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Harry and Sandy Johnson’s eighth bike and barge trip was destined to be a special one, joining their similarly boat and bike-loving friends who had chartered the Sarah, along with their respective adult children and partners, and other close friends and relatives. Their wish for the week: giving their children a shared experience of the wonderful cycling in Holland.

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Laughter and hugs

“As the crew on the Sarah would attest, the collegiality aboard the ship was immediate and set the tone for the week,” recalls Harry. With a party that “fell into laughter and hugs upon boarding”, the trip had a relaxed atmosphere and crew focused on what they do best.

Having been on so many previous boat bike tours, the Johnson’s party rejoiced over serendipitous meetings with their previous guides from trips dating all the way back to 2005.

“In all the times we’ve been on these trips, we’ve always felt that we were being welcomed into a home, and that’s a credit to all of those who make it so; even going so far as to celebrate wedding anniversaries, as the crew did with my son and his wife.”

Seemingly endless beauty

As their tour wound its way through lovely Dutch landscapes from Amsterdam to Maastricht, Harry says the group was also impressed with how their guides dealt with circumstances way beyond their control as adventure struck, “as Ilsa did with the flooding in France in 2016, and Lia did this summer with an unexpected ferry strike”.

“They took it all in their stride, made the necessary adjustments, and in the process, made it a more memorable and fun trip.”

What’s more, the flexibility of the tours allowed the group to cater for differing levels of biking ability, with a few people who were not prepared to ride the full distance every day welcoming the option of enjoying the day on board the barge.

“One of our friends did opt for an electric-assist bike, and that proved to be crucial in his ability to ride every day and stay up with the group,” adds Harry.

And the highlight of the trip?

“I don’t know if there was one thing that impressed me the most. I would hazard to guess if this same question was asked of those who have never been on a bike and barge trip, the most impressive thing would be the simple, seemingly endless beauty of the countryside and the infrastructure that allowed them to safely experience it on two wheels.

But I think Sandy and I saw this trip as an opportunity to spend a week with our son and his wife in an environment far away from the daily grind, and it enabled us to watch them discover the beauty of another country and its culture together.”

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