25 hours on Texel Island

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
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Trip End Sep 01, 2011


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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hi everybody!

When we first moved here several people told us to go to the Wadden Islands on the Northern edge of the Netherlands. Well, if you remember our first attempt at this you'll know that so far we hadn't made it. So, 4 years later we decided to try again.

The closest, largest and easiest to reach island is Texel. It is just over 1 hour drive from Amsterdam to Den Helder and then a 20 minute ferry ride from Den Helder to the island. Of course by the time we got ourselves out the door and on the road we didn't actually arrive until 5pm and we returned on the 6pm ferry the next evening. Still, it was the most relaxing 25 hours we've had in a long time.

As just mentioned, to get to Texel one catches a ferry from Den Helder. As we were driving just minutes from the ferry we saw a flea market - and as anybody who knows Chris knows - our car always stops for flea markets. As it turned out it wasn't really much of a market but was some sort of festival. The local Lion's club was selling fresh herring and an old lightboat which was docked in the harbor was open for free tours. Also in the same area was a sea rescue museum (which reminded Melanie of that Kevin Costner movie "The Guardian"), an old VOC ship replica and the remains of an old grain ship from the early 1600s that had been buried at sea for a few hundred years. So, we got to see quite a few interesting things in our little flea market detour. Now, on to the island!

The Texel ferry is a 4 story car ferry with a full cafeteria, gift shop and comfy indoor and outdoor seating. The views at either port and also in between are more industrial than beautiful. When arriving on Texel one drives directly through farmland. There is little sea view and lots of polders (fields) with sheep and cows (mostly sheep). It is easy to see why some people would find nothing attractive or interesting at first sight.

The beauty of Texel lays in its windblown beaches and dunes. The whole western side of the island is one long beach running miles! Unlike in the U.S. there is no real development right up on the beach. Instead the dunes have been permitted to form and grow. We found a campsite in the dunes and pitched our tent just over the crest from the beach. We fell asleep Saturday night to the serenade of crickets and other critters and woke the next morning with the birds.

Many of the dunes are protected bird habitat with 300 species nesting and breeding on there.  There are many walking and biking paths through the dunes and along the paths there are often vantage points with benches for sitting and birdwatching. We spent most of our time on Texel beachwalking and dune hiking and saw several birds (which we still need to look up) that we hadn't seen before.

As we were leaving Texel we happened on another festival. This one was celebrating 100 years of ferry service between the island and the mainland. Texel is known for its lamb which has a special taste due to the sheep grazing on salt marsh plants. The festival included lots of gourmet foods made from the Texel lamb. We had lambchops, lamb rosti, lamb croquettes and ice cream made from sheeps milk. We also had a salad that included vegetables from the sea, North Sea shrimp and lamb ham.  After listening to the local band playing Dixie and filling our gullets with island fare we boarded the ferry and headed home feeling windblown and tired and relaxed and refreshed. This was quite a change of spirit from when we had left Amsterdam the previous day!

Don't forget to click on the photo album for more details on the pictures!

Happy travels!
Melanie and Chris

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Resources:
Ferry info: Teso Ferries
Where we stayed:  Kogerstrand Dune Camping
Where we ate:
* Timmer Bakery, De Koog: Amazing pastries for breakfast
* Het Vierspan, Den Burg: Wonderful dinner featuring local products. As a starter we were given crab soup and a crab bitterball.  Chris had the famous Texel lamb and I had seafood - both of which came with local vegetables including some from the sea.
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