Hike, Bike and Barge the Netherlands

April 16–29, 2015
Led by Dave Van Wylen ’80, Professor of Biology and 2013-14 College Sustainability Catalyst, and Pat Van Wylen ’80, Visiting Scholar Coordinator

This program currently has 10 registrants and needs a minimum of 15 to go. The Go/No-Go decision date is Nov. 30. If you’re interested in joining us, don’t delay!

We invite you to hike, bike, and barge your way through the Netherlands! The Dutch are active people and have made walking and cycling safe and easy to do throughout the country.

We start in Amsterdam, where we have a chance to see the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens in bloom before boarding our deluxe barge. We’ll alternate biking and barging our way through the country and back to Amsterdam. Then we’ll visit Middleburg and Rotterdam, and find time for a country hike or two before the end of the trip.

During our time together we will have the opportunity to see first-hand a variety of sustainability projects. We plan to visit the Delta Works, a major project protecting the low areas of the Netherlands from the North Sea, and will meet with an expert to discuss how the country is upgrading water defenses to cope with the effects of climate change.

While in Amsterdam we intend to meet with a city planner to learn how the city is working, though public policy and city planning, to control traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. We will visit various projects to learn more about how the Netherlands is meeting the challenge of using its limited space to restore and preserve its beauty and vitality. We also plan to see how local municipalities manage waste and promote recycling.

The Dutch have historically relied on the wind to power its economy and they are leaders in the use of wind turbines, or modern windmills, which have allowed them to become energy efficient and independent. We will visit working windmills from the past and visit projects that harvest wind power using wind turbines.

So lace up your athletic shoes and come along on an active overseas adventure.

Explore the Netherlands

Amsterdam Whether you go for storybook canals or laid-back coffeehouses, the Flower Market’s springtime blooms or the Van Gogh Museum’s sunflowers, Amsterdam will captivate you. Friendly, open-minded and easygoing, the Amsterdammers flaunt their quirky creativity in Jordaan’s boutiques and welcome all guests like long-lost friends in canalside cafés. This is the city of Golden Age art and picturesque canals, legal reefers and red lights, grand merchants’ houses and a million bicycle bells. Just remember to always stop and smell the roses like the locals — or should that be tulips?

Middelburg The province of Zeeland’s three-part harmony of sea, land, and sky is so smooth that it’s sometimes hard to say where one begins and another ends. Zeeland’s islands have been stitched together by a succession of great dams and barriers that bring a measure of security to the inhabitants of this low-lying delta, where the Rhine, Waal, Maas, and Scheldt rivers drain into the North Sea. At the center of Zeeland is Walcheren, which holds the bustling provincial capital, Middelburg, a medieval town that has restored its 1,000 historical landmarks so successfully you’d think they’ve stood undisturbed through the centuries

Rotterdam Although just an hour from Amsterdam by train, Rotterdam is Holland’s most futuristic city, centuries away from the capital in both appearance and personality. Here, instead of the usual Dutch web of little streets, alleyways, and winding canals, there are spacious and elegant malls and one of the world’s busiest ocean harbors. Rotterdam has an abundance of modern architecture, some of it fascinating. At the end of World War II, after being bombed into rubble, rather than try to recreate the old, Rotterdammers looked on their misfortune as an opportunity and approached their city as a clean slate. They relished the chance to create an efficient, workable modern city. The results, though they’re not always elegant, are a testimony to their ability to find impressive solutions to their problems.

Descriptions adapted from frommers.com

Program Leaders

Professor of Biology Dave Van Wylen and International and Off-Campus Studies Coordinator Pat Van Wylen are veteran group travel leaders, having led semester abroad programs in Asia (1998), the Middle East (2008), and Australia (2013). Dave has also taught three January interims in Peru (Peruvian Medical Experience), six interims of Cardiac Surgery and Research at Emory University in Atlanta, plus a 2010 summer Global Health in Tanzania experience. Pat assisted on most of these interims as well as on an interim Health Care and Culture course in Hawaii/Micronesia (2010).

Dave graduated from St. Olaf College in 1980 and received his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Michigan (Go Blue). Over the years, his scholarly interest has focused on cardiac physiology. Recently, his interest has shifted to the issue of water and sustainability. This is manifested in being a frequent teacher and speaker on water-related issues and a new role as St. Olaf ‘s “Sustainability Catalyst,” a position where he coordinates various sustainability initiatives on campus and raises awareness of local and global environmental issues.

Pat also graduated from St. Olaf in 1980 and has graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia in health administration and exercise education. Dave and Pat try to make their Northfield lifestyle one of simplicity, sufficiency and physical activity, biking or walking whenever possible to work and local events, using a local farm that practices community-sustained agriculture, collecting rain water for their own garden, and utilizing dual flush toilets and shower timers to limit water consumption.

What to Expect

This is an active program! We will — as the title suggests — hike, bike and barge throughout the Netherlands. The Netherlands are mostly flat, so the biking should be quite enjoyable, barring any strong winds. The bike rides are mostly 30 km (18 miles) each, with one 20 km (12 miles) day and one 40 km (24 mile) day.

Dutch cities are best experienced on foot. Besides biking, be prepared for lots of walking. Our city tours will be on foot and we will deliberately look for opportunities to do hikes in the countryside. Comfortable shoes trump the latest fashion! After barging, transfers between cities will be made by private motor coach.

Accommodations are in three to four star tourist class hotels with private baths and English-speaking staff.

You should plan on seeing your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit cdc.gov or who.it.

Program Fee

The program fee is $4,950 through November 30, 2014. Based on double occupancy, it includes discussions led by Dave Van Wylen, assistance by Pat Van Vylen, accommodations, breakfast daily and group meals as listed on the itinerary, admissions for group activities, ground transportation during the program and gratuities to group guides, drivers and meal servers.

After November 30, 2014, the program fee is $5,100 per person. For single occupancy, add $1,300 to either program fee. (Because the barge has no single rooms, single occupants would have to pay for an entire cabin. If you are a single traveler and do not mind sharing a cabin with someone else, let us know and we will do our best to find a roommate. Should no roommate be found, you will be charged $1,300 for the single cabin supplement.)

Airfare to and from Amsterdam is not included. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: International Airfare • Airport transfers in Amsterdam outside those listed below • Any passport and visa fees • Any recommended immunizations or vaccinations • Accident / baggage / trip cancellation insurance • Beverages, including at group meals • Laundry • Dry cleaning • Phone charges • Room service or other items of a personal nature • Expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities • Lunch and dinner, unless specifically included on program itinerary.

Making Your Flight Arrangements

Airfare is not included in the program fee. We encourage participants to arrive in Amsterdam on April 17, 2015 at approximately 11:00 a.m. Only one transfer from the airport to the hotel is planned and included in your program fee. On April 29, we encourage participants to schedule return flights that depart Amsterdam at either approximately 10:30 a.m. or 4:50 p.m. Two transfers will be provided to accomodate these departure times.

For assistance with flight arrangements, may we recommend Noreen Deiss of Travel Leaders / Suntime Travel. She can be reached at 651-429-0039 or noreen@suntimetravel.com. Or, consider booking your flights through our tour operator for this program, Witte Travel: 800-Go-Witte (800-469-4883).

We recommend you not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go. The Go/No-Go decision date is Nov. 30, 2014. A minimum of 15 participants are needed for this program to go.