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Four day bike tour- Netherlands or France or...?


Dec 4th, 2012, 01:27 AM
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Four day bike tour- Netherlands or France or...?

I'm still working on plans for a birthday celebration. The plans started big and are getting smaller, more realistic. My latest was thinking of something somewhat active like combining a visit to see the spring tulips in the Netherlands with a bike tour. Bike/BednBreakfast or Bike/ Barge overnight or something like that. Was trying to squeeze it all into a short break we have with the kids at around May 8-12, 2013.

I spent some time online looking for tour options and they are plenty over all of Europe. A smaller outfit would suit us fine as long as it is reputable. I don't want to go tooo budget on this trip. Can imagine that a nice place to hang at the end of the day would be a bonus. My challenge is working specifically at that May timeframe since we don't want to take the kids out of school for a length of time. It seems that with the organized tours for a 3 or 4 day overnight it was boiled down to the Netherlands anyway as other countries start at a given Saturday or Sunday of the week for a 7 day trip. I think it might be at the tail end of tulip season.

Has anyone stayed on a barge hotel overnight? I once did a boat hotel as a college student in Amsterdam. Given the fact it was New Year's Eve and firecrackers exploding everywhere was my only memory. Not a good memory as I was terrified.

Other options- I read about Italy- many advanced hills and potentially dangerous biking situations abound. That would be out. France seemed to offer more beginner to moderate cycling but tours were longer. Slovenia was a recent idea- it looks gorgeous and I would never have thought to go there before seeing a travel program. Hilly with the Julien alps. I have not included the Mosel since we took two family trips there recently and as much as I love the destination would like to see something else.

I think a beginner pace would be fine for the kids and myself- husband a former cyclist could certainly handle more, but hey, it's my birthday!

We live in Europe and a flight to any major city is pretty easy. Any suggestions as to tour companies or destinations that I may have overlooked?

I like easy to moderate biking, quaint towns, scenery, interesting stops for the kids, good food and good wine, pleasant people.

Any thoughts are more than welcome!
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Dec 4th, 2012, 05:13 AM
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One answer is that we have done a barge trip in Burgundy and it was truly wonderful--small elegant barge. They had bikes on the boat and you could ride along the canal, etc. But it was a very lovely organized tour organized for the barge.
"Way back when I was in college I took a tour of europe with a group that included biking in England, the Loire and the Black Forest among other places. The Loire is a nice biking area--flat, and places to see, etc.
I am sure Holland would be great also for biking. You don't say how old the children are, but it sounds like fun. Being able to handle your luggage would be important, of course. I am sure there are far more elegant things now than what we strapped on our bicycles.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 05:37 AM
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headwater http://www.headwater.com/all/activities/cycling.htm do a bunch of these sort of trips and prices tend to be at the moderate end unlike some US based tours which can go through the roof.

4 days would just about get you around Lake Constance (you could finish the tour off with a ferry trip.

If you've done the mosel, the Pfalz or the Elbe might be fun.

www.mybikeguide.co.uk for some more ideas
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Dec 4th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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I had a very experienced cyclist friend who did a bike/barge in Holland and really liked it.

I disliked cycling there when I did it, but that was years ago and I was always going against the wind.

For a 4 day trip, I imagine the choices are few.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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I think May is too late for tulips - but you may see other flowers. And it seems Netherlands is a good choice for not so experienced cyclists - safe, flat - not super challenging.

Agree that 4 days will be hard to find.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 09:01 AM
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Your dates are fine for tulips, unless we get a ridiculously warm early spring.

There are plenty of short cycling tours available in the Netherlands, including ones to area which have tulips but aren't on the usual tourist trail, or to lovely quiet countryside, again off the usual tourist track.

Barge/cycling holidays usually involve staying on the barge overnight then cycling to meet it again the following night. The big advantage of that is you only unpack once so you don't have to keep packing up for the luggage service everyday. If you don't feel like cycling one day then normally it is fine to stay on board that day.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 01:54 PM
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Four day bike tour- Netherlands or France or...?
Posted by: Finecheapboxofwine on Dec 4, 12 at 4:27am
I like easy to moderate biking, quaint towns, scenery, interesting stops for the kids, good food and good wine, pleasant people.
Any thoughts are more than welcome!

Here is a thought -- a bike ride from Haarlem through the tulip fields to Keukenhof. See my photolog at http://tinyurl.com/y8hltjl.

Also, you mention water in your Copenhagen post. I suggest the water amusement park Duinrell near Wassenaar just north of Den Haag. In Den Haag is the amazing Madurodam, Holland in miniature. Both are great for kids, young and old. Back in Haarlem you can climb around in the windmill de Adriaan. The science museum in Amsterdam is very popular with youngsters.
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Dec 5th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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If you bike with children, Netherlands is the only sensible choice, as biking in the Netherlands is the safest in the world, due to the wonderful infrastructure here. It's dead easy to do day trips, and you can rent bikes anywhere, also good bikes for children.

I second spaarne's suggestion of biking within the Haarlem - Leiden - Den Haag triangle: easily reached by train, Madurodam, Duinrell, Linnaeushof near Haarlem is also great for kids, and the sea and beach if the weather is nice.
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Apr 8th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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Just returned from a 6 day cycling tour through Holland with my 11-year old son. We live along the Rhine where there are many safe marked bike paths but nothing comes close to the Dutch Fietsknooppunkt system! It is a system of thousands of numbered junction points, most averaging 3/4 km apart, we had a couple over 7 and some under a kilometer. Each junction point has an area map for reassessing if necessary. I literally returned from a trip to New York on Monday, packed two (Ortlieb) panniers and a sack pack, booked a hotel for the first night and had my husband drop us off at the border. Usually I am a überplanner, so this was new territory to me, however we had done a couple day tours last fall and I felt the system was well planned so decided to choose a rough route with a couple places I wanted to see and work our tour around that...let the rest be a surprise - despite the unseasonably wintery conditions (layered up!), we were not disappointed! Unlike planned tours, we had the benefit of being somewhat spontaneous this way - the paths were well thought out so they were never very physically challenging and led through a good representation of what The Netherlands has to offer....pine forest, sandy beaches, farmland, wetlands, waterways..beautiful homes and gardens. Along the way there are several 'Fietscafes' where you can not only fuel yourselves but also load your batteries, if you are using the ebikes, or ask to plug in your gps/phone if needed...pumps, etc.. Maps are available for sale, there is an online planner (presently still just available in Dutch, but easy to follow along) plus my gps cycling app (runtastic roadbike) also listed them with several different map variations. The LF routes are also very well marked and the old mushroom markers are still there, so though we did get muddled up once or twice it wasn't for long and we were able to correct ourselves. One thing to be said, the Knooppunkt system is not the most direct way, it is however perhaps the safest and the routes are generally scenic. We veered off our daily route once to follow a LF route along a canal and it saved us time/energy - just as enjoyable. Here is the link to the planning site I used, I guess there are others, maybe one in English, or an app, I was fine with this one though: www.fietseropuit.nl
www.hampshire-hotels.nl also offers package deals including lodging, rentals and breakfast which I thought was a good deal. I recently started a blog and will be posting some of our highlights and equipment tips, links, etc in the next couple days if you want to take a look. We biked 309 km from the german border to the North Sea beach at Ouddorp in about 6 days, it was very very cold though (hovered below/above freezing most the trip...but it was spring break so we took it easier than we could have). Oh ... you may very well hit the tulip season this year, if not, the gardens, sites, homes, well natured people and animals will make up for it! Enjoy your trip!
(my blog, I'm a newbie, but I try to get useful tips out is: www.suburbiadeutschland.blogspot.de)
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