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A week on a boating and cycling tour is a week full of impressions. Nevertheless, it’s never overwhelming because of the pace; traveling by ship and bike gives you time, both on and off the boat, to immerse yourself in the experience. If you’re curious what a Boat Bike Tour is like each day, this report will give you a clear idea. The author, Michael, traveled solo on the Sail & Bike tour. Why did he like this trip so much? Find out in this blog!

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Day 1: Enkhuizen

The first day of the trip was mainly preparation. I had googled ahead of time to see where I could best park my car, with the help of the information provided by Boat Bike Tours. It turned out I could leave my car behind the Enkhuizen train station for a few days for free. It was only a short walk to the harbor and the ship was easy to find there.

Boarding the ship, I met the skipper briefly, settled into my cabin and got to know the other guests over a drink on deck. The skipper spoke to us briefly, introducing himself and the other crew members and telling us about how things are organized on board. The guests and crew were all friendly and welcoming: every single one. All of us were looking ahead to a great week.

That evening, the cook made us a tasty salmon steak with beetroot, broccoli and tomato slices as a starter: healthy and delicious, followed by a dessert of ice cream, as a pleasant surprise, with coffee. As I ate, I could hear the water gently sloshing against the ship, and through the round window I could see the sun slowly setting. There was a calm, as if before a storm, but without the tension: just a serene start to the week. Everything was ready, and the bed in my cozy cabin was super comfortable.

Day 2: Enkhuizen – Medemblik

After a nice breakfast and a bit of preparation in my cabin, I grabbed my bicycle bag and got on my e-bike to start my first bike ride of the week. I noticed that my bicycle bag – provided by Boat Bike Tours – contained a bicycle repair kit, but no bicycle pump, so I mentioned this to the sailor. He quickly grabbed one for me. It turns out he is from Germany, but also speaks perfect Dutch and good English and was very friendly and helpful. He and the skipper carried the bicycles from the deck onto the land. The e-bike was fully charged.

The tour I took involves bicycling independently, not with a guide, but we received maps and instructions to use the bicycle junction system. We also had an app with the route directions. Of course, there’s no requirement to follow that exact route; only to get back to the ship where it’s moored in the evening.

This morning two fellow guests invited me to cycle to Medemblik with them, so I cycled through the center of beautiful Enkhuizen, past the Zuiderzee Museum and the Fairytale Wonderland, to our meeting point. From there we cycled up the dike and past meadows dotted with sheep, getting a beautiful view of the sea and nature. We passed a lighthouse as we biked towards Andijk, where we stopped for a quiet lunch and toilet break in the oasis of the Libelle tea garden.

On the way to Medemblik, we stopped along the road for some pictures now and then, but it didn’t take long before we reached the port city. There we saw our ship, the Mare fan Fryslân, moored to her sister ship, the Wapen fan Fryslân: they really are gorgeous ships! From here we set out on our journey across the IJsselmeer to the North Sea island of Texel.

In the wake of the Wapen fan Fryslân, we sailed for the rest of the day. There was a cool breeze from the sea, but the sun was warm, which luckily we could enjoy while we waited at the lock at Den Oever. That took a while due to a malfunction. In the end, our waiting was rewarded and we sailed onto the Wadden Sea.

The Wadden Sea is a shallow area of the North Sea, much of it sandbars and mud flats. It’s a UNESCO site for its unique ecosystem. From the ship, we looked out over large sandbars full of birds and, in the distance, we saw seals stretched out on the sand. During this afternoon’s sail we also learned how sailing works and we were allowed to help a bit too. With the wind filling the sails you really feel like a true adventurer.

Just as we finished our dinner on board (In case you’re curious, we had tomato soup for a starter and a main course of beef in black bean sauce with a baked potato.), we entered the harbor of Texel.

While we enjoyed the food, we were able to watch the disappointing performance of the Dutch national soccer team via the laptop of a fellow guest. The internet connection sometimes turned out to be poor, but chef Stef knew what to do, managing things so we could watch it on television in the ship’s lounge. Despite the final score, we had a good time watching together.

In the evening we had plenty of time to take a walk around the harbor of Texel, but instead I opted for a good book, a shower and my comfortable bed.

