Vrienden op de fiets (The Netherlands)

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Mavis2016
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 8:08pm

Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby Mavis2016 » 1 May 2017, 8:16pm

We have booked the ferry to Amsterdam and will be in the Netherlands for most of August. Have joined/are planning on using VODF.

If you have used it before have you booked ahead much or have you just phoned up on the day?

We are presuming that August will be school holidays everywhere, not sure how busy it will be. We are planning on returning to Amsterdam mid week during week two for a couple of days off cycling and will book accommodation ahead for that bit.

We have planned a rough route but nothing set in stone in terms of daily mileage (with a child on own bike).

Not sure how much we can rely on finding a room with VODF and would love to hear from people who have used it.

MartinBrice
Posts: 448
Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 9:57am

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby MartinBrice » 2 May 2017, 9:33pm

used it loads of times. about four or five times, for a week each time. best by far to contact them well in advance, although one host told me someone had rung up on the day and asked for a room. i email them, which they rarely reply to, then after a few days with no reply i print the email and post it to them, and generally they reply to that email after looking for it on their computer. finally i phone, using Skype as it's cheaper.
i've found them friendly and interesting and for me it's a significant part of the trip. you're supposed to show your membership card but no one has ever asked for it.
finally, it's a nice touch if you turn up with a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine: flowrs are dead cheap there, sometimes a few euros or so for 10 roses. wine is also cheaper than here.
in fact, with the universal cycle lanes, fluent english everywhere, i'd move there tomorrow if i could.

Slowroad
Posts: 666
Joined: 28 Jun 2008, 9:58pm
Location: Nottingham, UK

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby Slowroad » 3 May 2017, 10:06pm

I second that re booking in advance, I just did a week but it did take a while to get sorted, as people didn't respond immediately (the hosts I stayed with were all busy people!) and one place took about six contacts before I found someone (the rest one or two). It was well worth it, meeting Dutch people was the best part of the trip. I guess it will also depend on where you are aiming to go - the beach areas will be more popular and school holidays extend from July through the September (but are staggered) https://www.schoolholidayseurope.eu/netherlands.html
“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”
― Peter Golkin

Mavis2016
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 8:08pm

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby Mavis2016 » 4 May 2017, 6:38am

Thanks very much. We will look at our daily mileage again to make sure it is very achievable then and book ahead. We are looking forward to it slowroad, the accommodation that is, currently learning a Dutch!

orangebiker
Posts: 55
Joined: 3 Jul 2012, 1:21am

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby orangebiker » 4 May 2017, 4:49pm

We did a 10 day tour last year and used them. You are supposed to give at least 24 hours notice so you have to contact them the day before at least. Not all have email addresses either.

The hosts are usually quite old (mainly retired or getting towards it) and not all of them speak that much English (contrary to popular belief, many older dutch people speak very little English beyond the basics!) so phoning could be tricky. We found that texting them was the best option.

The reply rate was above 50% and most towns have several options so we never had trouble finding one. The main issue was that we kept having mechanical issues and because it had to be booked the day before, we often ended up arriving pretty late or having to rush. We are going to camp next time to make it more flexible.

It was nice to chat to the people, however you are kind of expected to sit and talk to them for half an hour after you arrive whilst you have a cup of tea. A couple of times this meant we were sitting around in wet kit not having eaten. You can't just turn up exhausted, shower and go for dinner and go to bed which is what we wanted to do some days.

The holiday turned out to be very much about chatting to the hosts which was a mixed blessing really. I enjoyed the chance to practise my dutch but sometimes it's also just nice to do your own thing. Many of the places we stayed were elderly ladies with very pristine homes (think white doilies everywhere) and I think they may have been aimed at a more genteel sort of cycle tourist (most dutch people cycle in their smart clothes and seem to stay very clean and never break a sweat) rather than sweaty lycra clad ones.

We did stay in some really interesting places and met some fascinating people so I would do it again, but probably not every night of a trip.

Mavis2016
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 8:08pm

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby Mavis2016 » 4 May 2017, 6:17pm

That is very helpful Orangebiker, thanks. We probably wouldn't use it every night anyway (I bet we don't after your description :D) but would love to give it a try.

We are going to sit down and run through our route at the weekend. We don't want to carry our camping gear this time but would prefer the flexibility of it 100%.

orangebiker
Posts: 55
Joined: 3 Jul 2012, 1:21am

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby orangebiker » 4 May 2017, 9:26pm

He he sorry didn't mean to put you off! If you are a sociable type you would probably love it!

It was our first longish tour and one of us (not me!) had brought some very old wheels and tyres which got shredded and broken on the belgian cobbles. Once in the Netherlands we found it very difficult to get any spokes or tyres to fit standard sized road wheels as although there are hundreds of bike shops in NL they have a different sized wheel over there. This contributed to our ongoing lateness.

The best night we had was in Belgium on our last night when Belgium were playing in the semi finals of the ?world cup. Our hosts made us dinner and we sat round with a beer. He was a former olympic slalom paddler from the 70s and she was a budgie enthusiast. The next day our host cycled with us for 12 miles to show us the best way to Brussels avoiding traffic. We are still in touch with them via FB. Other highlights included the night we had a whole 8 bedroom country house to ourselves, another time we stayed on the 5th floor of a tower block in a grotty part of town where the host was a keen musician and gave a recital on various medieval instruments.

