you explore, notice the many different Dutch dialects, including the local Limburg dialect with its soft "g" sounds.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: The Dutch often eat "broodjes" for lunch, which are rolls stuffed with meat or cheese. The journey continues, mostly on bike trails and through some forest, to Arcen.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Arcen: Castle Gardens /Paddestoelen
(Monday, September 15)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: The day starts in Arcen with a field trip to the gardens at the local castle. Today’s trip takes us close to the German border. Don’t look for any customs people, either here or in Belgium, the Europeans have done away with border checkpoints years ago.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Holland has more bicycle paths than any country in the world and all are marked by road signs in the form of "paddestoelen," or mushrooms, which have a number on top corresponding to a detailed bicycle road map, as well as directions to nearby towns. End the day in Cuyk on the river Maas.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Province of Brabant/Den Bosch: Gothic Architecture
(Tuesday, September 16)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: In the province of Brabant, explore small villages, taking in the local customs and well-tended homes. Gardening is big in The Netherlands and it shows!
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Zaltbommel
 Afternoon: Barge to the locks of Lith before ending the day with a ride into Den Bosch, where the painter Hieronymus Bosch (1450 - 1516) lived and worked. The cathedral is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, including devil-shaped gargoyles. Later, explore more of the capital of the province of Brabant.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Heusden: A Walled Town/Castle Loevestein
(Wednesday, September 17)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Through a lecture and excursion, explore the walled-town of Heusden, then continue on to an exploration of the well-preserved Loevestein Castle, which was built in 1357.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: From the castle, cross by ferry to Gorinchem and see a 16th-century Gothic tower, slightly leaning to one side. Continue by barge to Vianen to stay for the night.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Vecht River/Our Last Miles....
(Thursday, September 18)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Enjoy one last ride on your two-wheeler from Breukelen, located on the river Vecht, to Nigtevegt before we set sail toward Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: After lunch we meet up with our barge and relax on deck as we motor to Amsterdam, our final destination.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15: Amsterdam: Canals and Bridges/Amsterdam's Museums
(Friday, September 19)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Our guide leads you on a journey along Amsterdam's canals to the city center. The river Amstel is crossed by several canals, lined with beautiful 16th- and 17th-century homes with a variety of different gable styles.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore the city and its many museums, including the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Departure
(Saturday, September 20)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Transfer to Amsterdam Airport for return flight. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you return on more rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Worldly Art


Author: Mariet Westermann


Description: This appreciative analysis of Dutch art in its Golden Age (1585-1718) features 100 exemplary illustrations by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch, Frans Hals and other Old Masters.



Amsterdam, A Traveler's Literary Companion


Author: Manfred Wolf (Editor)


Description: Organized by district, these 17 contemporary short stories by modern Dutch writers, including Cees Nooteboom and Geert Mak, are set amid the canals, cafes and neighborhoods of Amsterdam.



Benelux Map


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Description: Covering the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg at a scale of 1:400,000.



Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer


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Description: A British journalist, Winner interviews football stars -- along with architects, political scientists and novelists -- in this insightful, humorous look at the transformation of Dutch society since the 1970s.



Dutch, A Rough Guide Phrasebook


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Description: An A-Z pocket dictionary, phrasebook and mini-guide to the Dutch language.



Eyewitness Guide Brussels, Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp


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Description: This superbly illustrated guide features color photos and maps of city neighborhoods, with information on history, culture and sightseeing.



Fodor's Amsterdam & the Netherlands


Author: Fodors


Description: The up-to-date, full color Fodor's guide features invaluable recommendations on where to stay and eat and what to do throughout Holland. With side trips to Belgium, it's ideal for either a weekend trip or an extended visit.



Girl With a Pearl Earring


Author: Tracy Chevalier


Description: Chevalier's richly drawn novel imagines the story behind Vermeer's mysterious portrait of a turbaned girl with a pearl earring.



Girl in Hyacinth Blue


Author: Susan Vreeland


Description: This finely-crafted novel tells the story of the girl in an imagined, undiscovered portrait by Vermeer. Created in the 17th century, the painting passes through a number of people's hands, providing a series of tales that reflect the history and character of Holland and Europe through the years.



Good Beer Guide Belgium


Author: Tim Webb


Description: The sixth edition of Webb's invaluable guide to breweries, beers and bars.



Master of Shadows, The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens


Author: Mark Lamster


Description: Ranging from his home in Antwerp to London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, Lamster uncovers the gripping tale behind one of the world’s most famous painters and his double life as a secret agent, diplomat and political operative in 17th century Europe.



Niccolo Rising


Author: Dorothy Dunnett


Description: From the reigning queen of historical fiction comes this fast-paced, thoroughly-researched novel of ambition and worldly goods in 15th-century Bruges. This is the first volume in her House of Niccolo series.



Rembrandt, Master of the Portrait


Author: Pascal Bonafoux


Description: With over 200 illustrations, this pocket-size encyclopedia traces the life and career of artist Rembrandt von Rijn. It offers insight into his influence on the art of the portrait -- an illuminating companion for any visit to Amsterdam and its museums.



The Embarrassment of Riches


Author: Simon Schama


Description: An engaging cultural history and much more, this book is a study of the Dutch in the 17th century and their surprising challenge to Spanish rule.



The Undutchables


Author: Colin White


Description: A laugh-out-loud, irreverent guide to Dutch character and habits, including how to drink coffee and why you shouldn't even think about haggling over prices.



Tulip Fever


Author: Deborah Moggach


Description: In this surprise bestseller, set in 1630s Amsterdam, a man contracts the talented painter Jan Van Loos to paint a portrait of him and his beautiful wife, Sophia. A vivid drama unfolds as a mutual attraction develops between Van Loos and Sophia.



Tulipomania


Author: Mike Dash


Description: The story of the world's most coveted flower and the extraordinary passion it aroused, this vivid history traces the story of the tulip from its origins on the Turkish steppes to status as an absurdly desired object in Europe and its key role in the financial follies of 17th-century Holland.





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