Day 1: Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam; sailing to Spaarndam and cycle to Haarlem (9 miles/15 km)
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. This is a good time to become acquainted with the guide, skipper and crew, and of course your fellow passengers. You must board by 2:00pm because the barge departs the mooring place at 2:15pm.
The first part of the tour you will cruise to Spaarndam – known as the village of Hansje Brinker. Spaarndamis a village on the river Spaarne. Here you can find the statue of Hansje Brinker on the IJdijk. Hansje is a character from an American novel that saved the country from flooding by putting his finger in the dike. From here we make an easy ride into the beautiful city of Haarlem.
Haarlem, which rendered its name to Harlem, New York, is a lively city with good shopping possibilities. This town offers you many interesting sites from the 17thcentury. The Grote Markt (Market Square) with the Grote Kerk (Great Church) or St. Bavo Kerk (1390-1520) is particularly well-known; Mozart is one of the people who once gave a concert here. The city of Haarlem (origin of the name Harlem in New York) is a lively and friendly place for shopping. Other famous places besides the St Bavo Church are the Town Hall, the Waag (weighing-house) and the Vleeshal (the former Meat Hall, now housing part of the Frans Hals museum with many 17th-century old masters).
On the Spaarne you may see the oldest museum in the Netherlands: the Teylers Museum. It displays drawings by great artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Raphael. The almshouses, where many old people live, are certainly also worth a visit.
Back on board, after the bike ride, the programme for the next day and the rest of the week will be explained to you at dinner time.
Overnight in Spaarndam
Day 2: Haarlem – Leiden (25 miles/40 km)
Today starts with a short bike tour through the center of Haarlem, to have a better look at some of the city's typical almshouses. Upon departure from Haarlem you may cycle to the Cruquiusgemaal (Cruquius Pumping Station): one of the three steam-powered pumping stations that drained the Haarlemmer Lake between 1849 and 1852. Now a museum, it gives you an excellent idea of the Dutch "battle against the water."
You'll then cycle on to Leiden. Leiden is a historic city with many little courtyards, façades, and historical buildings built between the 15th and 18th century. Leiden, meaning "built on waters," came into existence around 800 AD as a marketplace at the confluence of the rivers Old and New Rhine, the Vliet and the Mare. It was a center for the medieval linen industry. For a long time, it was second only to Amsterdam in importance. A well-known episode of Leiden's history is the Spanish occupation in the 16thcentury. In 1574 the Spanish siege was eventually broken as a result of a deliberate inundation and the assistance of the Protestant fleet called the 'Geuzenvloot'. This fact is still celebrated annually on October 3rd. As a reward for its courage in the face of the Spaniards, Leiden was given the right to found a university in 1575. Leiden is also the city where Rembrandt van Rijn was born.
You can cycle around 10 kilometres more to cycle through the dunes to Leiden.
Overnight in Leiden
Day 3: Leiden – Delft (29 miles/40 km)
You leave the city in a southerly direction and cycle along the Vliet canal. In Voorschoten you turn westwards towards the coastline. At Wassenaarse Slag you can take a break on the beach.
The Wassenaarse Slag is an entrance to the beach near the Dutch town of Wassenaar. The coastline is over 8km long. The beaches can be reached through the Meijendelse Slag on the southern end and the Wassenaarse Slag in the northern direction (or through Katwijk aan Zee, the Zuidduinen and then the beach).
The route to Delft takes you along the water once again. The old center is well worth a visit. This is a well-conserved medieval city with canals, a magnificent town hall and a royal tomb in the Nieuwe Kerk.
Overnight in Delft
Day 4: Rest day: Delft
Today you will have the day at your free disposal. You can stay in Delft and discover the old center, or visit The Hague by public transportation.
Delft is a beautiful town to wander around; learn more about the famous Dutch painter Vermeer at the Vermeer Centre or visit the Nieuwe Kerk. When the weather is clear the view from the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) is spectacular; a large part of the Southern Tour can be seen from here!
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.
