Holland by barge and bike

This item appears on page 34 of the October 2010 issue.

Combine picturesque Dutch cities, luxuriant waterlands, acres of bulb farms and the famed Keukenhof garden in full splendor with a witty guide, skilled barge pilot, master chef and 16 compatible travelers and you have yourself a fine vacation. That is what my friends Bernadette, Karen, Marian and I came away feeling about our May 2-9, 2010, bike tour aboard the canal barge Elodie.

You can book a trip aboard the Elodie direct at Bicycle Tour Europe (Box 1097, 1000 BB Amsterdam, Netherlands; phone +00 31 [0] 20 337 1538, fax 1539, www.bicycle-tour-holland.com). We booked through our travel agent, Pack & Pedal Europe, Inc. (Springvale, PA; 877/965-2064, www.tripsite.com).

The cost for the week was €850 each, which with the exchange rate at the time of booking meant we paid $1,224 plus a bicycle fee of $21. Insurance was mandatory; based on our ages, its cost ranged from $100 to $174 each. Airfare on KLM from New York was $785.

Our group members, the oldest of whom was 76, rode 24-speed bicycles as far as 47 kilometers (29 miles) a day, catching up with the Elodie at the next town. And such towns! Delft, Gouda, Leiden and Haarlem are, themselves, architectural museums.

We visited the world’s largest flower auction, were transfixed by Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and, of course, bought certified hand-painted delftware.

Shipboard meals were so good that people asked Sandor, the chef, for recipes. Our group got along so well, we spent the last evening in Amsterdam together on the boat.

Bulbs we bought at Keukenhof will be shipped in October, so every spring we will have a perpetual souvenir of a wonderful experience.


Kent, CT