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Wonderful Boat bike through Europe

10 May 2019

susan kaplan

My husband and I signed up for the BoatBike ride from Amsterdam to Bruges for April 20-27, 2019. We had never been to the Netherlands or Belgium, we like recreational biking at home (in the US) and after reading several reviews decided it would be a great adventure. We tried to explain to our friends that there was no safety van riding along side us if we got tired, not it was not a cruise but a converted barge, yes would sleep and eat on the barge etc. Yes we would ride rain or shine! It was all that. We booked the smaller, standard room and it was plenty comfortable, air and heat worked great and the cot style bed with lovely bedding was super comfy. The fixed window was nice and big and the room was spacious enough. We ate breakfast and dinner on the barge, and packed a bag lunch for the day. Hans and Hester were our lovely bike leaders, unflappable and informed. I rode 175 miles (skipping the last day) and was quite comfortable and proud. Many used electric bikes and they were also happy. We rode many hours at a leisurely pace, in 2 groups, mainly with no cars nearby, breaking for coffee, beer, bathroom breaks and lunch. The group was very nice, mainly from Canada and mainly large groups traveling together.. We were just 2 but not a problem. Suggestion: I would have liked a tour every evening or morning in the towns were were stopped in. I loved the biking but wanted a peak at more culture. We did have a lovely evening walk one night in Dortrecht guided by Hester-very informative. We also had a few hours in Ghent and in Antwerp but without a tour, even an informal one, we didn’t feel as enlightened.. We often didn’t return to the barge until 530 and had to rush to a 630 dinner. another suggestion: later dinner at 7 or 730 as this was our evening activity. Also when we returned we were offered a brownie, cake etc. as a post riding snack. A healthy alternative, fresh cut up fruit, nuts etc would have been quite welcomed. Or even a happy hour late afternoon, fruit and cheese and crackers party? The food was quite tasty with several courses at dinner, but the actual dinner entree portions were very skimpy, with the desserts, also delicious being as large as the entree. They were out of decaf coffee for many nights; when they served coffee after dinner we were never offered a second cup; kind of rushed to the “orientation program” for the next day’s riding. The drinkable water had an awful taste the first day which seemed to have improved after that day. We had lovely entertainment 2 nights on the ship but perhaps local musicians would have liked to come on board the other nights? Hester gave us a beautiful oboe concert. another suggestion is a communal photo drop place so we could all share photos which we managed to do individually at the end. The literature says to board the boat in Amsterdam on the starting Saturday, between 1 and 130 with a 2:00 departure but when we rushed to arrived at the dock at 1 we were told to leave our bags and take a walk on the pier and come back at 2. Some of the other communication could have also been improved. All in all, it was a really fun experience, the Captain and dining crew were friendly and tried hard to help us enjoy. Again, my main criticism is not enough time to actually visit and guided tour the many beautiful cities we rode through. Another thought, if it is a bike trip why are we paying extra for the bikes? We are offered the option of bringing our own bikes, but discouraged. The cost of the bike should be included and maybe a supplemental cost for the ebikes is another thought. I will consider another boatbike trip in the future. Thanks to all of you for your hard work and positive energy on this trip!

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