Recently we decided to do a tour of some provinces situated around the IJsselmeer. Our own country is beautiful and now that there are almost none foreign tourists because of the pandemic situation, we thought it would be nice to have a look around.
The IJsselmeer is the largest lake in the Netherlands. It was created after the construction of the Afsluitdijk in 1932; previously it was called the Zuiderzee. The lake is mainly filled by the river IJssel from which the name is also derived.
Three provinces enclose this imposing piece of water, namely: North Holland, Friesland and Flevoland.
We started our tour in Flevoland. We spent the night in Emmeloord to explore the Noordoostpolder from there. Then we visited Leeuwarden, the beautiful provincial capital of the only Dutch province with its own language, Friesland. We drove across the Afsluitdijk to Noord-Holland. Our last sleeping place of this trip was located in Alkmaar.
Part 1 Tour around the IJsselmeer: Flevoland
Day 1 On the way to the Noordoostpolder
The car ride from home was very wet. After weeks of beautiful spring weather, the accumulated wetness fell from the sky at once, or so it seemed. When we approached Almere at the end of the morning, it slowly became a bit drier and we decided to leave the highway. The Oostvaardersplassen loomed, where we took a walk.
Oostvaardersplassen is a beautiful wetland area with reed plains, ponds and grasslands with many poultry, but also with land animals. It is located between Almere-Buiten and Lelystad and has been in the news a lot because of the dilemma or not of feeding the animals.
From the viewpoint Jan van Boschheuvel we saw a lot of birds (mostly geese), horses and deer. Because of the bad weather it was very quiet with people and we hit it, because we did not feel a drop on our head. Every now and then the sun seemed to set a pinprick in the cloud cover.
We drove over the dike, with the Oostvaardersplassen on the right and the Markermeer on the other side, towards Lelystad.
The Markermeer was only created in 1976 with the construction of the Houtribdijk between Enkhuizen and Lelystad. Before that it was part of the IJsselmeer. It was once the intention to make land here, but in 2006 it was finally decided to abandon the Markerwaard.
We entered the Noordoostpolder via the 800 meter long Ketelbrug over the Ketelmeer and a few kilometers later we approached Emmeloord.
Emmeloord is centrally located in the Noordoostpolder. The villages are surrounded in a kind of star with the Poldertoren as the center. Although the name Emmeloord dates from the time that this area still consisted of water and a few islands such as Urk and Schokland, this town with city law has been established since 1992, only after the polder had been drained. The first house dates from 1943.
We entered the hotel and it was a bit different than before the Corona era. Walking directions, hand gel, health questions, staff with gloves and more distance and a very spacious restaurant. However, all of that we quickly got used to and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Now that we were able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant for the first time in months, it seemed that everything tasted so much better than when eating out was the most normal thing in the world.
After dinner we went shopping in Emmeloord, because on Friday it is late night shopping. The shopping offer of this small city was richer than we had expected. Unfortunately, some rain fell in the end, but the partial roofing of the shop premises kept us largely dry.
Day 2 Technology, history and breath of fresh air
The weather seemed to smile at us. Breakfast was now not the familiar self-service buffet. We came before a table with the waitresses behind it. They loaded our tray with everything we wanted. More cumbersome, but fine.
Our first goal this day was the harbor route in the National Monument Waterloopbos. It is a piece of forest with historical value as it once served as an open-air laboratory for all kinds of water behavior from all over the world.
We have completed a lovely walk of about 3 km along the various test setups with hydrodynamic models. Some had already been largely recovered by nature, but others were still clearly visible. We found the latter the most interesting.
The next place we wanted to visit was Schokland. We walked in the middle of the former island where the museum is located. Then we went to the northern part with the shipping monument, the lighthouse and associated light guard house and the fog horn house. The contours of the former harbor are beautifully visible here.
The former island of Schokland is the first Dutch Unesco heritage site. It is seen as a symbol for the Dutch struggle against water and has countless hidden resources. It has been proven that people lived on this island from prehistoric times to the land reclamation.
Urk, also a former island in the Zuiderzee, was our next goal. The extensive fishing fleet and lighthouse along with the old village center are well worth a visit. Even if the IJsselmeer is just a lake … the wind force caused very turbulent water and a whole bunch of blown hair. Nevertheless, we took a nice walk along the water and we strolled through the streets with old houses. The inner man was strengthened with, what else, a delicious fish.
Day 3 A touch of Overijssel
This day started out rainy. We decided to use the car as a shelter and visited a part of Overijssel. Where possible we went for a walk.
Vollenhove surprised us with a beautiful circular marina. Blokzijl is not big but very charming with a lock and lovely old houses. Unfortunately we only took a short walk there. The weather gods did not allow more.
We also visited the Netherlands. Yes, I think you get that, but did you know that it is also an existing hamlet in this part of the Netherlands and that no place name sign is stolen as much as this one?
In the afternoon it became drier and we decided to visit Giethoorn, the “Dutch Venice”.
Giethoorn probably owes its name to pioneers who have found many horns of goats that died from the Zuiderzee during the storm surge of 1170. The goat horn can be found in the coat of arms of Giethoorn.
This place is always great for a nice walk and a bite to eat, especially now that it is not overrun with tourists. The “ditches” with their entourage are a feast for the eyes. Many houses are built on islands, as it were, which can only be reached via bridges. The ditches and canals were used to transport peat. The lakes and ponds were created by peat extraction. What we noticed was that many houses have a kind of camel roof. They are also referred to as humpback whale farms.
The Weerribben-Wieden National Park is a beautiful nature reserve and is ideal for boat trips, but we had no time available for that.
Weerribben-Wieden National Park, with over 10,000 hectares, is the largest contiguous peat bog area in northwestern Europe.
Enjoying some geocaching we went back to the hotel. With this “treasure hunt game” you often come to places that yous would otherwise not easily find or overlook.
Day 4 On to Ljouwert
This day we left the province of Flevoland after a nice walk in the Kuinderbos with a real ruin that saw light again when this area was drained.
Come with us to the next province and read… .. Part 2 Tour around the IJsselmeer: Friesland