Details

Start date:14 June 2020
End date:27 June 2020
  • Duration:14 Days
  • Departs:Amsterdam
  • Ends:Bruges (Belgium)

Price

  • $5,490 per person, twin share
  • Single supplement Not Available
More booking details

Inclusions

  • 14 days / 13 nights on board the Quo Vadis
  • Twin-bed cabins for 2 people with private shower, toilet, air-conditioning and central heating
  • Full board (13 x breakfasts, 13 x self-packed lunches, 12 x 3 course dinners), except for dinner on Day 11
  • Daily cabin cleaning
  • Free WIFI on board (but limited)
  • 8-speed bike rental with helmet, removal bike bag, water bottle and security lock
  • On-board English-speaking Bike Tour Guide and daily cycling briefings
  • Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water
  • All ferry fares on route
  • Visit to a working windmill (Kinderdijk)
  • Battlefield Day Tour (Villers-Bretonneux) including the services of an accredited English-speaking Guide
  • Coach transfer to/from Ypres including ticket for the WW1 Memorial Museum
  • Belgium Bier tasting experience
  • Tour escorted by Bruno & Christine Corletto
  • Tour Information Pack

Exclusions

  • Beverages
  • Dinner on Day 11 in Ypres (at own arrangement)
  • Entrance fees to optional attractions (museums, galleries etc) not listed in the inclusions above
  • Electric e-bike supplement at a cost of approximately 15 Euros per day (limited number available)
  • Special diets
  • Gratuities

What our guests say

Thank you Bruno & Christine for a wonderful tour. In a few word “Buonissimo” our Northern Italian walking tour was a smorgasbord of breathtaking scenery, compelling history, cultural insights, fine Italian cuisine and wines and many captivating Italian characters all superbly packaged and led by you both.

– Ellis & Bronwyn

A big thank you for taking us on such an adventure as our Italian Viaggo. Every day was amazing and every walk had its “oh my goodness” effect, we just loved it. Walking gave us such a sense of achievement and of really being in Italy.

– Sandra

Many thanks, what a fantastic adventure in a country I would never have explored had it not been for you. I admire your organisation, hospitality and breadth of knowledge.

– Gillian

Many thanks for a wonderful trip. Somehow you organised perfect weather, magnificent wilderness trips, a bus full of congenial people and good accommodation and food. Your warmth and friendliness made the whole time especially enjoyable. Looking forward to our next trip.

– Bill & Helen

Thank you so much for the great trip. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The standard of the tour was excellent, the accommodation was great as were the extra activities. We really enjoyed the morning teas and picnic lunches and most of all we enjoyed your friendship and care for the comfort of your passengers.

– Ian & Rona

2020 FULLY BOOKED – WAITLISTING AVAILABLE!

CONTACT US TO REGISTER YOUR INTEREST FOR 2021.

This popular tour is aimed at the active traveller and combines two ideal ways of exploring Europe – cycling and canal barge cruising.

In recent years Bike and Barge cycling cruises have quickly become the preferred way of touring Europe – unpack once in your comfortable en-suited cabin, settle in to the homely onboard facilities, delight in varied and wonderful regional based meals, wines and beers, enjoy the company of a small group of like-minded travellers (maximum 22) and the personable service of our crew while watching the beautiful European scenery pass by.

For 2020, this tour will be escorted by Bruno & Christine Corletto with the itinerary seeing us cruising from Amsterdam to Bruges via the historic canal system through traditional Dutch and Flemish landscapes of small winding rivers and canals, pretty villages, polders, dykes and windmills, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk. Our journey will skirt Holland’s North Sea region, through Zeeland province dotted with islands and peninsulas, along the less travelled routes before heading south through Belgium’s “Flanders Fields”. Enjoy 13 nights onboard our “floating hotel” the Quo Vadis which will dock every night in charming medieval towns and cities including Amsterdam, Harleem, Delft, Ghent, Kortrijk & Bruges.

Our itinerary also provides a special and wonderful opportunity to visit some of the iconic WW1 battle-sites to learn more about and honour those who served on the Western Front.

Please note the proposed itinerary below is yet to be confirmed.

