We’re celebrating Monday with news out of Europe that Dutch borders may open soon to vaccinated US travelers. That’s great news for cycling enthusiasts with wanderlust…our Sept 4, 2021 tour should be full steam ahead out of Amsterdam as planned. If you can’t wait to hop on a bike and barge in Europe, check out our Tandem Ramble thru Holland’s Hansa Towns itinerary at the link below and contact us today.
Thanks for taking a closer look at another fascinating stop on our Magical Mosel Valley tour…TRIER!
Germany’s oldest city, which the Romans founded c. 16 BC, boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, including several architectural and engineering marvels that those ingenious Romans constructed a couple of millenia ago.
Perhaps the most significant of the Roman sites is the imposing Porta Nigra, the black gate. The three-story stone structure was erected around 170 AD, a relatively peaceful time in history. It’s likely that this gate, while massive by ancient standards, was built to impress visitors, not to intimidate them. When you visit the gate, climb up and peer out the windows for a view of the city and nearby Hauptmarkt (market square).
There are several other well-preserved Roman sites to check out while we’re in Trier, including the Roman Amphitheater, Imperial Baths, and the oldest bridge in Germany, a stone stunner which crosses the Mosel River.
On our last visit to Trier, while wandering the streets in search of a laundromat, we stumbled upon the neighborhood where Karl Marx was born in 1818. You may remember him as the father of modern socialism and communism. His Geburtshaus (birthplace) is now a museum that features exhibits about his life and works. If you join us on the tour, it will be your call: catch up on your laundry or brush up on the history of communism!
Happy New Year Cycle-nauts!
Have you resolved to explore the planet on your bike in 2019?!
We still have space on our Meander Through the Magical Mosel Valley tour, and this week, we’re casting the itinerary spotlight on the other-worldly landscape of Maars in the Mosel Valley’s neighbor, the Eifel region. Read on to learn more about our exhilarating bicycle ride from Daun to Bernkastel-Kues.
Day 3 of our Meander Through the Magical Mosel Valley Tour will be no ordinary Monday – we are going to Maars! Not that far-away planet, my friends, but a fabulous UNESCO site known as Vulkaneifel Nature Park via the Maare-Moselle Cycle Path.
This Maars is a region of lakes created by volcanoes (350 to be exact!) that are over 12,000 years old. We’re pretty sure they’re extinct now…but once-upon-a-time, they spewed forth lava and rocks and created a landscape that begs to be explored on two wheels.
To get there from Bernkastel Kues, we’ll load our bikes and ourselves onto a bus for a short drive up to the town of Daun. We’ll jump on our bikes and ride down the Maars-Moselle Cycle Path, a scenic Rail Trail that will gradually descend past volcanoes and Maars, the Lava Bombe that’s way bigger than you, through forests, illuminated tunnels, over viaducts and bridges and eventually to the vineyards on the Mosel. Doesn’t THAT sound like F-U-N?!
Check out our itinerary: 2019 MEANDER THROUGH THE MAGICAL MOSEL VALLEY Itinerary
We can’t think of a more charming town to begin our 2019 Meander Through the Magical Mosel Valley bike & barge adventure than in Cochem! We encourage guests to arrive in town the day before the barge tour begins to allow for some extra exploring time on your own. Here’s the scoop on our first stop on the tour that begins on August 17, 2019.
Cochem is nestled beneath the splendid Reichsburg Castle. Built in the 12th century, trashed in the 14th century, and rebuilt in the romantic neo-Gothic style in the 19th century; the castle is open daily for tours of its impressive collections of period furniture and art. It’s situated on a 300 ft high crag above the Mosel River, and a 15 min walk up a cobblestone path will also reward you with a panoramic view of hillside vineyards and the town below. Consider a splurge for the Knight’s Dinner, a traditional medieval dining experience, on Friday evening.
During the Cold War, the Federal Republic of Germany set up secret currency reserves around the country to guard against inflation that would have resulted if war broke out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact States.
One such hiding place was the Bundesbank Bunker, a subterranean vault in Cochem. For over two decades, the citizens of Cochem had no idea there were 15 billion Deutschmarks “in their own backyard!” Of course, as a bunker, it needed to be cleverly disguised, but, fear not, we know where it is, and can tell you exactly how to find it if you’d like to explore it on your own.
In a country where pretzels are practically a national treasure, mustard is a most revered condiment. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about it at the Historische Senfmühle, Cochem’s mustard mill, where they’ve been churning out Cochem’s favorites since 1810. Free tastings are available daily, mustards of every kind await your discriminating palate. Time your visit right and, for 2.50 Euros, you can join a guided tour and watch the miller in action as he prepares mustard according to a 200 year old family recipe.
If you arrive prior to August 17 by train, you can easily hop into a taxi for a short ride to your hotel. If you arrive on Saturday, August 17, of course you may go directly to the barge. Check-in time is 3 PM but you’re welcome to drop off your luggage before you head out to wander the medieval alleyways of the old town. Don’t worry, when you sign up for your tour, we’ll tell you exactly how to find the Quo Vadis, from Frankfurt airport, to the train, and to the dock. We can even assist with train tickets if you’d like.
Click here for a peek at our full itinerary: 2019 Meander Thru the Magical Mosel Valley
Contact us at StephanieVentures@gmail.com to inquire about a booking before this tour sells out.
Read about one of our all time favorite itineraries. We hope to offer this tour again!
Join us for a journey through the splendid countryside of the Mosel River Valley, a region renowned for its quaint, picturesque towns, rich history, and sprightly white wines. The wide paved bicycle paths make for excellent cycling along the rivers Mosel and Saar, partly in Germany, partly in Luxembourg, partly in France.
You and your fellow travelers will enjoy leisurely rides, past tranquil vineyards, with stops along the way to visit castles, ruins, medieval town squares, and more. You’ll sample local wines, many of which are only available in this region. Among them are excellent dry Rieslings and Roter-Weinbergs-Pfirsich Likör -a cordial made from the small, tart “red peaches” grown only in the Mosel Valley.
Other enchanting cities on the itinerary include Cochem, Bernkastel, and Trier, the oldest city in Germany, whose three-story Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, dates back to the first century AD. From Trier, the tour will follow the river Saar to visit charming Saarburg and its splendid midtown waterfalls.
We’ll continue into the welcoming villages of Luxembourg and then on to France where we’ll sip on the renowned Mirabellen plum liqueur, a specialty of this corner of Alsace. Our final port will be the city of Metz with her magnificent gothic cathedral, the third largest in France.
Check out the full itinerary here: Meander Thru the Magical Mosel Valley
Contact us at StephanieVentures@gmail.com for pricing and availability.
If you’re planning a trip, at some point you should give some thought to travel insurance. There are more than a few scenarios that might prevent or interrupt your trip, and most tour operators, airlines, and many online booking sites won’t issue you a refund if you or someone close to you becomes ill or dies, forcing you to stay home. Of course you want to protect your travel investment, but just how much insurance is necessary?
Before you buy more insurance than you need, check your homeowner, auto, life, and health insurance policies to see what coverage you already have. Then consider your risks, and shop accordingly to fill in the gaps. Keep in mind that you should purchase travel insurance as soon as you make your initial deposit because some carriers may offer you additional coverage such as Cancellation for Any Reason, at no additional cost. At the least, you’ll be covered for any of life’s unexpected calamities that may railroad your travel plans. You should expect to spend 5-7% of the total cost of your trip on an insurance policy, depending on your age, health, and the level of coverage you want.
Here are the basic types of coverage and where to shop for it:
- Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption. Check for a policy that protects you in the event you have a medical emergency or a death in the family that will prevent you from taking the trip. Some policies will allow you to cancel for any reason, others will compensate you for travel delays that include reimbursement for expenses related to flight delays (for any reason) such as lost or stolen luggage, and missed connections.
- Emergency Medical Care. It’s wise to have coverage for this on any trip but particularly if you are taking an active vacation. You’re probably at greater risk of injury on a bicycle tour than on an over-the-road motor coach tour but you could trip and fall on the walk from the rest stop to the bus so, protect yourself no matter what you’re doing on your trip! If you are covered at home through a HMO or a network provider plan, you may not be covered if you become sick or injured in another state or country and receive medical care outside your network.
- Medical Evacuation. If you sustain a serious injury that requires transport to a hospital by ambulance (or helicopter) and eventual evacuation back home, that can cost upwards of $100,000. It may be worth it to insure yourself and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are covered for the worst case scenario.
Stephanie is now a licensed home-based travel agent who can assist you with travel insurance. Contact her at StephanieVentures.com to discuss your situation and she will be happy to prepare a quote that meets your particular needs.
I should be packing my luggage, practicing my French, and preparing to join twenty enthusiastic cyclists for our Panoramas in Provence Bike & Barge tour. However, since recent world events have made it necessary to reschedule our tours to 2021, I find myself researching topics for video calls I’ll be hosting for my registered guests. Most of them will eventually be joining me on their 3rd, 4th or 5th tours so they’re seasoned bike and barge travelers. While we wait for the right time to travel again, technology will allow them to reminisce with former travel companions and meet new ones, but also to ask questions and learn how their next bike and barge tour will be different from their previous ones. Social distancing and stepped-up disinfecting procedures may be with us for a while but those guidelines won’t prevent us from enjoying a fantastic voyage. I will see to that.
I know we’re all sleeping better at night now that I’ve chased down refunds for airline tickets. I’ve also updated trip insurance policies with new departure dates, so they won’t have to purchase new policies. Lastly, I’m working with my “best-in-class” overseas operators to develop new protocols to ensure all of my tour groups enjoy safe journeys when we travel together again.
Because we sail on small ships that sleep 20-24 passengers, it’s easier to socially distance ourselves when we’re on board. And when we’re off the ship during the day, we’ll have the option to ride with a regional guide, or explore independently in smaller groups, with maps and route sheets. While we’re all meandering through the countryside, the crew will get down to the daily business of cleaning the ship before our return. At the end of our ride, they’ll greet us with smiles and snacks, while our guide whisks away our bikes for a thorough cleaning. The culinary staff will prepare a fantastic three course dinner which may be served in two seatings to allow proper spacing between guests. After dinner, our guides will lead a town walk to wrap up a perfect day, we’ll just take up a lot more space on the sidewalks than we have in the past.
If you’re dreaming of a day when you can see the world again, the scientists say it’s helping you cope with stress and anxiety. They also say that committing to a vacation helps you cope even better! We’re here for you.
Check out our (now) 2021 tour itineraries. We only have a few cabins available – but they may not be for long. My awesomely loyal tour guests have a talent for persuading friends to come along for the ride!
UPDATE: We’ve rescheduled this tour to 2021 due to Covid-19 Pandemic. Changes are reflected and highlighted in the post.
In Europe, bike & barge tours exclusively for tandem riders are a challenging proposition for tour operators. One has to consider the availability of tandem rentals and the space constraints on the ship’s decks where the bikes are stored overnight. Most ships that host bike & barge tours maintain their own fleet of hybrid touring bicycles (for solo riders), better suited for the terrain than the road bikes most of us ride at home. In order to offer an all-tandem tour, the crew would need to switch out a couple dozen hybrids for a dozen tandems, which they’d likely need to rent locally. And at the end of that tour, switch all of those bikes out again, in addition to all the usual tasks to ready the ship to welcome a new group of travelers!
I’ve hosted several bike & barge tours over the last five years but it didn’t occur to me to offer an all-tandem tour until I had the pleasure of traveling with a fun tandem-riding couple on one of my recent tours. Tom and Diane (pictured above) lobbied me daily on behalf of tandem enthusiasts everywhere for an all-tandem tour. They were so convincing that after the tour ended, I tapped into my expert bike & barge network for a recommended itinerary that could cater to tandem riders, with enough proper tandem rentals. The network’s unanimous vote: embark from the city where there are more bikes than citizens: Amsterdam. It so happens to be one of my favorite cities on the planet, so let’s do it!
I’m excited to announce our 2021 tour: Tandem Ramble through Holland’s Hansa Towns. AND we will open this tour up to all cyclists and will offer hybrid touring bikes and e-bikes (surcharge)!
If you want to bring your own bike to ride on tour, you are welcome to do so. Please let us know when you inquire about booking so that we can make recommendations on the type of tires you should be bringing – skinny road tires won’t perform well on cobblestones.
From Amsterdam, this tour will take you on a scenic journey through the central region of the Netherlands, its landscape shaped by the many rivers and streams that crisscross it. This region flourished during the Middle Ages when the Ijssel River was one of the most important Hanseatic trade routes in Europe. This relatively undiscovered area is a favorite among Dutch cyclists and we’re confident it will become a favorite of yours!
For more details on this fine voyage, please check out the complete itinerary and contact us for pricing and availability! 2021 Tandem Ramble through Holland’s Hansa Towns
Join us for this journey along three magnificent German rivers, The Main, Rhine and Mosel. We will cycle, cruise, and stop along the way to enjoy the surroundings and experience the specialties of the region: quaint villages of half-timbered houses, ancient castles, hillside vineyards, local wines and hearty regional cuisine.
You’ll only have to unpack your bags once because while you bike during the day, the barge, your floating hotel, accompanies you along the river and her crew will eagerly welcome you back on board at the end of each day’s ride. If you decide on any day that you don’t want to ride a bike, you can admire the passing scenery from the comfort of a deck chair.
Click here to view out itinerary: 2018 Castles and Charms on 3 German Rivers
What’s in store on our Splendor Along the Seine Tour?
Click on the link below to check out our slideshow teaser.
In July, guests joined us in Bruges for our Belgian Treasures & Treats Tour, an 8 day holiday by bike and barge that included stops in Ghent, Dendermonde, Antwerp, Mechelen and Brussels. The group also took part in a field trip by bus and bike to the World War I sites in Flanders Fields. The weather was spectacular, unseasonably warm, with brilliantly sunny blue skies, a gift from this small country with a reputation for gray skies, clouds and drizzling rain. The terrain we traveled on varied from bike lanes on city streets to dedicated bike paths and field trails that took us through meadows, forests and pastures. We were treated to a few character-building cobblestones thrown in for good measure. We were in Belgium after all, and they love their cobbles there! All of our travelers were on their first bike & barge tour and from what he heard throughout the trip, they want to travel with us again.
From Bruges we traveled by bike each day, stopping along the way for sightseeing, picnic lunches, and, since it was a little warm for coffee, we opted for an afternoon ice cream or beer instead! While we rode our comfy hybrid touring bikes, our captain Harrie and his able crew sailed our “floating hotel” to a new city so that at the end of each day’s ride of 20-35 miles, we were greeted by the ship’s friendly staff. They loaded our bikes onto the ship, and offered us cold drinks and tasty snacks while we caught the end of the live daily broadcast of the Tour de France on the large flat screen in the barge’s air-conditioned lounge. After a hot shower (each cabin had its own private bath), we regrouped in the dining room for some lively conversation over a delicious three-course meal prepared by our talented chef Coen. After dinner, guests had the option of joining our knowledgeable and enthusiastic bike guide Ilse for a walking tour of the town.
Several evenings included unique on-board tasting events featuring Belgium’s best: Bruges Chocolates and Local Ales, and Regional Cheeses paired with Belgian Ales. One night, we even got to experience a Belgian Ale Essence Tasting. Tour Director Stephanie set up glasses filled with the aromas that the beer geeks say we should detect when we smell the particular beer she selected to pair with our dinner of Indonesian Rijstafel. This popular Dutch meal dates back to the days of the spice trade and our version included six traditional dishes served family style. To complement the rich flavors of the barbecued beef, Balinese eggs, green beans with crispy onions, cucumber salad, coconut rice, and homemade Cassava chips, we enjoyed a celebrated saison, also known as farmhouse ale. The beer geeks report notes of fresh-cut grass, elderflower, peach, and black pepper. After a short history lesson on saison Stephanie invited guests to smell the filled glasses, then smell the beer to see if they could detect the essences on the “nose” of the beer.
Our first ride outside of Bruges took us along a tree-lined bike path to quaint Damme. From there we continued on to Blankenberge, a delightful seaside resort where a few of us got our feet wet in the cool waters of the North Sea while others strolled along the boardwalk and enjoyed some ice cream and people watching.
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