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Leiden, Coastal Drives and the Beach!

A beach on the coast of the North Sea on the 1st April, global warming is real kids…but let’s just overlook that for a second right now. Whilst my family were visiting me in the Netherlands a couple of weeks ago we decided to make the most of having the car with us and went on a drive to Leiden and up the coast to Noordwijk aan Zee: a beach too beautiful and cool for me to believe it’s just 90 minutes away from my home.

First off let’s not skip over Leiden!

A friend once told me Leiden was their favourite city in the Netherlands and so it was definitely on my list of places to do a day trip to. The problem was this: Sometimes when somewhere on your list to visit is so close by, it’s somehow easy to let it slip to the bottom of your list! So when my mum asked me if I had any ideas for day trips I made sure we went to Leiden!

And I’m so glad we did! It is such a beautiful city with impressive buildings, large canals and lots of windmills! It was small but had a lot of history to it and was lovely to walk round.

It’s also worth mentioning that we were so lucky with the weather! My fam arrived on the 30th March and were in the Netherlands for 4 days, the week before I’d been battling the winds on my little bike with scarves and coats flapping in the rain on the way to and from Uni. I crossed all fingers and toes that the weather would pick up…and well, the photos speak for themselves! ☀️ 

After some lunch we then got back in the car and headed to Noordwijk aan Zee. Long Sunday car drives really remind me of growing up and spending time with my family. I have to be honest, I didn’t always appreciate being dragged out for a family drive when I was in my teens but It’s something I definitely think a lot back to.

The drive from Leiden was stunning, we took costal and village roads rather than going via motorway and I really appreciated the opportunity to see little places that I probably would’ve never have got to otherwise! The tulips have just started blooming and the canals looked lovely now I wasn’t trying not to get blown into one on my bike!

Noordwijk aan Zee

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a ‘beach’ in northern England? If you are then your experiences of beaches will be similar to mine…Pebbles under your feet, diving seagulls pinching your food, 10 degrees at best and a sprinkling of nappies and other rubbish for good measure. (They’re probably not all that grim but you get the picture…)

So when mum said she wanted to go to this beach my expectations weren’t high! We parked up and walked through the sand dunes (which I had a lesson about in my Dutch class here- cultural teaching priorities are sometimes odd…) and then were affronted with a golden, pristine beach and about 20 degrees. This was a huge win!

I really was taken aback. We all immediately took our shoes and socks off and ran into the sea! I don’t even think I am capable of describing how lovely it was to be in such a beautiful place, with little beach huts lining the sand dunes and chilled beach bars dotted around, and to have some quality time running around with my family. Because I can’t do it justice, here’s some photos which hopefully can.

Safe to safe, in the middle of exam time and just when I’d begun to feel a little lost in the Netherlands, this is exactly what I needed.

A sand-in-your-socks kinda drive home

With sea-salt hair, more sand in your shoes than is even probably left on the beach and the bottoms of your jeans rolled up and still a little damp, we drove home with one last stop!

This time it was my dad’s choice, Houtribdijk! The dam-road clever causeway built as part of the Netherlands extensive and impressive water and land control policy.

Yes…we did set out to go and see a road but stay with me!

The last stop to see!

Exactly…it’s not just a road! You’re really driving through the sea! Kinda Moses style. After nodding off in the car and waking up by my little sister giving me a prod like the good old times, I looked out the car to see that we were literally about to drive through the sea!

Again, I can’t explain how impressive this was, have a look instead:

I’ve said before that fresh air is the best, and it’s even better in the sunshine, exploring somewhere new with the people you hold dearest. We got back to Utrecht, had lot’s of pasta and sat watching TV together, catching up and laughing a lot.

This was easily my favourite day in the Netherlands so far, a huge thank you to my family for always being there, loving me, making me laugh and raising my spirits.

-A

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