This was our day to cross over one of the Netherlands’ impressive storm surge barriers and enjoy seascapes and shore birds.

Lonely tower in Zeeland Lonely tower in Zeeland

Leaving Zierikzee we were immediately traveling on dikes overlooking the tidal bay on one side and wetlands on the other. It was low tide and we saw oyster catchers (birds) all over the rocks, and clam catchers (humans) in their boots out in the sand flats. We could see a reddish tall tower in the distance, and when we arrived we noticed we could climb it. So we did! This was Plompe Toren, a church tower that is all that remains of a town now long lost (probably flooding).

The awesome storm barrier The awesome storm barrier

Shortly after that we made our way across the fantastic Oosterscheldekering, the storm surge barrier covering the eastern Scheldt. It is an engineering marvel – essentially a dam that can be dropped in place if the North Sea surges above a certain threshold. The rest of the time it allows water to flow (mostly) freely, keeping the estuarial basin replenished. There are locks to allow boats through (we got to witness one such transition). It was last used as a barrier just over a year ago.

Julie in a bunker at the Liberation Museum Julie in a bunker at the Liberation Museum

Julie and I added about 10 miles to our day to head down to Nieuwdorp and the Zeeland Liberation Museum, something I had been planning to visit since we switched our trip from the Market Garden tour to our current journey. The museum didn’t disappoint with a timeline narrative of displays starting with the invasion and fall of The Netherlands (Zeeland held on longer, largely because the French were present and still fighting alongside the Dutch) to the final liberation. The primary focus was the Battle of the Scheldt, something I’ve been researching heavily over the past six months. In addition to the interior museum, they have a nice “playground” outside with replica bunkers, a bailey bridge, a couple of Sherman tanks, and more. The setting is fun too, with canal running through it making the bridge that much more interesting.

Ceremony in Middelburg Ceremony in Middelburg

This day happened to be May 4, a national Dutch holiday: Rememberance of the Dead. I had corresponded with the museum earlier this year and they let me know there would be a ceremony in Middelburg that evening, so we planned an early dinner and arrived in the abbey plaza to join about 300 (maybe more) citizens for the somber ceremony. We couldn’t understand much, but the brass band, hymns, and two minutes of silence made it more than worthwhile.