BikeTours.com’s Finance and Accounting Coordinator, Amy, went on her first bike tour abroad in July 2018. While she’s an expert in checks and balances, spreadsheets, and bookkeeping, she quickly found herself in uncharted territory.
- Tour: Sail and Bike to Picturesque Villages and Nature Reserves
- Amy’s travel tip #1: Take some extra goodies in your carry-on. Think water bottle, snacks, light toiletries, and a change of clothes.
- Amy’s travel tip #2: Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for directions.
- Rooms on the boat (Leafde fan Fryslân) were small, yet cozy. Be prepared for close quarters if you’re sharing a room. (Each room does have its own bathroom!)
- Suggested reading: “Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City” by Russell Shorto
- Amy would recommend this tour to anyone interested in history, sailing (or just the idea of it), leisurely cycling, and a cozy group of potential new friends!
Read on for the full story:
Amy did a minimal amount of preparation for her trip; she was confident she could figure things out as her travels unfolded. She is a bit of a history buff, however, and read “Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City” by Russell Shorto before embarking on her journey. It was a great read – chock full of information and details that enriched the depth of her travels. She recommends it to anyone headed to Holland!
From her reading, Amy learned that Amsterdam was the birthplace of the stock market. Shareholders purchased stock certificates and bonds from the company known as the VOC or the Dutch East India Company. These funds would support their travels between various European ports and India and Southeast Asia to facilitate the trade of goods. As time passed, VOC ventures grew to accommodate various other commercial and industrial endeavors, and thusly the VOC was also the forefather of modern corporations. She visited a replica of an 18th-century VOC trading ship during her travels.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Did we mention that Amy had never traveled abroad before? Not only was she heading overseas on her first bike tour, but she was also traveling solo. How did she fare? Fine. Customs and plane travel were as expected – a bit stressful but manageable. She made sure she had her passport in order, a few extra goodies in her carry-on (in case her luggage was lost), plenty of snacks, and a water bottle.
A little bit of research let her know she needed to find a train in order to get to the boat dock (to start her bike and boat tour). She hopped off the plane, made it through customs, and set out for the train station. Once at the train station, her tour documents indicated where she needed to go to board the boat. She asked a couple of locals for guidance, and they obliged. She asked where to board the train, where to get off, and if she needed to switch trains at any point. Amy found that navigation in her current city in Tennesse, was tricker than in Amsterdam, even though it was a big city. Amsterdam was more open, public transportation was abundant, and navigation was simpler.
Once aboard the (ship) Leafde fan Fryslân for the Sail and Bike to Picturesque Villages and Nature Reserves tour Amy found herself quite content (and a bit nostalgic) on the boat as she previously worked as a QA inspector at Pearl Harbor for the US Navy. The rooms were tiny but comfortable. She imagined that sharing a room with a partner could be trying at times. But each room has it’s own bathroom, and that always makes life easier.
Amsterdam was lovely with history at every corner, but Hoorn, with its significant number of surviving 17th and 18th-century houses, was Amy’s favorite city. Her favorite building in Hoorn was the Hoofdtoren, the city’s main defense tower. What makes the Hoofdtoren unique is that it was built to stop robbers. The stairs went backward which meant the person taking the stairs had their left hand free, while his or her right-hand, often their sword fighting hand, was occupied. This prevented them from being able to (quickly or properly) relish their sword. There is also one step with a 2-inch difference in height from the others that would trip up the would-be robbers.
During the tour, Amy enjoyed having coffee with the captain and crew in the early morning hours before cycling. She loved that you could opt to take the guided or self-guided tour each day. Finally, Amy thought that the (smaller) number of people on the boat felt just right as there was enough time in the week to make friends with everyone. Amy would recommend this tour to anyone interested in history, sailing (or just the idea of it), leisurely cycling, and a cozy group of potential new friends!