EGMOND AAN ZEE, HOLLAND.
Egmond aan Zee is a former fishing village situated among the dunes on the North Sea in Holland. To get there, one has to fly to Amsterdam, then take a train to Alkmaar, the nearest town, and then take bus # 165 to Egmond. Or in our case, we took the train from Frankfurt to Utrecht, then changed to another train which took us to Alkmaar. Considering the changeovers and the hassle of the airports, the time spent en route is about the same. While on the ICE train, one can enjoy the scenery, looking at the fields and animals – cows, sheep, goats and horses. Yes, this is definitely the country which produces lots of cheese!
Egmond itself is a charming little place which transformed itself from a fishing village into a modern resort and spa. There are several hotels and restaurants, the main shopping street, the beach, several churches, and of course the dunes. One can rent a bike and go on 25-km trips all over the dunes, or walk around enjoying the views and the sea air. We were extremely lucky to have arrived on a warm sunny day. The whole population and the visitors were on the beach with its fine sand; lots of people even braved the water. There are two salient facts to keep in mind about the North Sea: a) one can walk into the water… and continue walking almost forever, with the water barely washing one’s ankles; b) it is cold! The find sand, the calm sparkling water, the children running around, all created that very important positive first impression. When we took pictures from our fifth floor room at hotel Zuiderduin, with the lighthouse towering over the village, everything looked impossibly beautiful. One of those things: if I haven’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t believe it.
Next day, the weather changed drastically. It was windy, with intermittent rain. The sea looked choppy, and it became choppier every day. Luckily for us, the hotel caters to all tastes. The indoor swimming pool is quite large, and there is a whirlpool too. The sauna is next door to it. There are squash and bowling rooms, a fully-equipped gym, a spa salon, and of course several restaurants, bars and pubs. The food is delicious, and there is enough choice to satisfy any gourmand. The staff is attentive to everybody’s needs. There are several large halls and smaller rooms equipped with everything needed to conduct a conference, seminar or any business meeting right inside the hotel. If need be, one does not even have to venture outside at all.
The foreign language of choice seems to be German, since people everywhere would address you first in that language. Wandering around, window-shopping, studying the quaint statues placed here and there, climbing up and down is enough activity for any day. When you climb on top some hilly dunes, you can see that they are overgrown with briar-rose, with pink and white flowers and huge red berries. Besides several bakeries, there is a large food supermarket; there is also a weekly food market with lots of cheese; the fish section is unbelievable! A few old churches can be seen from anywhere in the village, and there is also a museum. The beachside restaurants do not look like much on the outside, but they are very nice inside, with a good selection of dishes for any taste. It is a lovely little pocket designed for complete r&r, or for combining work with rest, as in our case.