Today promises to be another wonderful day and we are not in a hurry to leave. After breakfast we first take a few pictures of the surroundings and also of the Pipo-car (called after a famous Dutch television series with a clown Pipo living in such a wagon) where we might want to sleep next time.
But we will really have to go, and we drive north. At Cuijk we cross the river by ferry and then have a nice view on the towers of the Sint Martinus church. It seems that people want to build high residential towers, so that this beautiful view will disappear. Hopefully the residents of Cuijk will stop this.Because we still have a lot of time, we are going to make a detour to Urk today. We have an entire wish list of places that we still want to visit in the Netherlands and Urk is highly ranked; on such a beautiful day as today it is ideal to go there, also because it is near the way home. Urk was once an island in the Zuiderzee and has always been a fishing village. But after the closure of the Afsluitdijk (1932), the Zuiderzee changed into the IJsselmeer (from sea to lake) and gradually Urk becomes more and more enclosed by embanked land and in 1948 it is no longer an island. Now the village belongs to the province of Flevoland.
We park the car in the sun-drenched port, near the fish auction. From the 17th century fishing is the main source of income and still it is one of the largest fishing places in our country. However, the largest ships of the Urkervloot can no longer enter the IJsselmeer and have to go to other ports, after which the fish are driven to the fish auction in Urk with trucks.
We walk into the village from the harbor and also pass the Vissersmonument. It is a fisherwoman's wife who looks back at the sea once more, after waiting in vain for her loved ones. Around the statue is a wall with 33 marble slabs, with the names of victims who were lost at sea. There are even children aged 10 and 11 years old. When we look over the wall we see the beach of Urk and sun worshipers have found their place there today, on the edge of the calm IJsselmeer where the sea has influence anymore. In the distance, towards Lemmer, a wind farm can be seen.
Nearby is the lighthouse from 1844, at the highest point of the then island. But for centuries before, beacons were erected to warn ship traffic at night. Due to the erosion of the island, this beacon had to be moved regularly. In the summer the lighthouse can be climbed, but we are of course here on a day that it is closed.
We walk back to the harbor through the village streets that once formed the village center. It is a combination of old facades and new or restored houses, and we feel comfortable there, the village has remained nice without exaggerating touristy ambitions.
Tourism has of course become an important source of income, but fishing remains at the first and perhaps that is why we like it. The past has been preserved here and lives on, the people do not have to pretend the ancient glory is still there like in so many other tourist places. Such an old traffic sign as in the photo on the left clearly indicates what we mean, there is no need to replace it with a modern traffic sign! Urk is a nice mix of old and new and just goes its own way.
And how can we better end our visit to Urk then with eating fish? For quite a high price we eat an Urk herring and some fried fish. 'The fish is expensive' is a sentence from a play by the Dutch author Heijermans that was first performed in Amsterdam in 1900 and later around the world. Of course it was about the loss of lives that the fishing brought with it. We enjoy the fish and then hurry back home.We have a wonderful week behind us, only a pity that it rained a lot on the first days. We have not seen everything we wanted to see, but we have lost a lot of prejudices about the Netherlands again. In the coming period we will certainly go more often in our own surprising country!