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10530
Netherlands/Belgium

A Cycling Journey: Bike and Barge in Holland and Belgium

From your floating home on a river barge, set out on a bicycle journey through lovely, historic towns to discover the local history, culture and art of Holland and Belgium.
Rating (5)
Program No. 10530RJ
Length
16 days
Starts at
5,499
Netherlands/Belgium

A Cycling Journey: Bike and Barge in Holland and Belgium

From your floating home on a river barge, set out on a bicycle journey through lovely, historic towns to discover the local history, culture and art of Holland and Belgium.
Length
16 days
Starts at
5,499
Program No. 10530 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the Dutch provinces of Utrecht, South Holland, Brabant, Zeeland, Limburg and the Flanders region of Belgium as you barge along scenic rivers and canals and cycle past windmills and through picturesque villages. With experts aboard the barge and in the field, learn about Dutch history and architecture, Roman influence in the Netherlands, the difference between the Flemish and the Walloons and much more.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about Antwerp’s medieval and Renaissance architecture, and admire Rubens' masterpieces in its Gothic cathedral.
  • Cycle to the charming 13th-century trading town of Bergen op Zoom and Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands.
  • Experience lively Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, with its canals, terraces and fascinating museums.

General Notes

Program itinerary subject to change due to water levels, lock and bridge schedules and local conditions.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Eyewitness Guide Brussels, Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp
by Rebecca Miles
This superbly illustrated guide features color photos and maps of city neighborhoods, with information on history, culture and sightseeing.
Eyewitness Guide The Netherlands
by Eyewitness Guides
Gorgeously illustrated and filled with excellent maps, this compact book covers Holland, its history, traditions, cultures and sights. With hundreds of color photographs and illustrations.
The Undutchables
by Colin White
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.
Niccolo Rising
by Dorothy Dunnett
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.
The Coffee Trader, A Novel
by David Liss
An entertaining, suspenseful work of historical fiction set in Amsterdam. It's 1659 and in the new, capricious world of stocks and investment, a desperate Portuguese-Jewish trader partners with a Dutchman. Their idea: import the first shipment of coffee to the country. What follows is a wild tale of ruthlessness, greed and fortune.
Good Beer Guide Belgium
by Joe Strange, Tim Webb
The seventh edition of Webb's invaluable guide to breweries, beers and bars.
The Autumn of the Middle Ages
by Johan Huizinga
A pioneering work of social and cultural history, this well-translated classic of 1924 is a richly detailed portrait of life, thought and art in 14th- and 15th-century France and the Netherlands.
A Worldly Art
by Mariet Westermann
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.
Tulip Fever
by Deborah Moggach
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.
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer
by David Winner
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.
Master of Shadows, The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens
by Mark Lamster
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.
Dutch, A Rough Guide Phrasebook
by Rough Guide
An A-Z pocket dictionary, phrasebook and mini-guide to the Dutch language.
Why the Dutch are Different
by Ben Coates
Mingling history with travelogue, Coates speaks to why the Netherlands is such a fascinating country. He explains their world-famous culture of tolerance, the significance of milk, beer and the color orange in the lives of the Dutch and much more.
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City
by Russell Shorto
Russell Shorto opens this delightful ode to an adopted city with his daily journey, by bike of course, through his neighborhood to drop off his toddler son. He spins a tale of a diverse city wrestled from the sea, its coffee shops, canals and its personalities and politics, with panache.
A Tall Man in a Low Land
by Harry Pearson
Pearson, a British travel writer, journalist and comic, is an entertaining guide to Belgium and its traditions, culture, beer and chocolate.
Girl With a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier
Chevalier's richly drawn novel imagines the story behind Vermeer's mysterious portrait of a turbaned girl with a pearl earring.
The Embarrassment of Riches
by Simon Schama
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.
Tulipomania
by Mike Dash
The story of the world's most coveted flower and the extraordinary passion it aroused, this vivid history traces the tulip from its origins on the Turkish steppes to its status as an absurdly desired object in Europe and its key role in the financial follies of 17th-century Holland.
The Anatomy Lesson
by Nina Siegal
A fictionalized account of the events surrounding Rembrandt’s first commissioned piece, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. Well-researched and vivid with period details that transport the reader back to 1600s Amsterdam at the height of Dutch artistic vigor.
The Netherlands in a Nutshell
by Frits Van Oostrom
With information on the Dutch East India Company, Huygens, Spinoza, Van Gogh, the Great Flood, the Dutch overseas colonies and much more, Van Oostrom's popular primer covers the essential highlights of Dutch history.
Benelux Map
by Michelin Travel Publications
Covering the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg at a scale of 1:400,000.
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Map details are not available for this location.
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16 days
15 nights
29 meals
14 B 1 L 14 D
DAY
1
In Transit
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive, Transfer to Utrecht, Bicycle Fitting, Welcome Dinner
Utrecht
L,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: There will be no biking today which provides an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate after your international flight. Motorcoach time approximately 1 hour (30 miles / 48 kilometers). Barging time is approximately 4.5 hours.

