BikeTours.com’s mission for the past 16 years has been to send travelers to Europe to experience destinations by bicycle.
While none of us are able to travel, plans are on hold, and we’re physically distancing ourselves, we think it’s more important than ever to connect with others. We asked our BikeTours.com family to share some of their favorite tour memories. What joyous, fun, easy, or life-changing experiences did they have on tour?
We hope you enjoy the memories, pictures, and simple joys they chose to share. Perhaps they bring back a fond memory for you or spark you to consider a bike tour in your future.
The non-bike bike tour
A couple of years ago, five friends signed up for a bike/barge tulip tour in the Netherlands. Five days before we were to leave, one friend fell (a biking accident) and cracked her kneecap. She could walk with her brace and decided to go on the trip, intending to do a lot of reading on the barge. Two days before we were to leave, I fell (slipped in some tide pools) and broke my elbow such that I could not put any vertical pressure on the break, so no riding for me.
As it turned out, my friend and I had a wonderful time, each day using public transportation from where the riders left the barge to the next overnight stop. The guide gave us suggestions and we stopped at many of the great sights to see in the western Netherlands. We got to bike vicariously through the stories told at dinner each evening.
The next year, we went on a Loire Valley chateaux tour, where we did, in fact, bicycle.
From: Pam Nakaso
Sitting on the top deck enjoying the fabulous food (and some wine) at sunset on the Moselle River.
Well wishes for Italy
From: Colleen Hollinger Petters
We were on the Piedmont tour this past September. We relish our memories of the simple daytime café stops, park lunch breaks, and small-town encounters. The small town encounters were when we met wonderful community members who were willing to talk with us and make us feel welcome. I know arriving on bikes made us somehow less touristy, as town people had no hesitancy chatting after seeing us sweaty, on our bikes and wearing helmets.
We rode through the Commune Monticello d’Alba between Bra and Asti, stopping for espresso and sitting down outside with the group I would call “The Town Guys.” I speak marginal tourist Italian, but we were able to get by enough to have a memorable visit.
Here in central Minnesota, this same group of guys would be discussing Twins baseball, agriculture, gossip, likely the weather, and if pressed, Bud Light would be named.
In Monticello d’Alba, they asked us where we biked and what we had seen and enjoyed in the past week. Then, they started naming and discussing the exceptional grapes and wines of their home region: Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo. They were all so welcoming! Some funny, some reserved, each one participating in our group discussion.
They agreed to a photo and I’m sharing that here. My heart is heavy as this region is so close to Lombardy in Northern Italy, the COVID-19 epicenter of the region. I hope each gentleman in this photo is still alive and doing well.
Each Piedmont town we passed through was unique, some charming, some more urban; most individuals were friendly and each person we talked with was kind.
Travel to other parts of the world reminds us “we’re all us.” This is a happy story and I plan to get back to this city in 2021, as I hope to greet these gentlemen and see that this story has a happy ending.
Thanks, BikeTours.com. Biking into a town gave us a whole new perspective on travel, and we’re now saving funds for the next trip in 2021!
The friendly French
From: Bruce Dransfeldt
We did all three sections of the Loire Valley tour last fall. Lots of great experiences, but I wanted to share that everyone was so friendly, smiling, and willing to help. French people have a reputation of being cool and aloof–not true! I think they were amused at our attempts at French from high school sixty years ago, and they tried their best with English. It was three weeks of a lifetime of memories, thanks to your people for making it go so smoothly.
Kind crew in Croatia
From: Denise Konrad
In Croatia, I slipped and lost my phone overboard in port. A crew member dove down to retrieve it and put in in rice in the engine room for me. It was not successful but I will always remember the effort.
The rare American tourist
From: Ray Siwinski
While on a three-week tour from Prague to Venice (highly recommended to anyone) we overnighted in a small town in Austria that had obviously been bypassed by the autobahn. After checking in at our accommodations, showering, and changing clothes, we found a nice restaurant with sidewalk seating. After taking our order our very cute, young waitress, who obviously figured out we were from the States but had no idea we arrived on bicycles, brought our drinks and then said, matter-of-factly, “Can I ask a question? What are you doing here?”
At this time I expected her to say “Get out.” But, she didn’t. Obviously, tourists were rare in this town, American tourists more rare, and American tourists on bicycles extremely rare. Once we explained what we were doing there, we had a great conversation and a great dinner.
When you’re in a car driving 80mph between European cities you don’t get memories like that.
If you have a memory you’d like to share, email us: [email protected].