Holland 1999 Boat and Bike Tour



AMSTERDAM RAILROAD STATION


TOUR BOAT "NINA"


WATERPUMP POWERED BY WINDMILL


BREAK TIME IN DUNES NW OF ALKMAAR


RIDING NEXT TO SEA DIKE


TYPICAL DUTCH BIKES; 1 SPEED, COASTER BRAKE, 12 MPH


HOORN HARBOR


POLDER, OR LAND PROTECTED BY DIKE


I SAW ONLY 5 TANDEMS OUT OF THOUSANDS OF BIKES


YIKES! ELECTRIC CAR
 

RENTAL BIKES OUTSIDE OF STATION


TOWN HALL BUILT IN 1653


GETTING READY TO RIDE AT 9 AM


RIDING ALONG DIKE ROAD ON TEXEL ISLAND


OUDESCHILD HARBOR, TEXEL ISLAND


HOUSES BUILT IN 1670


DIKE HOLDING BACK IJSELMEER


SIMONA CENCI, ITALIAN SWIMSUIT MODEL, WITH ME


CATERHAM 7, SUCCESSOR TO THE LOTUS SUPER 7


CANAL HOUSES IN AMSTERDAM'S GOLDEN CRESCENT


On August 28 I began a tour of the Netherlands run by Cycletours Holland. It consisted of staying on a boat at night and riding a bicycle from 1 town to another during the day. The boat sailed to the last town of the day, and we got back on board for the night. We did this for 6 days, starting and ending in Amsterdam. A tour guide went with us, so we didn't have to hunt for places to go or a hotel to stay in. This was the best vacation I ever went on. The bikes, scenery, people, weather, boat, and food were excellent.

Bikes
We rode an average of 33 miles per day on Gazelle bikes made in Holland. They have 21 speeds, and shift perfectly. On the flat bike paths we went about 16 MPH. We began taking turns being Lance Armstrong breaking away in Le Tour de France. We had a total of 3 flat tires, 2 broken spokes, and 1 chain slipping. All were fixed within 3-15 minutes. The Dutch do not wear helmets, as their average speed is 12 MPH, and they don't go down hills. After thinking about it, they don't need helmets, but we do.

Scenery
After walking out of the Amsterdam RR station, I just stood for 30 minutes looking at all the different things. My mind short circuited 12 times due to visual overload. Buildings, canals, bicycles, trams, and boats were like nothing I had ever seen before. The buildings were built from 1600-1800, and I was amazed at them. Some of the buildings have noticeable sags, but the y are not torn down and replaced. The entire country has been worked over by man in the past 400 years. Building ring dikes, pumping the water out, and maintaining the water level has been going on since 1600. The countryside is very green and the farmers grow crops with high yields per acre.

People
There were 24 people on the tour, 12 speaking French and 12 English. The tour guide could speak both. The Dutch speak English as a second language, so we had no trouble talking to them. While their German neighbors make affluent tourists, the Dutch prefer to have American, British, and Canadian tourists visiting because of the terrible things that happened during WW2. Canadians are treated the best, as the Canadian army fixed the dikes that the Germans blew open, flooding parts of the country.

Weather
The temperature was between 60 and 82 degrees, mostly in the 70's. It rained 20 minutes in 6 days.

Boat
It was about 120 feet long, 20 feet wide, and had 12 cabins. The rooms were big enough to sleep in and change clothes. We stayed out of them most of the time we were awake. The bathrooms were so small I had to step outside to turn around. The dining room had a radio tuned to Station Tingle, announcers speaking in Dutch and playing Beatles, Beach Boys, Elvis, etc. The crew consisted of the captain, his wife the cook, the first mate (a lady), the tour guide, and a sitter for the captain's children. They had a small dog who inspected everyone getting on board, and kept any unauthorized animals off the boat.

Food
The food prepared was excellent, different casseroles each night. We had cereal, meat, cheese, bread, butter, jam, orange juice, coffee, or tea for breakfast. After breakfast, we got plastic lunch boxes and made sandwiches to take along and eat for lunch, plus juice and power bars. We could also buy any food we wanted when riding around. The Dutch make pastries, which add 8 ounces of weight for every bite you take. I stayed away from those. There is not much concern over fat or cholesterol. A Burger King value meal costs $4.50, a can of Coke $1.12.

Cost
$560 air fare Atlanta - Amsterdam
$600 for Cycletour
$400 for 4 days hotel stay in Amsterdam
$150 for 1-use cameras, food, and souvenirs.

Gasoline costs $4.50 a gallon. I saw a new Camaro and Thunderbird in Holland, which would require $100 each to fill the tanks.

Return? I'm ready right now!
Cycletours (www.cycletours.com) offer 6 different boat and bike routes. I like the idea of a floating mobile hotel so I don't have to hunt for a place to stay, and keep packing and unpacking. A tour guide to show the way is also an excellent idea.