Travelling is not always about visiting the well known destinations. Sometimes it is about slowing down and trying to find beauty in unknown places. I trully enjoyed one sunny afternoon in small Dutch town Westkapelle. Let´s explore why and get some inspiration for your next free sunny day.
When you think you make a good plan…
The few days after Valentine’s Day, when my boyfriend came to surprisingly visit me in Antwerp, my travel spirit again won (in combination with so rare sunny weather) and we decided to go for a small trip. Because this trip was spontaneous idea and we decided to travel basically on that particular day in lunch time, we couldn’t head for too far destination. The closest city we found thanks to Google maps was Middelburg, the capital of Dutch province Zeeland. To enrich our trip in the end we planned to drive further in the coast line to see the sunset over the ocean. The fastest way to the ocean city Westkapelle was about to take some 1 hour and 15 minutes however we said ourselves why not to prolong the journey a little bit and drive through the port of Antwerp to experience the real working day there. What seemed to be a great plan actually turned out in loss of minimum 1 hour but on the other hand experiencing the great “ship theatre”. To read more about the port experience click here: …
And the plan finally completely changes as the trip continues…
On our way heading to province Zeeland, considering the loss of the time in the port, we decided to skip Middelburg and drive directly to the Westkapelle to enjoy the sunny afternoon close to the ocean. After driving off the highway somewhere close to Middelburg, only the roads connecting small villages in the Zeeland province where waiting for us. The drive itself was great experience, we could admire the lowlands on the both sides of the road and small peaceful villages even though mostly with modern houses. The newer houses were connected with the past by few older farming stations, typical Dutch windmills and bunkers from the Second World War spreading alongside the road. We got to know that in between years 1940 and 1944 Zeeland was occupied by German forces.
Don’t be afraid to make step away from your planned route
Few minutes before reaching the goal we, by mistake, followed the road which however showed us the beautiful unexpected view. We accidentally drove into the panoramic road build on the huge dike protecting the area of Zeeland from the floods. The road offers outstanding panoramic view of the endless ocean for the motorists, cyclists as well as hikers. The panoramic road offered us the view over the roofs of Westkapelle before we drove down from the dike and entered the small town. The first buildings which took my attention on the way down were the old windmill and the tall tower by the entrance to the city. After we left the car we could immediately feel the cold ocean wind blowing to our faces. This wind was powering the windmill. It was the first old windmill I saw working. On our surprise, fence dividing windmill from the outer street was opened so we could easily come in.
Moreover, we could enter the windmill by itself for free, inside was really small museum, with many pictures from the windmill history and the tools used in the past. By climbing the tiny and steep stairs we got to the outer windmill terrace, where we needed to pay attention to not to be hit by big turning airscrew. Awesome, in such a small towns you not even park for free but also enjoy all interesting places without paying entrance fee!
The other building, 50 metres tall, towering over the small town houses, which I saw already from panoramic road, was in fact the oldest lighthouse in the town. On the website of the Zeeland I discovered that the tower of current lighthouse was in the past the church tower. During the war was the church destroyed and its tower was transformed in 1800 into current lighthouse.
When the history changes your view on the place
After a bit of walking in empty streets of Westkapelle we came to the most interesting part of this small town, the beach. To see the ocean, you need to climb few stairs to get to the top of the dike from where you have beautiful view. Before we explored the beach more closely, it was the military tank situated on the top of the dike which caught our attention. From the information posts placed in this area we learned that this small town beneath us had to suffer a lot in the history. During the Second World War, the area of Westkapelle belonged to the Atlantikwall, which was the costal defence of Germans spreading from Norway to Spain. On the 3rd of October 1944 the dike was bombed by the Royal Air Force in order to flood the isle of Walcheren with the seawater to drive out Germans from this area and to clear the way to the Antwerp. The dike was bombarded two more times before the Allied Forces landed on the 1st of November 1944 in the two edges of the hole created in the dike after bombardment. Even though many soldiers lost their lives, liberation of the area was successful.
One tank which took part in conquering is now standing here in the dike as the monument to remind the 175 inhabitants of the Westkapelle who lost their lives during bombardment and as a memorial to the village which needed to be rebuilt from the ruins again in the end of the nineteen fifties.
Getting to know the history of some place always changes the way you look at it. Since I saw the tank and read the stories I could imagine how the weasels are landing in the still visible hole in the dike on the beach which appears so peaceful today. The houses which have today a modern and organized look are hiding the painful history of all the people who were killed during war or lost their homes.
Can you get fed up with watching the ocean? I think no!
The endless ocean view however changed my thoughts quickly to other direction. The long sandy beach was spreading beneath us and was almost empty. Only one fishermen couple and one man training his dog… and we. Too little people for a huge beach which is surely visited by hundreds of visitors during the hot sunny days. Well but it was winter at that time. In such a privacy we could easily hear the sounds of breaking shells under our feet, the gentle waves crashing to the beach, even the sound of the motors of few huge container ships sailing through the ocean close to the beach. Just few more photos… and after few minutes we were already sitting in bench in the top of the dike watching the sunset. It was freezing but as I said, the suffering from the cold was obviously less strong for me than the pleasure I had from that beautiful scenery ahead of me.
The day was slowly getting over as well as our trip and we were heading our way back to the Antwerp. Westkapelle left on me big impression. Such a romantic and quite place changed so much by historical events. Worth of visit!
Do you have similar experience with some small unknown town which impressed you? Write us please in comments.