Saturday, October 4, 2014

Netherlands Adventures!: We Visited Texel!

Last weekend, we had our first relatively big excursion as a program-- we went to Texel!

For those who don't know, here is a map of how I got to Texel.  Texel is the island very North of where I live.  We stayed there from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.  The place where we stayed was just outside of Den Burg (the highest point of the island).  Please ignore the times Google has listed.  I promise that it didn't take between 5 and 12 hours to get there.

Bright and early, we all walked to Leiden Centraal station with our stuffed backpacks on our back and we took the train all the way to Den Helder.  From Den Helder, we hopped on a bus to get on a ferry, which let us actually set foot on the island of Texel.  Below is a photo pointing in the direction of Texel.  I think if you look closely, you can see the outline of the buildings on the island through the fog (don't make yourself go blind though, please).

Friday Afternoon (Arrival)

We got off the ferry, rented bikes, and biked maybe twenty minutes to where we were staying.  Steef's sister owns property on Texel and she has a house that groups of travelers can rent.  The building has a kitchen and a few rooms filled with bunk beds.  We were the only ones in the house this weekend though.

The first day that we were there was a little dreary, but it did become absolutely gorgeous as the weekend wore on.  This was our "backyard":

Fun Fact: On Texel, sheep outnumber humans 4 to 1!


We got up bright and early again on Saturday, because we were going fishing!  Sort of... we were going to watch other people catch shrimp on a boat!  The boat fished in the Wadenzee, not the North Sea.  Here are some pictures from that experience:

After all of the things that weren't shrimp were sorted out, the shrimp were washed and boiled and we were able to peel and eat them right on the boat!
Even I had one and learned how to peel them :)  They were small, so it was a little difficult to take the shell off.  But the fisherman went around and showed everyone several times.  They were quite delicious just out of the sea!  I'm not much of a shrimp-eater, but these were really good!
After we got off the shrimping boat, we stayed and explored a little bit, which was fun.

It's like that one scene in Mulan!
Abby became a mermaid!
Boo!  Still here :)
Part of exploring in the area was going to the Beach Combers museum.  A prominent hobby (lifestyle?) in Texel is to go up and down the beach looking for objects that wash up on shore.  That's basically what this museum collects.  There are a number of shipping routes in this area, so sometimes if a ship sank or lost some of its cargo for one reason or another, the objects would wash up on the beach.

Washed up on shore!
Outside in the "backyard" of the museum was a small model fishing village that was typical to Texel in the "olden days."  That was interesting to explore.  There were also bigger finds and art created out of objects that washed up on shore.

Inside the wind mill (which did NOT wash up on shore-- it's like the model village).

Peek :)
I found wooden shoes outside one of the model houses, so I put them on :)
On the way back from the shrimping boat, Steef stopped and showed us a cemetery/memorial space commemorating the Georgian soldiers who helped the Dutch fight against the Germans during World War II.

Over 400 plants of the same kind.

Sunday was the day we visited Ecomare!  Which is also the place where rescue seals and porpoises are cared for.  Warning: SOOOOO many seal pictures ahead!  They reminded me of Louie, my beagle dog, at home :)

I thought the seal on the right looked rather sassy :)
A lot of the babies liked to flip over and float on their backs-- how cute!!
After Ecomare, we went and visited the beach.  My reunion with the North Sea.

So that was last weekend!  I honestly wasn't ready to go home.  Texel smells like camping and the weather was so mild.  The sheep were adorable and it was nice to be by the beach and in a quiet space.  It was a little bit of a shock to get back to Leiden and be engulfed with car horns, concrete everywhere, and avoiding the high volume of buses, cars, bikes, etc.  I guess I just needed the relaxing weekend.  The worst part about a vacation is coming home, purely because you're not on vacation any more.  But I have plenty of other adventures to report on.  There's never a dull day in the life of a study abroad student, I'm learning.

Until next time... Tot Ziens!


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