Morning: Join the Group Leader and your fellow Road Scholars at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to board a motorcoach to the picturesque village of de Zaanse Schans just north of Amsterdam. We will visit a klompenmaker and observe the art of wooden shoe production.

Lunch: Enjoy an authentic taste of the Netherlands at a village restaurant located in an 18th-century grain barn. The restaurant specializes in Dutch-style pancakes, savory or sweet treats, which can measure almost a foot in diameter, and often eaten as a main course.

Afternoon: We proceed by motorcoach to the barge moored in Amsterdam and then motor to Utrecht. Orientation: The Group Leader, barge captain and crew will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. A support vehicle will accompany the group while biking each day in the event of emergency situations. Upon arrival in Utrecht, bicycles will be fitted to the participant and testing will take place to insure participants are able to safely start, stop, and control their bicycle. Periods in the daily schedule designated as "Free time" and "At leisure" offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Aboard the barge, enjoy a three-course set menu featuring tasty local cuisine with coffee, tea or water. Other beverages are available for purchase that can be charged to your tab and settled prior to departure with cash (in Euros only) on the last night on board. Dinner each night will follow this description.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Barge to Schoonhoven, Kinderdijk, Willemstad, Dutch History
Willemstad
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 18 miles (29 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths. Barging time is approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge, the breakfast buffet will offer a variable hot entrée each day as well as meats, cheeses, eggs, yogurt, cereals, breads, juices, and hot beverages. Breakfast each morning will follow this description.

Morning: After a hearty breakfast, join your Group Leader in the salon for a presentation on safety, rules of the road, and the IBT Corner System, the way in which we navigate throughout the course of this program, as you barge to Schoonhoven, a town known for its silversmiths. Then bicycle to Kinderdijk for an unbelievable view of a row of windmills along the dike.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: Board the barge in Alblasserdam and continue on to Willemstad. Before dinner, attend a lecture on the history of the Netherlands.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure. Your evenings are free to spend time with new Road Scholar friends, relax, or go exploring on your own.

DAY
4
Medieval Bergen op Zoom Lecture, Zeeland, Barge to Antwerp
Antwerp
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 27 miles (43.5 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths. Barging time is approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: Bicycle from Willemstad to the medieval town of Bergen op Zoom. There is even a Dutch song named for the town.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Enjoy a field trip on the history and traditions of the medieval town of Bergen op Zoom. Bicycle along a dike to the locks and board the barge which will continue on through the province of Zeeland, to Antwerp, Belgium.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
History of Antwerp Lecture, Free Time, Belgian History
Antwerp
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: There will be no biking today to allow us to explore Antwerp.

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: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free Time: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in Antwerp. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. 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.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Barge the Albert Canal, Heather Fields, Hasselt
Hasselt
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 24 miles (38.5 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths. Barging time is approximately 4.5 hours.

