14 days AMSTERDAM – MAASTRICHT – BRUGES. short ± 465 km, long ±640 km.
“Thinking of Holland I see wide-flowing rivers winding languidly through infinite fen,
lanes of inconcievably rarefied poplars like lofty plumes on the skyline polder's rim”.
These famous lines by the Dutch poet Marsman can also go for the major rivers of Limburg and Flanders. Discover magical flat and scenic green landscapes along the rivers Vecht, Linge, Waal, Maas and Scheldt; and undulating fields with picturesque brooks like the Swalm, Jeker, Demer, Nete or Rupel. High dikes and flood plains, cut-off meanders, old gullies and hidden fens; each with their flora and fauna.
This 14 days wonderful bike and boat tour brings you along all these waters and much more. You will ride through the Kempen forests and wooded estates with impressive monasteries and castles with their gardens, typical hamlets, small fortificated towns and lively marketcities. Also some of the most interesting historical cities of Europe are in the program: Amsterdam, Maastricht, Antwerp, Ghent and for Bruges you have an extra day. Other special attractions on this trip are: the castles of De Haar and of Bazel, the Missionmuseum of Steyl, the castlegardens of Arcen, a ride through Germany, the Tower of the Apocalyps, dinner out in culi-town Maastricht, the heritage village of Bokrijk, the baroque churches around Zichem, and a ride at the Belgium coast.
2021 Juli 10th, Amsterdam to Bruges
Price: € 2995 per person, (included Ticket André Rieu Concert)
Single cabin: on request
Supplement e-bike: € 200 (to reserve in advance, limited available)
Day 1. Arrival in Amsterdam, options for 24 or 3km, 15 or 2miles.
Your cycling adventure starts in Amsterdam, famous for its 4 centuries old canal district, museums, street artists and performers on the squares, a notorious red light district, and more. Try to arrive early so you have time to visit the historical centre, World Heritage site, to admire the elegant tree lined canals, tall narrow townhouses and warehouses. We hope you can arrive at 10 in the morning, to check in, meet the crew and try out the bikes. That will give you time for a trial ride in the neigbourhood, or longer in the pastures of charming Waterland. Or you can take the opportunity to visit the interesting art collections of Van Gogh or the Rijksmuseum, and one of the historic houses like the Anne Frank or the Cromhout houses.
Day 2. Amsterdam – Weesp – Utrecht – Vianen: 46 or 38km, 29 or 24miles.
Today we arrive in the lands of Utrecht, densed populated like Holland; and visit the Vecht river, known for its fine summer residences of wealthy Amsterdam merchands from the last 4 centuries. After a sailing breakfast we will land near the cosy center of Weesp, with its canals, historic buildings and 3 windmills. Following the winding Vecht, we visit a cheesefarm where we can see how they produce and have a taste. Further along the riverbanks we see magnifique mansions, proud castles and villages with rich gardens. A longer route leaves the river towards castle De Haar, a vast and beautiful recreation of the middle ages by the 19th century leading architect Pierre Cuypers, which can be visited. The Quo Vadis waits for us at the edge of Utrecht city to take us to Vianen, a small historic market town.
Day 3. Vianen – Heusden: 35 or 53km, 22 or 33miles.
Today we cycle through the land where many rivers come close together, we will cross 3 of them, with several 16th century fortress towns. First we head to Leerdam, known for its glass design; the museum shows demonstrations and collections. Followed by a nice ride along the winding Linge with tiny old town Arkel, towards Gorinchem, an old and lively rivertown. Here we find the Quo Vadis, to take the short trackers on board. The long trackcers can take here a ferry to Woudrichem, a quiet mini town complete with its fortifications in the Brabant Province. After this the route follows the picturesque curves of the Bergse Maas. The Quo Vadis is moored in Heusden, another small and cosy fortress town.
Day 4. Heusden – Maasbommel – Cuijk: 50 or 39km, 31 or 24 miles.
After a sailing breakfast we land in Maasbommel, once port of the Hanze trade, to have a ride along the canalized Maas whose meanders still define the landscape. Along the winding dikes are small markettowns some with fortifications, and some castles; once here was the frontier between powerful medieval duchies Gelre and Brabant. And during the Dutch republic the new Reformed church ruled the northern banks, the southern banks belonged to German Catholic county of Kleve, so several monasteries were settled there. The long route passes the national known Gardens of Appeltern, a big variety of horticulture design; Batenburg with a romantic castle ruin; the authentic castle Hernen, national known from television series. The shorter route passes tiny Megen, where a visit to the mausoleum of a beatified monk can give blessings; and over tree-laned dikes with wide vieuws and dreamy villages to Ravenstein, where we could meet our other bikegroup under the ‘twin towers’ on the cosy marketsquare. .
