Super Tulips Barge and Bike (and Texel Island) – April 9-20, 2019
So for this Thai New Year Holiday (Song Kran), twenty Big Foot Tour members chartered a barge (Liza Maarleen) joining on the Super Tulips Barge and Bike tour between Saturday April 13th to Saturday April 20th.
DAY 1 – Wednesday 10 April 2019 : Canoeing in Den Helder and Texel Island
A few days before we get on the barge, many members flew into Amsterdam to tour around Europe. Some went to Belgium, some to Switzerland, while ten of us rented 2 vans and drove to Texel Island in the northern tip of Holland ( https://www.texel.net/en/ ).
We drove 85 Km (about 90 minutes) to the small park at the edge of the town of Den Helder. There is a small company that rented canoes for 3.6 Euros per hour ( https://www.kanoverhuurdenhelder.nl/ ). It was a nice way to start the trip because many of the members have not done any canoeing before.
Near the canoe rental, there is a restaurant called the “De Pannenkoekenvallei” (or Pancake Restaurant) that we planned to come back for lunch after canoeing. But as we had to wait for the paddles, we decided to get warmed up with a really good local beer from Texel Island.
Although the weather was nice and sunny, it was a bit on the cold side ( around 6 centigrade ) and the wind was blowing pretty hard. So we only paddled out about one hour after a constant primal call “lunch lunch” from several members.
At lunch, we had the Dutch “pancakes” which was basically pizzas but using thin pancake dough instead of the pizza dough. It comes with variety of toppings and were surprisingly good.
We then drove another 15 minutes to the ferry terminals stopping at a grocery store to load up for the apartment that we will stay 3 nights in. Wine here is amazingly cheap ranging between just 5 to 7 Euros each !!!
We then took a 20 minutes ferry ride to Texl and drove another 20 minutes to the apartments.
Day 2 – Thursday 11 April 2019 – eBiking Texel
We dropped by a bike shop in the town of Den Burg and rented the eBikes. The shop ( Kooiman Tweewielers ) has plenty of bikes but the staff was not friendly and was not very helpful in suggesting the routes. The bikes were in pretty good condition, but despite our advanced booking, some were not fully changed. They even rudely refused us to use the toilet although we were the only customers there. There are plenty of other shops on the island so I suggest you avoid this shop.
We started biking using both the provided map (in Dutch and German only) and got totally lost. We had to stop for a quick bathroom break at the Tourist Information Center and finally got some help.
The bike trails, like all bike trails in Holland, are all very well built with smooth surface. But going from Den Burg westward, it was pretty much in the open through the farm lands.
On the western side of the island, the trails were much more interesting as they go through the woods.
We stopped at a restaurant to the town of De Koog for lunch and had some really nice dishes (cheeseburger and fish & chips were great, but the pancake was so so) and drinks to warm up (nice Texel beer and some Irish Coffee).
As we were around during the weekdays early in the season, there were few people but we can guess that during the summer, it could get to be rather crowded. Also I think we are one of the very few Asians who visited Texel !!
All in all, we rode about 28 km that day.
BTW : Our feeding routine is now to have a sizable lunch and then just have wine and snacks in the apartment for dinner. Wine here are really really cheap ranging between 5-10 Euros. Also there are really weird brands.
And with a name like “Fat Bastard”, we had to try it. The first day we tried, it did not taste very good. But the next day we tried a little that was left, it was actually pretty good. I guess the Fat Bastard needed a bit more breathing than most other wines.
Day 3 – Friday 12 April 2019 – Mountain Biking in Holland
Who would have thought that, being only about 3 meters above seas water, Holland would have a really nice single track mountain bike trails – on Texel Island.
Yesterday, we dropped by Vermeulen Bikes shop in the town of Den Hoorn in the southwestern part of the island ( https://www.vermeulenbikes.nl/ )
The staff at this shop, in stark contrast with the one we rented the day before, were extremely friendly and helpful. They had a very large selection of bikes and we rented 8 regular hard tail mountain bikes and two eMTBs.
Another advantage of renting from this shop is that it is only about 2 km away from the entry point of the 8-km single track trails.
The trail is really nice smooth undulating single track through the woods. As we were there on a weekday, we had the trails all to ourselves. But I can imagine that during the summer months, this trail can get pretty crowded.
Lunch in Den Hoorn was quite good as well and we “rehydrated” with lots of Texel beer and Irish Coffee.
Afterward we drove all the way along the eastern coast up to the northern tip of the island with a cool lighthouse and really wide beach and soft fine sand.
Day 4-10 – Saturday 13-Friday 19 April 2019 : Barge & Bike
Nineteen of us boarded the barge “Liza Marleen” in Amsterdam for 7 nights of “Super Tulips Barge & Bike” tour.
QUICK RATINGS : For “as advertised tour”, I would rate it 4-out-of-5 but as a Big Foot Tour, I give it a 2 !!
Please do not get me wrong, this tour provided everything they promised (therefore the 4 rating) : good barge accommodation (check), great friendly staff (check), good food (check), nice guide (check), nice flat dedicated bike paths (check) and plenty of tulips (check). It is very suitable for people who is trying out bike tours for the first time. Everything is structured and all planned out for you. All you need to do is to follow the schedule and the guide.
The only problem is that for most of Big Foot Tour members who have been on more independent self-guided tours in other countries prefer less structure. For example, we prefer that we look for cool local restaurant for lunch while the tour arranged for us to make and pack sandwiches from the barge and stop to eat that along the route.
Another issue is that the terrain in Holland is very flat and mostly are farm lands so unless we are around tulips, the rides are rather monotonous.
So I highly recommend this tour for all the newbies but for the more experienced bike tourists, unless you are really into tulips, you may want to skip this trip.
Anyway, below are a collection of pictures from our trip.