Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Delta Project - 3 May 2009

ZierikzeeThe day got off to a very interesting start when we decided to collect the car from the overnight carpark building before breakfast as rain was threatening and it would have been an unpleasant walk in the rain. We got to the carpark only to find it locked up like Fort Knox and accessible only with the bar-coded parking ticket that the machine had dispensed when we parked. Unfortunately said bar-coded ticket was safely locked inside the car inside the locked carpark. Had our Dutch been a little better, we may have seen a sign saying to take the ticket with us.

VeereThere was an intercom button by both of the pedestrian entrances to the building but neither elicited any response. In desperation I flagged down a passing motorist who, fortunately for us, spoke excellent English, and he agreed to drive his car to the vehicle entrance at which point the doors automatically opened allowing us Veereaccess. Problem solved, we drove back to the B&B for a well earned breakfast while the rain poured down outside.

Leaving Middelburg we drove a short distance to the very attractive town of Veere. Clearly a tourist trap as even on Sunday there were parking charges.

ZierikzeeAfter walking around the town we headed off for to see the Delta Project. After a storm surge in 1953 that killed 1835 people and flooded a huge swathe of the Netherlands, the Dutch embarked on a massive engineering project to prevent any such recurrence. Modern windmills at the delta ProjectThe last section was completed in 1986 and comprised a closeable storm surge barrier across the Oosterschelde. A man-made island was created as a construction site for the project and this island has now been turned into the visitor centre and theme park.

It is quite expensive, €18.50 each plus €6.50 parking, plus high priced food inside, but really worth a visit. There are films about the project; displays about the history, the flood, and the construction; a 45-minute boat trip; a walk though the barrier for a close-up look; an aquarium; Zierikzeeseals; a 'grave-yard' of interesting pieces of equipment from the construction phase; a whale exhibition; a fun water feature to amuse the young and young-at-heart; a water slide; and play areas and rides for the kids. It was very easy to fill in the better part of a day; they have clearly set out to make it an interesting day-out destination for families.

Delta Project gate lifting gearBut, it was time to move on to Zierikzee. The guide books we read were not overly complimentary about Zierikzee but we thought it was a lovely cute settlement with houses from the 14th C (even our B&B was built in 1650). The historical centre, inside the old moat is only a short walk from side to side and there a plenty of sights to be seen with the old and new harbours, the ancient gates and so forth. We came across a 1953 flood-level marker on a building that was at least 3m above the foot-path. It made the information we had seen earlier in the day that much more real and relevant.

ZierikzeeDinner was in the pub at the end of our street that had also been chosen by the local football team as a suitable venue for a farewell party for one of the team, They were a jolly and noisy bunch as they serenaded their mate. I could not understand why all these burly lads had jackets emblazoned with 'The Dancemasters' but discovered that that was the name of the team sponsor.

ZierikzeeThe reason we picked that particular establishment was that we had noted on the menu earlier that they served Orange Roughy, a delight we have not seen on this side of the world before. It seemed particularly appropriate to be enjoying one of New Zealand's best export fish in Zeeland.

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