Total tour distance: 120 miles
Daily tour distance: 20 miles
Difficulty: 20 / 100
We call it our Holland Bike and Barge Tulip Tour, but that understates the flowery pleasures of traveling in North Holland in April and May. Hyacinths, daffodils and other narcissi as well as tulips thrive in this level area near the sea, to be sent all over the world. A visit in blossom time is flower-lovers’ heaven. In addition to the seasonal delights, we take time to visit picturesque villages, a wooden shoe maker (klompenmaker), a cheese farm, and explore other particularly Dutch endeavors. Our route will bring us in a circle from Amsterdam, where your IBT guide will meet you at Schiphol Airport, to Purmerend on the stubby cape of North Holland, up to Alkmaar and then south to Haarlem and Leiden with a highlight of the trip at Lisse, where one of the world’s most beautiful gardens unfolds its glories every spring. At Keukenhof more tulips and daffodils and hyacinths than you could dream of open throughout seven individual gardens set around a castle in the English landscape style, unforgettable views and vistas wherever you look. The final afternoon the barge will dock in Amsterdam, and the following day the group will be taken by coach to Schiphol Airport.
Biking is delightful, as would be expected in the country that has more bicycle paths than any other in the world. Much of the time we are in the polder region, land reclaimed from the sea and not surprisingly as level as a table. Broad, flat fields, dikes and narrow canals make up a landscape accented by windmills. We go through towns where medieval buildings still set the tone and we discover the myriad delights of Dutch pancakes: thin but huge, lopping over the side of the plate, perhaps spiced with ginger, possibly substantial with meat and eggs, or perhaps sweet with fruit and masses of Dutch whipped cream. It takes diligence to learn Dutch pancakes.
Meanwhile, you have settled into your cabin on the barge, your base for the entire trip. You only unpack once! Dutch barges are comfortable and practical vessels. On the lower deck each cabin has twin beds, private bath, and a porthole view of the passing scene. On the upper deck you’ll gather with your friends in the bar, or in the salon for meals, or to relax on the sun deck. All breakfasts and dinners will be on the barge; lunches are on your own, in whatever interesting place we reached.
Your trip will not only bring you to Holland at a time of year that can justly be called sensational, it will allow you to see the country as the Dutch do. By bicycle and barge.
What's included: 7 nights, daily breakfast and dinner, group transfer from/to the airport; English-speaking guide, bicycle rental, all entrance fees, support vehicle and our famous t-shirt.