Saturday, November 6, 2010

Holiday in Flushing (Vlissingen, Netherlands)

Having lived in fair Vlissingen for many years, I go back there whenever I am in the area, even when it means braving torrential rains and a raging storm that grazes the clay clods from the dikes.

In all kinds of weathers, Vlissingen is a delightful little town on the semi-island of Walcheren, in the province of Zeeland, in the Netherland’s south west, and an excellent place to spend a holiday, ranging from a day or two to a sun-baking, hot-dining, movie-going, beach-bumming month and a half. There are hotels all over the place, excellent parking all over town, and everybody speaks English, German and possibly French. And Dutch of course.

Only obscure historians know where the name Vlissingen comes from, but the English name, Flushing, means something very regular, whereas Vlissingen does not. There is no Dutch verb to vliss; there is no Dutch noun vlissing. A prominent economist called Iman Wilkens proponed at some point in the eighties, that Vlissingen comes from Odysseus, also know as Ulysses, which in Latin is Vlysses. Wilkens did that in his celebrated book Where Troy Once Stood, which was celebrated mostly by Vlissingen natives who found it a case of historical justice that their town was mentioned in Homer, and had secretly always believed such a thing. Wilkens also insisted that the entire Illiad played in north west Europe, with all the best parts on the beaches of Zeeland. And although Vlissingen still glows in an air of classical sophistication, nobody’s heard much of Wilkens lately.

Having said all that: by all means, come to Vlissingen for your awesome holiday. Vlissingen has beaches that dazzle you eyes. In the summer the whole town smells like sun-block but even in the winter the beaches are fabulous to walk on. Fearless die-hards march from Vlissingen all around the island to Veere, which is an even so picturesque, albeit slight smaller town. Folks of less heroic leanings usually veer off the beaten track and into the first beach bar, of which there are many. In the summer their wooden decks are filled with folks nipping beer in the sun, in between dips in the North Sea.

Should you choose to stay on the beach closest to town - which is obviously also the busiest; and ‘close-to-town’ should be understood on a European scale because all beaches on Walcheren are close to Vlissingen – have your lunch at the fine restaurant De Bourgondier on Boulevard Bankert, or else, hop into a charming sandwich place called Het Smoske, which is right behind the Bourgondier. Het Smoske offers sandwiches of all kinds and for very reasonable prices.

Speaking of restaurants, Vlissingen has them of all sorts. There’s local cuisine galore, scores of specialized haunts such as  Japanese Restaurant, a Chinese Restaurant and even an Egyptian kebab joint. Some overlook the water, some are in town, but all are charmingly small and often down right cute. Vlissingen is very Dutch that way: no ostensible haste but always highly efficient. No move-em-through feed barns but eateries the size of a bedroom where you will always feel welcome.

The local movie theatre in Vlissingen always offers the latest flicks to make your vacation complete. The rooms slope so your never looking at the head of the guy in front of you. The chairs alone are worth going to Cinecity (as it is called); blue velvet sinker-inners with lots of space on all sides. The screens are as wide as the room and the sound systems are exquisite. Their bar-restaurant offers anything from snacks to full meals and boasts the Biggest Burger in the whole of Zeeland!

If you’re into shopping, you’ll love the main shopping street called the Walstraat. All shops have long Plexiglas overhangs and when it rains, you’ll be grateful that they’re there. The shopping district runs from the Walstraat to the Arsenaal Teatre – which also contains an enormous game hall – and ventures off towards the Bellemy Park, the heart of the town, and the location of all the goings on. Late summer it hosts an enormous carnival, concerts and expositions. Speaking of which, Iguana the Reptile Zoo is right there on Bellemy Park and a definite can’t miss during your vacation.

 In between shopping and movie going, you might enjoy a stroll along the boulevard, which stretches along the full length of the town, from the beach on the far west end to smack in town, where a statue of a man named Michiel the Ruyter stands catching wind. In Vlissingen everybody is very proud of Michiel the Ruyter (half the town’s enterprises are named after him, including the maritime academy, which is situated on the Boulevard) but only very few actually know what he’s famous for.

Be that as it may, your vacation in Vlissingen will be a full and rewarding experience. Let us know if you actually went there!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...