Hoek van Holland, May 22, 2019.

No castles on today's hike!  Since we live so close to the North Sea, it was time to explore the beaches and dunes as well as the gateway to the port of Rotterdam.  

The drive to the small town of Monster was uneventful but slow.  The one thing that I find extremely annoying in this country is the constant "speed traps" in EVERY town.  This is a HUGE money maker for the government, and I have already contributed to it on several occasions!  The way they do it is by changing the speed limit at the strangest points, going from 50km to 30km and back to 50km in a short distance, and having speed cameras EVERYWHERE.  Mind you, it is very hard to keep your speed at 30km/h (18 miles/h).  There is one "Flitspaal" (traffic camera), in the city of Hilversum, that generates about EURO 700 in fines per HOUR (12 tickets), or EURO 6,237,365 in a year. Last year, the overall traffic fines issued in the Netherlands was over EURO 274,000,000.  Not a bad business to be in I would think...  

On a lighter note, the weather was perfect for a beach walk.  The first few kilometers I walked a paved pathway through the dunes.  The dunes themselves are off limits to prevent erosion, which would cause major flooding of many cities in the area.  At a crossing point, I entered the beach, where I felt I had ended up in a giant washing machine.  There was sea foam everywhere, something I had never seen before.  Sea foam is created by the agitation of seawater, when it contains high concentrations of dissolved organic matter derived from the breakdown of algal blooms.

Walking on the beach felt wonderful.  On several occasions I noticed jellyfish laying in the sand, waiting in the sand.  I remembered as a kid being afraid to spend too much time in the water because of the abundance of jellyfish that can leave a burning sensation after a sting.

After about 5 miles of walking on the beach, I reached Hoek van Holland, well known for its beautiful beach, the New Waterway, and cultural events.  It is also next to the National Park "Hollandse Duinen", with an incredible diversity of wildlife and plant life.  I walked on the Noorderpier, to its very end, where I took a short break to enjoy the views and seabirds.

Hoek van Holland is  the main gateway to the port of Rotterdam, through the "Nieuwe Waterweg", which opened in 1872 to keep Rotterdam accessible to seafaring vessels.  The channel is about 2,000 feet wide and 50 feet deep, enough to allow even the largest vessels to reach Rotterdam. The port handles  more than 12,000,000 containers each year.

Walking back on the Pier, I passed the Altlantikwall museum, which originally was a German bunker built in 1943 as part of the infamous Atlantikwall during the second World War. In the museum you can experience the story of the Atlantikwall through artifacts and dioramas.  Walking around the museum outside of the museum I noticed several more "bunkers" built by the Germans during the war.  For more info check: Altlantikwall

The return walk took me along the east side of the dunes, and hot houses, where they grow vegetables and flowering plants.

The last few kilometers of the 18K walk were a  little hard on my feet, but overall it was de delightful day on the beach!