Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below.
Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Amsterdam
Depart the U.S. for Amsterdam, 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 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 holding a VBT sign and who will make
arrangements for your transfer, via taxi or minibus, to our Amsterdam hotel
(transfer time is approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic).
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
If you cannot find the VBT representative, or have been
delayed in customs or because of lost luggage, please go to the airport's Red
& White Meeting Point and wait there.
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
the rest of the day to relax or to begin your exploration of the city. VBT
provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes
recommendations about 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 Zaandam
VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making
your own way to our barge, arriving between 1:30 and 1:50 pm. Please note that
you cannot arrive before this time, as the barge is being prepared for your
arrival. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to
make alternative arrangements, as we set sail shortly after this time. The
barge will be moored in Oosterdok, near the entrance to the NEMO museum, which
is located behind Amsterdam's Centraal Station. Please refer to the information
listed in the tour handbook for your barge contact number.
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 in order to depart at 2:00
pm. At the docks, meet the barge crew and our second VBT Trip Leader, who will
welcome us aboard with refreshments. We cruise out of Amsterdam, sailing along
the Noordhollands—the waterway connecting Amsterdam to the North Sea—alongside
the recently built movie museum EYE. The barge moors near Zaanse Schans next to
a working sawmill generated only by wind power. From here, enjoy your warm-up
ride through the characteristic Holland polder landscape. With its traditional
green painted houses, warehouses and windmills, Zaanse Schans gives the feeling
of having stepped back into the seventeenth or eighteenth century.
This evening, gather onboard with the group for a welcome
Day 4 - Cycle to De Rijp / Visit Schermerhorn Windmill Museum / Alkmaar
Today our barge continues along the River Zaan and the
Knollendammer Canal to the town of Alkmaar, famed for its cheese trade. After
breakfast, start cycling past lakes and water management systems to the
beautiful town of De Rijp. As you enter, you'll appreciate why the famous water
engineer Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater referred to it as “the finest village in
Holland.” Centuries of history are still evident here in De Rijp's wooden
facades, beautiful church, lock and town hall.
From here, our ride continues across the Beemster Polder, an
almost untouched open polder landscape. In 1612, Dutch engineers, using a
system of dikes and windmills, drained the existing marshes and bogs and
converted the land into pastures. The Beemster Polder is now a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. Nourished by sea water, the clay soil left behind is nutrient
and mineral rich, with a distinctive slate blue color. Grass grown in this soil
is especially fertile, and makes the milk produced by cows that graze here
unusually sweet and creamy; Beemster cheeses thus are celebrated for their
Our next stop is at the former windmill complex of the
Schermer Polder. Here we visit the Schermerhorn Windmill Museum. The windmill
is accessible from top to bottom, so that the mechanics of the mill can be
followed visually as you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of unique polder
windmill setting. Enjoy a picnic lunch here.
The day continues to Alkmaar. The town is known as a Dutch
cheese city, but this title covers only part of what is has to offer. As you
wander through the streets this evening, you'll be amazed by the beauty of
Alkmaar's Old Town, with its well-preserved 17th century buildings and narrow,
Dinner will be served on our barge this evening.
Day 5 - Guided tour of Hortus
Bulborum / Cycle to the North Sea Coast and Haarlem
This morning, after a slightly earlier breakfast, we cycle
to the Hortus Bulborum, a unique garden museum dedicated to the preservation of
rare and historic bulbs. More than 4,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other
flowers are planted in the museum's five-plus acres of flowerbeds, and each
spring, they burst forth in a profusion of fragrances and colors, as we'll
discover during a guided tour.
After the visit, we'll continue to cycle a short distance to
our lunch spot today, a café right on the beach. Enjoy the views before
continuing to cycle on bike paths through the sand dunes of the North Sea Coast
to the town of Beverwijk, where we'll take a local ferry across the major
shipping route of the North Sea Canal. You then have a choice to either shuttle
or continue to cycle to Haarlem.
Haarlem is a pretty city of cobblestone streets, historic
buildings, canals, grand churches, cozy bars, top-class restaurants and antique
shops. Our Trip Leaders will guide the group on a short walking tour through
the historic city center. Afterward, stay in town to enjoy dinner on your own.
The barge is moored in Haarlem overnight.
