Tuesday, 6th January 2015
Tuesday was bright but very cold, and it took some time to defrost the windscreen of the car before setting off for the Ark. Picking my way through the service station I was soon on the motorway and heading in the right direction. The A16 took me over the Holland Deep, formed from the waters of the Maas and the Waal, and on via the N3 into Dordrecht itself. Lori the SatNav Lady, as usual, took me to the right spot. You can hear her in this clip:
After taking in the sheer size of the thing I moved a bit nearer and parked to take some stills. No apologies for the in-car entertainment you can hear (“Classic FM at the Movies“):
Then I drove through the car park and parked near the entrance, which was a bit naughty. However, in the depths of winter there were very few people around.
The wooden rails are for hitching your bike to. The Netherlands is a very bike-friendly place!
Once inside you pay at the desk then follow the footprints on the deck. There are many individual dioramas, the first one being the waterwheel-powered saw that might have been used to cut the timber:
The wheel turns a shaft, and a crank attached to the saw at the other end converts the rotary motion into reciprocating motion:
Each display has explanatory notes in 3 languages:
I’m not going to list every such item, except to say there are lots to see and there are video screens here and there to give more commentary. Nor are the displays limited to the Ark story. For example, there’s one depicting the High Priest and furniture of the Tabernacle mentioned in the book of Exodus …
… and one depicting the Resurrection:
The cross, like the tomb, is empty.
There are open spaces at the bow and the stern which give a sense of just how big the Ark is:
The uppermost deck has a restaurant with panoramic views through the side windows:
You can also step outside to enjoy the view:
Bearing in mind that this is January and that the ark is not heated, and moreover it’s in a damp atmosphere by the sea, it may come as no surprise that after a couple of hours I was chilled to the bone despite waering many layers of clothing and my trusty duffel coat. I made a few purchases in the gift shop then reluctantly had to beat a hasty retreat to the car.
The next target was to find an authentic stroopwafel (and please remember the “oo” is pronounced “oh” and the “w” as “v”) so I drove into what I thought looked like a suitable area, parked the car and started walking. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t find a café or market anywhere in the locality, and the temperature wasn’t getting any higher. So, again reluctantly, I went back to the car and set off back to Dunkerque. I called at the first service area I could find on the motorway and went into the refreshment bar. Yes, they sold stroopwafels but they were the usual pre-packaged ones similar to the ones I could buy from Lidl at home. The one redeeming feature was there were two in the packet!
All in all, then, I can use that phrase we’re all familiar with from schooldays – “must try harder”. I’m hoping to make a return visit to the Ark in the autumn when the temperatures should be a bit higher, and chase down that elusive waffle.
The journey back was uneventful and I arrived at the B&B opposite Dunkerque station in the dark. After check-in and claiming my free night it was back to Flunch for dinner once more. This time I plumped for something totally new to me – a galette complète. This is a very thin disc of bread-like material put on a hotplate and upon which was placed a slice of ham, some cheese and a raw egg. The bread was then folded over to form a semicircle and the whole thing left to cook for 5 minutes or so. I added the usual extras and enjoyed the meal thoroughly. The video shows the galette being made from scratch (basically just buckwheat flour and water) whereas in Flunch they were ready-made. The folding over is different, too.