Shortly after we started offering our trips again, Els van der Drit joined one of our tours from Bruges to Amsterdam. She works in health care and had had an intense period in the first months of the corona outbreak. Els really needed a vacation, but was hesitant to travel by plane. Boat Bike Tours seemed like the perfect solution.
Flying to another country? A beach vacation? I don’t feel up to it, even though I really need a holiday. Then I see an advert about Boat Bike Tours. I love the sound of a week of cycling and sailing from Bruges to Amsterdam, but I’m hesitant. What will it be like to spend a week sailing and cycling in these times where everything is affected by the corona outbreak? After chatting to my boss and getting reassurances from an employee of Boat Bike Tours, I decide to take the leap and just go for it.
A Warm Welcome
On a sunny Saturday in July, I board the ship the Fluvius with some trepidation. Immediately it becomes clear to me that a lot of hard work has gone into implementing health and safety measures on board. I get a warm welcome with no shaking of hands, and go looking for my own cabin with luggage. There are ‘walking lines’ and hygiene instructions clearly visible everywhere. The tables and bar are equipped with screens, the crew wears face masks and gloves and the buffets have been replaced by menus.
Keeping a distance
In the course of the afternoon the other participants arrive, a group of fourteen Dutch and German guests. After getting acquainted with the crew and the owners of the ship and enjoying a delicious welcome dinner, the first ‘briefing‘ by tour guide Corrie begins. She explains the itinerary for the week to come, and she points out the need to always keep a 1.5 meter distance from each other. We need to make sure to keep our distance not only on the ship but also on bike excursions, on walks, and while resting. Wearing face masks is mandatory on the ferry and in the (Belgian) cafes and stores. It takes some getting used to! We immediately go out for an evening walk through beautiful Bruges and that too takes some getting used to, but it’s very pleasant.
Surprises and challenges
What follows is a week full of surprises and challenges. Every day we cycle part of the journey to Amsterdam, passing through Ghent, Dendermonde, Tholen, Dordrecht, Kinderdijk and Vianen on the way. I was surprised by the beauty of the landscape, the gardens full of flowers and also by the history of the places we visited, which was so clearly explained by Corrie. Challenges include cycling ‘in a string’, ‘taking’ the ferries, and cycling over bridges and through bicycle tunnels. Corrie made sure that we didn’t lose each other while cycling through the center of the cities.
Cosy and convivial
Every day, back on board after the bike ride, coffee with some goodies is ready and waiting for us. The meals are excellent; we are well taken care of! The mutual atmosphere is cozy and convivial. I am amazed at how much you can grow together in a week. And then all of a sudden it’s all over and we’re moored in Amsterdam, my home port, and the farewell follows.
Again we don’t shake hands, but exchange sweet words and addresses. Thank you everyone, I enjoyed it. And I hope we meet again!