Itinerary

DAY 1 - Arrive Amsterdam & Check-in to “Quo Vadis” Barge Boat (Intro Cycle - up to 20 kms)

Lunch & dinner included

Our adventure starts in Amsterdam, renowned for its picturesque 400 year old canal district, museums, street artists and performers, the famous red-light district and much more. Try to arrive early so you have time to visit the historical centre, a World Heritage site, and to admire the elegant tree-lined canals, tall narrow canal-houses and warehouses. Check-in begins at 10am where you will be welcomed aboard the “Quo Vadis” by our friendly crew and be assigned your cabin and bike. In the afternoon, a 10 – 20 km flat ride through the historical green suburbs and meadows of Amsterdam’s charming Waterland district will be offered to get you accustomed to your bike, otherwise spend the afternoon exploring more of Amsterdam or simply relax on-board.

DAY 2 - Amsterdam – Zaanse Schans – Haarlem (Cycle - 50 or 47 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Our cycling day begins with a ferry to Amsterdam North. From here ride through the Ilperveld a unique waterland-park. We then stop at Zaanse Schans a traditional living and working community designed to showcase Holland’s culture. Here you can visit fully operational windmills (one dating 1673), the distinctive Dutch-style green wooden-houses, craft work-shops where you may see millers and craftsmen at work, and enjoy a coffee or snack at the café overlooking the pretty landscape. The longer route leads through the ‘polder’ lands to the Hortus Bulborum with a collection of 4000 mostly historic types of bulbs (guided tour possible) followed by a ride through the wildlands behind the sea dunes. The shorter route leads through green villages with wooden houses and the hamlet of Spaarndam built around the lock, and the woods and dunes near the North Sea. The Quo Vadis waits for us on the Spaarne River, in the historical and medieval centre of Haarlem, with its monumental Grote Markt, little palaces of bankers, and charming courtyards. Haarlem gave America’s Harlem its name back when New York was “New Amsterdam,” a Dutch colony.

DAY 3 - Haarlem – Cruquius – Leiden (Cycle - 39 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

After a short ride and ferry transfer, we visit the Cruquius a gothic revival steam mill that once drained the Haarlemmermeer, a polder consisting of land reclaimed from water and meaning Haarlem’s Lake. You can see it in operation, and there is a display of models which explain how the Dutch have battled the water. The Quo Vadis will tie-up near the gate to the historic centre of Leiden in South Holland, famous for its university and centuries-old architecture. Leiden means ‘at the waters’ and was founded around 800 AD at the confluence of the Old Rhine, Vliet and the Mare rivers. At one time it was the most important textile centre in the Netherlands.

DAY 4 - Leiden – Delft, via Katwijk (Cycle 57 km), via The Hague (Cycle 45 km), or direct (Cycle 32 km)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Today we offer a longer ride following the course of the Oude Rijn, through the former fishing towns of Katwijk & Scheveningen. The route continues through the dunes along the North Sea coast,& follows the remains of the Atlantikwall, the 1900mile long coastal fortifications built by the Nazi Third Reich. The shorter tour leads through the luxurious Wassenaar Villa quarters & the government centre of The Hague with the International Court of Justice and the Panorama Mesdag (an art museum featuring 19th-cent. artist Hendrik Mesdag’s striking panoramic beach scene, Europe’s largest “cyclorama”). The Quo Vadis tonight will moor at the edge of charming Delft, a canal ringed medieval town with a beautifully preserved historic centre. The shorter & direct route leads cyclists through former peat fields and suburban parks and provides more time for Delft instead of The Hague.

DAY 5 - Delft – Rotterdam – Kinderdijk – Dordrecht (Cycle 48 or 32 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Today we start with a visit to a nearby gallery to view and shop for the famous Dutch ceramic, Delft Blue. The longer cycle route leads to Rotterdam, leaving Delft via the University campus with its fine modern architecture and the 17th century water-bound gunpowder house. After the historic lock of Overschie, you enter impressive Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, passing the Van Nelle factory (the most prominent industrial monument in the Netherlands) before continuing to Delfshaven (the harbour of Delft).

The shorter route option will cycle alongside the Quo Vadis to Rotterdam. If there is time, we may visit the stunning Markthal Rotterdam, a one-of-a-kind food market under a magnificent multicoloured ceiling (Rotterdam’s version of the Sistine Chapel), Old Delfshaven which survived heavy WWII bombing and from where the Pilgrim fathers departed, and the pretty 19th cent. Veerhaven inner harbour. A fast ferry will then transfer you to the Alblasserwaard, a large polder (a low-lying tract of land enclosed by dikes or levee embakements) bordered by wide rivers on all sides. Here, water management has always been crucial with many canals and ditches dug and windmills constructed. In Kinderdijk 19 historic UNESCO World Heritage listed windmills remain creating a picturesque and quintessential Dutch landscape. After a visit here, all cyclists pedal via an inland path to a cheese farm for a short visit before arriving at Dordrecht where the Quo Vadis will moor for the night. Dordrect, or Dort as it is known, is the oldest city in Holland with an attractive and relaxed historic centre and once an important market.

