It's hard to believe that we've already been here in Zeeland for a half year. In our time here, the one thing I haven't been able to get past is how incredibly tranquil it is here. Whether walking or driving, I feel at peace here -- as though my battery is being recharged with nearly every outing. Traffic is pretty much non-existent here, and when there is congestion, it's generally a whopping 5 minutes because of a train or drawbridge. No road rage, no bumper-to-bumper, no stress.
Well today, I discovered a side of Zeeland previously unknown to me. As peaceful as driving or walking here might be, multiply that by ten, and you'll begin to understand why the Dutch are so obsessed with bicycles. I tell you, as sore as my bum may be, the hour I spent cycling today was simply incredible. From Oudelande, I took the main street ("Dierikweg") to Kwadendamme, startling a stunning Grey Heron along the way. I then headed South to Baarland, stopping for a mochaccino and some custom-potted flowers at the slightly hidden Flueria. On the way home, I passed tractor-groomed fields, softly whispering orchards, and wildflowers, rounding up the journey with a swallow-like House Martin darting past as I neared the farm. I can probably count on two hands the number of cars that I encountered on that journey, and mindful as the Dutch are of bicyclists, I felt very much at ease cycling on the (albeit narrow) country roads.
That being said, I can tell you that Zeeland is not as flat as it looks. I now have a whole new respect for those on bikes. There are inclines and declines, and those 2-child baby carrier attachments are not nearly as light (or aerodynamic) as they look. I guess the fact that I'm 7 months pregnant didn't help matters, but I can't very well stop moving just because I have an enormous belly. :-)
So please, please, cycle Zeeland. Beautiful things that I have never before noticed, became stunningly clear to me today... be it charming homes, hidden gardens, songbirds, or the friendly locals -- rendering the castles, churches, and ruins as icing on the cake.
You won't believe your eyes.