Both routes continue along the baroque conventchapel of Velp, lively Grave with its canons at the river and its bridge known from Operation Market Garden. Followed by the wetlands of the Beerse overlaat, remains of big inundations caused in winters to unburden the cities of Holland and isolated this region since 16th century. We find the Quo Vadis back again in Cuijk, once a Roman settlement and now dominated bij the revival gothic church. Eastward you see the hills that made the river flow change direction.
Day 5. Cuijk – Arcen: 47 or 53 km, 29 or 33miles.
Today, we have 2 splendid routes, one more near the river Maas, the other more inland. In the morning we cross the river and come in Limburg, remains of a former duchy. We pass the renaissance townhall of Gennep and in Heijen where the routes seperate. The shorter one is a more varied, along floodplains with hedges and lakes, several villages and castle Well, crossing the river 2 times more. The longer route runs through woods of a national park with the ruins of castle Bleyenbeek, along secluded ponds and wide fields looking into Germany. You might spot a dear or a falcon.
A highlight waits in Arcen, where the Quo Vadis is moored. The famous Castlegardens have a great variety: the Rosarium with 10 different rose gardens, shady Lommerijk with streamlets and sounds, a water- and sculpture garden, Casa Verde shows Mediterranean and tropical gardens, 6 'international' gardens in the Valley and the Golf with the largest Dutch waterfall. And it closes at 6 pm. Arriving early gives also the possibility to visit the brewery of the local Hertog Jan. Another nice spot is around the old watermill.
Day 6. Arcen – Roermond: 59 or 47 km, 37 or 30 miles.
The first half day along the Maas has most of the visits, the second half gives a choice between open waterbound landscape for the shorter route, and a wooded adventure via Germany for the longer one. Both groups will be soon in Venlo, a lively center with a renaissance townhall on the marketsquare. A more pristine place for a picknick is near Steyl, with 3 functioning convents and their gardens, and in the Missionmuseum an unexpected collection of ethnographic and taxidermic objects from the tropics.
The long trackers better don’t stay too long, it’s not yet halfways. Passing charming hamlet Ronckestein direction German hills, over unpaved roads in the dense Brachter forest, followed by medieval remains in Brüggen. The picturesque Schwalm brook brings you back in the Maasvalley. The shorter route crosses the river for Kessel, with one of the oldest castles contempory restored and a terrace with the nicest view on the river. Beesel with a hidden castle follows and a ride along sandwinning lakes till Roermond.
This town at the conjugation of Roer and Maas was the trading capital of the Gelre duchy in the middele ages, and since 16th century the seat of a Catholic bishop. The historic
marketplace, some monumental churches and monasteries are witness of its rich cultural heritage. The romano-gothic Minster was restored in 19th century by local architect Pierre Cuypers, who introduced with more than 70 churches nationwide the gothic revival as symbol of the Catholic emancipation. Amsterdam had 6 of these, but also its Central Station and Rijksmuseum, and not to forget castle De Haar near Utrecht, are his design.
Dag 7. Roermond – Wessem – Born – Maastricht: 57 or 33 km, 36 or 21 miles.
Today we pass a narrow part of the country, one place only 5 km or 3 miles wide. South Limburg is since the Dutch republic of importance; first with fortificated Maasticht as an armed fist between powerful Catholic bishoprics Cologne and Liege, and more recent for limestone and coal mining. This ‘neck’ is full connections; the winding Maas as frontier with Belgium is sandwiched between straight canals, leaving green striplike zones varying in width with dikes, treelined roads and silent villages with old churches.
The long trackers get of first for a ride via the small white convent town Thorn, in Belgium the romanesque Aldeneik church, Maaseik cosy marketplace, along lakes and dikes, en could meet the fellow group again over the border in picturesque sloping hamlet Elsloo with a castle and a drink. The short track starts later at Born, rides along such a green zone between waterways to Elsloo. Further the routes are the same, taking a ferry to Belgium fields on another strip zone along Smeermaas, once a Roman villa.
If you consider the longer route, know that Maastricht, one of the oldest towns with a medieval bridge and fortifications, and some monumental churches, one with a bookshop, a hotel in a convent, a university, lively streets and cosy squares; is too interesting for just an eveningwalk. It governs the province and is a leading city in the international region; it has a name in culinary circles, so this evening is chosen for a dinner out.
Day 8. Maastricht – Hasselt: 55 or 44 km, 34 or 28 miles.
Today we cycle into Belgium, roughly devidable in a Wallonian or French and a Flemish or Dutch speaking part. The long route gives first a nice ride through Wallonian hills and the beautiful Jeker valley with the fantastic tower of the Apocalipse. Continuing through the rolling fields of Flanders with entwined villages Zichen-Zussen-Bolder out of limestone from underneath corridors, renaissance watercastle Alden Bieze with an English park, another watercastle and a striking modern church in Schoonbeek.
