Pieterpad. Prologue and Stage 1.
Today is the day! We are stepping on the train, riding countless hours to the starting point of Pieterpad and starting to walk. To have some more fun, my husband Tim is also coming along. Not sure if he will need to carry my bag or maybe me, but most certain is that someone needs to help me to understand me a new navigating app, which is not google maps!
It is 5:30 when our alarm rings, and we get out of beds. Bags are packed previous night, so only thing we need to do, is to put on clothing and go. On the moment, when I am putting on walking shoes I have no idea how much I will enjoy taking them off in the evening.
Train ride is long and we need to change more than normal due to track works they are doing on a weekend. But, when 6 hours have passed, at the end we reach Pieterburen - the village where it all starts.
Since our breakfast on a train was very poor, it is a moment for lunch - because we are not perfectly prepared and there is not food reserves in our backpacks.
Luckily we do not need to spend long time choosing, there are just like two places where to eat, so we take one of them - Restaurant Waddengenot and have our lunch there.
Afterwards there is nothing what keeps us from starting the walk. To do kind of a warm up, we are doing also Prologue, which is not official part of the walk, but adds extra 10km to our way.
Both of us are excited and full of energy. We chat and laugh, and enjoy lonely farms along the road where roosters scream their ki-ke-ri-goo when seeing us.
It is fun to see trees which are shaped by the wind, because sea is very close and that is what we are most excited about this stage as well.
It doesn't take too long, when we also reach the sea side. It is really unexpected view! And also very special. You arrive on a dike and see the difference between sea level and land on your other hand (for the ones who do not know it - most of the Netherlands is under the sea level, and country is protected by a lot of dikes).
But this part is special also because it is Waddenzee - intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea, forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. It has a high biological diversity and is an important area for both breeding and migrating birds. In 2009, the Dutch and German parts of the Wadden Sea were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
We are also greeted by countless amount of sheep and cows and even some horses. It looks so impressive to see all the animals, really strange looking meadows with water puddles and then the sea further with islands to which you can even walk to, if the circumstances allow you to (but that is maybe a story for an other time).
We continue the walk next to the coast together with sheep which observe us very carefully and then through some paths crossing fields, we return to Pieterburen! Prologue is done and it is time for a small rest!
After short rest on a very cute couch we continue to the Stage one. It takes us only a few steps and we are drawn into a small botanic garden which is on the side of the road. We decide to take a look and stroll through it, to smell some lavender, peppermint and discover some new plants as well. And look at that huge tree we saw there as well! Next to this botanic garden is also a really strange church and we take a look at it as well.
Further our road continues next to the watercourse called Pieterbuurstermaar. Sun is awake as well and there are zero clouds in the sky. So, at some moments I feel like a poor fish on a hot pan.
I hope for some forest type area or at least some trees, but even if there is one, afterwards we get to walk long time without any shadow.
This is the moment for me to realize a mistake I have made. I am not an experienced walker, and as you know, I am trying to figure out if Camino dream is really for me. So, even I used the onion method to dress up and be able to take off layers when it gets too hot, my bottom layer is kind of a tank top, which doesn't want to be friends with my backpacks shoulder straps. Mental note for myself - next time take a T-shirt which covers shoulders!
There are not a lot of special things, till we arrive in Mensingeweer, where suddenly on one of the streets I have a strange deja vù feeling like I have been there before (but I think it is impossible or i have a very serious memory loss). On this street we also spot a working wind mill - Malle Molen, where usually is a tea place, but of course exactly on the day we are passing it is closed.
The further path leads us next to an other channel or river, I wasn't able to find it's name. We start to feel more tired, so my controlling part wants to check the map every few minutes to see how far it is till the end even the road is all straight and just forward. Funny part, is that street on which we are walking, is called Trekweg - Pullstreet. Only joke - there is noone pulling us forward, we need to do it on our own.
During this part we realize an other important lesson - it is almost crucial to take some juicy fruit with you, because I turn a little crazy when I see some wild blackberries on the side of the road.
A little bit more, and road leads us into the Winsum - in the center is the ending point for our walk. Just before that, we are taken through kind of small back walk labyrinth and crossing a nice bridge we arrive at the end!
Walk is finished, but our day not yet!
We decide to have dinner just here and then head to Groningen, where is the hotel we have booked. Luckily we manage to get a place in a nice central restaurant De Gouden Karper.
After that the walk to the train station, quick ride to Groningen, and the most difficult part of the day - 20 minutes long walk to the hotel. We try to find some shortcuts and walk on bike paths, but it seems like these are longest 20 minutes of the day.
Luckily we reach the hotel, they check us in, and we can experience the best feeling ever - taking off the walking shoes and jumping (more like super carefully climbing) into the shower.
It is needless to say, that on the moment our heads touch the pillows in few minutes we are asleep, but maybe it is because of lavender essential oil I just dropped on our pillows!
First two stages are done!
Prologue: 10 km Stage 1: 12 km Fitbit steps: 39209 steps
Here are some more pictures:
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