The city of The Hague has an international character with its wide avenues, parks and stately mansions. Possible visits are Peace Palace (housing the International Court of Justice), the "Binnenhof" with the 13th-century "Ridderzaal" (Knights' Hall), seat of the Dutch Government and Parliament. Every third Tuesday of September the Queen's Speech is delivered in the Ridderzaal. The Mauritshuis, a former palace, now a famous museum with paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Rubens. "Panorama Mesdag," the largest panoramic, circular painting in the world, depicting 19th-century Scheveningen. Of the many royal palaces in The Hague, only a few are still operational. You may see the Noordeinde Palace, where our King works and the Huis ten Bosch Palace, the residence of Princess Beatrix until mid-2014.
Overnight in Delft
Day 5: Delft – sailing to Rotterdam/Kinderdijk – cycling to Gouda (25 miles/40 km)
The first part of today's route will be a cruise through the center of Rotterdam, giving you the best view of the modern architecture of this city. Your cycling day starts in Kinderdijk and then take you through the Alblasserwaard, situated in between rivers and showing you wide scenery of water and meadows. The many inundations and the slowly sinking surface made water management essential in this fenland. Canals and ditches were dug and windmills were constructed; of the latter nineteen remain today. Their job has nearly totally been taken over by electric pumping stations. After a visit to one of the mills you will continue on bike.
Today ends in Gouda. "Stroopwafels" (treacle-waffle) and pottery, but also of stained-glass windows, a fairy-like town hall and atmospheric canals. Gouda is a beautiful old Dutch city with a mostly intact city center.
The 123-meter long St. Janskerk (St. John's Church) with its world-famous stained-glass windows (closed on Sunday), the fabulous Gothic Town Hall and the Waag (Weigh House) are well worth a visit. The Gouda museums are the Catharina Gasthuis, formerly the municipal hospital, the pipe and earthenware museum the Moriaan and the Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland (Resistance Museum). Also visit the Cultural and Harbour Quarter with Weeshuisplein (Orphanage Square), the Catharinatuin (Catherina Garden, various hofjes (almshouses) and Museumhaven Gouda (Gouda Harbour Museum).
Overnight in Gouda
Day 6: Gouda – Oude Wetering (28 miles/45 km)
From Gouda, you will continue your tour over country roads, banks and channels through the Green Heart and polders to Uithoorn. The name De Uithoorn (or also De Uythoorn) was used at the end of the Middle Ages for the location of the lower courts of the deanery of Saint John. The village was formed around its courthouse.
People depended on agriculture and animal husbandry. Agriculture became increasingly more difficult due to the steady soil subsidence. From circa 1600 on, peat extraction became important and resulted in the formation of large ponds, which in turn would be made into polders later on. Circa 1885, several fortifications were built around Uithoorn as part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a 135 km long ring of fortifications around Amsterdam. As on most days, after dinner you will take a walk through this town.
Overnight in Oude Wetering
Day 7: Oude Wetering – Amsterdam (28 miles/45 km)
Today you will cycle in a polder and along the rivers Waver and Amstel. Amsterdam's name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city's origin as a dam of the river Amstel. Almost without noticing you enter Amsterdam, following the Amstel River. The extensive network of bicycle paths ensures a relatively easy way back into the city, showing you some remarkable sites in the center. Then it is time to say goodbye to your bike.
Before the farewell dinner, you may want to go for a walk in town. At night there you may want to take a canal trip or go on a city walk through the center of the city.
In the 12th century, Amsterdam was nothing more than a modest settlement at the mouth of the river Amstel, directly connected to the sea. Amsterdam was granted a municipal charter around 1300 and has since expanded continuously. In the 17th century (the Golden Age) the Amsterdammers were the most prosperous Europeans. It was in the Golden Age that the famous rings of canals were dug. 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, Rembrandtplein, the antique shops in the Spiegel district, Museum Square with the Rijksmuseum (National Museum), Stedelijk Museum (Museum of Modern Art) and the Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam is inextricably related to the diamond-cutting industry, which has brought much fame to the city since the 17thcentury. Other typical features of Amsterdam are its numerous "hofjes" (almshouses), the floating flower market, and the hundreds of houseboats lining the canals. The palace on Dam Square is sometimes called the Eighth Wonder of the World as it was built on 13,650 piles.
Overnight in Amsterdam
Day 8: Amsterdam
End of the trip after breakfast (disembarkation by 10:00am).
This program is subject to change without notice.