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Report 1004: Cycling in Belgium and The Netherlands

By Linda Hagstrom from PA, Fall 2005

Trip Description: Sept 10 - Sept 17 2005 Cycling trip from Brussels to Amsterdam, cycling from a barge....a wonderful trip.

Destinations: Countries - Belgium, Netherlands

Categories: Boat (Canal/Sail); Biking; Package Tour; Single Traveler

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Page 1 of 7: First Day in Brussels

photo by Linda Hagstrom

Boat salon

When I arrived at the big train station in Brussels, it was still early in the day. I had a map with directions to the barge I would be cycling from. I found the barge and met our group leader, Jan, and the barge captain and two helpers who helped with the barge and did the shopping and cooking. They were all natives of The Netherlands and spoke English well.

I left my carry-on (I had traveled all carry-on, for the first time and it was great) at the barge and returned to the train station to get the train to Bruges.

In the early 1980's, I went to Europe for the first time. I booked a tour of seven countries, and spent about three days in London before the tour started and about four days in Paris after it was over. On this tour, I learned three things which have changed my life:

1. I adore Europe.

2. I hate bus tours.

3. I could see even then that I could travel in Europe independently.

On that tour, we did a drive-by of Bruges. We didn't even have time to stop! But I always remembered how beautiful the town was and I wanted to return to actually walk around.

In an hour I was in Bruges and spent the rest of the day enjoying that beautiful, medieval town.

When I got back to the barge, the other bicyclists had arrived. This was a Holland Aqua Tours event, and we would spend the next seven days cycling from Brussels to Amsterdam. The boat would move every day while we were cycling, and we would get back on in the new location. That evening we chose our bicycles from the 40 or so on board. There were just 13 of us, plus leader and crew, although the boat can carry more. All the guests were American, except for a couple from Chile. The boat looked small, but it carried many people. It had a salon where we gathered to eat and drink and relax, staterooms (my single was tiny and spartan, but I had my own bath), kitchen and storerooms, an outside deck, room for many bicycles, and the biggest surprise for me - it carried a small car on the roof of the engine room along with a crane to get it on and off the boat.

After dinner, Jan took us in to downtown Brussels to see the Grand Place and other landmarks. We enjoyed walking around, although there was a rainstorm. We all enjoyed most our stop at a bar, where we all sampled the many great Belgian beers. We would do the town tour and bar-stop at every town we stayed in.

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