WHO: Ben, 58, and Mikki Terkanian, 57, of Spencer.
WHERE: The Netherlands and Germany.
WHEN: Three weeks in July.
WHY: The couple did two weeklong cycling tours, one on land and one with a barge, along with some independent sightseeing. "We did our first bike tour in 1997 and loved it," Mikki Terkanian said. They had been on tours along the Rhine and the Danube, and now wanted to ride along the Mosel River in Germany and the canals of the Netherlands.
PACKING IT IN: "The barge tour really appealed to me because I love to travel, and I hate moving suitcases," Terkanian said. Their trip was led by HAT Tours (hat-tours.com), a Dutch company. "We had a room, which was very small, but had a closet with four shelves. The first thing I did was unload the suitcases." They were on a former freighter turned into a 24-passenger ship with a sundeck and lounge area. "You can choose to stay on the boat if you don't want to ride. I did that one day because my knees were hurting. Although Holland is flat, the wind makes it more demanding than hills do. They have nice riding bikes, but they're very heavy."
WHERE'S THE BARGE?: The 17 riders from several European countries, Canada, and Australia usually would stay together, with a guide. They would cycle about 30 miles to the next port, where the barge would meet them. "It was so much fun at the end of the day looking for the boat. You never knew exactly where it was going to be, but you could always find it," Terkanian said. "Overall, the landscape was very pretty. We saw hundreds of sheep, cows, and horses."
ART AND MORE: Their tour, called the Rembrandt Trail, went to the artist's homes in Amsterdam and Leiden and through the countryside that inspired him. They stayed a night in the historic port town of Hoorn, visited a cheese factory in Alkmaar, toured windmills in the Zaanse Schans open-air museum, and rode through towns along the North Sea.
CHANGING GEARS: They finished the Dutch barge/bike ride on a Saturday morning and took a train to their German bike trip starting that afternoon. There was only one other rider, a woman from Oregon, and two guides with German outfitter Tour de Spokes (tour-de-spokes.com).
OLD GERMANY: The group started in Konz and followed the river to the historic town of Trier, home to a Roman amphitheater, baths, and other buildings. "I thought it was amazing, especially the old baths and the Porta Nigra, the gateway to the town. It was built around the year 800, and you can climb the five flights of stairs to look out on the city."
MAGNIFICENT MACHINE: In the Mosel Valley they cycled alongside vineyards. "We stayed overnight at a wine farmer's house in Trittenheim, the oldest wine village in that section of Germany, and had a wine tasting that evening," Terkanian said. "We bought a toy wine tractor that they harvest with. Six men can do a field in eight hours with [a tractor]. The farm's actual machine was being serviced, so my husband had to detour the next day to see the real one."