Short cycles through the forests of the National Kempen park, along the charming medieval Zutendaal church direction Bokrijk; a heritage park with 140 historical buildings from all over Flanders between gardens with local flora, an arboretum with theme gardens and an under water cyclepath. Both routes pass a Japanese Garden, biggest of Europe; entering Hasselt, a lively governement town, known for it’s jenever (gin), with some baroque monuments and a striking modern town hall.
Day 9. Hasselt – Oevel (Herentals) – Antwerpen: 50km/ 31 miles.
Cycling over mostly quiet roads we pass severel interresting locations. Herk, a town of tree-nurseries has a tropical arboretum near the townhall and picturesque Rotem near Halen with a watermill, ruins of an abbey, and a museum about The Battle of Silver Helmets in 1914. Later we enter once powerfull Diest with a huge beguinage, monumental squares and a 19th century fortress. And in the surroundings of Zichem, chosen as one of the most beautiful Flemish villages, lay the baroque pilgrimage basilica Scherpenheuvel, the abbey of Averbode with a baroque chapel and the Tongerlo abbey with the closest copy to Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
We find the Quo Vadis near Oevel, and have a sailing dinner towards Antwerp; Belgiums first port and second city, known for its diamonds and painter Rubens. It has a castle
overlooking the Scheldt river, a beautiful main square, lively places around the cathedral and the red city museum tower in the harbour is open late for city panoramas.
Day 10. Antwerpen – St.Amands - Dendermonde: 53 or 30 km, 33 or 19 miles.
Today a beautiful ride along rural banks of the tidal Scheldt river with a variety to see. The long track crosses the river via the exiting St.Ann biketunnel and heads for the castle of Bazel, now in the state of about 1800, in the English park is the first hanging iron bridge of the continent. Winding dykes along fishing lakes follow, you might spot some phaesants, via small town Temse to beautiful villages like Mariekerke and St.Amands whith a spectecular artgallery with natural stonewear.
The other route has the same, it skips some distance due to a waterbus in the beginning and getting on the Quo Vadis in St. Amands. The long track continues along treelined fields and a modern mausoleum of a beatified local, to the bridge of Dendermonde; a small town with a nice main square and a beguinage.
Day 11. Dendermonde – Ghent: 43 km/ 29 miles.
Todays route continues along quiet riverdikes, another ferry and smal scale farmland with messy villages, through a wooded area with lakes along a dead rivercurve and several flowerfarms, passing the renaissance castle and garden of Laarne and nice Malters familypark. At the next dike we see the Scheldt again, with clearly tidal effects, which brings us early enough in Ghent to enjoy the town before we go to the Quo Vadis, south of the historic center.
The city is proud of its rich past, but is much more than a museum town. This university town has an excellent mixture of medieval buildings, stylish shopping streets, early modern architecture, baroque churches and several squares with numerous terraces. The cathedral is impressive and shows the famous Ghent altarpiece, finished in 1432; and a boatride gives beautiful sights.
Day 12. Ghent – Lovendegem – Bruges: 55 or 45 km, 34 or 28 miles.
Today, after quiet bikeroads along the canal, we pass many estates; mostly private. But we can enjoy their forests and lanes, and an occasionally view of a castle-like mansion. The long trackers see the romanesque Lotenhulle church and can enjoy the formal gardens of Poeke. The short route crosses the friendly Aalter marketplace and might meet our fellow group at Bulskampveld, with an English park and an enclosed garden with local botany. Later we pass a striking monument of the Moerbrugge battle in WWII. The Quo Vadis is moored just outsite the fortifications of Bruges, and near the trainstation. The Venice of the North invites you for a quiet evening walk.
Day 13. Bruges: via the coast 40/ 25, Damme 25/ 16, or 8 km/ 5 miles in Bruges.
Today you visit one the most beautiful of all Flemish cities. The midieval town is completely intact, with addition of some fine baroque and gothic revival architecture. Bruges was in old times an international metropolis and center of commerce and art. With its ramparts, gates and decorated gabels mirroring in the canals, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will enjoy the lively streets and squares, with international services in the stunning decor of the middle ages. A boatride gives beautiful sights, and the brewery The Half Moon does tours. You shouldn’t miss to visit the medieval palace of Gruuthuuze, and the small Groeningen collection with excellent paintings of Belgium masters.
During one day on foot you will probably have enough of the sights in the lower half of this egg-shaped town. Also the other half, wich is more quiet, has nice sights and special church-spaces. A city tour on bike sometimes with cobblestones, in a smaller group can be done with visits in half a day. And a longer route leads to seaside resort Blankenberge with
beaches, boulevard and an Art Deco casino. On your return there is charming Lissewege with art exposition in the church, and remains of the old abbey Ter Doest; an enormous 14th century barn to keep the farmers taxes. Or you have a shorter ride through the pastures to charming Damme.
Day 14. Departure from Bruges, after breakfast, around 9 it is time to say goodbye.
9766 VK Eelderwolde
T+31 6555 70 911
Groningen berth opposite Oosterhaven No. 7
Phone on board: +31 624 755 688
Spacious double cabins