Amsterdam to Cologne

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Two famous cities in The Netherlands and Germany are the first and last stops on this fascinating Bike and Boat holiday. Starting from Amsterdam, first you will bike through the flat, peaceful countryside of Holland, with its’ famous windmills along the way. The route takes you along the winding river Vecht with its’ impressive mansions along the banks and charming farms. You will visit a real Dutch cheese farm, where cheese is still produced according to traditional method. We also bike through National Park de Hoge Veluwe with its abundant scenic beauty. You will enjoy the gorgeous river scenery of the rivers IJssel and Rhine, first in the Netherlands and later in Germany. We follow the Rhine valley upstream, first wide and flat along farmland and meadows, later through industrial areas where we learn about the important history of the river. We also visit the charming old city of Dusseldorf and the tour ends in Cologne with its’ magnificent cathedral. Apart from the beautiful landscape, you will see cultural and architectural highlights, art treasures, and you will enjoy regional culinary specialities.

Daily Itinerary

Saturday: Amsterdam – Ouderkerk a/d Amstel – Uithoorn – 12 miles (20 km)
When you arrive on board the ship in Amsterdam at 4 p.m. you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. It is also a good moment to become acquainted with the guide, skipper and crew and of course your fellow passengers. In the evening there will be enough time for a canal trip and city walk through the center of Amsterdam. During dinner aboard the ship, the program for the next day and the global planning of the week are discussed.

Sunday: Amsterdam – Breukelen – Wijk bij Duurstede – 25 miles (40 km)
As you have breakfast this morning, the barge will sail from Amsterdam to Breukelen. You start biking from Breukelen (New York’s Brooklyn!) along the meandering river Vecht. On the way we visit a real Dutch cheese farm, where cheese is still produced according to traditional method. Here we can learn about the cheese making process and sample some of the product. Then we continue to Utrecht, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands with a beautiful cathedral. Today’s tour ends in Wijk bij Duurstede, an old settlement built along the river Lek.

Monday: Wijk bij Duurstede – Arnhem – 31 miles (50 km)
This morning as you eat breakfast, the barge will sail to the city of Wageningen. Once you arrive, you start biking along the river Nederrijn, enjoying the beautiful river landscape. Later in the day, you bike through National Park de Hoge Veluwe with its abundant natural beauty. Your bike tour ends today in Arnhem, famous for it’s role in the Second World War.

Tuesday: Arnem – Pannerden – Rees – 25 miles (40 km)
Again the ship will sail during breakfast and transport us to Pannerden. Before we hit the German border we pass the old town of Doornenburg, with a wonderfully maintained medieval stronghold. This fairy tale castle was the scene for many a movie. From Doornenburg we take the right bank of the Rhine and pass the border at Lobith, a village every schoolchild knows. At Tolkamer the Dutch used to impose tolls on incoming ships. On the way to our destination of Rees, you bike past Emmerich, a bigger town with a lovely boulevard along the Rhine. You may also stop at Kalkar, a beautiful town known for the failure of the German Nuclear Energy program in the 70s. A completely finished nuclear processing plant has never been put into use due to massive protest. It has recently been reopened as an attraction park! We will end in Rees, a town with impressive remains of fortification.

Wednesday – Rees – Wesel – Ruhrort, 25 miles (40 km)
We sail during breakfast and get off at Wesel. Today our tour focuses on the Ruhr area where Germany and probably Europe’s largest industries are housed. With a surface of 4600 square kilometers, very rich in coal, a vast productive landscape emerges out of steel plants, textile industries, and chemical industrial plants. Cities like Essen, Duisburg, Oberhaussen and Dortmund are glued together through a maze of highways, railways and waterways. Once very prosperous, this area was a target in 1923 when Belgium and French troops tried to enforce WWI payments of Prussia. During WWII the area was again targeted mercilessly. It is hard to imagine that you can cycle here, but you can! The German government put a lot of effort in redeveloping the area after the closing down of many factories. In the afternoon we visit the enormous landscape park of Duisburg-Nord, where we get to see huge former industrial plants and more detailed explanation and information about this area. It may not be always “typically” scenic, but it is an impressive landscape indeed and not to be missed when one visits the Rhine. We will find the barge in Ruhrort.

