As we wrap up the Netherlands' Late Summer Series, let's take you to Zeeland. And let's imagine all of the following vividly in our minds, as it seems the photos taken from this day are lost forever on a wayward memory card.
Zeeland (pronounced zay-lond) is a region that lies in the southwest corner of Holland, a claw-shaped collection of islands and small towns and endlessly awesome stretches of big beaches.
Even before we got there, we had stopped in Rockanje, technically not part of Zeeland but of South Holland. A very quiet beach town only one hour's drive from Amsterdam, Rockanje (Rock-Kanye), this was the perfect place to park it on a very wide, long, and tranquil beach.
A few beach clubs with big decks facing the sea and some posters of DJ shows alluded to a more active summer life there, but on this day in mid-September there was a ton of room for everyone, including one ecstatic dog.
After a few hours of sun (I heard earlier this week that August officially had 3 days of sun in total, so this day provided a healthy 33% increase), it was time to head further south.
Zeeland lies mostly below the sea, a fact which contributed to a terrible flood in 1953 where nearly 2000 people died. As a result of that tragedy, the massive engineering project known as the Deltawerken (Delta Works) began to keep the sea out. You can read more about the werken and the flood here.
It's very impressive to see the dams in action, as you drive over them or even step out of the car to have a better look. It's this same ingenuity that has people from around the world calling in the Dutch when they want to manage a water issue (the beaches and bays around Malaga, Spain for example, were engineered by the Dutch to control the waves and erosion).
Onwards it was, one more hour's drive from Rockanje (so two hours' total from Amsterdam, for those of you keeping track) to the nicest town I've been to yet in Holland, Domburg. It was loaded with nice houses, restaurants and shops. Though not many web design companies, it seems.
The Franco-Belgian influence is easily seen here, with just that little bit extra put into storefronts, pastry shops, and food preparation. Domburg also has huge dunes lining the long coast, beyond which lies the kind of soft sand that you expect from the Caribbean. But if you want a quick reminder that you're nowhere near it, dip your toes into the frigid North Sea.
Zeeland is a revelation, a great place to spend a weekend, and yet another great break from the city right around the corner.