Planning for this trip began in 2019 BC (Before COVID) and was rescheduled 3 times due to COVID travel restrictions. The cast of characters changed multiple times during the COVID years as some dropped out and others signed up. People who felt capable of riding a regular bike in 2019 elected to upgrade to an eBike in 2022. The group rounded out to thirteen which filled every cabin on the barge.
BJ and Tony elected to actually book flights to Amsterdam rather than travel Non-Rev/Standby since this trip had been so long in the planning. With a confirmed seat, we were able to schedule our arrival on the day we were to board the barge, something we would never have done if we were standing by. We enjoyed Delta One service, watched a movie and got a little sleep, landing in Amsterdam at 5:00AM on Saturday.
Then we were escorted into the section where the brother demonstrated how the the clogs are made. He was a real showman, demonstrating not only how the clogs are made, but how fashionable and useful they are. He even slid across the floor at great speed. One of his selling points was that walking in clogs would firm up your butt!
We would have loved to stay and celebrated with them, but we had to cycle on to meet the barge. 3 miles later, we made a stop in Edam to see Sint Nicolaaskerk.
Near the boat, we found the Schippershuis, a lovely spot near the Hoofdtoren to enjoy a cup of "coffee" and congratulate ourselves on the long ride (in a headwind).
It was a bright sunny morning in Hoorn as we got ready for our ride. As we cycled out of town, the barge left the dock headed for our next destination.
While we were at the Poldergemaal Schellinkhout, we looked out and saw the Zwaan going by on its way to our next destination.
There were people walking through the fields looking for tulips of the wrong color. The tulip bulbs would be sold and they were making sure all would be the correct color once they cut the blooms off and harvested them for sale.
Sietse had planned a stop at a coffee shop but when we got there, we discovered that it had closed during the COVID years, so we rode on. We passed a thrift shop called De Rommelboet and decided to stop in. De Rommelboet translates to "The Fine Mess". It was a fun little barn full of "treasures" if you subscribe to the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Several of the group spent the afternoon at the Zuiderzeemuseum, an open air museum with historic buildings and exhibitions. The rest of us decided to explore Enkhuizen and take a "coffee break". We found a grocery store where we picked up some wine to have on the barge. The barge has a beer/wine bar but will allow guests to bring their own with a corkage fee.
Dinner was, again, 3 courses. A seafood appetizer with mussels, shrimp and smoked salmon followed by a vegetarian casserole and salad with rhubarb compote for dessert.
We awoke to find people swimming by our barge pulling flotation devices behind them.
When we got to Texel, our friends Dan and Tel from Fernandina Beach were there to greet us. They got some great pictures of the Zwaan as it sailed into port.
We had no sooner left the barge than Dan's chain broke! Dan and Tel went off to get their car so they could find a bike store. The rest of us set out for the 5.2 mile ride (in a headwind) to Den Burg to find a place for a "coffee break". We found a great spot, Mans Gastro Pub in the center of Den Burg.
After dinner, we played Left Right Center. Everyone started with 3 One Euro Coins (except for Joyce who mis-remembered from a previous trip that we played with quarters and had brought enough quarters for everyone to have three - we picked on her a little about this). After the dice went around the table a number of times, passing coins to the left or right or placing them in the center, Polly ended up being the last player with a coin and won the pot.
After breakfast, with nothing else to do and BJ's oldies playing on the speakers, there was time for some dancing!
We only had a few minutes in town. Some of us browsed in the shops around the church while others took a "coffee break".
On the way out of town, Sietse wanted to show us two houses called De Ark and De Bark next to each other. I missed the significance of this stop.
Sandy, Polly and Kevin took a boat tour around the area. They didn't realize when they signed up for the "Duck Tour". They had to duck (and I mean REALLY duck) under 22 bridges during the tour!
We stopped by the Czaar Peterhuisje where Tsar Peter I of Russia resided in 1697 during his Grand Embassy.
Our "coffee break" was in Sandpoort at La Mia restaurant. We parked our bikes in the alley beside the restaurant and got scolded by the residents but they eventually gave permission for us to park there for a short time.
Beth, still on her Apple Pie tour, sat at the restaurant next to us with her apple pie and reached across to La Mia for her drink.
BJ and Joyce demonstrated the positions they remembered from their ballet classes together when they were 6.
We declared it formal night and everyone put on their most formal attire. For some of us, this just meant a clean t-shirt!
Chef Rick described the night's menu. A filled puff pastry appetizer followed by pork medallions in garlic sauce, green beans with bacon and roasted potatoes. Tira Misu for dessert!
Next came the award presentation. Tony was declared the most valuable team member. His contribution as "Sweeper" or "Rear Admiral" earned him the coveted Zwaan medal.