Margriet has been with the Boat Bike Tours team for years. Originally in marketing, she’s currently helping make the company more sustainable. And when it comes to boat bike tours you could say that she’s an old hand. Nevertheless, there are always a few new discoveries awaiting her when she joins one of our tours.
She recently took our Hansa Highlights tour and was pleasantly surprised more than once by a lot of unexpected aspects of the trip. The tour wound its way over eight days through picturesque Dutch towns and villages that were part of this medieval trade network.
Here Margriet shares her personal highlights from exploring the historic cities of the Hanseatic League:
1. Not just for grownups
I did the Hansa Highlights tour together with my sister, my daughter (4) and my nephew (8). The most exciting (or nerve-racking) thing for us was the question “How will it go with the kids?” But as it turned out, it wasn’t a problem at all.
My sister and I had e-bikes, my daughter rode behind me in a bike trailer and my nephew rode all by himself. The nice thing was that we had enough time to do everything at our own pace. So while cycling we could always stop and enjoy the view from a bench, go to a playground or take a break at a tea garden. You’d probably think that the children would want a bit of a rest after cycling. But they were always wanting to run and play immediately.
We all enjoyed the daily cycling tours so much. I was really blown away by the fact that my 8-year-old nephew managed to cycle a full 62 km in one day! After that we thought we’d treat the kids to a break, so the next day we took a boat to the next port. But actually it wouldn’t have been necessary, the children still had plenty of energy!
2. Countless special places
What is so insanely great about this tour are the countless tiny towns and villages you pass through on the way. I don’t even know where to start, because there were so many beautiful spots – I’m just really glad that I discovered them.
Hattem is one, for example. When you walk through this town’s medieval streets, you feel like you’re in an open-air museum. Everything looks like it’s straight out of a painting. We took the kids to the bakery museum where they had a lot of fun.
Another example is Bronkhorst. Granted city rights in the 1400s, but with only around 150 inhabitants, it’s one of the smallest cities in the Netherlands. In fact, it’s really just a few peaceful farms with a beautiful atmosphere.
3. So much forest!
Where I live, there are no woods close by. So when I see and smell forest it gives me the ultimate holiday feeling. That’s why I loved the bike tours, because the routes always ran through forested areas. Instead of running stubbornly straight, bike paths through forests are more winding, so it’s never boring.
Also, bike paths in the Netherlands are really well organized. They always lead through the most beautiful areas, even where it’s densely populated. For example, the last leg of the Hansa tour leads from Huizen, past the castle of Muiderslot, to Amsterdam. Even though you’re already so close to Amsterdam, you’re still cycling through forest most of the time. It’s a blessing!
4. Boating along the IJssel
At home we have our own boat, so I’ve already done a lot of exploring. But the IJssel is really something special: a beautiful, winding river with lots of nature along its banks. So it’s really wonderful to enjoy the landscape from the boat. And it’s a real experience to cruise into the old Hanseatic towns and experience the city scenery from the water.
Our ship’s crew also enjoyed having two kids on board. It doesn’t happen very often. At first we were a little worried that our two bundles of energy might disturb the other guests, but we only heard positive things.
5. The strolls through history
We often went for a walk in the evening, after the children were in bed, around the places where our ship was moored. Sometimes there was also a short city walking tour. We learned so many fascinating things about the local history.
I still remember the walk through Harderwijk very well, for example. Our ship moored for the night in its former fishing harbor. In the past, before the Afsluitdijk closed the IJsselmeer off from the North Sea, Harderwijk was on the sea and the inhabitants made a living from fishing. Now the town is almost 100 km from the North Sea! This completely transformed local life.
Cities like Deventer or Kampen are also very beautiful. Everything was within walking distance from our ship. And the city centers weren’t so touristy or crowded. It was super pleasant!
Rich experiences for all
I really enjoyed the tour and we were all very happy and satisfied at the end – both adults and children alike. I absolutely recommend it for the whole family!