Tamara Veenendaal is one of our most experienced tour leaders. For seven years she’s been leading boat bike trips with us. But that doesn’t mean she’s seen it all. Far from it. This year she stepped aboard one of our sailing ships for the first time. Here she shares what she learned from the Sail & Bike Tulip Tour, and why she liked it so much.
Hello, Tamara! You already have lots of experience with cycling and boat tours, but this was your first trip on a sailing ship. How was it?
At first I was daunted. I thought, “I’ll probably get terribly seasick”. But I didn’t feel sick one bit. I felt fantastic the whole trip. The ships are incredibly stable and even down in the cabin I had no problems at all. I was positively surprised!
That’s lucky! What can you tell us about this trip? What were your personal highlights?
The tulip fields for sure. My absolute highlight was the cycling route north of Petten. You cycle through dunes with a great view over the landscape; on one side there’s the sea and the beach, and on the other the flower fields. It was just spectacular!
I also really liked the day on the island of Texel. The landscape there is quite different: more wild and untamed. And a third highlight for me were the beautiful old towns around the IJsselmeer. It’s so atmospheric cycling along their historic lanes.
Every trip always has its unforgettable moments. What special experiences did you have on this tour?
The special encounters stay in my memory more than anything. On our tour there was an 11-year-old boy who wanted to go swimming everywhere. One cool day we were at a North Sea beach, it was about 10°C with a strong northeast wind. And he still went in the water! Didn’t bat an eyelid. I can still see it, we were all watching him admiringly.
And he didn’t get sick?
No, he survived (laughs) and as far as I know he didn’t catch a cold either.
Were there any other special memories?
Yes, somewhere in the middle of the province of North Holland we came across a beautiful tea garden. The owners had lovingly furnished the place and baked the cakes themselves every day. We ended up having a wonderful conversation.
These are the unexpected encounters that you always have on cycling tours. When you’re sitting in a car, everything flies past and you miss so much! The Netherlands in particular is full of so many special, hidden places. I really don’t know of any other country like it.
Sailing is also an important part of this journey. Can you tell more about it?
It’s really something to sail and stay overnight on a sailing ship. For most guests it’s completely new and they find everything super exciting, like experiencing how the ship goes through a lock.
I also liked the variety: you spend a few hours on board, then a few hours on your bike, cycling through the landscape. Personally, I really enjoyed the sailing part. You can help the crew if you want, even if you’re a beginner like me. Of course I didn’t miss that chance!
Was it exhausting helping the crew?
I really started sweating. You have to work hard to get the sails up. But the sailor explained everything so well that I learned a lot. And it’s really great seeing the whole group helping out. It makes you feel like a big team.
And what about the weather? Spring can be cold and wet in the Netherlands, right?
Good weather is never guaranteed of course – and certainly not in the Netherlands! But we were lucky, even if it was sometimes quite cool and windy. That’s why it’s so important to pack the right clothes.
The nice thing about the cycling cruise concept is that you can always stay on board and sail to the next mooring place if you feel like it. So if it’s raining cats and dogs – or not – there’s no pressure to ride to the next destination. This keeps things relaxed.
By the way, I saw so many satisfied faces during the week. Even if cycling is exhausting at times, nothing beats that great feeling once you’ve made it in the end. We also had a jacuzzi on deck. That was a real delight after a big day of cycling: relaxing in a warm spa as the ship sails along!
Thank you very much Tamara. Have fun on your next tour!
In case you didn’t get enough lively impressions of our Sail & Bike Tulip Tour yet, you are welcome to watch the video Tamara made: