Biking and Barging, Wishing we were Touring
When we go to Europe, we do the cycle touring. It's our favorite kind of holiday, and our favorite place for it. This year, however, there was a complication. We were going to be spending the first part of our trip meeting, and visiting, some of my long-lost relatives. We tried to figure out how we could take our bikes along and make it a "relatives-and-cycle-tour" trip, but it just wasn't feasible. We'd been contemplating doing a "Bike and Barge" since 2018, so we decided that we would do it this year, since it was a good opportunity... being in Europe without our own bikes.
So, now we've tried a Bike and Barge trip. It was... ok. We don't regret doing it. We're happy to have tried it once, and maybe we'll do something like it again someday, but it really wasn't our cup of tea.
While we were on this trip, I started getting "Photo of the Day" e-mails from a former colleague, Keith, who was cycle touring with his wife, Wendy. They were touring in Europe, and they tour very much like Brent and me, with the only noticeable difference being that they book accommodation, while we camp. We pored over his updates and photos each day, touring vicariously, and envying them hard.
|Date||Rhonda and Brent||Keith and Wendy|
Some of the reasons we prefer self-supported touring (and why we envied Keith and Wendy so much) are:
- We decide what time of day we start and finish. For us, we normally start early morning. On this trip, it was mid/late morning or afternoon, and it was pre-ordained. We couldn't choose or adjust based on the weather, or how we felt.
- We decide where we go. Obviously, we didn't. I mean... we chose which tour we were going on, but after that the details were out of our hands. We couldn't lengthen or shorten anything, and we couldn't change direction at a whim if we wanted to (incidentally, Keith and Wendy do just that nearer the end of their trip).
- We decide what and when to eat. Don't get me wrong, the food on the trip was AMAZING, but dinner every night was a four-course meal that commenced at 7PM and didn't finish until close to 9PM. That's way too late for someone managing pre-diabetes (me), or who has problems with acid reflux (also... me).
- We decide who to travel with. Normally, it's just Brent and me, or Brent, me and Laura. And we like it that way. Being on a ship for a week with a group of people who are not of our choosing was... ok. The people were pleasant enough, but most of them were quite a bit older than Brent and me, and we really didn't have much in common. Even if we did, that was just a little too much togetherness with them for me.
- Air at night. I like a lot of air. One might say I'm even an addict. Our cabin window didn't open (and, being at water-level, that's probably a good thing), so I found it really hard to sleep at night with no fresh air.
- And of course, self-supported touring, especially if you're camping, is much much less expensive than a Bike and Barge.
A couple of things I did like about the trip:
- Not having to look for food or accommodation every day
- Not having to carry all of our own crap - we were very lightly-laden
Photos from our trip:
|Bikes lined up on the upper deck of the ship|
|We were fascinated with the Bucket (Bicycle) Brigade process of loading/unloading the bikes|
|Riding without all of our luggage. How delightful!|
|Our ship passed under us while we were cycling over a bridge|
|Our ship, the Princess, going up the Boat Lift (she's about halfway up in this pic)|