This blog post marks the end of my second stint of cycling in Europe, this time through the UK and Ireland. Unfortunately I missed out on the western and northern parts of Ireland, but the island proved to be larger than I thought and, moreover, I was running out of Summer.
Wales, on the other hand, was a thorough success and I liked it immensely.
Not missing sleeping for around three months on roughly 0,7 cm of foam.
But I will miss my little coffee making ritual…
From Calais I cycled back to the Netherlands along the North Sea. This led me through French Flanders and the town of Dunkirk which was important in the Second World War and where, since then, nothing ever happened, even though some people are still waiting, and then, after that, Belgium.
During my first episode of cycling I had toured through the central part of Belgium and it now struck me how short the coastline was: not more than 65 kilometres, much of which, it must be said, is an urban eyesore. Many apartment blocks were obstructing the sea views and casting long shadows over the wide boulevards. A tramway transports people along its entire coastline from De Panne in the south to Knokke-Heist in the north making it the longest of its kind in the world.
And that is something.
The last bit took me through the Dutch province of Zeeland. It wasn’t quite Wales, but then, it was a lot easier to ride the flat expanses of former islands and connecting dams and bridges, than the cliffs of Wales.
It was this province that lent its name to the country of New Zealand. Not long after it was discovered by Abel Tasman, in the 1640’s, Dutch cartographers marked the island on their maps as Nova Zeelandia, possibly because of the impression it made of being a jigsaw of islands and sea.
When he sailed east from Mauritius he and his crew managed to spectacularly miss the entire landmass that we now know as Australia and hit first Tasmania and later New Zealand without ever setting eyes on the continent itself.
Next: North Africa.