Biking and Barging in Germany
I'm always up for a new travel experience, so when our friends suggested we all travel to the Moselle River region of Germany and experience a bike tour while sleeping and eating on a barge - I said "let's do it!". I'm so glad that I did. We booked the tour for the middle of September, knowing the weather would be nice and cool and the crowds would be smaller. When we arrived at the dock to board our barge, I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful Dutch ship, the Zwaan (Swan in Dutch) that waited for us. It was old (early 1900s) but restored, with gleaming wood and fresh paint and a smiling crew of 4 lovely members waiting to greet us. Each couple was assigned a room - they were small but still had private baths and comfortable bunks. It was an adventure and I was ready for it! I fell in love with the barge immediately. After stowing our things, we met the other guests who would be our companions for the next week. There were 2 couples traveling together from Australia, a couple from Canada and the 6 of us from Colorado. The crew consisted of our captain, a lovely lady named Bridgette, our chef, Ingebor, our first mate, Noel and our bicycle guide Paul. They all hailed from Amsterdam and we got along famously. Ingebor served the BEST food I've had in years - every meal was a feast created in a tiny galley kitchen with the freshest ingredients sourced from local markets in each stop along the river.
Our days were filled with sunshine and biking through small villages, winding our way along the river banks and stopping to sample wine, tour old cathedrals, have picnic lunches and exploring castles. We pedaled along gaily, waving and calling "Guten Morgen" to each person we passed. Often, someone would start a rousing song that we all knew and would join in on, and we would peddle, laugh, sing and chat our way through 40-50 KM of river bank, pastoral lands, vineyards and villages. Life was good.
The last night of our tour we all gathered together in the family style dining room and raised a toast to our delightful hosts. Ingebor outdid herself with the meal that evening, and we all sang a beautiful Dutch ballad together - a ballad that reminded us that life is good, people are good, and gathering together as friends from across the globe is priceless. Tears were shed and emails and addresses exchanged as we departed for our homes the next morning. I may never see my new friends again, but I will always cherish them, and the memory of our time together, in my heart.
Extraordinary travels come from the ordinary heart that is willing to be open and see the world around them.