Thursday, August 02, 2012

Netherlands July 26

We took the train from Arnhem to Middleburg.  On the first leg of the train trip we were alone and able to sit. On the second leg, there were two cars with bike storage areas, but both had bikes in them already. We shoved ours in as well, but had to split into two groups.  Blocking the doorways meant that we had to rearrange ourselves every time someone wanted to get on or off.  Fortunately, the second ride was only 30 minutes or so.  The ticket collector came through and laughed because it seemed a fiet train (bike train), there were so many bikes, but he didn't yell at anyone for blocking the stairs, doors and passages.
Middleburg is very touristy, but the tourists were mostly Dutch. We visited a seminary, with its affiliated church.  There were tombs in the floors, a la The Divinci Code and two huge naves, each with an impressive organ.
There was a Thursday market, with all manner of stuff being sold, from fresh prepared foods to farm (not necessarily local) goods, to cloth by the yard. We saw only a small portion of the market, but it was enough, especially since we chose to drag our bikes along with us through the crowds. We got strawberries, fresh stroop waffles and milkshakes. Stroop waffles are 2 really thin, sweet waffles with honey sandwiched in between.

Very rough cobblestones are tough on the bike.  A weld on one of my water bottle cages gave out as a result. I also lost the bolts which held on my right toe clip and had to remove that toe clip cage. Each night I check the bolts and screws, but it is tough to check them all. Most of the streets in towns are cobbles or brick.
For scale, keep in mind my bike has 20" wheels
As we headed out of Middleburg, a sail was passing us in the middle of a field.  If you look closely at the trees at the left side of the photo you can just see the top of it.  Someone was sailing in the canal. The wind must have been dead perfectly behind them to fill that spinnaker.
The Oosterschedle waters are enclosed by a series of dams (Pijlerdam)/walls/man made islands created as reaction to the 1953 flood which killed 2,000 people. We crossed this series of about 4 dams and the connected land, about 10.5 km.
There are many new windmills along this feature and more are being built. Fish farms, beach goers and kite surfers share the connecting "islands". A lock allows passage of boats from the ocean to the inner "harbor" which is actually partly salt water. Sluice gates allow the ocean water to move in and out, but they can be closed in emergencies to prevent flooding. Boats still need to pass through a lock to go from the ocean to the enclosed protected waters.
Coming off the final bridge/dam/man made island, we came across the odd little town of Kat. Not a sole was to be seen, but many of the road signs and poles were encased in yarn.  In the states we might call this "yarn bombing". We found someone to ask outside of town and our best guess at what she told us is that the regional religious order had tried to close their church and the yarn was a show of support for keeping it open.
It is interesting to note that even the people who say their english is very poor speak far better english than I speak spanish. They are embarassed by their poor english.  Little do they know...

We followed the path signs and did a small loop, which took us back to the other side of the town with the yarn bombing. Kat was only about 6 blocks square, so we found our circumnavigation via the path to be pretty funny.
Zierikzee was the town just before the campground.  It had the narrowest streets yet.
At the campground, there were no owners, just a sign that read "choose your own pitch". Free showers, but no wifi or laundry.  You can't win them all. Pretty nice place. None of the campgrounds are totally quiet.  Probably if they put them out in the middle of nowhere it would be quiet, but since they are generally situated close to towns, highways, trains and air traffic is always at least a little audible.

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