Monday, May 7, 2012

Zeeuwse Strand- en Landroute - Day 4

Goes, after the storm.

Last night it stormed, hurricane winds and pouring rain, as I lay in bed in the home of the Bruels, my vrienden op de fiets in Kloetinge, a village east of Goes (pronounced choos with a guttural ch). The Bruel family was very kind to me. Meneer Renin has Parkinson's disease and is on a steady regiment of drugs. His wife Cobi has been taking care of him for the past 20 years. To keep himself busy Renin designs things on his computer. He can't pick up his pen but he can use a mouse.

Nisse green, Sunday morning.

Now I'm in Nisse, south of Goes in the heartland of Zuid Beveland. Like other small villages in Holland, Nisse is very quiet. There's a big brick church, as there was in Goes. I'm sitting on a green with gazebo, pond, ducks, ringed by simple houses. The sun wants to break through the clouds.

Even out in the middle of Zuid-Beveland (orchards, an old road lined with berry-bearing trees) you see the occasional cyclist. This is real polderland, and it's peaceful. You can hear birds flapping their wings in the trees. The route has me going south to Ovezand and Oudelande. But I'm cutting west to point 82,  toward 's-Heerenhoek, where with any luck I can get lunch before riding into Walcheren and Middelburg. A solitary jogger in track suit goes past. It starts to rain.

Zeeuwse Strand- en Landroute - Day 4 (ANWB map)

Clearing another hurdle. 

De Kroo Ruitersport: a stable where well-bred horses and girls (and a few boys) show off their skills. It's on the path to Vlissingen, which I decided to take since I'd arrived in Middelburg so early.

I was watching some of the contestants. Equestrian ability seems to be a real class thing here. These girls have the look of aristocracy in their white jodhpurs and riding caps. Some of them had a little trouble: one was thrown off her horse when it refused to jump a hurdle. Another lost control as her horse went careening toward the fence.

I followed the trail west, through Ritthem to Vlissingen. For a moment it got warm as the sun poked through. But by the time I reached the beach it was back to cool and windy. It's a broad beach, practically empty now. However the cafe up above the beach, where I now sit, is quite busy.

Knooppunt (point along bike route) markers in Zeeland have helpful maps showing nearby knooppunten. This one shows the area east of Vlissingen. 

Vlissingen is a large port and departure point for ferries to Breskens--the Zeuuwse Flanderen part of Zeeland, i.e., the part that is actually on the Belgian mainland. Vlissingen has a lovely seaside promenade with tony cafes, big freighters passing, a windmill, a bank of cannons. The cafe served me a mussel baguette and a beer. Then a band started playing the likes of "Radar Love." I couldn't finish the baguette.

Postcard of Vlissingen.

Later, I take the broad Walcheren canal that runs straight up from Vlissingen to Middelburg. Trains shoot up the opposite side on the way to Rosendaal, Rotterdam, Amsterdam.

Kanaal door Walcheren, straight shot from Vlissingen to Middelburg
Middelburg is very nice. It helps that the weather turned super pleasant. After meeting Conny, the gregarious proprietor of the house at Molenwater 93 and taking a nice hot shower, it's as if the clouds have lifted. Conny's place is beautiful: an old solid house with bedrooms on the top three levels, wood floors, plenty of ventilation. At 20 euros a night, it would be easy to stick around.

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