Day 6 - Keukenhof flower park / Leiden
Again after a slightly earlier breakfast, we ride through bulb
fields to Keukenhof, famed for its magnificent flower gardens. The park is 80
acres (32 hectares) wide and has more than 9 miles (15 kilometers) of
footpaths. On display are more than seven million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils
and other flowers, all designed to excite the senses in a most wonderful
After our time at Keukenhof, we'll ride through blossoming
bulb fields en route to Leiden. Leiden is a vibrant town, patterned with canals
and attractive old buildings. It also has a few claims to fame: It's the
birthplace of Rembrandt, home to the Netherlands' oldest university and has a
surprising connection to American history: In the early 17th century,
Protestants fleeing persecution elsewhere in the Low Countries, France and
England arrived in Leiden to a somewhat warmer welcome. Most notable among
these Protestants was a group led by John Robinson, who would later sail to
America aboard the Mayflower—and into history as the Pilgrims who stepped
ashore at Plymouth Rock.
This evening enjoy dinner on board our barge before joining
your Trip Leaders for a short walk into Leiden. The barge is moored in Leiden
Day 7 - Cheese farm visit / Gouda
This morning enjoy a short cruise to leave the busy rush
hour streets of Leiden behind before starting todays ride through verdant
pasturelands and small farms famous for cheese production. We visit one such
farm near Zoeterwoude, meeting the owners, Karin and Sjaak van Veen, and their
animals. The farm has been in their family for more than 100 years. Here, we'll
learn about the cheese-making process and we'll have the opportunity to taste
Our ride leads us next through open polder landscapes to
Hazerswoude-Dorp. From here the bike path gets so intimate you actually cycle
through people’s gardens. Meet the VBT van en-route for a typical, simple mid-morning
snack of boterham met kaas (bread with cheese), before continuing to Gouda.
Gouda's association with cheese has made it famous: The
town's namesake is among the Netherlands' best-known exports. Gouda's compact
center is entirely ringed by canals and a walk through here this evening will
reveal its spacious market square and Gothic town hall. The main church of Gouda,
devoted to Saint John, is world famous for its stained glass windows. Your
early afternoon arrival into Gouda gives you plenty of time to explore and find
a local restaurant for your dinner this evening.
Day 8 - Gouda / Alphen / Tolhuis Sluis
Leaving Gouda this morning our ride takes us alongside peat
lakes onto the banks of the narrow River Rhine to Alphen aan den Rijn. Here
we’ll meet the barge for an included lunch onboard.
Afterwards you have the option to either cycle or cruise
through an area known as the “Groene Hart” (Green Heart)—a rural region with
lush meadows, tranquil peat lakes and abundant birdlife—before arriving at the
Tolhuis Sluis. Here we meet the barge and enjoy a cruise along the River Amstel
to our mooring point for the night at Uithoorn.
We'll enjoy dinner aboard our barge this evening.
Day 9 - Aalsmeer flower auction / Amsterdam
Today we'll rise early and, after a hot drink, shuttle by
motorcoach to Aalsmeer, the world's largest flower auction. But the early start
is worth the effort when you experience the hustle and bustle within the
warehouse as the crates of flowers are transported to the auction floor, where watching traders bid
against the clock. Marvel at the astonishing volume of beautiful flowers being
traded daily from more than ten countries and exported throughout the World.
Watching the entire auction from a special gallery, we'll be at the center of
the international flower trade.
We meet the barge in Uithoorn around 9:00 am for a late
breakfast before heading out on our final day of cycling. Our options will take
us along the River Waver before meeting the Amstel River, meeting up with our
barge at Zorgvliet. From here, we cruise into Amsterdam, whilst tasting local
Dutch delicacies, to our barge's home mooring in the center of city.
Dine on the barge one last time this evening.
Day 10 - Depart barge / Discover Amsterdam / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to
your barge crew and Trip Leaders as our tour comes to a close. It is important
that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am. Please refer to the information
listed in the tour handbook.
VBT Air Package guests and Post-Trip Extension guests: After
breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and Trip Leaders, then take a short
transfer to our Amsterdam hotel. After checking in, you have free time for
independent exploration. Please note your rooms may not be ready at this time,
in which case the hotel will store your luggage. Enjoy dinner on your own in
town tonight. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel
Booklet that includes recommendations about what to see and do in Amsterdam.
Day 11 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast*, transfer to the airport for your flight
home. Please be sure you are waiting at the designated time and transfer location.
VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in
advance and cannot be modified for individual guests.
*For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk
to verify the times when breakfast is served.