Day 3: Texel

The crew announced breakfast each morning by ringing a bell at 8 a.m. Breakfast almost always consisted of a simple but tasty bread with a choice of spreads, cheeses and cold cuts, plus fruit and juice. Sometimes we were surprised with an omelet or pancakes. While there is little choice at dinner – except for those with dietary restrictions – at breakfast I always found enough options. After breakfast each day, we packed ourselves a lunch to take along and eat on the way.

Texel was cool in the morning, but it eventually turned into beautiful beach weather: a nice warm day. It was a short distance from the harbor to the largest town on Texel, Den Burg, and I cycled through the beautiful forests via the south of the island, past Ecomare (a nature museum and sanctuary) and through the dunes to De Koog. There, I treated myself to lunch with a view of the sea.

I cycled alone, and I found my own way across the island with the help of the bike app and bicycle junction system. Taking my time, I cycled back to the ship via a detour through the green fields of Texel, but I was well in time for dinner.

The cycling is really calming, almost mind-expanding, and with a good rhythm and easy pace you can get anywhere you want to be – without parking problems! Texel is so small that cycling is ideal. And with an e-bike you get that extra push to make cycling easy – you never really get out of breath even on the longest stretches (or that one little hill!). The best way to describe it is that it feels like the wind is always at your back, gently pushing you along.

Day 4: Texel – Terschelling

Unfortunately the weather turned bad on our fourth day. It was cloudy and rainy during the hop from the island of Texel to the island of Terschelling. On the way, the sailor gave an interesting talk about the currents of the Wadden Sea and where the water is too shallow to sail. I was fully prepared, by the way, for seasickness, bringing pills and a special bracelet, but in the end I had no problems. No dinner was served on the ship that evening, so we accepted the challenge of finding a good restaurant on Terschelling. I chose the Brasserie Brandaris for a delicious beef dish. Afterwards, umbrella in hand, I strolled around the harbor, past the picturesque cottages. Despite the bad weather, it was a peaceful way to end the day.

Day 5: Terschelling roundtrip

Terschelling stayed windy and wet the next day, with occasional showers, but that didn’t stop me; I was glad I had brought some rainwear! I cycled to the woods and dunes along the west coast of the island and looked out over the village and beach from a good vantage point, enjoying the beauty of nature. At West aan Zee I took a walk on the beach and then back through the dunes. Farther from the water, I saw little rabbits everywhere, leaping in front of me to their burrows in the sand.

When the rain got heavier, I quickly cycled back to West Terschelling, had a quick lunch and went into the shops on Brandaris square in search of a good book and some souvenirs. Once the rain let up, I cycled some more. While there’s no requirement to cycle every day, I was glad I braved the rain so I could discover this beautiful island a bit.

That evening, we sailed back to the mainland, to Harlingen, a charming town where I enjoyed an after-dinner walk along the canals before bed.

Day 6: Harlingen – Franeker – Makkum

Fortunately, the weather improved on the sixth day, and halfway through the day I was able to stuff my jacket into my bike bag. It made a big difference in terms of the distances I traveled. Challenging myself to see a lot of Friesland, I cycled from Harlingen to Franeker and from Franeker to Wommels and Bolsward. Cycling through Friesland you immediately feel the difference between the short distances of the Wadden Islands and the long-distance cycle paths of the mainland. Friesland is so green and flat and breathtakingly beautiful!

Along the way I cycled past farms, villages, and fields full of cows: very Dutch scenery, of course. Without realizing it at first, I cycled on the St. Odolphuspad, a pilgrimage route through Southwest Friesland with a long and interesting history. On the way back, I got lost for a while looking for the ship’s mooring place, but that’s all part of the experience. It’s fun to find yourself in places where you normally never go. A beautiful adventure.

Day 7: Makkum – Stavoren

I used this trip as a way to enjoy nature and beautiful scenery up close. And every evening when you return to the ship, you get to exchange stories with your fellow guests over a delicious dinner.

On the last day I decided to take the opportunity to just relax and enjoy the beautiful weather. I grabbed a book and sat down on the deck in a long lounger. Instead of cycling, I experienced the journey from Makkum to Stavoren and from Stavoren to Enkhuizen on the ship. No one forces you to cycle; everyone enjoys their vacation in their own way and sunbathing was what I wanted to do that day. In fact, it was so hot that I burned my legs because I forgot to put sun lotion on! I thoroughly enjoyed spending the last day aboard the ship with the captain and crew.

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