As more travelers seek out experience-based vacations and stray further away from traditional “tourist traps”, bike and barge tours have emerged as a booming trend—particularly among people over the age of 50. With adventure travel and river cruising also rising in popularity, bike and barge tours offer the best of both worlds: the excitement of an active, culturally immersive, off-the-beaten-path experience, combined with the all-inclusive comforts and amenities of a river cruise!
Time to roll out of bed and enjoy one last breakfast. In a couple of hours we will be back in the skies and headed for home.
I will come away with many fond memories of this wonderful week in the Netherlands:
The crew, their quick response to our needs and wants, their patience with us, their sense of humor, how quickly they got a sense of our different personalities. They all came out to wave at us as we pulled away in the motorcoach, bound for the airport. Tot ziens, all of you! Hope to see you again!
The variety of food and the fun of figuring out what we would be served tomorrow judging by today’s menu. For instance, fresh red and yellow peppers in our salad one day; roasted pepper soup the next. And all of it delicious.
The early morning hours up in the lounge or out on the deck, drinking that marvelous coffee and enjoying the spring sunshine.
The colors of the tulip fields. The unending varieties of the tulips at Keukenhof. Are you sure that’s a tulip?
The ubiquitous bikes and bike trails. The Dutch really have the right idea about staying fit and enjoying life!
All the many people on board from all different parts of the country. I will long remember my friends from the state of Washington, the duck-hunting guys and their wives from Iowa, the lovely 83-year-old woman and her daughter who were so much fun, and many more.
The beautiful towns and villages we passed through, many with their unique architecture and designs on their doors and windows.
Windmills everywhere, old and new. Many times the newer wind turbines lined up along the canal while the more traditional windmills could be seen out in the fields.
Today is Easter Monday in the Netherlands. Traditionally, this is a holiday to get together with friends and family to celebrate springtime. On our excursion through the countryside, we saw many people out on bicycles or picnicking alongside the canals. Once again, the weather was ideal!
Two villages in particular seemed to pull out all the stops for this day. Rouveen and Staphorst have a number of citizens who still dress in the traditional style of years past, and it was fun to see so many of them on their way to church service in their Easter Monday finery.
We also stopped to see the hunebeds—huge granite burial chambers older than the Egyptian pyramids. I did some research online and discovered that there are over 50 of these megalithic monuments scattered over the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, but not much is known about the people who built them.
In Giethoorn we boarded special “touring boats” and cruised the small canals into this very unique establishment where, in most cases, each house is on its own island surrounded by water. Many of us wondered what it would be like to live a life where one would grab oars instead of car keys to “run to the store for a few things.” It’s certainly a peaceful and beautiful place to visit.
The Orchid Farm in Luttelgeest was a treat for the senses. It’s a lovely place to stroll around, with thousands of orchids in all directions. We walked through the beautiful “Butterfly Room,” home to dozens of species of butterflies, ponds filled with koi, and we even met the resident iguana. Must be iguanas don’t eat butterflies. . .
Cameras were busy all through the day as we drove through or stopped at the many villages, each with its own special history and charm.