DAY 6 - Dordrecht – Willemstad – Zierikzee (Cycle 56 or 46 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

During breakfast, we sail to Willemstad, a small historical garrison town with fortifications symbolizing the old Dutch republic. Today you will enter Zeeland, the Netherland’s westernmost and least populous province yet pretty and quite unique consisting of a number of islands (hence its name, meaning “sea-land”) and a strip bordering Belgium.

Today’s cycle route takes us over bridges and via local ferries towards Belgium traversing a patchwork of landscapes of vast polders, idyllic countryside, rolling dunes, and golden sand flats. Picture-book towns line the banks as we travel to our destination tonight in Zierikzee a small and historic city in southwest Netherlands. Since the early Middle Ages, Zierikzee was a rich trading city. Its wealth led to the construction of a beautiful port, city hall, mills, church and city walls and gates protecting well over 500 historical monuments.

DAY 7 - Zierikzee – Veere – Middleburg (Cycle 54 or 26 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

A stroll down the narrow streets of Zierikzee is an absolute delight. Quaint old houses take you back in time to the town’s glory days when ships set sail to sell salt, wool, fish, grain and red dye as far afield as the Baltic and the Mediterranean. Our route continues to the charming village of Veere. From 1541, everything that was exported to Holland from Scotland (mainly wool) came ashore in, and was distributed from Veere. This contract brought the town not only prosperity but also a very lively Scottish expat community that stayed for 300 years. Walk in their footsteps as you take a tour of the sights.

Cruising further south, we discover the nostalgic splendour of the small city of Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland province. In the 16th & 17th centuries it was one of the most important centres of trade in the Netherlands. With a strong headwind, this part of the ride can be strenuous therefore we may decide to do the first part of today’s route on board the Quo Vadis and start cycling from Zandkreek dock. The Quo Vadis will moor in Middelburg which was once the second most important centre for the Dutch East India Company, active in Africa colonising the southern coasts and slave trading on the western coasts.

DAY 8 - Middleburg – Flushing – Ghent (Cycle 48 or 53 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

This morning we can ride to Flushing, the historical navy harbour from where in the English-Dutch wars of the late 17th cent, attacks on London were made. After we head down to the Wester Scheldt river for a ferry crossing of the gateway of Antwerp to arrive in Zeelandic Flanders bordered to the south by Belgium. There the cycle route splits, one along the coast and one that leads more inland. Continuing along the Western Scheldt, we may spot seals before passing the remains of the once prosperous fishing village of Biervliet and the mussel village, Philippine. The inland route leads to the 16th cent. fortress town Ijzendijke and the pretty Belgium hamlet of Boekhoute. By mid-afternoon we arrive in the Dutch border town of Sas Van Gent.

Crossing the border into Belgium we arrive in the historic and charming medieval town of Ghent where we moor directly north of the centre with an easy tram connection for a visit down town. This lively university town has a heavenly mixture of medieval buildings, stylish shopping streets, baroque churches, steeples and several delightful squares. It is particularly magical in the late evening when the day trippers have gone.

DAY 9 - Ghent – Nevele – Kortrijk (Cycle 54 or 44 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Today starts with a sailing breakfast to Nevele. The short cycling route offered today passes the region of the Leie river, appreciated by the famous Flemish landscape painters, via the medieval estates of Ooidonk and Ooigem. Then onto Deinze with its impressive gothic churches housing fine collections of work from local Leie painters, and then continue riding through the pretty and sleepy town of Machelen with quirky street art. The long route leads to the edge of Bruges including historic Tielt, rebuild after bombing in WWII, and along Eperon d’Or (an Art Deco industrial museum), the modern brewery Bierkasteel, and the estates Ardooie and Ingelmunster. 

The Quo Vadis will anchor in the Flanders medieval village of Kortrijk located 7 kms from the French border. This delightful town is one of Belgium’s oldest, founded by the Romans and destroyed by the Vikings before being fortified in the 12th cent. Kortrijk is particularly known for its Medieval and Renaissance architecture and for being the scene of one of the most famous battles in Belgian history, the Battle of the Golden Spurs of 1302 where the Flemish cities defeated the French King. We will be moored in Kortrijk for the next 3 nights.