A further slight problem is that the locations are often not that close to town centres etc and although the places have bicycle storage, this can be some distance from the house/flat and you can't really get your bike back out to go back into town for dinner and then get back in lateish for your elderly host to have to go out and lock the bikes back into the garage etc. So you are limited to where you can walk to which usually seemed to mean a chip shop/just eating whatever we had left in our bags. Several of the hosts were very generous in offering lifts to restaurants but this feels a bit wrong when cycle touring especially when it's back in the direction you just came from! Consider eating before going to the accommodation and then you can stay there for the evening if it's a bit far out

Mavis2016
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 8:08pm

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby Mavis2016 » 4 May 2017, 9:41pm

I am not sure any of us could be classed as massively sociable - we would make an effort!

Do you reckon that most of the hosts would be pleased to see a child? I think it is €59 a night from memory for the three of us so not massively cheaper than most hostels outside Amsterdam (or even small hotels in rural areas).

We are trying to decide on daily mileage, we usually do 30 miles a day on hols, lots of sightseeing/cafes etc to break things up - but obviously it is flat and we want to do enough so that no one gets bored but not too much for our daughter (which is where playing it by ear rather than booking ahead too far would be better).

MartinBrice
Posts: 448
Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 9:57am

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby MartinBrice » 5 May 2017, 11:16pm

Mavis2016 wrote:Do you reckon that most of the hosts would be pleased to see a child?
The Dutch as a nation seem to me to be proud of the fact that they are family-friendly and it usual to see children in restaurants etc. It's not like the UK which can be anti-child. But ask when you book. The posts on here are very accurate about the pluses and minuses of VodF. I reiterate: it's an essential and fascinating part of the trip and very interesting. Some prefer the anonymity of hotels though.
There's also a natural campsite organisation if you want quiet, small and simple campsites (all spotlessly clean). http://www.natuurkampeerterreinen.nl/en/

Mavis2016
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 8:08pm

Re: Vrienden op de Fiets

Postby Mavis2016 » 7 May 2017, 6:27pm

Thanks. I think we might take our camping gear and do a mixture after all. We were trying not to carry the weight of camping stuff but really do like to do our own thing too much.

We will book VodF ahead for a few nights, maybe when we leave and return to Amsterdam both times and just see how we go the rest of the time.

We had that camping organisation bookmarked so must have looked at it before - looks like our sort of thing.

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Mr_T
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Joined: 7 Jan 2019, 1:48am

Vrienden op de fiets (The Netherlands)

Postby Mr_T » 7 Jan 2019, 2:03am

Hi all, newbie member here by the way so please be gentle :lol:

I'm planning to do my first cycle tour in The Netherlands next year, from Hoek of Holland to Den Helder in the north over the course of four days. I've got the routes planned (pretty much) but am just wondering if anyone else is a member of the webiste above - Vrienden op de fiets.

After reading about it, it seemed like a dream come true for somebody like myself who needs overnight accomodation on a cycle tour, hosted by cycling enthusiasts :D

However, upon joining the site, after about a dozen or so very polite enquiry emails to potential hosts, the only reply I seem to be getting is an abrupt NO. I'm getting the feeling this site is set up for the Dutch only...and wonder has anyone used this site and stayed with anyone who hosts on here?

I would appreciate any help and comments, thank you.

Paul 8)

JakobW
Posts: 245
Joined: 9 Jun 2014, 1:26pm
Location: The glorious West Midlands

Re: Vrienden op de fiets (The Netherlands)

Postby JakobW » 7 Jan 2019, 8:39am

I've considered joining as well, but haven't ever got round to it; if I'm touring in NL I can usually crash with family and friends - I like the idea, but you're basically relying on people's spare bedroom being free, and anectdotally this can be a bit hit or miss. I will say that the Dutch are generally fairly blunt and to the point, so what may come across as curt rudeness probably isn't intended that way. (And while most Dutch have excellent spoken English, they might not be quite as comfortable giving a longer written response.)

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andrew_s
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Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: Vrienden op de fiets (The Netherlands)

Postby andrew_s » 7 Jan 2019, 12:12pm

See this thread:
viewtopic.php?t=114191

It may be worth contacting some of the respondents by PM

Slowroad
Posts: 666
Joined: 28 Jun 2008, 9:58pm
Location: Nottingham, UK

Re: Vrienden op de fiets (The Netherlands)

Postby Slowroad » 9 Jan 2019, 9:42pm

If I've understood your post right, you are planning now for next year? That's a long time - it might just be that people can't commit that far in advance. Even if I've misunderstood and it's for this summer it would be quite a long time ahead. I've done VodF and it was a bit tricky to find places who could take me, in the right place. But the people who did host me were great.
“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”
― Peter Golkin

pete75
Posts: 11077
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Vrienden op de fiets (The Netherlands)

Postby pete75 » 9 Jan 2019, 9:48pm

There's also Warm Showers which covers the UK and most of Europe as well as the USA. I wonder if Brexit might have some bearing on the OP's abrupt replies from the Dutch who are normally friendly and courteous people.