Thursday: Ruhrort – Düsseldorf – 26 miles (42 km)
Today we leave the Ruhr-area behind us and we head for Krefeld. In the 18th century Krefeld grew thanks to the textile industry. Velvet, silk and brocade were sold to emperors and kings from all over the world. There is still the statue of a silk weaver in the town square. The weavers worked in small houses that simultaneously served as a factory and house. In Krefeld, one can still see some of these houses. Our destination is the fascinating city of Düsseldorf. You will be amazed to what an international city this is, with almost one-fifth of the population being foreigners. In the evening there will be time to visit the Alstadt, where you can try their famous local dark beer, Altbier.

Friday: Düsseldorf – Zons – Cologne – 19 miles (30 km)
Today you will start cycling in the direction of Cologne. You will bike a short route close to the Rhine, so that we arrive in Cologne in the afternoon, leaving you some time to look around. Cologne is the oldest of the bigger German cities, founded by the Romans. It got it’s city rights 50 years after Christ as a gift from the Roman empress Agrippa. Later Cologne became one the most important centers of the Holy Roman Empire. Two of the most famous landmarks of the city are the Cathedral and the railway bridge over the Rhine. In 1248 they started with the construction of the cathedral and only finished it in 1880! The city was almost completely destroyed in 1944-1945. The city hall however, dating from 1330, is beautifully restored.

Saturday: Tour concludes after breakfast. Departure before 10:00 a.m.

Note: The following week’s tour will have the reverse itinerary; starting in Cologne and ending in Amsterdam. The itinerary is reversed with the order of the sights changed slightly. Please look at the Cologne to Amsterdam Route if you are interested in the reverse itinerary.

Getting There

The barge embarks from the Oosterdok (next to the science center “Nemo”), near the Central Railway Station in Amsterdam. Departure time on Saturday is at 4 p.m. (note that on August 13 the meeting time is 2 p.m.). If you want you can bring your luggage in advance, from 12 Noon onwards. A map, detailed instructions, and the name of your boat will be provided after your final payment is received.

Meals

The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of very good quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There is a bar on the boat with beer, wine and soft drinks at reasonable prices. If you have special meal requirements, we ask you to mention this when booking. In the case of a gluten-free diet there is an additional charge of $60 per week.

Prices and Dates

Check out our Tour Calendar under “Bike and Barge Tours”

Tour Length

8 days/ 7 nights

Included
      – 7 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
      – 7 breakfasts, 7 packed lunches and 7 dinners
      – Coffee and tea on board
      – 24-speed bicycle, including helmet, water bottle, pannier, lock, and bike insurance
      – Tour guidance (multilingual)
      – Ferry fees
      – Reservation fee
Bicycles

A well maintained, comfortable 24-speed hybrid bicycle is available free of charge for each participant. Men and women’s models are available in sizes appropriate to your height. The bikes come with helmets, grip shifters, hand brakes, carrier bag, lock, repair kit, water bottle holders, water bottle, and bike insurance! If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so at a discount of $85 per person. Electric bikes can be rented for this tour ($115.00 p.p.). We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They are heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver.

Level of Difficulty

This tour is rated “easy” for its flat terrain and low mileage. All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc. A good basic physical fitness means more fun during your bike vacation.

Excluded

– Airfare
– Drinks (other than coffee or tea)
– Transfer between airport and barge
– Gratuity for the guide
– Trip cancellation insurance
– Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest (about € 15 per person)

Wifi

WiFi is available on a limited basis on board, only in the lounge and on deck. Up to 50 MB is free, for more than 50 MB there’s a surcharge.

Weather

Average daytime temperatures in April and May are 50-60, June, July, and August 60-75, September and October 55-70. Average rainfall is 10 days per month.

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