Wading north

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
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103
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Trip End Feb 28, 2007


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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WEDNESDAY, 16th August
 
We headed north today to take a look at the top as it were. We took the coastal road hoping to see some beaches but because the coast was protected by an extensive range of both natural and man made sand dunes it was never at any time visible. We stopped once at St. Maartens which had an enormous car park and marina and found our way to the boardwalk on top of the dunes where we could look up and down the beach far into the distance. The second stop was near Callantsoog. Anne stayed in the car while I clambered over the dune to see much the same sight. Good sands, very few people, no controlled bathing area, no surfers, no kiosks and no gaudy deck chairs in bright coloured squares. In fact nothing but sand and sea. No sun either unfortunately. I stood on top of those dunes and all I could see on the one side was the ocean of the North Sea (somewhere over there was Scotland) and inland an ocean of green fields.
 
One of our targets was Fort Kijkduin at Huisduinen, a military fortress going back to the Napoleonic era and left derelict since the first world war.  In recent times it had been restored and now  was a museum and aquarium with a family restaurant on the top level. It was interesting but not very exciting. From the battlements we could obtain a good view south, down along the dunes barrier and north towards the island of Texel the first of the dune islands that continues the wall north-eastwards protecting the Zuider Zee from the storms of the North Sea.
 
We tried to stop in Den Helder but there was a cycle race going on and streets were closed so we continued on towards Den Oever where the Afsluitdijk stretched out across the sea. We saw no town and drove directly onto the dyke. Now that road/dyke/manmade barrier enclosing the Ijsselmeer has got to be one of the manmade wonders of the world. A four lane divided highway with nothing but water on each side and little sight of land. And it was busy. A constant stream of traffic, very fast traffic, in both directions. [ The previous year the road was closed for a day as Formula 1 drivers tested the speed of their cars on this 40 km raceway.] We were headed for the parking area and monument a few kilometers  across. We had lunch sitting in the sun (which came out briefly) looking across the inland sea with sails in the distance and little else. Waves lapped at our feet as we sat at tables eating  sandwiches at the café. Across the walkway over to the other side of the highway was the North Sea but it was like a puddle...so calm...not a ripple. We could not turn the car around there so had to carry on a few more kilometres to do the U turn.
 
We headed directly home down the A7 but decided to stop off in Alkmaar. We parked underground near the main square and had a drink at a pavement café. We did our usual walk around town and then headed back.
 
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