Saturday June 18, 2016 – Middelburg, Zeeland

It’s 6:30 p.m. and I just got back from a super long walk down the beach.  I then headed to the 7th wonder of the world this day, a Museum on how the Dutch manage to hold back the water . I could not find the entrance to the museum–I was on a busy street–so I took the bus back to the castle where I am staying. It was an incredible sight to see and I will write all about it.

I’m in the castle. I woke up in a ” Castle Westhove.” A little bit about the history…just outside a small village on the Noodzee (that’s the “North Sea” to you).The castle were I spent two nights in Domburg.

This marvelous castle is not far from Domburg. (The largest nearby town is Middelburg, Zeeland, to give you an idea of where I am.) This castle was first mentioned in papers such as a land deed called a Certificate of Count Floris V. The town government (called “the Abbey”) has owned this incredible place since the 12th Century.Inside looking out

The castle managed to make it through numerous wars, such as the Eighty Years War (also known as the Dutch War of Independence, 1568–1648). By 1750 the Reygersbergs family assumed ownership of the castle. The grounds grew and included a park and garden. A weather vane of a heron was installed and is still on one of the towers.

In the with Century the castle was expanded by the Van De Perrys (Dutch). They added on an orangery/stable which is now the museum next door, called the “Terrace Maris.”Another view from the castle

Also, at one point this place was a place where ill children could go to recover and receive proper care. That is, until World War II when the Germans moved in and the castle apparently became a popular target for bombings. There was a ammunition  depot nearby in the woods. The castle was damaged yet it retained its shape and was later restored. Now it is quite splendid. The grounds around here are gorgeous and you can walk to the beach (like I did). It was simply wonderful. Very lovely…a enchanting castle, honestly, very much like a fairy tale.Another view of the castle.

Since 1oi5 the castle has been part of the Dutch Youth Hostel Association. This castle is taken care by the youth hostel management Stayokay (Staatsbosbeheer, or nature preservation society) and Terrace Maris.

A note: There is a tree here that is 300-years-old that was planted at the beginning of the 18th century, making it one of the oldest trees in Zeeland. It’s called a Linde tree.

Staying in a hostel means you get to meet all the other temporary inhabitants, and I met this older gentleman who rode his bike from the south of England, a town called (I believe he said…) Warner. He told me about a circuit path from Florence, Italy to the Scandanavian countryside, somewhere near the country of Sweden.

Today I walked the beachThe beach is called the Strand

and the dyke towards a town called Westkapelle with a WWII museum…after about 4 miles (5 kilometres).In this picture you can get a sense  of how high the  dyke is from the land on your left

I turned back because the sky was getting pretty dark and the wind was incredibly  strong. I just needed to feel safe…I decided to make my way to the town.Walking the Dyke

What a lovely placeI need to visit the Watersnoodrmuseum, which is the one that has the complete history of the dyke and the 7th wonder of the world. It deals with the management of holding  back the sea. To get there I had to take a bus. Finally, after waiting for a long time (this is why I walk) I managed to board the bus, totally trying to explain to the driver where I wanted to go. He was so polite and kind…at the end of the line he once again reached out to direct me to the right stop to get where I wanted to go. It’s people like him that make this journey a pretty amazing adventure.

At the transfer station I decided I needed to get a hot cup of coffee. I felt like I was sleep walking at that point. So I stepped into a Cafe called “STOOM,” located right next to the train station in the town of Middelburg. There I was to transfer  to Bus #133. I ordered a cup of coffee from an intelligent young Dutch gentleman (a student) who kindly asked me where I was from. (I’m sure that the “lost tourist look” gave me away). Anyway I told him, “California.” His eyes lit up with excitement on this cloudy cold Netherlands  afternoon. Everyone around the world loves California, it seems.  His name is Mhrtijm and he is studying World Economics. (His name sounds nothing like the pronunciation of the letters…only one vowel, the letter “i.”) The Dutch language is hard…sometimes they use double vowels, and at other times no vowels.

Anyway he offered  me a ride (sweet) but my adventure on this day was solo and I need to walk. I gave him my card so he could follow my journey.

Once on the go, I made it to the bridge of the water delta and across a structure of steel doors. The locks to hold the sea back, the 7th wonder of the world.I got off the bridge to go to the museum, finally. I walked down the stairs, under the road, and to a metal gate that was locked.

Great Scott! I really blew this one…nowhere to go but to turn back at this point. I waited for about an hour until 5:00 p.m. and then made my way back to Domburg. I was so tired at this point.

I ate some herring with crackers and cheese. I showered and talked to my children, lovely Iris at Sanford (earning her PhD) and my favorite son, Emerson, who is finishing his Journalism degree at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

I closed my eyes and promptly fell asleep for the night. I know it was early but, trust me, it was definitely needed.

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