The following planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances.
You are expected on the barge on Saturday by 2:00pm, at which time the boat leaves its mooring place in Amsterdam. The barge cannot wait due to the opening hours of bridges and locks, so plan your arrival accordingly.
Day 1: Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam – Oude Wetering (9 miles/15 km)
You may embark between 1:00-2:00pm. The barge needs to leave the mooring place in Amsterdam at 2:15 PM. It is very important you are on time. The barge can’t wait due to the opening hours of bridges and/or locks. When you arrive on board the ship, 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 12thcentury Amsterdam was no more than a modest settlement at the mouth of the river Amsteel, with open connection to the sea. In those days fishermen and craftsmen built a dam in the Amstel (now the site of the NationalMonument) and Amstel-re-damme was born. Amsterdam was granted a municipal charter in 1275 and has since expanded continually. In the 17thand18thcentury Amsterdammers were the most prosperous Europeans. The famous rings of canals were dug in the Golden Age, the 17thcentury. Powerful merchants had their abundantly ornamented mansions built here, thus manifesting their riches.
Amsterdam is a city to be explored on foot and we recommend the following places of interest: the rings of canals; the Jordaan area, with its many pubs, outdoor cafés and quaint shops; Vondelpark with its open-air concerts; Leidseplein; Rembrandtsplein; the antique shops in the Spiegel district; MuseumSquare with the Rijksmuseum (National Museum), Stedelijk Museum (Museum of Modern Art), Van Gogh Museum and of course the Anne Frank House. Other typical features of Amsterdam are its numerous 'hofjes' (almshouses), the floating flower market, and the hundreds of houseboats lining the canals. Amsterdam is inextricably related to the diamond-cutting industry, which has brought much fame to the city since the 17thcentury. The palace on Dam Square is sometimes called the eighth Wonder of the World as it was built on 13,659 piles.
During dinner aboard the barge, the program for the next day and the global planning of the week are discussed. After dinner, you will make your first kilometers on your bike.
Overnight near Oude Wetering
Day 2: Oude Wetering – 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.
Whoever thinks of Gouda, thinks not only of cheese, pipes, stroopwafels (treacle-waffle) and pottery, but also of stained-glass windows, a fairytale-like town hall and atmospheric canals. Gouda is a beautiful Old-Dutch city with a mostly intact city center.
The "St. Janskerk", Gouda's 123-meter-long church, with its renowned "Goudse Glazen" (leaded light windows), the beautiful gothic town hall and the "Waag" (a building once used for weighing cheese) are absolutely worth a visit. Furthermore, one should not forget the Goudse Kaas- en Ambachtenmuseum (Museum of Cheese and Crafts), the Museum of Dutch Resistance, the "Weeshuisplein" (famous square), the Catharinatuin, patios around the city and the Museumhaven, a harbor where historical ships are moored. Today is Sunday, the day on which most Dutch take out their bikes for a ride.
As on most days, after dinner you will take a walk through the city.
Overnight near Gouda
Day 3: Gouda – Kinderkijk – Rotterdam – 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.
From Kinderdijk you take the ferry to Rotterdam where your barge is waiting for you. In Rotterdam you embark and from there the barge takes you to Delft. Delft, the town famous for its pottery, the "Delft blue." The painter Johannes Vermeer has made the town famous, but it is also known as the town of William of Orange. William of Orange lies buried in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, the church where members of the House of Orange are still buried. An attraction in Delft is the Prinsenhof (Prince's Residence).
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. He was murdered on the steps of the Prinsenhof on July 10, 1584, by Balthazar Gerards, a Spanish sympathizer. Two bullet holes in the wall of the stairs bear witness to this event.
Overnight near Delft
Day 4: Delft – Katwijk – Leiden (25 miles/40 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-foot-long brick tunnels. Now the underground network serves as a bat reserve. The Atlantikwall was a 1,700-mile defense line, running from Norway via Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France to the border with Spain. This defense line, which was never completed, consisted of bunkers, canons and minefields. At some places the bunkers are still there, such as in Zandvoort, Scheveningen, Oostende (Belgium) and Normandy (France).
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 originated around 800 AD as a market place at the confluence of the Old and New Rhine rivers, the Vliet River and the Mare ("Leyten" means "at the waters"). For a long time it was considered to be the second city after Amsterdam. It was the center of the textile industry in medieval times. A well-known episode from the history of Leiden is the siege of 1574 by the Spanish. These were finally driven away after dikes had been broken through and a Watergeuzen (see Rotterdam) fleet had come to help. The relief of Leiden is still celebrated every year on October 3rd. In 1575 Leiden was given the right to establish a university as a reward for the courage shown during the siege. It is also the birthplace of Rembrandt (van Rijn!).
Leiden boasts 14 museums, including the Rijksmuseum for Anthropology with many priceless foreign objects, the Municipal Museum (Lakenhal, 1640) including works by Dou, Steen, Rembrandt and Van Goyen, the Rijksmuseum of Antiquities with Egyptian antiquities. The Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden), a 400-year-old garden with innumerable exotic plants and trees, is certainly worth seeing. In the centre of town you can go shopping or enjoy sitting on an outdoor terrace on the water's edge.
The ship is moored near the Zijlpoort, a gate that once formed part of the city walls.
Overnight near Leiden
Day 5: Leiden – visit to Keukenhof by public transport
Today you visit the Keukenhof gardens, the most beautiful spring park in the world. An overwhelming blaze of colors of seven million flowering tulips, in a magnificent 80-acres' background of traditional and modern gardening architecture. The many blossoms, the flowering rhododendrons and azaleas are a feast to the eye.
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 colors 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."
Overnight near Leiden
Day 6: Leiden – via the flower bulb fields 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. At the same time there are many interesting 17th-century sights here. In particular the Grote Markt (Market Square) with the Great or St Bavo's Church (1390-1520) is well-known. Mozart was only one of the many St Bavo's organ players. Other famous attractions are the Frans Hals Museum (with many 17th-century paintings), the Town Hall, the Weigh House and the Vleeshal (Meat Hall, branch of the Frans Hals Museum, also with many 17th-century Dutch masters). On the river Spaarne the oldest museum of the Netherlands can be found: Teyler's Museum, with drawings by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael and others.
The ship is berthed in the city center, with a view of St Bavo's Church and with easy access to the Grote Markt with its many outdoor cafés.
Overnight near Haarlem
Day 7: Haarlem – 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.
Overnight near Amsterdam
Day 8: Departure from Amsterdam
After breakfast the tour ends (disembarkation by 10:00am).