Depart the U.S. for the Netherlands. The particulars of
your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.
Day 2 - Arrive in Amsterdam
Upon arrival at the Amsterdam airport, claim your luggage
and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving
the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area.
(Please note: Also make certain your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag
so your VBT representative can identify you.) After exiting customs, enter the
arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT
sign and who will make arrangements for your transfer via taxi or minibus to
your Amsterdam hotel (transfer time is approximately 20 minutes depending on
Important: Transfers are provided by Schiphol Taxi, who will
be looking for you and carrying a VBT signboard. You may be approached by other
companies offering a transfer. Please use only Schiphol Taxi, telephone +31 654
354 601 or +31 681 299 101. Transfers
provided by any other company will be at your own expense.
Please note: If you cannot find the VBT representative, or
have been delayed in customs or because of lost luggage, please go to the Red
& White Meeting Point and wait there. You can also go to one of the yellow information desks in the main hall and ask if they will call Schiphol Taxi (using the number above) on your behalf. This service is free of charge.
Please note that the hotel check-in time is 3:00 pm but they
will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking
in, you have free time to explore Amsterdam. VBT provides you with City
Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what
to see and do in Amsterdam.
This evening, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders at 6:00 pm in
the lobby of the hotel for an introductory meeting. Later, try one of
Amsterdam's wonderful restaurants for dinner on your own.
Day 3 - Embark barge / Warm-up ride / Cruise to Vianen
VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making
your own way to meet our barge, the Iris, and to arrive between 1:00 and 1:45
pm. Please note that you cannot arrive before this time as the barge is being
prepared for you. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as
possible to make alternative arrangements, as we will sail shortly after this
time. The barge will be moored in Oosterdok, near the entrance of the NEMO
museum behind the Amsterdam Centraal train station. Contact telephone number is
0620 245 095 from within The Netherlands or +31 620 245 095 from abroad.
Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After
breakfast, make sure your luggage is packed and ready to be transported to the
barge. At 9:30 am, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby for a
guided walking tour of Amsterdam, visiting many of the city's highlights. We
board the barge at 1:45 pm and depart at 2:00 pm. At the docks, meet the barge crew
and your second VBT Trip Leader, who will welcome you aboard with refreshments.
Cruise out of Amsterdam on the IJ waterway, catching glimpses of houseboats and
The barge stops before dinner for your warm-up ride, which
follows the river Vecht. This evening, gather with the group for a welcome
dinner onboard. After dinner there is a crew presentation. We moor in Vianen, a
small city on the river Lek.
Day 4 - Cycle to Kinderdijk / Cruise to Dordrecht
After breakfast we cycle along the small canals of the rural
region of Krimpenerwaard. We trace the route of the river Lek through
Schoonhoven, known as the “Silver City” for its long silversmithing tradition.
Continue on to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where 19 of Holland's
famous windmills—some more than 260 years old—decorate the horizon. During
a tour, we learn how these gems were used well into the 20th century. Then we
cycle (or cruise, if you prefer) to Dordrecht, one of Holland's oldest towns
and birthplace of the state of the Netherlands, fathered by William of Orange.
We stroll through the city's historic center to get a glimpse of its rich past.
This evening, your Trip Leaders will give you insight into the region's water
management systems. We moor tonight in Dordrecht.
Day 5 - Cruise to Willemstad / Cycle to Tholen
This morning, enjoy a short language lesson while we sail to
Willemstad, an old fortified town on the Haringvliet. There'll be time here to
explore. Then we cycle to Tholen, once an island in the middle of the large
Zeeland streams where many people fished for their living. Today, it is
connected to the mainland, but it remains a picturesque village with relics of
an eventful past. We pedal through its quiet farmlands and pause for a picnic
lunch at its historic locks. We meet our barge later and tonight we'll have a
home hosted visit in Tholen.
Day 6 - Cycle and cruise to Antwerp
This morning we cycle through the Wouwse Plantage, a wooded
area adjacent to Tholen. We'll cross the Oesterdam in the Oesterschelde; our
barge waits on the other side. From there, cruise to the impressive port of
Antwerp. After lunch on board you have the rest of the afternoon to explore.
Antwerp is not only known as the “Diamond City,” but also as the native city of
the painter Rubens. You may wish to
visit the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Market Square, which is surrounded by
beautiful historic townhouses. Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own in a local
Day 7 - Cycle to Dendermonde
After we cruise out of Antwerp, we board our bikes for a
ride to Temse, Basel Castle, and along the old Schelde River. On the way, lunch
is on your own near Basel Castle. Our afternoon route continues past
magnificent river views to Dendermonde, the centuries-old city with a
Benedictine abbey at its center. Before
dinner onboard tonight, you can learn more about Belgium's beer during our
onboard beer tasting.
Day 8 - Tour Ghent
After breakfast, we cycle from Dendermonde to Ghent. Located
at the confluence of the Schelde and Leie rivers, this “City of 200 Bridges”
was founded around 600 AD and boasts many beautiful buildings dating back to
medieval times, when the textile industry brought great wealth to Ghent's
merchants. Enjoy a leisurely lunch on board the barge before a guided boat
excursion to the center of Ghent. Then explore this attractive medieval canal
city on your own. Many old patrician houses have been preserved in the city
center. One historic building is the Cloth Makers' Hall, built in 1425, where
textile merchants used to meet. The city's major church is St. Baaf's
Cathedral, constructed and enhanced in various styles over many centuries. In the
cathedral, admire a number of masterpieces of medieval painting, including Jan
van Eyck's famous “Adoration of the Lamb.” Try one of the local restaurants for dinner.
Day 9 - Arrive in Bruges
During breakfast this morning, our barge cruises out of the
city. Cyclists who have chosen the longer ride option can begin cycling toward
Bruges. Others remain on board until Aalter Bridge, where the shorter cycling
route to Bruges begins. The barge rejoins the main canal and meets us all in
Bruges in the late afternoon.
Regarded by many as Europe's best-preserved medieval city,
Bruges is laced by a network of canals lined by beautiful houses built by
wealthy textile merchants. A 350-foot, 13th-century belfry tower, which houses
Europe's most famous carillon, presides over the city's Market Square. You have
ample time to marvel at the medieval ambiance of this lovely city and to walk
its winding streets. Dine on the barge one last time this evening.
Day 10 - Depart barge / Discover Bruges / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends.
It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am so the crew can
prepare for our next guests. Please refer to the information listed in the tour
VBT Air Package guests and Post-Trip Extension guests: After
breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and one Trip Leader, then walk
through Bruges's winding streets to the hotel with your second Trip Leader.
During the walk, you will get an orientation of the historic city center. Please
note that the hotel check in time is 3:00 pm but the staff will do their best
to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking in, you have free
time for independent exploration. VBT provides you with City Information in
your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what to see and do
Bruges was northern Europe's leading trade center between
the 13th and 15th centuries, driven largely on its thriving wool and textile
industries. The city has been famous for its fine lace for 500 years; you may
wish to visit one of the small cottage industries revolving around lace-making.
Enjoy dinner on your own in town tonight.
Day 11 - Free day in Bruges
Today is free for you to independently explore Bruges or one
of the nearby villages. Dinner is on your own in town tonight.
Day 12 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast* meet in the hotel lobby for your transfer
to the Brussels airport and your flight back to the U.S. Please be sure
that you are waiting at the designated time and transfer location.
Important: The transfer is prearranged by VBT and is
prepaid. VBT transfer times and
departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual
guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return
transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.
*For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at
the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the
times that breakfast is served.