Netherlands Bike Tour – Board the Barge

The combination of time zone adjustments and excitement for the pending trip has us up early again this morning.  Another breakfast in the hotel dining room, and then I take our four cases down to be stored in the hotel luggage storage room.  The cases are now empty save for a few items we don’t want to haul around on the bikes for two weeks.  The staff cautiously warns that they cannot assure the security of the luggage, even though you must be electronically let into the room, so I use two small locks and cables to secure the cases to the rack.  We both will carry four panniers on front and back racks, and a handlebar bag carrying all the more personal and valuable items.  The bikes are loaded and we are ready to head out.  The elevators most everywhere we went were not big enough for both bikes and both of us, it is one at a time. Once checked out, we ride off. Without our helmets.  After much debate we had decided that for this trip, in an attempt to save space, have two less bulky items to have to keep track of, and to fit into the Dutch cycling experience, we would do this trip without them.  We knew we would feel much safer there in respect to traffic. We also knew that wearing helmets is like wearing a big sign that says “I am a tourist”.  Honey isn’t entirely convinced.

Riding to the barge

We left plenty early as we did not want to be late.  The Zeeland was docked just where we left it the day before, and people were scurrying around cleaning and stocking.  Turns out that The Zeeland isn’t what either the Americans or the Dutch picture as a barge.  It is more like an ocean capable, working class vessel.

The Zeeland docked in Amsterdam

We got to the boat before they were ready to admit new passengers, so it was off again in search of coffee.   Soon we all boarded, stowed the bikes on the top deck, our gear in our cabin, had a brief introduction meeting to meet the other passengers, and the hear the rules from the captain, the order of behavior from the captains wife and the cycling plans from our cycling leader.

In another post I will cover the passengers, the crew, and the boat itself.

Bikes on The Zeeland

Casting off the lines, we now sail southeast out of Amsterdam through  ocean inlets and down the Rhine river.  This is not an Amsterdam canals boat.   The trip takes a few hours. Long enough to unpack a bit,  relax, photograph the numerous bridge structures, and get acquainted with the other passengers.  The Zeeland approaches our port for the night, at Wijk bij Duurstede, just as we gather for dinner.  So we can dine and watch the town appear and the crew secure the ship.

Approaching Wijk bij Duurstede

After dinner, everyone lends a hand to get the bikes down, and adjusted to each riders stature.  Then its out for a ride through the town, and the countryside, and around the castle at Wijk bij Duurstede.

Wijk bij Duurstede Castle

We returned shortly before dark.  All the bikes get hauled to the deck, and there a little time for relaxing prior to doing all the other little things needed to get settled into our little cabin.  To bed after 11:00, but we are still unable to get more than a few hours of sleep.  Good news. Our cabin not only has its own shower (think they all did) but it has 3 beds. (they all did not) Not as good news. They are all bunk beds,  and monkey gets  the second choice. Cramped bottom, or top without ladder. No matter. Its nice, clean and comfortable. We won’t be spending much time in the cabin.

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