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Zierikzee

A small Dutch port (yacht harbour) of some charm, first discovered during family treks north to Denmark. Discovered since then by official recognition as "monumentenstad", with 558 listed buildings from before 1850.
Roger Pilkington calmly suggests "The charm of Zeeland is in its seascapes..."
Z/006

This was a trip I'd been wanting to take ever since finding out it was possible … Up around six, down to the station for quarter to seven and a train to Antwerp. Brisk walk up a wonderfully empty main street, across past the cathedral and to the quayside, board Flandria 24 and pull out into the channel just after half past eight.

From observation, we weren't going much faster than a bicycle; but who cares? We closed our ears to the group next to us - it seems to be an immutable law that any group of more than three pensioners contains at least one man who confidently and colloquially lays down the law about every topic under the sun - and looked out placidly over the Scheld. Apéritif a bit after half past eleven, down to the spacious open cabin for lunch as we entered the first canal section, out into a lake too wide to see across, a second short stretch of canal and we moored in Zierikzee at half past one.

I'm sorry to record I found it disappointing, much changed since I was last there thirty-some years ago. Not that it isn't genuinely attractive, just that the combination of universal tourist-trap smug and peculiarly Dutch self-esteem brought us to screaming-point within minutes; the air of unquestioningly living up to it would make me sow weeds and take to graffiti-spraying. One particular detail, however traditional it may be, had me fuming within minutes: side-streets with no pavements, because every tidy house has its own tidy wrought-iron railings marking off its own pristine run of flag-stones. The would-be pedestrian has to use the roadway, where (of course) he runs the risk of being mown down by a lord-of-the-road Dutch cyclist.

No such risk on the broad and tree-lined streets of the Old Harbour, where that familiar dumper-truck sound caught our attention and there appeared a vision from Janet and John visit the Enlightened Low Countries: fierce moustache, stogey, mirror shades, bandanna, leather waistcoat, denims, Harley … in metallic, candy-floss pink! Never mind. And don't, of course, take my word for it: it is unquestionably pretty, and visitors with fewer or better-controlled prejudices should hasten there to enjoy the town for themselves.