Ten tips for overnight stays
There’s many a way to stay the night in Zeeland. Guest houses, B&Bs, hotels, campsites and beach huts with facilities. There’s always a welcome – it’s the choosing which is hard to do. Let’s give you a hand, with these 10 tips. No particular order, sure. Each has its own special charm. Zeeland – land of charms.
Up on the dunes
Hotels line up at the foot of the dunes. On Walcheren, on Schouwen-Duiveland and in Zeeland-Flanders. A few steps and you’re over the dunes, the sea in sight, the beach your red carpet. Always nice, always calling. But up on top of the dunes? In Cadzand, Hotel De Blanke Top overlooks the sea, the dunes and the polders of Zeeland-Flanders. Go on, feast your eyes on the golden sunset. And in the morning, it’s just a couple of leaps from your bed to the sea. Maybe three.
Camping on a farm appeals to all ages. Peace and quiet is one choice in plenty. Another is to join in – no peace here – the daily doings of the farmer. Lend a hand with milking the cows. Collecting eggs of a morning. Assessing the weather. It’s not all work, no play, though. Down time is playing in the haystack, communing with the animals. Indelible moments.
Ought to orchards
In the springtime, the blossom in Zuid-Beveland is a true delight. Behind dikes and hedges, around the villages, lie the wondrous orchards. Go camping surrounded by apple trees, pear trees, plum trees. What an eyeful. Or help harvest the fruit in September. The mini-campsite Vergeethoek in Borssele will let you use their big gas cooking hobs to make the sweetest apple puree (a Dutch staple) you’ve ever tasted. Hand-picked, hand-cooked. Store some for later.
Harbour a feeling
Some seriously big ships moor up in Zeeland’s large harbour towns of Vlissingen and Terneuzen. Marvel at them pass through Terneuzen locks. Sturdy sailors manipulate heavy ropes, the captain manoeuvres with millimetres to spare. We have smaller harbours too: marinas in towns and villages like Colijnsplaat, Wemeldinge, Sint-Annaland, Tholen and Bruinisse. Run your finger down the map of the coast, and pick them out. To stay in a harbour is to hear the water slapping down the sides of the boats, the ropes a’flapping, a’pinging, against the masts. Enjoy the bustle of the boats, admire the zest of the sailors, tanned by the elements, now at rest.
A historic stay overnight
We go back a long way, Zeeland. Long before the Dutch East India Company (VOC), Dutch fleets were trading with the ‘Indies’ from their home bases in Veere, Middelburg and Zierikzee. That glory still emanates today from countless monuments. In Aardenburg, history goes back way further. The Roman garrison housed 300 soldiers. Their daily lives, and those of the locals, are brought to life at the Archeologisch Museum. An overnight stay in a fortress town can be a thrill. Stay at a hotel in Tholen, Hulst or Sluis and take time out for your sentry duty, out on the ramparts. “Halt! Who goes there?”. “It is I, Sir, Melissa from the hotel. The cook says our sea bass with oysters will be ready soon.”
On the beach
Every season is a party out on the beach. The sunrays at dawn warm your skin. That wind and your hair, not good friends. Crabbing. Climbing the groynes. Playing tag with the waves. Memories are made of this. You can do all this if you set up home in a beach hut with facilities. Your sleep patterns fall in line with the sea. What does unwinding smell like? Brine. Fine.
On the dike
In Zeeland, we do dikes. They protect us against the water, our sturdy guardians. We stand on their shoulders, to look out over the sea, the toing and froing of the ships. The foghorns blaring, the throbbing hum of their engines. We’re standing on the Boulevard in Vlissingen, in front of a line of hotels. Yes, but look over the water: Breskens and Terneuzen. There too majestic hotels stand waiting, on the water.
On the water
Self-evident perhaps, in a province so close to the water, is staying the night on it. Rent a boat and go out on the Veerse Meer lake, the Grevelingen or the Oosterschelde estuary. Sleep on board in a pleasant marina. Or set anchor at an island with public moorings.
In the woods
The forest of Boswachterij Westerschouwen is the largest in Zeeland. An excursion at dusk can be so revealing. Don’t move. In the faltering light, the deer emerge from the shadows to gather herbs and acorns. Above the rustle of the leaves, the warbling evensong of the homebound birds, and out to sea, the sighing of the surf. Your visit to Schouwen-Duiveland just peaked.
In the town
Between the land and the sea, Zeeland has built up some sizeable towns, for a province of 400,000 people. Small-scale, convivial and very varied. Discover Vlissingen or Middelburg. Settle down on a terrace in Terneuzen. Walk like a sailor down the quays of Goes, or wander down the ancient ways of Zierikzee. Cool shops, gezellig restaurants. Whatever the season, it’s worth your while to stay the night in a hotel here.