DAY 10 - Kortrijk (Exclusive Day Tour to WW1 Battlefields in the Somme, France)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

After breakfast 8.00am we board our luxury coach (don’t forget your passports) and meet our Battlefield Guide for a special and memorable exclusive tour to see the places where our Aussie troops saw service on the WW1 Western Front battlefields in the Somme, France. Today you can take your usual included packed-lunch or for something different purchase at the lunch-stop (at your own cost).

Along the way we will include a stop at Pozieres, where the AIF were first engaged in the Somme battle, where from the highest point in the battlefield we will gain an overview of the campaign that lasted from July to November 1916. We then travel to Thiepval, now the site of the largest and best-known memorial to the missing of the Somme and its scale and location is truly remarkable and evocative. From here we visit the moving Villers-Bretonneux military cemetery, memorial and the recently opened state of the art Sir John Monash Centre which tells Australia’s story of the Western Front in the words of those who served.

There will also be time to visit the Villers-Bretonneux School House Museum (rebuilt after WWI thanks to the fundraising efforts of Victorian School children) famous for the sign “Do Not Forget Australia”. On our return journey we will stop at Le Hamel, a spectacular hilltop site that saw an important and impressive Australian victory under the command of Lieutenant General John Monash (his first as the AIF corps commander) and led eventually to the end of the war. Return to the Quo Vadis in time for dinner.

DAY 11 - Kortrijk – Ypres – Kortrijk (Day Tour to Flanders Field’s Battlefields & Menin Gate)

Breakfast & lunch included

Today a coach has been arranged for us to visit the nearby (about 30kms from Kortrijk) Western Flanders town of Ypres, which was on the frontline of WWI and virtually completely destroyed after 4 major battles. This impressive town was once one of the main Flemish textiles centres and has since been rebuilt to recapture its original charm. Today many points of interest, historical buildings and monuments can be enjoyed here including the striking Cloth Hall located on the market square in the town centre, a medieval commercial building once one of the largest markets and cloth industry warehouses of the Middle Ages. On the second floor of the Cloth Hall you may wish to visit the “In Flanders Fields” museum dedicated to the study of the First World War.

But of course the biggest treasures are the monuments of the more than 170 war cemeteries around Ypres, mostly of soldiers from the British Commonwealth including the famous Menin Gate so named because here the road out of Ypres passed through the town’s old wall defences. During the war the two imposing stone lions standing on each side of the Menin Gate were seen by tens of thousands of troops as they marched towards the front line. The gate beyond, which these men’s fate lay, became highly symbolic & records the names of 55,000 British and Empire troops “missing” in France and Belgium, including 6,000 Australians with no known grave. After dinner at your own arrangement and cost in Ypres, we will gather at the Menin Gate for the 8pm Last Post ceremony which has taken place every night since 1928 (except during the German occupation of WW2) to honour all fallen soldiers. Afterwards the bus will take us back to the Quo Vadis where it is tied-up in Kortrijk.

DAY 12 - Kortrijk – Deinze – Bruges (Cycle 58 or 47 kms)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Start the day with a sailing breakfast and land back in the lively town of Deinze, then choose to cycle to Poeke Castle and its beautiful formal gardens. The route leads north through a forested landscape on peaceful paths and passes by other estates like Bulskampveld with an English park and an enclosed garden. The Quo Vadis is moored just outside the fortifications of Bruges, near the central train station, for the next 2 nights.

DAY 13 - Bruges (Cycle – via the coast x 40 km or town ride of approx. 10 km)

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Today you can enjoy exploring the stunning city of Bruges by bike or foot or choose the longer option of riding to the seaside resort Blankenberge with beaches, boulevards, and an Art Deco casino. On the way back, there is charming Lissewege where we find Ter Doest, a commanding 14th century early Gothic Cistercian abbey barn completely restored in 2000.

Bruges is one of the most beautiful of all Flemish cities comprising some of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval formations. Bruges will capture your heart – straight out of a painting it is known as the “Venice of the North”. Its pretty cobbled streets and network of canals are overflowing with charm. Medieval church spires are nestled amongst its famous chocolate shops and atmospheric bars serving world renown Belgium beer.

