We signed up for a seven night “Boat and Bike Tour” that had us travelling from Bruges, Belgium to Amsterdam, Netherlands; some of it by bike while our floating home followed and some of it on the barge. We saw so much country and took so many pictures, that we will divide the posts into three sections of two riding days each.
Thursday (Day 1): Bruges to Ghent, Belgium
Thursday started off rainy, first with a light shower, then thunderstorms. By the time we were meant to leave the barge, it was raining quite heavily. We delayed a little bit hoping it would let up, giving Wendy time to grab a shower cap for her helmet.
Here you can see Wendy in the front and Doug in the navy jacket as we head out. Bill and Joanne sensibly stayed on the barge and got off and started riding farther along in Aalterbrug.
It only rained for about an hour and by lunchtime we were dry. We stopped at a cafe in the middle of nowhere. If you ordered a drink, they were happy to let you sit at their tables and eat your lunch. (And use their bathroom) Joanne and Bill joined us here, but had to finish their drink quickly in order to join the first group.
We travelled through some pleasant farmland.
We had a quick photo stop at this private castle (Castle Lovendegem).
It was starting to heat up by the time we reached this windmill, the first of our trip. It was no longer in use and was used as a private residence.
We had our first chance to navigate traffic when we came into Ghent. We left our bikes at the square by St. Michielsburg and had an hour or so to explore the city centre.
Bill was asked to be the “sweep” which means he goes last and has a radio to use in case people get separated. He willingly put on his vest.
Wendy took this picture of the group going over a pedestrian and bike bridge but realized that it was unsettling to the sweep to have people behind him. She learned her lesson and took the next two photos without stopping, just slowing down a little.
We got back to the barge around 6:00 that night. Fifty six kilometres for Doug and Wendy and thirty four kilometres for Joanne and Bill.
Friday (Day 2): Ghent, Belgium to St. Amends, Belgium.
It was foggy and damp on Friday, but not cold, so we all headed out at the standard 9:00. It rained a bit just as we stopped to see another private castle.
There were poppies all along the trail but Wendy was able to get ahead on a cobblestone farm road and quickly took this photo before the whole group passed her.
We rode along a dike for awhile.
Soon we were in Dendermonde. Although this square seems to be circled by the original houses, they were all rebuilt after the First World War. Most of the houses were destroyed or burnt in the war, with only 84 houses left undamaged.
Dendermonde is small enough that you can meet the mayor in the town square. He was biking between meetings and stopped to say hello. He encouraged us to visit the renovated city hall and the display at the visitor centre. Here’s Joanne in front of an historical map of Dendermonde.
We also met a local who joined us for a beer. He was an interesting guy who ran marathons.
We hiked about a half an hour more to the spot that the barge was docked. Doug, Wendy and Joanne hopped on and Bill continued on. Here’s Bill’s photo of one of the spots on his 14 kilometre ride along the river.
And Bill’s view of the barge when we caught up to them a few hours later in St. Amands.