Time to check in again 🙂
We are more than half way through our bike and barge holiday which started in Bruges on Saturday. My preparation of this Belgium town included watching the black comedy “In Bruges” on the plane into Brussels and the train into the town. So I knew about the Belfrey tower and was on the lookout for Irish hitmen~ Shoot now, sightsee later! (You have to watch the movie). What we saw was a beautiful medieval town that was stunning at every corner. The weather was overcast and drizzling but that didn’t dampen the wow factor that makes this town so special. We took a horse and carriage ride which is both romantic and a fantastic way to see the sights as the horse clip cloped around on the cobblestone streets.
On Saturday we boarded the barge, the Zwaan, to begin our week long bike and barge tour. There are 14 of us on the tour – 5 Aussies, 2 Poms, 2 Scots, 2 Canadians and 3 French, ranging in ages from 10 to 70. The first afternoon we cycled 30km through the Belgium countryside at a manageable pace averaging 15-20km per hour and finding no weakest link – just happy to cruise rather than race along. The crew consists of a captain, chef, cycle guide and ” the do – everything-else ” girl- the hostess.
We have cycled along canals; toured at the occasional castle; stopped traffic in bustling cities; all the while being educated on the history of the region by our over enthusiastic dutch cycle guide, Hugo. He is extremely passionate and animated in his discussions as he tries to explain everything in first English then French to us. Even though Belgium is rich in history it has only gained its independence in 1830! A new old country!
The riding has been fantastically flat and mostly with the wind behind us, except for the second day when it didn’t just rain, it poured on us. Like drowned rats we were all grateful to see the barge and have a hot shower after our 50km day. One town local even came up to us and remarked how brave we were out riding in this weather – we thought brave may have been mis-translated into stupid!
I really was surprised at how beautiful Antwerp was. Famous for its diamond trading quarter, it has a remarkable old town square and Cathedral.
We cycled into The Netherlands yesterday as we continue to pass canals, farmlands, quaint villages and now windmills.There appears to be many more locals on bikes here enjoying the summer sunshine as they cruise around the countryside.
Only two days to go now and then we arrive in Amsterdam. Chloe will be on a tour here and has a four hour window to meet us- I can’t wait to see her again.