This is turning out to be not so much a cycling trip as a beachcombing trip. I haven't actually done much cycling, no more than 20km per day. Riding along the Oosterscheldekering, the 9km bridge/flood barrier that connects Noord Beveland to Schouwen, I came across the beach at Neeltje Jans. I found myself a nook in the dunes fringed by beach grass and have no other intention but to hang out here for the day. It is a remote beach and it's Monday so the place is practically deserted. The Indian summer continues though it's slightly cooler and breezier today. But the sky is now clear, the bright sun hot.
|Zeeland Revisited - Day 4 (ANWB map)|
|Land bridge to Noord-Beveland|
I went back into Vrouwenpolder for the last time, then out toward the coast, picking up the land bridge to Noord-Beveland, same as last time, sea at my left, Veerse Meer on my right. I could see the church of Veere in the distance.
|Crossing the Oosterscheldekering to Schouwen|
I somehow missed the fietspad to point 3 but soon found myself on the south end of the Oosterscheldekering, one component of the Deltawerken. A series of massive wind generators herald its presence from a great distance. Up on the structure a bicycle road parallels an auto road. Huge turbines stud the sea side of the causeway and below the water appears turbulent. To the east it is calm: this is the Oosterschelde, the giant lake formed by the dam.
I had worried it would be quite windy along this open expanse but it wasn't bad. Then I found the entrance to the Neeltje Jans beach. The water is a bit choppier today, a glorious October Monday. There are a few people on the beach, some windsurfing. The giant white pinwheels oscillate on either end of the beach.
|Layout of Neeltje Jans, a nature reserve midway across the bridge|
|Neeltje Jans beach|
After hanging on the beach for a few hours, I continue along the Oosterscheldekering. A sign explains that the dam is left open most of the year so the Oosterschelde is affected by the tide:
"The construction was in response to the flood disaster in 1953. Following the disaster, the government decided to realize the Delta-plan: closing off the tidal inlets between the islands of the provinces of Zeeland and Zuid-Holland. The gates are closed whenever dangerously high water is expected."
|West coast of Schouwen, Zeeland.|
|Climbing into the Boswachterij Westenschouwen.|
I found my vrienden, the Hacks. Mevrouw Hack is friendly and seems to have that sly Dutch sense of humor. She was tending her garden when I arrived. She showed me where to put my bike, then took me up to the room which is typically the room of the kids who've left the nest. I then meet Meneer Hack who speaks English better, a tall man in his 60s.
They thoughtfully recommend a restaurant in the village where I could get a pizza but I never found it. Instead I opted for a sort of fish market that does meals. I had been wanting to try Zeeland's famous mussels but at €18.50 a portion at most restaurants, I've refrained. Here they had gebakt mosselen with salad and fries for a mere €8.50. But they weren't very good--deep fried and refried and served with a cup of creamy dressing. The salad was drenched in a mayonnaise dressing. And the fries came with a dollop of mayo, though I'd requested curry ketchup. The server was a stocky yob in shorts.
Done with my meal by 8 pm, I took a wander around Burgh-Haamstede. Cars cruising around, bored boys hanging out on a bench as if it were mid-summer, which it feels like. I stopped into a casino. It had the usual Asians and worn-out souls who occupy such places, depositing their coins in slot machines or an automatic roulette wheel. I played a pinball machine with a Rolling Stones theme. A little Mick Jagger figure moved from side to side, blocking the progress of the ball occasionally. But it was disappointing: I had expected it to play the riffs from "Brown Sugar" or "Jumpin' Jack Flash" as the ball went up the various ramps or landed in the right hole. But there was no music at all. Perhaps someone who didn't like the Stones had disabled it.