We made it to the North Sea!

By Helene, Math; Junior

Learning about the Katwijk underground parking lot that is integrated into a sand dune (you can see a few entrances to it in the background). Photo by Kris.

We made it to the North Sea!! Today our biking was broke into two parts. First, we had a beautiful bike ride to Katwijk which was roughly 19 km from our hostel in Den Haag. The first part of this ride was through the city and varying neighborhoods, and then all of a sudden we were in the Dunes. The Dunes of the Netherlands somewhat resemble the chaparral of California – there is a lot of scruffy shrubbery, some thorny plants with lots of small leaves, and of course, sand and dune grass. This may be the most hills that we have biked so far! The bike path we took wound its way over one dune and around the next until our view opened up to the North Sea and we rolled into Katwijk – a small family town that rests just 120 meters from the ocean. Previously, the ocean was just over the dunes, lying only 90 meters from the town, but sand was brought in to extend the land and protect the town from storms and flooding. We took a tour of a parking garage that was completely integrated into the dunes and practically invisible from above ground. It was built to increase the aesthetic of the town by removing cars from the streets, and also reduced the amount of sand needed to protect the town. 
After a brief lunch and warm-drink stop in a gezellig café, we got back on our bikes an went a quick 14 km to our hostel for the night, just north of Noordwijk, tucked behind a dune. We quickly settled in, switched into our swimsuits, and biked back the way we came briefly to take a dip in the North Sea! The Sea was less than 2 km from our hostel so we zipped over and did a quick dunk before hurrying back to the hostel because a mean looking storm was blowing in fast. We made it back before the rain started and after the storm subsided a bit, we wandered across the street to a pannekoekenhuis – a pancake house! We had some lekker Dutch pancakes and returned to the hostel to do some work and recharge before watching the sun set over the ocean.

Sunset at the North Sea. Photo by Kris.

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