Here’s a confession: having grown up surrounded by Florida’s scenic, tropical shores, I hardly frequent Dutch beaches… not even in the summer. As a true sun-lover, it's sometimes hard to grasp how I've even managed to survive the cold Dutch climate for eight years and counting. That said, I’d probably be crazy to visit the beach in the dead of winter. The way I see it, a beach trip without a bikini is blasphemy. Nonetheless, the beach is exactly where I ended up. Knowing that I’m never one to pass up a little adventure, my friends invited me for a walk along the shore and lured me with the promise of gezelligheid and a boozy, hot chocolate to warm up. With my scarf, mittens and my camera in tow, off we went on the train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort aan Zee. From there, we walked about four kilometers along the shore over to Bloemendaal.
The beach was full of visitors walking their dogs and wind surfers in wet suits flying high before crashing into the waves. On dry land, the wind was cold enough to bring tears to my eyes and my fingers went numb more as soon as I could warm them. Even now, thinking of how cold that water must have been still makes me shudder!
The moody overcast light, sea foam and misty horizon kept me entertained as I lagged behind our group, snapping photos and trying to adjust my camera settings with thick leather gloves on. Eventually, we arrived to the cafe for a well-deserved round of warm drinks and you can bet that I had my cocoa with an extra shot of bourbon and whipped cream.
With the company of good friends and enough thick layers (and whiskey) to keep me warm, this skeptic survived a winter visit to the beach. However, when I popped back outside to capture the sunset a burst of frozen wind blew and I swear, the tear froze to my face. That’s the moment when our beach visit had me begging for the warmer breezes of home.
Instead, I settled for a bubble bath back at my flat and made a resolution to visit the Dutch coast again some day. That is, if summer ever arrives—there's talk about the canals freezing over this year!