Welcome to Holland
Just got back from a week on vacation in the Netherlands 👋 🇳🇱. 1
Is it ok to travel? Use airports? See friends? Traveling right now for me is a grey area. Corona has hit Europe pretty hard and my household is still taking quarantine measures. Ex. Have not seen people outside my girlfriends family in months. But how does vacation fit this? When it comes to vacation I think it’s important to get out of the house for mental health reasons. So if we are going to go, how to do it safely?
- Prior to the trip we check the districts in NL with this tool to find areas with few cases.
- Avoided airport and made the 8h drive ourselves.
- Stayed in small bed and breakfasts to avoid crowds.
- Did outdoor activities: beach, biking, hiking.
- Enjoyed non busy restaurants and ate outside.
- Took private sailing course.
The decision to travel is going to be different for everyone and I recognise I’m very privileged to have access to a vehicle.
Even since my uncle stored his sailboat on our property in Wisconsin I’ve wanted to try it. Years later and on the other side of the Atlantic I got my chance. We did two days of lessons in the dike protected waters of Grevelingenmeer.
Warning: thing story has sailing terms
The first day there was little wind so we mostly practiced various things like how to reef the main sail, the right away rules, and leaving/returning to dock. It was nice to put all we had read and watched on sailing into practice. Luckily the wind picked up enough the second day for quite an adventure.
We got off to really good start practicing tacking and jibing, sailing around a series of islands. On the way back to the harbour the wind was strong. Sailing close hulled (nearly in to the wind with the sheets pulled tight) we were hit but a large wind guest. Under such conditions the boat leans further away from the wind. So now boat is about 45 deg angle from straight upright. This is an opportunity to luff up a bit (steer into the wind) lessen he angle of tilt and close the distance to the harbour ever faster. Well an opportunity in theory. As the boat began to tilt the tension on the tiller went. This is the weather indicating one should soften their hold and luff. But seeing how the boat was starting to tip panic set in, more force was applied. This turned the boat into a beam reach (perpendicular to the wind). Now physics of this are pretty simple the wind is hitting the boat from the side and the sheets (ropes that control sail tightness) are pulled fully tight from being close hulled so our 15ft vessel tipped further. Soon the sea is poring over the side as the mass is nearly in the water. Yelling, holding on for dear life, calamity! Nearly tipped that bad boy. Luckily the instructor was able to monkey his way to the to the till and release it as and we released the jib. The boat righted itself and slowed down. Whoo that was close 😬 ⛵️.
We made it back to harbour just fine but the whole thing was a bit traumatic. Valuable lesson learned. Would love to try sailing again but perhaps a break from it will be nice.
When one is surrounded by US Suburban architecture it begins to feel like this is just how things are. It does not have to be that way! If living in Germany has taught me anything about architecture it is there is another way. More variety, better construction, higher quality open spaces. In my experience Germany simply does not have simple timber homes with plastic siding that cover nearly all the US. Things here are solid. As well in Holland.
Here are some pictures from Middelburg NL, Zeeland’s capital.
Take away from Holland is they like brick and they keep on with the tradition of thatched roofs, Dutch Federation of Thatchers. Both of which I enjoy.
If you know me then you would know I’m grew up in a small town, Merrimac WI, which is known by its ferry. It even has it’s own wikipedia page, Colsac III! This ferry in Holland was nice reminder of how far I’ve come since my childhood in the Wisconsin country side.
Sometimes I do miss the quiet drive down Hwy 78 to Sauk Prairie. Past Charles gas station, Sentry, and Eagle Inn. I could not have asked for a better place to grow up. To all my friends who still live in that area, on your next drive look over the farm fields and smell that fresh air.s
As of 2018 there are 22.9 million bikes in holland2. Our trip added an additional two 🚴♀️ 🚴♀️.
We did two longer bike rides during the trip. The first on the coast right when Belgium meets The Netherlands. Route plotted here.
The second and my favourite was a loop from Bergen to Bergen am Zee and back. Route plot here.
It is amazing the bike infrastructure in Holland. Even way out in the country side away from town there are dedicated bike paths. Not just bike lanes, bikes paths 👍. I thought Germany was nice for biking, wow NL. The US can’t compare to either.
I found it weird at first that the mopeds also used the bike paths but after being around them a while I didn’t mind. Made for a better driving experience then Italy. Way less mopeds ducking in and out between cars.
As a child I went on a trip with my mother and best friend Nate to Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI. The dunes outside of Bergen am Zee really brought me back. We use to run as fast as we could and jump off the tops and land sliding in the sand below.
Something about the vastness of sand dunes drives me. A old west vibe I suppose. We passed a band of horses that made the dunes their home.
Beach! Woh has it been a long time since I’ve been a beach. Think my last good beach prior to this was the cold black sand beaches of Iceland. 🤔 Those were easier on my skin.
Taking the SUP out in the ocean was great. I think because of the salt it floats bit higher than fresh water. That mixed with the waves can made standing challenging.
For the first time since college sand castle contest I got my hands dirty and played with some sand.
We went to serval beaches. The ones on the ocean had much better swimming 🏊♂️.
We saw a ton of kite borders on the ocean. Would love to try it someday! Thinking back to earlier in the summer when I tried wake boarding after 10 years and was sore for a week, maybe I’ll wait.
On most of my trips dinner is a freeze dried packet eaten around a camp stove. Not this time! Hello shower every night, I could get use to this. We stayed in small bed and breakfasts and ate out most nights.
Would I go back?
Because of Corona we missed out on a lot of culture places in the Netherlands. We walked around The Hague but didn’t get to go in the Escher museum for example. Would like to return someday in when it’s ok to go inside museums again.