When we look back on a certain part of our hike, there is usually something that marked those days. The first days in the Netherlands were marked by endless dikes, thousands of sheep grazing happily on green meadows, and fog. Light fog, heavy fog, fog in the morning, fog the entire day. We luckily had some clear sky as well, but we were often walking in a huge white cloud.
Day 177 brought a couple of pleasant surprises. Our way was well signposted as the E9. Even in the middle of fields, which we eventually had to cross, there were clear red-and-white marks. At the end of the day, we arrived in Termunterzijl, a cute fishermen village, and enjoyed a Dutch-style fish dinner: Pickled herring and a choice of deep fried seafood with a huge portion of fries.
On the next day, we even had some sunshine, and after a scenery of dikes, wind turbines, and a huge industrial zone, we reached a town which could have come out of a picture book about Holland with its channels and traditional houses.
On day 179, after admiring a farm with alpacas, donkeys, and ducks, we had our picknick in a Chinese teahouse in the middle of the fields of that same farm. Our lodging for the night was a dream come true for Moiken: We had a room in a bakery, where we were greeted with a piece of cake and woke up the next morning with the smell of freshly baked bread.
We were walking on agricultural roads full of mud of the tractors harvesting potatoes the next day. The closer we got to the sea, the foggier it became, until we could not see anything around us anymore. That was a pity, because we would have enjoyed walking on the dike and admiring the famous waddenzee, where the water completely disappears for six hours, to return to the coast at high tide. Without any visibility, we were hiking along the landside of the dike, trying to think of activities to make our hike less boring. Right in the middle of our track, a small café appeared behind the veils of fog and we decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, it was open, although no one else than the owner was inside. While we were happily sipping our hot beverages, she explained: “I keep the café open all the time. If I close because there are not enough customers, people will stop coming at all.” We often remembered her words, wishing that other hosts would do the same!
Day 181 was full of special moments: Our friend Anne-Marie arrived from Switzerland to hike with us for some days; we had enough time to visit to the baby seals being treated in the zeehondencreche of Pieterburen; then we had a short hike to the next town, where we stayed at a very nice Bed & Breakfast and enjoyed a Dutch dinner in a restaurant, which had opened only for us! The foggy weather, however, was the same as the day before.
We started early the following day, as we had to catch a ferry to Schiermonnikoog, one of the Dutch North Sea islands, where we would spend the night. As expected, we had a long walk in the fog through fields and even a military training area, but when we were approaching Lauwersoog, where the ferry departed, the sun came out, just in time for our visit to the island! It was impressive to see the waddenzee at low tide with a beautiful sunset. For dinner, we followed the recommendation of a local for a fish place; to our surprise, we found ourselves eating deep fried fish and fries in a snack bar.
Two more days were left to spend together with Anne-Marie, and they were quite filled with long hikes with and without fog, great talks, and quite a lot of birdwatching. On our last evening together, we were hoping for a nice dinner of hearty Dutch food, but all the village had to offer was a … snack bar!
We decided to make day 185 our rest day, to wash our clothes, go to the next village with bicycles borrowed from our hosts, and tell the world that Coastline was on the road for 6 months already. To celebrate, we bought a nice selection of delicious healthy food from the supermarket.
We were fully prepared and rested to endure a looooong hike the next day, walking always in the fog. We were close to the coast, where we normally would see the effect of the tides – only we could see… nothing! It was funny to arrive in the town of Zurich in the evening, being far away from Switzerland. They even had a Zurich bank if you look for a safe place to deposit your money!
We were a bit apprehensive, thinking about the hike of the next day: 30 km on a dike, nothing but water on both sides. The forecast announced no change from the foggy weather we experienced on that day, so we mentally prepared ourselves for a difficult and boring walk.