Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zeeuwse Strand en Landroute

Summer is over and I'm off on a cycling trip: Zeeland.

I haven't done nearly enough cycling this summer--kept getting bogged down in writing and translation projects. So I determined to make at least one major journey before the cold sets in. The forecast calls for sunshine and warm weather. Most of the summer has been dreary. Even today, as I ride the train to Schiphol to make my connection, the skies are overcast, though the horizon is blue.

Zeeuwse strand en landroute, Day 1

5:22, Thursday afternoon: just west of Koudekerk, a village west of Middelburg. Bit of a bitch to get through--roadwork, traffic, large farm vehicles--but now, heading toward pt 80, the path deviates through farm fields on the way out to the coast. The day is picture perfect--bright sun, cloudless sky, bit of a breeze, lots of folks out for a ride or walk.

t' Vroon beach

I reach the dunes at pt 80, turn north to pt 44. Here I am riding through a strip of woods along the base of the dunes, periodic paths up over to the beach. I took the second one, up stone steps. Cresting the dunes, I find a plank staircase down to the beach. The coast is calm, ships in the distance. The broad beach, Zouteland, sweeps northward. There is a great cafe here with a terrace. I'm tempted to stick around but it's 6 pm and I must make it up the coast to Westkapelle.

I realized I am only 5km from Westkapelle so decided to go down to the beach at t' Vroon. It is nice out here in the sun, hanging on the dunes, but it is actually fairly cool--low 60s perhaps. No one is swimming. There are some nice cafes. There's a long row of cabins along the foot of the dunes but few are in use.

After the beach I went up the road toward Westkapelle, then realized I was following the highway. So I turned around, toward point 40, and got back on the woods-at-the-base-of-the-dunes trail. Quite cool temperatures riding through the woods.

Then the path climbs a bit and I'm actually riding through dunes, covered with low scrub, then (toward pt 10) back through woods. Lovely. A big lagoon appears on the right with a sandy trail alongside it, coots floating on its surface, a perfect beach lagoon-side. This is the south edge of Westkapelle.

Edge of Westkapelle, west coast of Walcheren, Zeeland
This "island" of Zeeland is divided into three parts, which are arranged like pieces of a puzzle around a waterway, the Veerse Meer. The western piece is Walcheren (WAL-chheren) with the capital, Middelburg, and this beautiful coast. The east is divided into two pieces: to the north, Noord Beveland, at whose northwest corner is an 8.8km bridge to the island of Schouwen; and to the south Zuid-Beveland with the town of Goes (chhoos). My bike route traverses all three parts so I'll get a good overview of the area.

Mevrouw Reijnhoudt (right) and daughter Hanna
Another possibility here is to take a ferry from Vlissingen, the southern tip of Walcheren, to Belgium and cycle down the coast toward France. This was a route suggested by Mevrouw Reijnhoudt, my vriend op de fiets in Westkapelle. She said the ferry ride is just 20 minutes or so.

Westkapelle, the town where I'm staying this evening, is on the westernmost point of this land mass and thus has a major lighthouse (vuurtoren). It is a tall and solid structure, with gothic doorways carved into the sides. I was just looking at it. The town seems like an excellent stopover for my first night in Zeeland, a fairly short jaunt from Middelburg. I've learned by now that it's best to take the first day easy since I inevitably get a late start. So I am taking the first day suggested by the guide in two days, leaving plenty of time to explore the coast tomorrow.

Westkapelle's lighthouse.
The house is perfect, a complex of cottages amidst little gardens and terraces. There seem to be a lot of people staying here. Mevrouw Reijnhoudt asked me if I wanted dinner (for €9) and I figured I might as well. She whipped it right up. Hearty fare: a bowl of soup, a pancake with homemade fruit preserves, fried cubed potatoes with a ham omelet and beans, and a dessert of fruit in custard. I chatted with her daughter who'd spent some time in Costa Rica studying tourism, and with her son who just been to New York.

It appears I am sharing the cottage with some Turks, who are loudly preparing a meal in the next room and listening to music. Rather rude of them at 11:40 pm. Continued ...

1 comment:

  1. Greetings from Ecija. Keep enjoying as I´ve known you. Pablo