441.The Man in Blue – Vlissingen ~ Goes ~ Zierikzee ~ Rotterdam

No stories about family members this time, just a description of my wonderful journey ! Cousin Marie drove me the short distancefrom her house to Vlissingen – Oost Souburg station in her car. We went early as I wanted to buy an OV Chipkaart from the ticket machine at the station. The OV-Chipkaart is like a national version of the London Oystercard, valid on all Dutch public transport systems.

At Vlissingen station I took an intercity double-decker train to Goes, which only took about 20 minutes. In Goes I changed to Connexxions bus 132 to Zierikzee via the Zeelandbrug. There was a little wait but the bus left on time. Dutch buses are more comfortable than UK ones and Dutch roads have fewer potholes.

Goes is on the former Island of Zuid Beveland, connected to Walcheren to the west and the province of Noord Brabant to the east. To go to Zierikzee on Schouwen-en-Duiveland we first crossed to Noord Beveland via the short Zandkreek dike and from Noord Beveland to Zierikzee via the five kilometre long Zeeland bridge. The bad news was that due to fog I could not enjoy the view of the Oosterschelde.

Zierikzee has a proper bus station, but it also has a station used mostly just by people wanting to change to other bus and coach services. That station is called Sas, and there I got off to change to Interliner coach 395 to Rotterdam Zuidplein.

This is an express service stopping once only, but otherwise runs non-stop to Rotterdam Zuidplein. From Schouwen-en-Duiveland we went to the island of Goeree-Overflakkee (province of Zuid Holland) over the Grevelingen dike. Halfway there is a junction from where the Philips dike takes you to Noord Brabant.

We went non-stop past Oude Tonge bus station and then crossed the Haringvliet via the Hellegats dike and the Haringvliet bridge. Before going on to the bridge there again is a junction in the middle of what used to be a wide estuary subject to ebb and flood, which connects to Noord Brabant.

On the other side of the Haringvliet we were on the last island (Voorne Putte) of this trip, which we left through the Heinenoord tunnel, to the north of which you are very near to Rotterdam’s Zuidplein, a major interchange between the Rotterdam Metro and local and long distance buses.

The trip was very smooth and comfortable. We left Goes at 11.33 and arrived a couple of minutes early at Zierikzee from where the Interliner coach left on time (12.00) to arrive a bit early (12.450 at Rotterdam Zuidplein. Why the coach did not stop at the Oude Tonge bus station on Goeree-Overflakkee, which is next to the motorway, I cannot understand. The company must like running empty vehicles.

From Zuidplein I continued by Metro line D to Rotterdam Central Station and from there by RandstadRail metro E to Den Haag Centraal and finally by Tram 6 to the Hobbemaplein, near to where Jatinder Singh lives. To be continued.


440.The Man in Blue – Vlissingen – Domburg – Middelburg

Before travelling to Vlissingen I had agreed with my cousin Marie that we would go for walks on the sandy beaches on the west side of Walcheren, the island on which Vlissingen is situated. The beaches and dunes are a great asset for walkers, horse riders and ‘beach bums’. They also protect the island against flooding.

I arrived in Vlissingen on the Saturday at about 1 pm and as the weather forecast for Sunday and Monday was not good we decided to have a quick lunch and then make for the nearest beach.

South of Walcheren the Westerschelde, the estuary of the river Schelde, joins the North Sea. The shipping lane used by vessels going to and from the Belgian port of Antwerp runs here near the beach. Across the Westerschelde you can see Zeeuws Vlaanderen, the part of Zeeland that is on the Flemish mainland.

We walked and talked. We walked along the beach, enjoyed the sunshine and the views across the Westerschelde. We talked, and talked and then talked even more. Due to my 14 years outside the Netherlands we had a lot to catch up on.

The three days with cousin Marie showed how important a family member can be.  Marie and I can talk so easily because we know each other’s background, we understand each other because we have known each other virtually from birth.

On the Sunday the weather was not as bad as predicted. It was windy (it often is in Zeeland) and cloudy but it did not rain. Together with Marie’s eldest daughter we went to Domburg, the oldest resort on the Walcheren coast, where various venues hosted a jazz festival.

It was good to meet Karen, who I had seen a couple of years ago but did not really get a chance to talk to. She fits in the musical tradition of her side of the family. I enjoyed listening to Karen playing violin and her mother accompanying her on the piano. In Domburg we listened to jazz, had chips, went for another walk on the beach and then left Karen at the restaurant where she works.

On the Monday morning I walked along the Westerschelde to Vlissingen station. It was very windy ! On the way I met a young black man who wanted to know who and what I was. We came to the conclusion that we both try the serve the One.

The bus driver who took me back to Vlissingen also asked me questions about my traditional outfit, and we had a nice conversation. During my three days on Walcheren nobody called me Osama Bin Laden and nobody gave me hostile looks.

In the afternoon I took the bus to Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland. I walked through the old city on to where we were having dinner. I met Marie’s husband and her younger daughter and after the meal I went with Marie to attend a session of the small orchestra that she and Karen are part of (To be continued).