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Tour de Holland

By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, April 26, 2009

Q. I've wanted to take a bicycle trip in Holland for more than 30 years, and I think next spring will be the year. My husband and I are both in our late 40s and neither of us has been on a bike in at least 10 years. But we're not total slugs, either. Any tour would have to include Keukenhof during tulip season.

Tina Miller, Waldorf

A. The best thing about bicycling in western Holland -- better than the tulip-lined lanes, better than the cheese shops, better than the cute bike paths with their own little stoplights -- is that the roads are flat. Wondrously, pancakishly flat. So that should reduce the age factor by 10 years right there.

Plenty of companies offer cycling tours, and local cycle shops and tourism offices have info on routes and maps. Seine Kim of the Netherlands Board of Tourism said that Mac Bikes (http://www.macbike.nl), Mike's Bike Tours (http://www.mikesbiketoursamsterdam.com) and Yellow Bike (http://www.yellowbike.nl/en) offer rentals and guided tours, with trips that include Keukenhof Gardens. If you want to go it alone, a site called Bikely (http://www.bikely.com) has user-generated route recommendations, including one from Amsterdam to Keukenhof, a distance of about 22 miles.

The best time to see the tulips, says Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita of the tourism office, is the last two weeks in April through the first week in May. Info: Netherlands Board of Tourism, 212-370-7360, http://www.us.holland.com.

Before she died, a friend asked my wife and me to take some of her ashes to England and scatter them in a special place. The ashes fit in a container not much larger than a sandwich bag. What do we need to know about transporting these ashes on a flight to England?

Frank Wade, Washington

It's not so much the size of the container as what it's made of.

You're allowed to carry ashes on board, but the container must be able to be X-rayed; if the screeners can't see what's inside, they won't allow it through the checkpoint. Screeners are not allowed to open crematory containers, either, even if you give permission. So if your friend's ashes are in a metal urn, the Transportation Security Administration recommends changing to a container made of a lightweight material such as wood or plastic. Make sure it's well-sealed.

Some airlines, including British Airways, will allow you to pack the ashes in your checked luggage (although I wouldn't risk it). BA also requires a death certificate. Check with your airline for specific requirements.

For details, see the TSA's Web site, http://www.tsa.gov; click "For Travelers" and scroll down to "Traveling With Special Items," then "Crematory Containers and Deceased Remains."

Your Turn

For the reader looking for elegant restaurants in St. Thomas (Travel Q&A, April 19), Susan Lilly Gerock adds Herve (Government Hill, 340-777-9703) to the list for its "beautiful view, fantastic food, delightful service." For a non-touristy adventure, she recommends a day sail to St. John aboard the sloop High Pockets. "The boat can take up to six people, and it is a very fun, laid-back experience." Details: 340-715-2812, http://pws.prserv.net/sailhighpockets.

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