Bruges was once an international metropolis and centre of commerce and its port, Zeebrugge, remains an important centre for fishing and European trade. The city centre’s Burg square, with its ramparts, gates, and decorated gables, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will enjoy discovering the lively streets and squares or take a boat ride through the charming canals that weave through the city. Include a visit to the medieval palace museum of the Gruuthuuze family and learn of the city’s fascinating past through a fine collection of tapestries, paintings, archive documents, lace and silverware. And if you like beer, the Halve Maan (Moon) Brewery conducts tours and tastings. This authentic brewery in the centre of Bruges is a family business with a tradition stretching back through six generations to 1856. This is where Bruges’ malt style beer, Brugse Zot, is brewed.

Tonight we enjoy our last dinner together on-board the Quo Vadis and recount the fun and adventures experienced on our tour.

DAY 14 - Departure

Breakfast included

Your tour officially ends at 9am after breakfast. Disembark for own arrangements for ongoing travel.

Travel Notes

CANAL BARGE (QUO VADIS) FACILITIES
Our home for this tour is a beautifully refurbished canal barge ‘Quo Vadis’ with comfortable air-conditioned twin bed en-suited cabins (with porthole) for a maximum of 22 passengers plus crew. Exclusively booked for our Bishops Adventures Tour, the Quo Vadis has spacious lounge/dining areas, saloon bar and outside sundeck. Meals are beautifully prepared and presented and the bar is well stocked and prices are very reasonable. Wi-fi is limited but free. The vessel is skippered by the owner who involves himself with his passengers and ensures that everything is “ship shape”. Because the barge is small with a retractable wheelhouse it can access some of the narrower canals and waterways fitting under lower bridges that other larger operators can’t do.

CYCLING
Cycle touring is a major part of this itinerary and is the best way to really experience and enjoy the flat lowland regions we will travel through. These organised guided-rides will interest leisure riders and cycling enthusiasts alike and are varied passing through farmlands, forests, pretty villages and towns, alongside canals, rivers and on levy banks lined with windmills etc.

Each evening our on-board bike guide will provide a briefing on the next day’s ride and, as you will notice in the following proposed itinerary, will offer on most days either a longer or shorter ride on a majority rules basis or subject to weather conditions. The rides are classified as easy-moderate and will average out at between 40-50kms per day however this is mostly along flat tow paths, cycle ways and village streets.

Daily cycling itineraries are leisurely with ample time for coffee or beer breaks allowing us to truly soak up the experiences along the way, just like a local. There is also a limited supply of e-bikes (electric pedal-bikes) available onboard at an additional cost should you prefer. Each bike is equipped with a weatherproof bag, water bottle and holder, security lock and helmets will be provided.

Of course, you can opt out from riding and simply spend leisurely days cruising on the boat in the lounge or deck enjoying the scenery from our comfortable barge.

GETTING TO AMSTERDAM & DEPARTING FROM BRUGES (Belgium)
Amsterdam & Bruges are easily accessible by rail from almost anywhere in Europe. London is about 3.5hrs by fast train from Bruges with one change (Brussells) and costs approx $100. Other cities within a similar range include Paris and Frankfurt.

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Highlights

  • Enjoy the company of your fellow travellers and crew on-board the very comfortable Quo Vadis Barge boat, a beautiful & classic Canal Barge exclusively booked for Bishops Adventures
  • Unpack once and return to your “Floating Hotel” each day to relax over a refreshment in the lounge or sundeck before savouring a delicious 3 course meal prepared by our own chef
  • Overnight tie-ups in interesting and typical Dutch & Flemish medieval towns & villages allowing leisurely evening walks or cycles into town after most of the day trippers have gone
  • Guided bike excursions along mostly flat paths & trails enjoying charming towns & peaceful landscapes
  • Experience the enchanting port city of Bruges, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval gems known as “Venice of the North” and enjoy exploring its cobbled alleyways & picture perfect squares & canals
  • Enjoy ample time in Amsterdam to discover some of the many sites and attractions of this fascinating city
  • Visit the UNESCO declared “Kinderdijk” and see the row of 19 windmills built in the 18th century
  • Day tour to Villers-Bretonneux WW1 Military Cemetery in France with an accredited English- speaking Battlefield Guide. Visit the recently opened Sir John Monash Centre & be moved by the words & actions of our Australian Troops
  • Day tour to the Somme & experience other Western Front battlefields where our Aussie troops served including the symbolic Menin Gate in Ypres to join the stirring evening Last Post ceremony