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: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: After lunch (which might be a picnic!), bicycle on a quiet trail along the Albert Canal to Hasselt.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Hasselt Field Trip & Lecture, Dutch Gin, Maastricht
Maastricht
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 26 miles (42 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths.

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: On your own to enjoy what you like.

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 bicycle toward Maastricht after crossing the border into the Netherlands.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Maastricht Field Trip & Lecture, Free Time
Maastricht
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: There will be no biking today to allow us to explore Maastricht.

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.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Maastricht.

Afternoon: Free Time: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in Maastricht. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. Don't miss the chance to sample beer, gin or a hot chocolate at one of the many terraces.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Barge to Born, Thorn, Limburg Province, Roermond
Roermond
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Barging time is approximately 3 hours. Biking distance is 24 miles (38.5 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: Barge to Born via the Juliana Canal, where you disembark 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 to enjoy what you like.

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 North America.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Venlo, Sint-Martinuskerk, Limburg's Forest, Arcen
Arcen
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 30 miles (48 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths.

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: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Before leaving Venlo, visit the 17th-century Sint-Martinuskerk, home to an exquisite Baroque pulpit, 20th-century stained glass windows, and a tower that was rebuilt after World War II. The journey continues, mostly on bike trails and through some forest, to Arcen.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Arcen Castle Gardens, Paddestoelen, Cuyk
Cuyk
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 31 miles (50 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths.

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: On your own to enjoy what you like. The province of Limburg is known for its vlaais, a delicious pastry you may want to sample.

Afternoon: The Netherlands 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 Maas River.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Brabant, Locks of Lith, Binnendieze Boat Tour, Den Bosch
Den Bosch
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 18 miles (29 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths. Barging time is approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We barge this morning to Lith then start riding our bikes. We are in the province of Brabant, and explore small villages, taking in the local customs and well-tended homes. Gardening is big in the Netherlands and it shows!

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: The capital of Brabant is 's Hertogenbosch but the Dutch call it Den Bosch. Similarly, the Netherlands' seat of govenment is 's Gravenhage, but the Dutch refer to it as Den Haag. After lunch we head for Den Bosch where the painter Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) lived and worked. The cathedral is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, including its devil-shaped gargoyles. Explore the canals of Den Bosch with a boat ride through the medieval Binnendieze, traveling underneath the city. Later, explore more of the capital of the province of Brabant.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Heusden, Loevestein Castle, Gorinchem, Vianen
Vianen
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Biking distance is 25 miles (40 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths. Barging time is approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We start our ride to the village of Heusden on the river Maas. During a field trip, explore the walled-town of Heusden,

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Our afternoon ride takes us to Loevestein, where a well-preserved Castle, built in 1357, invites us on a guided tour. 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.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Vecht River, Barge to Amsterdam
Amsterdam
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: Barging time is approximately 2 hours. Biking distance is 11 miles (17.5 kilometers) on flat to rolling terrain, primarily on dedicated paved bicycle paths.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: Enjoy one last ride on your two-wheeler from Breukelen, located on the River Vecht, to Nigtevegt before we motor toward Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: After lunch we meet up with our barge and relax on deck as we motor to Amsterdam, our final destination where it all began.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Amsterdam's Canals, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
Amsterdam
B,D
Barge Fiep

Activity note: There will be no biking today to allow us to explore Amsterdam.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: Your Group Leader leads you on a journey along Amsterdam's canals to the city center. The Amstel River is crossed by several canals lined with beautiful 16th- and 17th-century homes with a variety of different gable styles.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free Time: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in Amsterdam. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. If you haven’t already been there, venture to the Anne Frank House or the Rijksmuseum. If you want to relax, seek out one of the local cafés to sip a Heineken or cup of coffee while watching the locals.

Dinner: Aboard the barge. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
16
Program Concludes, Departures
In Flight
B

Activity note: Barge check-out time is 9:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. Transfer from the barge to the airport is approximately 30 minutes (15 miles / 22 kilometers).

Breakfast: Aboard the barge. This concludes our program.

Morning: Morning transfer to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for departures. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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