Every conversation I’ve ever had in London, consisted of people asking me where I’m from. Londoners always seem to respond very excitedly when I tell them I’m from the Netherlands, but when I tell them I am not from Amsterdam, I mostly get slightly disappointed faces.
For many foreigners, the Netherlands equals Amsterdam and vice versa. They have no idea of what the rest of the country looks like, especially the countryside. When I say I’m from Zeeland, it’s often hard to form a mental image of the area.
Zeeland is located in the South West of the Netherlands and has a seacoast with dunes and sandy beaches, surrounded by green fields and idillic Dutch villages. This makes it a very popular area with tourists from all over the world – especially Germany. Even local band Bløf (pronounced ‘bluff’, and it means the same) has a song about the sea coast of Zeeland.
As I am on holiday there now while writing this, I decided to give you a little tour of Zeeland and its seacoasts.
If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you know how much I worried about the weather at the beginning of this month, and how I already had given up my hope of going to the beach. However, it turns out I brought the sun over. The weather forecasts have suddenly changed to bright, sunny and there’s even a heatwave on its way!
So, to my ultimate delight, I decided to go to the beach. My parents had a lovely suggestion to explore new areas in the Netherlands. Happen & Trappen [roughly translated as Biting & Pedalling] is a very Dutch experience that consists of a 4 course meal and coffee and cake, but part of the experience is that you have to cycle from each course to the next!
It’s a great way to explore the area by bike as well as local restaurants, who all collaborate with this project. Happen & Trappen has routes in various areas throughout the whole of the country and can be booked on the website. Upon arrival, you receive a map and vouchers you can exchange at the restaurants on your list.
You can also rent a bike at a local bike shop, or choose to bring your own bike. I already bragged about the great quality of the cycle paths in the Netherlands in an earlier blog post, so the whole of the country is perfectly suited for cycling.
The route started at beach house Het Halve Maentje, at the seaside of the friendly fishermen’s village Breskens, where we received a cup of coffee or tea and homemade apple pie with whipped cream.
The beach house allows you to look all over the beach in Breskens.
Then we cycled along the seacoast, past the sandy beaches of Groede,
the magnificent dune landscapes of the nature preserve in Nieuwvliet-Bad
and the fancy hotels, shops and seaside flats of Cadzand-Bad, inhaling the salty air and feeling the fresh seaside breeze,
when finally arriving in the small, picturesque village of Retranchement, on the border with Belgium. Here, we had an appetiser at restaurant De Parlevinker. De Parlevinker is a restaurant with a lovely outdoor terrace. It is very popular with local cyclists and always very busy! There were two appetisers to choose from: a beef croquet or a cheese croquet. Both were served with a small side salad and sourdough bread with butter.
As I’m on holiday, I chose to have a glass of rosé with that.
The rest of the route progressed through the countryside of the Netherlands. Past large squares of green fields and farmland, surrounded by a grid of dykes and trees, known as polders. In the middle of one of those polders – in a village named Marolleput, near Nieuwvliet – is a lovely tea garden named In De Morelleput.
All their teas are organic.
Also, they grow their own fruits in the orchard and serve homemade pies made from their fruits.
As this place was part of our route, we received our starter here. The starter was a lovely homemade soup, served with homemade bread. There were two soups to choose from. Either courgette soup or tomato soup (if you’ve been reading my old blog, you know how much I love soup).
We all picked the courgette soup
Then we cycled on through the countryside to a small picturesque village named Groede. Located on the adorable market square surrounded by typically Dutch houses, was a lovely bistro named De Drie Koningen, where we received our main course.
There was a choice of fish and chips (for my British friends), or (for those who would want to explore more local food) beef stew and chips, or pasta with mushrooms.
Then finally, the route took us back to the beach in Breskens, where we received ice cream for pudding in beach house Breskens Aan Zee (BAZ), which is one of Breskens’ many beach houses, but more popular with locals.
I think this experience was a very unique way to explore the area and local restaurants, and as it’s mostly done by bike, I think it’s also very characteristic for the Dutch culture. As the distance between every stop is about 10 km (6 miles), you don’t have to bring any food or drinks, but I can recommend to bring a bottle of water. Especially between the first two stops, which is the longest distance.
Also I would wear plenty of sunscreen and bring a hat or cardigan you can either wear or drape around your shoulders – especially when you look like me – as there’s a high risk of getting sunburnt when cycling out in the sun.
I hope this post gives you a little bit of an insight of what Zeeland looks like and maybe you’d like to come visit sometimes. Message me for more recommendations or keep an eye on the travel section in my blog for more posts in the upcoming weeks.
I’m going to get some more sunshine. Enjoy your bank holiday weekend!