Goodbye Summer Road Trips!
Today marks officially the last day of the season and it has been a fruitful summer. In between my baking experiments, we managed to squeeze in a few road trips and play tourist in my country of adoption. There is a lot to discover, even though the country is small, and these two spots were on my radar for a while:
Walks in Zeeland
If you love the sea, Zeeland is the perfect spot for you. This southwestern province neighbors Belgium and is surrounded by water. (Note for the foreigners: "zee" means “sea” in Dutch. Also, the country New Zealand is actually named after this province.)
One of my colleagues lives in Zeeland and advised me to visit Middelburg, the capital of the province. It’s a 90-minute ride from the Hague, you can drive along the coast and through islands to appreciate the maritime view. One sunny Saturday, we decided to head there. We left a bit before noon and stopped on the way for lunch at Proef Zeeland. The area is known for seafood so I tried the classic white wine mussels with fries.
After a good meal, we continued our route to Middelburg. The town center is small although it’s the largest municipality of the province, and it is surrounded by water canals. We strolled through the city. An orchestra band was playing in front of the city hall and we paused to appreciate the music.
We also went to the Molenwater park. It has nothing spectacular and I recommend to avoid it. Our favorite area was the Spanjaardstraat. In this street, we found a lot of historical buildings protected by the city. These homes are really old... centuries old! Above the doors, we could read the house name and for some, the establishment date. The street was deserted and we took our time to check all front doors.
On our way back to South Holland, we stopped at the beach for some fresh air and dipped our feet into the freezing water. The North Sea is always cold.
We only stayed an afternoon in Zeeland but I would love to come back and rent a home for a weekend excursion.
Kasteel de Haar
Unlike other European countries, the Netherlands doesn’t have a lot of castles – which is surprising for a Kingdom with an active reigning monarch. The castle de Haar is one of the biggest castle of the country standing in the province of Utrecht. To access it, we drove through the countryside. There were a few farms on the road so we first made a quick halt to stock up on fresh fruits for a clafoutis.
We arrived at Kasteel de Haar an hour before closing time (we were held off by a car accident) hence we decided to skip the interior visit. Instead, we walked around the gardens until we got caught in the rain. The place was quiet and empty, there were only a few visitors and guests for a wedding reception.
The Dutch are known for their modesty and this trait is reflected in the non-frivolous architecture of the castle. It appears simple from the outside but it is said that the interiors are unusually luxurious compared to Dutch standards. We plan on coming back one day to judge for ourselves!