Day 5 marks the beginning of multi-day trips. The days are getting shorter, and although autumn commenced a while ago, only now it’s getting slowly colder. I haven’t seen much rain, but winter is still more than a month away and lot can happen in a month. The bridge to the quest is that as I am progressing, working my way through the municipalities, I normally visit the nearest municipalities. Although there will always be a nearest unvisited municipality (as long as the quest is not completed), but eventually it gets to a stage where it really appeals to your interpretation of the word “near”. For example, to the north the municipality Eemshaven is 233km from my house, and to the south-west the municipality Sluis is with only 3km less, almost as far. Driving back-and-forth already takes over five hours, and that is mainly boring highway. If you avoid highways alltogether, it takes 4.5 hours just to get to Eemshaven. And with the sun only being visible for 9 hours right now, it is really difficult to make it work and keep it fun.
So this weekend I went to a party in Zaandam, and planned the saturday trip for the north-east of the Netherlands. I then slept over at a friend’s in Amsterdam, and started driving in the afternoon to meet up with my father and sister for part two of the trip.
In an earlier post I mentioned that early 2013, the municipalities Zijpe, Schagen, and Harenkarspel will fuse into the municipality Schagen. They are located about 40km from Zaandam, in a beeline. Since I had to go to Zaandam anyway, visiting them now would mean I would not have to rush for these municipalities before the end of the year.
The trip towards Zijpe, the first municipality for today, leads me through the most diverse landscapes the Netherlands have to offer. Alas I did not take pictures to support this claim. The first part leads me through the Veluwe, a forest-rich ridge of hills. The roads are surrounded by lakes, woods, and sand drifts. The second part was through Flevoland, figurehead of the polder, a province with only reclaimed land. To get to the last part which are also polders, I took the 27km long dam (although it is incorrectly named and called a dike: Houtribdijk), which was a dreary experience. Everything was foggy, and the sight was no more than 200m and grey of colour; driving more than 15minutes in a straight line without anything to see, is simply put very boring. The conditions were rather unfortunate, since I’ve been there before, and when it is not foggy, the views are nice enough to make it a fun ride. After 175km and four hours of driving, I finally reach Schagerbrug.
During the reign of Charlemagne the peaty soil was gradually conditioned for agriculture and residence. By digging ditches the marshes were drained (remember this is all in the polder). This enabled the cultivation of grain, but it also caused the soil to compact because the oxygen settled into the ground. This process caused the surface to descent, 1 to 1.5 cm per year, for hundreds of years. In an area without dikes this obviously caused problems, such as the sea having free play.
Then it took a lot of time and trial by error to figure out how to succesfully battle the rising water levels. In 1597 all levees were ready and Zijpe was the first succesful land reclamation, or impoldering, on a large scale.
Schagen is a small province town that gained town privileges in the 15th century. The town is also called Magnusveste (“ramparts of Magnus”), after the knight Magnus who conquered the village Damietta (in Egypt) during a crusade in 1219 and who returned to his home town again a year later.
Also I would like to apologise for the pictures of this trip, I am going to put some more effort into it. In hindsight the pictures came out worse than expected. Maybe I will revisit some of the town halls to redo some pictures, let me know if you have any suggestions.
The municipality consists of 13 villages and towns, most of them having around 200 inhabitants, three of the towns are somewhat larger, having a few thousand inhabitants. The size of the town hall looks a bit out of proportion for this reason.
From 15 december this town hall will stop providing public services, and the council will stay until the beginning of january to make the transition to the new municipality.
km total: 932
done: 3 (26)
to to: 389