Coast to Coast

I have to admit it: I don’t much like beaches. The thought of sand sticking to my skin is not very appealing, and I really dislike not knowing what is underneath my feet when I walk into the sea… Of course none of this makes any sense to my kids, who love nothing better than being on a beach, messing around in rock pools and climbing rocks to get a view of what’s around the corner. That’s not to say that I don’t like being on the coast though – far from it.

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My grandparents on the beach in Texel, 1970's

When I was young, I used to spend time every summer visiting my grandparents on the island of Texel in the Netherlands. The North Sea beaches were a mini paradise to a 10-year old, and one of my fondest memories is of going ‘fishing’ with my grandad. OK, it wasn’t fishing really, we walked up and down the beach with a shrimp net, catching our lunch. After much effort we’d get home with a little bucket full of north sea shrimp – the tiny grey brothers of the more familiar large, pink prawns. Once you’ve tasted north sea shrimps, you’ll never have any other again. So yes, I do love being on the coast, but only as long as I don’t have to swim or bake in the sand.

Pipe Dreams…

In the UK, some of my favourite fishing villages are in Cornwall and I dream of finding that little cottage in Mousehole that will be just the right size, in just the right place and within my budget. Wishful thinking… 🙂 Interestingly, when we visited Ile de Ré, in France, this summer – we did notice that there were lots of similarities between the fishing village of La Flotte and our favourite places in Cornwall. The grey granite and layout of the harbour, surrounded by little café’s and restaurants, was all very familiar.

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La Flotte, Ile de Re

..and bagpipes…

It’s not just boats and people that travel up and down the coastline of Europe either. The coast of Spain, Portugal, Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland and Scotland have another thing in common: bagpipes. First mentioned in writing during the Roman empire, bagpipes were found just about everywhere in Europe by the beginning of the second millennium. These days most of us associate the bagpipes with Scotland, but the truth is that they are still used in traditional folk music up and down the European coast. And it doesn’t end just there – bagpipes can also be heard in Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Central and Eastern Europe, South-West Asia and North Africa. It’s really is a well-travelled instrument and if you listen carefully to its sound, you might just hear some of its stories of days gone by…

There are two coast lines that deserve a special mention at this point. This is, after all, a travel story…. 🙂

Mundal2.JPGNorwegian Fjords

Our travels in Norway were some of the best, and my only regret is that we did not have enough time to see even more of its beautiful coast. The fjords we did see provided some of the most spectacular views ever. We arrived in the village of Flåm, having taken the unmissable Flåm Railway, only to find that thousands of Italian tourists had travelled there in even more spectacular style: their huge cruise liner dwarfed the tiny village.

They didn’t spoil our fun though, and we all have fantastic memories of standing on the Jostedal Glacier near Mundal, a short ferry trip up the Sognefjord. And I haven’t yet mentioned the trip to Andenes in the north, and onwards via the Trollfjord to the Lofoten Islands. That will have to wait for another travel story as it’s time to move to my second (or is it first?) favourite coastline.

Mljet IslandCroatian Treasures

It is no surprise for those who know me, that the people, country and coast of Croatia hold a very special place in my heart and it’s not because their beaches are mostly pebbly either… 🙂 Croatia is a place to love and treasure and where I’d like to think I have made many friends over the years. My visits there have taken me to all its corners, from Osijek in the east to Dubrovnik in the south, and up and down its entire coastline in all its glory, taking in the cities of Rijeka, Split, Trogir and Zadar, as well as the islands of Mljet, Korcula and Vis.

One of the most beautiful trips I have ever undertaken was a coach journey between Rijeka and Split. The six hour trip along the coast road was long but breathtaking and I found myself gawping at the scenery, as island after island floated in and out of sight. There are of course much faster ways to get from Rijeka to Split these days, especially since the new motorway between Zagreb and Split was opened, but you really can’t beat the coastal road for sheer beauty.

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Cavtat, near Dubrovnik

My Happy Place

Over the years, Croatia has firmly planted itself in my brain as ‘my happy place’. In my mind, the sun always shines in Croatia, the seas are always blue, the air is always full of aroma, incorporating rosemary, thyme and other local herbs, and the orchestra of crickets are always in full swing. The wines are always full-bodied and rich, and the grilled squid is always to die for. When I need to escape, I go to Croatia, either in body or spirit, and it never fails to pick me up. On that note, I think I’ll sign off and do some daydreaming. After all, there is still so much more of Croatia to discover… 🙂

PS. If you feel inspired by Norway or Croatia, take a look at the Picture Gallery, I’ve put up photo albums for both countries with the 15 best photos we have taken during our travels.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Annemieke! Great stuff! I’ve always wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords! They look amazing! And I didn’t know that fact about bagpipes! Very cool! Hopefully someday I’ll also be able to make it to Croatia! Would be wonderful!

    Hugs!
    Hing

  2. Aleida Brinkman ( Mum )
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    lovely story, good to see Grandma and Grandpa on one of their favorite spots !

  3. Fleur Timmer
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Yay Sis, lovely stories, sweetly told- never knew you didn’t lke sand on your feet! Will make a point of logging in regularly to catch up on your stories, xxx

  4. Annemieke Waite
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Well, if you subscribe you’ll get them sent to you inbox….. 🙂 You have a new email address? See you in the morning! xx

  5. Amber McPhetridge
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Loved the story and have an ever growing desire to travel to Croatia thanks to your descriptions!

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