Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A drive around the IJsselmeer - or a finger in the dike

For years I have been looking at maps of Europe thinking about possible train journeys but usually not trips by car. However there is one car journey that has been on my to do list for some time and today we were going to do it. The IJsselmeer. You can see a map of the journey here.

But first, one of the weirdest buildings I have ever seen. The other side apparently had glass windows.

In 1976 the separate lake called the Markermeer was created and here we are driving along the top of a dike that keeps the land on the right from flooding.

Growing up in Australia I had heard about the Zuiderzee which was a natural salt water bay that was eventually turned into a fresh water lake by a twenty mile long dike, the Afsluitdijk.

The Netherlands used to be famous for its old windmills. Now there are the new variety of electricity generating kind everywhere. There have to be thousands and thousands of them.

The Dutch have made good use of the former seabed. There is agriculture everywhere.

Marina on the outskirts of Lelystad which is at the eastern end of the Houtribdijk which separates the northern from the southern lake.

Just before we got onto the Houtribdijk we came upon what has become a familiar sight, a raised bridge to allow boats to go though.

After we got over the bridge, there was a little parking area where we stopped to allow all the traffic to get ahead of us and to let us stretch our legs.

These barges are huge.

And here is the sailing vessel that required the bridge to be lifted. It was carrying a bunch of children, presumably for some school excursion.

Off in the distance, an even older ship.

We were strolling back to the car when we heard a bell dinging and realized that the bridge was going to be raised again. We scurried along and as soon as we got off the bridge the gates were lowered and the bridge started to rise up again.

So here we are driving along the dike between the two lakes. It is about 15 miles long. Notice that the windscreen is relatively clean.

Suddenly the windscreen was covered in blotches.

At first I thought it was smoke beside the road but then realized it was millions and millions of bugs. The density of the swarm was amazing. 

The bugs continued all the way to the other side. There had to be at least ten miles of these bugs on either side of the road. We stopped at a petrol / gas station once we had reached the end of the dike and cleaned the windscreen. We will have to work out how to clean the rest of the car.

We continued north west through farming land. It was a lovely drive on such a beautiful day.

It is all very flat but not boring at all.

We eventually reached the Afsluitdijk that separates the lake from the sea. We stopped for a moment to take a photo looking back to the start of the dike.

You can't see the sea from the road.

About half way along there is an area to stop and inspect this statue. We have all heard the story about the little boy who stuck his finger in the leaking dike and saved Holland. This was him when he became an old man.

Not really. It is a statue of Cornelis Lely who was largely responsible for the building of the dike and turning the Zuidersee into what it is today.

The speed limit is 130 kph. We mostly trundled along at about 110 as did most of the traffic.

Eventually we could see land in the distance and soon we had reached the end. 

The northern side of the lake is even more beautiful than the southern side. We wandered down a tiny road close to the waters edge.

Sheep on top of the dike that protects the farm land.

There was a small pull off where we could stop so we went up to the top of the dike.

The IJsselmeer.

This dike is quite high.

I managed to hold the camera steady enough to allow the 24x zoom to capture this huge passenger boat.

The roofs in this area are massive. Notice the two colours which is a common feature. We think the structure is a combination house and barn. The house part is under the darker tiles.

Another old wind mill. It was not going.

We had not planned this but we happened to come upon a village called Workum. There was so much to see there that it gets its own blog.

So what about the boy with the famous finger. Interestingly it is not a widely known story in the Netherlands and was popularized in America. You can read about it here.

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