Vacation in Zeeland

My sister has rented a little vacation house for 2 weeks in Zeeland, the southern province of the Netherlands made up by the Schelde (=Scheldt) delta and she had invited us to come over. Although so close, I had already crossed the Belgian border, but never really far enough to cross the Western Scheldt and discover the myriad of islands, dams, deltaworks, wide polders, .... The advantage and disadvantage is that you don't go there if you don't have too, since it is not a fast pass-through area.

Leaving from Knokke, a bird would probably only need a 40 kms to fly, but it took us 1h30 to drive through the tunnels and over the bridges to arrive in the tiny village where my family was staying. Funny since it would only take us 1h30 as well from Leuven as it would be more a straight line to drive even though Leuven is a lot further.

We drove through the middle of nowhere to get to Terneuzen, where we took the fairly new Western Scheldt tunnel to cross the biggest river arm. I must say I was surprised that such a new tunnel did not have emergency lanes to the side and the emergency phones where on the right hand side, whereas the emergency exits on the left hand side...not very practical huh?

Anyway, the lack of emergency lanes anywhere despite the obvious place for it, annoyed us elsewhere in Zeeland too. On Sunday we saw a big accident on the opposite lane (pheww) and a huge huge traffic jam behind it because nobody could pass by. I had also heard that the opening of the tunnel would increase traffic in Belgium in that area dramatically and that we had not adapted to that etc etc...but seeing how poorly the tunnel was connected to big roads on the other side as well, I am quite confident that things won't be as bad as predicted. Let's say there's still some development opportunities there.

Sooner than expected we crossed het Veerse Meer (a former Scheldt arm). We found a little terras in the vacation village where we had a snack and we turned out to sit at 100m of the house where my sister's family was staying (they were still at the beach as they had expected us later on).

The little house was quite cute with a comfortable living room and kitchen both viewing the garden with big windows and behind the garden a big grainfield that was in the evenings full of rabbits, cats and hunting birds and probably a lot of invisible mice. The field was bordered by dikes on 2 sides where we could see the masts of sailing boats coming by. Very relaxing get-away view! Awesome! On the side there was a practical bathroom and on the topfloor 2 bedrooms with low roofs where we all stumped our heads a couple of times (not good idea though when you have a painfull back!). It actually turned out that my sister had a soar back as well, so we were sharing medication and tips and we both took turns laying down on the sofa.

After a lazy evening together, we had a lazy sunday morning in the house and garden, after which Jan and I left for The Hague. We had reasoned that we were already close...which is true theoretically but once again, we had not that many highways leading to the Hague. So it took us as long as if we had left from leuven almost! We did take the scenic road though, across the Oosterscheldekering (part of the famous Deltaworks ) which dynamically can close of the Eastern Scheldt in stormy weather and can regulate the amount of water coming in the delta. This way the water in the former river arms can remain salty and the mussle cultivation can continue to flourish. Mmmmm Zeeland mussels, we Belgians crave them! The Oosterscheldekering was less spectacular though than I would have expected. When on top of them, you actually don't see much at all. My mom had had a maquette for years in her class and it looked so much cooler there, probably because you could operate it and you could see the part below water too.

first part of the Oosterscheldekering

We crossed other dams and see barriers and drove over dikes etc....until we reached the oil depots of the Rotterdam seaport. What a change of scenery in only a few kms! From then on we were on territory that we knew well.

The baby visit was cute. The sun came out and we were out of the wind in the little garden, so I had to take advantage of that! Finally some sun that my body and my spirits needed so much! Sun that I had given up on for the remainder of this summer! Baby Anna prooved very very calm, willing to check us out a bit from her mother's chest, only to go to sleep later. Also her big brother was just amazingly quiet, building proudly big towers. Some glasses of champagne and pieces of melon later, I moved to the shade, but it was too late. I was as red lobster with my top burned into my chest. Ooops. Not smart, I know I know, but part of me does not regret being a big sunburned at least once this summer! Woohoo no more white shoulders!

We were just in time back in Zeeland to catch my sister to come back from the beach and to get ready to go out for dinner. In a nearby little port we enjoyed the nice fish of a cook who had his training in a famous cooking school in Bruges. ha, we couldn't go wrong, would we. Delicious fish soup and different types of fish for us all, what else can you eat when there's water around on all sides?

On Monday morning we all headed out to one of the many beaches surrounding all of these islands. At the edge of some big dunes, we spread out our towels and Stef enjoyed himself running up the hill and 'swimming' down on his belly and then destroying all towers that we were constructing for his sand castle, while Jan started building trenches around our little camp as if we were preparing for an invastion. After returning from the edge of the water with stef, we found towers all around. It was a real test for Stef's discipline, but he managed to leave the towers for another 20 minutes before he threw them all down.

When the sun came fully out, it was actually time to break up again, fill the threnches and take the little man home for some food and some sleep. A good occasion for Jan and me to borrow the bikes and to go out for a ride on the dikes towards the deltaworks, despite some threatening clouds.

When getting back it was time for cake and presents as we had not celebrated Stef's second birthday yet (although for Stef himself it was the third celebration!). And too soon it was time to pack up and drive towards Belgium again. What a great short vacation. Those 2 days felt as if I had been gone a lot longer and it sure had done me good! And I fell in love with Zeeland....I actually want to spend there a longer vacatin once in the summer as well! And maybe once a weekend in winter, to go and make long walks along the water ! Zeeland...I'll be back!


anno said…
What fascinating geography! Makes me wish I'd paid attention on those roadtrips around the Netherlands my parents took me on when I was younger. I'm pretty impressed by that sand fortress, too. Looks like a lovely break... I hope it's not too hard returning to real life.

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