Wed 30 Oct - Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands

Walking among the sanddunes...

Today the sun was shining, no rain predicted and the wind had died down a bit. We were keen to try a local coastal walk, which we had a brochure on, called the Quality Coast Walk. We set off just after 8.30am rugged up for the 8-10 degree day.

The walk was nice and this is how it went, mostly through sand dune forest and grasslands...

We were leaving Noordwijk on foot - and we liked it!

The dunes are laced with lots of walking paths, bike tracks and horse bridle trails. This was an early section on a bike path, looking back to the lighthouse on Noordwijk beach.

You may note we were both wearing caps - our freebies from the NY Yankees game at Yankee Stadium in NYC - not that we were worried about sunburn, more that we though it would be enough to keep our heads warm. Nope, we should have worn beanies as our foreheads and our ears got cold.

Shortly along the bike path you come to a set of WWII bunkers under the dunes. Unfortunately these, and the Atlantic Museum, are closed from end of September until the start of May. Another very seasonal attraction.

The sign board photos showed us what we missed (damn).

Our trail map showed us leaving the bike path and heading inland a little. The path through the dune forests was lovely. We met occasional joggers and plenty of dog walkers.

The Dutch nearly all look fit. Chubby people are rare. We expect it is because they ride bikes everywhere and do lots of walking and running. Yes, the country is flat but they are out moving their asses and we like that characteristic.

Di was getting excited about autumn colours and leaves (we don't see scenes like this much in Sydney).

The main bike paths seem to have names - this was one Zeeweg (literally Sea Way) and the little red signs explain distances to each town.

Once we stepped out of the forest onto the open dune landscape the wind cut through us. We added an extra layer each and Hans tried a hood/cap combination to keep his neck and ears warm. A definite fashion statement (what kind of statement though...).

The local council reclaimed these dunes from a golf course and have since earned awards for their environmental work. Hence the Quality Coast title.

We could see why - the paths are made from crushed sea shells to blend in with the natural environment. Some sections look less well trodden as the shells on the edge were still whole.

You could take any number of cross paths to reach the sea. When we reached higher dunes we got quite good views (not that anything was very high - the highest recorded dune is 29m).

And this is it - with "steep" steps (as described by the brochure). Really? We have steeper steps in the flat where we are staying!

At the 8km point we reached the northern end of the official walking trail and went down to the beach to investigate. The map shows walking back about 5km along the beach. Not for us today... the wind was so strong it had foamed up the water at the edge and was blowing it in small pieces across the sand.

Hans tried to scoop some foam but the wind pushed it from his hands towards Di (or convenient to be able to blame the wind?)

We saw a few horses with riders on our walk to this point. This group was coming along the beach from further north. They had a little Dachshund dog with them that kept weaving and yapping between the horses but nobody seemed to mind.

The wind was whipping Hans hood all over so Di kindly helped to tuck it away. You can see behind her how much white water there was after 3 days of strong winds.

A selfie - pleased with our walk so far. And Hans' hood is now tucked away...

We came past this small dune where the wind was lifting the sand from the top and shifting it further inland. We liked the effect but were happy to have our backs to it as we walked away from the beach to get some protection from the wind behind the sanddunes.

Back on the dunes again and this "high dune" even had a sign post to a lookout on top. Again, not much height to be gained in the Netherlands.

Looking to the north from where we turned around. The building is a golf club - they seem to have kept one golf course here.

In several places near the beach they have these large bike parking areas. No car parks nearby. Hans was waiting for a bike...he would love to ride here as there are great bikepaths everywhere, but Di is not very keen so we haven't (note from Di - the Dutch are such good riders that the pace looks daunting)

We got back home at lunchtime and our first priority (after a cup of tea) was to have a shower as our bathroom drains are not yet fixed. Anneke, our friendly neighbour and friend of Brian and Doro, had given us a key to her place, welcomed us to go there while she was working and showed Di where to find the guest bedroom with its seperate shower. So, we grabbed our washbags, towels and clean undies and went there for a clean up.

Anneke's guest room is on the ground floor of her townhouse and behind the venetians is the public walkway you see above.

The bathroom is near the door and neatly laid out. Di, why bother brushing your hair before we step outside again?

Once sanitized and back at Binnenweg, we heated up leftover curry for our lunch then rested for an hour, well deserved we think after a 14+km walk.

Hans was keen to replace more of his old undies and socks given the "value for money" purchases of the same two days ago, so we returned to the "Traveller's friend" store for some more stuff for both of us. Di also got a new long sleeve t-shirt to replace a short sleeve one.

Brian had recommended a coffee shop on the mall, De SmaakMaker, which he said did cappuccinos closest to a flat white, so we had to try it. Agreed - the espresso coffee was good... Considering European standards...

Di did a small detour to buy a fabulous lump of Aged Gouda cheese at a local specialty store and we bought some wine for drinks tonight with Anneke.

Returning home we filled another bag with our old clothes for the local charity clothes bin, then relaxed and blogged.

An early dinner at home beforehand was garlic chilli chicken stir fry - not quite like home but still delicious.

Anneke arrived about an hour later bringing a new version of Draino to try and unclog our bathroom drains. She was brilliant and persisted with each drain and some different flushing options - with Hans fetching boiling kettles of water and Di flushing various appliances. Anneke persisted for about 45 minutes and it paid off! The drains seem as clear as they ever were and we don't need a plumber (likely cost €200).

Cheers to Anneke and her good ideas!

After a glass of wine and quick chat she headed home with our sincere thanks.

We finished the night with an email update to our hosts, some blogging and our wine. Good night.


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