Tulip Bike and Barge plus Belgium ~ April 18th - May 2nd, 2024

Trip Leader: Ellen Parda

(click photo to see trip photo album)

We started off by spending 2 nights in Amsterdam at the Historic Die Port Van Cleve Hotel, and enjoyed a city tour. The group then spent their free time by visiting the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Dam Square, shopping, etc., and we all enjoyed walking through the pretty streets, quaint canals, gardens and soaking in the ambience of the city.

It was then on to the Bike & Barge portion of our trip where we spent 6 lovely nights aboard the immaculately restored barge, The Merlijn, that is captained by the owners, Coen and Christina (who is also the chef). The pride and care they put into your experience is unsurpassed. We biked a total of 130 miles over five days with our superb Dutch guide, Japke Doodeman, who provided a wonderful narrative and some “extra” spontaneous stops. We toured a cheese farm, a flower farm, a working windmill, biked through the UNESCO heritage site the windmills of Kinderdjik, tulip fields, rural areas, and the highlight- Keukenhof Gardens! The flowers were amazing, and no words can describe how lovely it was. Over 7 million bulbs are planted every year! Although the weather was a bit challenging at times, it did not diminish the spirit of the ever flexible 24 travelers on this trip. We also saw numerous spring babies- baby sheep, cows, goats, swan, ducks, and a few pheasants. It was a truly authentic way to experience the Netherlands and their people.

We then headed to Bruges but enjoyed a quick stop in Antwerp for lunch and a fun city tour with Heloise (who we saw in every city after that!). We arrived in Bruges and checked into the gorgeous Duke’s Palace Hotel for our 3 night stay- we were overjoyed at the beauty of the hotel as well as the size of our rooms. Champagne and chocolate at the opulent breakfast buffet was definitely a hit! A city tour and beer tasting was enjoyed by all and canal rides, visits to the many churches and museums, chocolate factories, friets, amazing beer, more beer and a quick train ride to the North Sea kept us busy! Bruges is a magical place that leaves you with the feeling you have stepped back in time 500 years.

Although sad to leave, it was time to head to Brussels for a 2 night stay at the NH Collection Brussels Centre hotel. Conveniently located a few minutes’ walk from The Grand Place it was easy to access the historic sites and join many of the free walking tours available. A pub crawl with our group and about thirty 20 something year-olds was quite entertaining and a lot of laughter and fun was had by all.

Biking 130 miles through the cities and countryside is a very different way to experience a country and these 24 travelers were definitely up for the adventure! They were the BEST travelers and we had an amazing time.

Ellen Parda, Trip Leader

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