Southern Tulip Tour

The Netherlands in April and early May is ablaze with spring colors of tulips in full bloom. The awe-inspiring flower display is a “must see”. With its endless miles of paved bicycle paths and flat terrain cycling is ideal, relaxing and safe for cyclists of all ages. If you’re a novice cyclist or just don’t want to spend as much time ‘in the saddle’ this version of the Southern Route might be ideal for you. The cycling itinerary is not more than 30 miles per day which provides time for other fun activities: museum visits, ‘people watching’ in outside cafés, relaxing by the sea or wandering through an old town center. The emphasis of this tour however is the tulip viewing during “bulb” season. Bring your camera and be ready for some of the most memorable photos in your collection!

Daily Itinerary

Saturday: Amsterdam – Ouderkerk a/d Amstel – Uithoorn – 9 miles (15 km)
When you arrive on board the ship at 2 pm, you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while becoming acquainted with the guide, crew, and of course your fellow passengers. You will leave Amsterdam cruising on the river Amstel to Ouderkerk a/d Amstel. From Ouderkerk you will cycle your first kilometers through the polder Ronde Hoep to Uithoorn. At dinnertime, the program for the next day and the routine for the rest of the week will be explained.

Sunday: Uithoorn – Gouda – 28 miles (45 km)
From Uithoorn you will continue your tour over country roads, banks and channels through the Green Heart and polders to the city known for its cheese: Gouda. Today you end in Gouda, cheese city. Whoever says Gouda not only thinks immediately of cheese, pipes, treacle waffles and earthenware, but also of stained glass windows, a picturesque town hall and romantic canals. Gouda is a real old-Dutch town with a virtually intact town center. As on most days, after dinner you will take a walk through the city.

Monday: Gouda – Delft – 25 miles (40 km)
From Gouda you cycle past scenic polders via Kinderdijk to Rotterdam. Kinderdijk has the largest group of windmills in the Netherlands. The windmills at Kinderdijk were still actively used until 1950. These days, a large pumping station is responsible for controlling the water level in the polder. Here you can visit a windmill. In Rotterdam you embark and from there the ship takes you to Delft, the town famous for its pottery, the ‘Delft blue’. The Prinsenhof Museum is housed in the former St Agatha’s monastery. In 1572 William of Orange chose the convent as one of his residences. It was from here that he led the revolt against the Spanish tyranny of Holland. Balthazar Gerards, a Spanish sympathizer, murdered Orange on the steps of the Prinsenhof on July 10, 1584. Two bullet holes in the wall of the stairs bear witness to this event.

Tuesday: Delft – Katwijk – Leiden – 22 or 30 miles (36 or 48 km)
From Delft we cycle in the direction of The Hague, through the Haagse Bosch, a large park, and past the Royal Huis ten Bosch Palace. A tranquil cycle path through the dunes leads you to Wassenaarse Slag. Here some remains of the Atlantikwall can still be seen. Five bunkers are connected by nearly 3,000-feet-long brick tunnels. Now the underground network serves as a bat reserve. Continue through the dunes, to Katwijk aan Zee, an old fishing village. The old inhabitants of Katwijk still speak their own dialect, ‘Kattuks’. Following the course of the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) river we cycle to Leiden. Leiden boasts 14 museums, including the Rijksmuseum. The ship is moored near the Zijlpoort, a gate that once formed part of the city walls.

Wednesday: Leiden – visit to the Keukenhof Gardens by public transportation
Today you visit the Keukenhof gardens, the most beautiful spring park in the world. Keukenhof is the place where the spring breaks. In the Keukenhof various gardens and gardening styles can be found: the English Landscape Garden, the Historical Garden, the Natural Garden, the Japanese Natural Garden, the Formal Garden and three special colours gardens. Spread throughout the entire park there are approximately eighty sculptures from well-known Dutch artists. There are also several other art objects, such as the collection ‘Surprising Tulips’.

Thursday: Leiden to Haarlem – 25 miles (40 km)
From Leiden you cycle through wonderful flower beds in the direction of Haarlem. In the period of March to May the bulb fields are blooming, starting with daffodils and followed by hyacinths, tulips and lilies. Once in the city of Haarlem you make a short tour through the city to see some typical ‘hofjes’ (almshouses), old houses around a central courtyard, now usually housing elderly people. These ‘hofjes ‘ are definitely worth a visit. Haarlem, which rendered its name to Harlem, New York, is a lively city with good shopping possibilities. The ship is berthed in the city centre, with a view of St Bavo’s Church and with easy access to the Grote Markt with its many outdoor cafés.

Friday: Haarlem – Spaarndam – Amsterdam – 25 miles (40 km)
From Haarlem you sail to Spaarndam, a picturesque village on the edge of Haarlem, in the direction of Amsterdam. Spaarndam’s name comes from the dam built in the Spaarne River to limit the danger of flooding from the sea. Here you can find the statue of Hansje Brinker on the IJdijk. Hansje is a character from an American novel, which saved the country from flooding by putting his finger in the dike. The Buitenhuizen ferry takes you across the North Sea Canal and from there you cycle to the Zaanse Schans. The Zaanse Schans, with its traditional weatherboard houses, warehouses and windmills may give you the feeling of stepping back into the 17th or 18th century. Yet this is no open air museum, but a lively neighborhood where people live and work. Among other things a cheese farm, a clog maker and an old bakery can be visited here.

Saturday: Tour concludes after breakfast. Departure before 10:00 AM

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 2:00 PM. 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, 6 packed lunches and 7 dinners
      – Coffee and tea on board
      – 24-speed bicycle, incl. HELMET, pannier bags, bike insurance, lock & water bottle
      – Tour guide (multilingual)
      – Route information and road book
      – Ferry fares on the route
    – Reservation costs
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.

Excluded

– Airfare
– Drinks from bar on board or when cycling
– Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest
– Trip cancellation insurance
– Private expenses

Weather

Holland is close to the North Sea and has a moderate sea climate. Average daytime temperatures in April range from 55-65F, in May it starts to get a little warmer. Rainfall is about 10 days per month.

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.

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