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Trip Report An Overnight on the Island of Texel

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Sometimes the topic of day trips from Amsterdam comes up. Often, Dutch fodorites a trip to one of the Frisian Islands. Reaching the majority of these involves about 6 hours of travel, ferry included, from Amsterdam. Not feasible if you have only a week. However, the island of Texel is ultra reachable from Amsterdam: a 75 minute train ride to Den Helder, an easy transfer to the ferry terminal by Texelhopper and a 20 minute ferry trip across Marsdiep. And then you're there, on "Het Golden Bultje", the Hill of Gold. Bike rental conveniently at the ferry terminal.

2 days off work landed in my lap, and glorious weather, so I decided to make a run for it. As I'm still training for ultra cycling events, my trip to Den Helder involved cycling there along the coast by way of the North Sea Cycle Route, from Haarlem, a trip of about 90 km. With a tailwind this was a pleasure, also because it involves crossing a number of National Parks: Waterleiding Duinen, Kennemer Duinen and the dune landscape near Schoorl.

I opted for a bed at the Stayokay youth hostel in Den Burg, however, Texel is completely geared to tourism and hotels and B&Bs are plentiful, in all its villages, of which Den Burg is the largest, with the most facilities. After a day's cycling I arrived at Stayokay, and found I had a 4 person room (bunkbeds!) all to myself. A bit spartan perhaps, but very spacious and private. Dinner at Stayokay is basic, and there were lots of school classes, so I cycled into town to the restaurant that had a least a few vegetarian options. Later I found out that the village of De Koog has an Indian Restaurant, so next time I'll find a hotel there, in stead of in De Burg. After some deliberation I opted for Vincents Eilandkeuken, one of the more gastronomic options: they were as cool as to make me an entirely vegetarian menu, and it was excellent. And so back to the youth hostel.

Next morning I breakfasted at Stayokay (excellent buffet style, with a lot of choice) and then grabbed the bike out of the shed to round the island. Still glorious weather, and after De Cocksdorp, toward the northern tip of the island, the bike paths were getting busy with recreational cyclists. Elderly couples mostly, most on e-bikes, leisurely making their way to Kaap Noord, panniers stuffed with a thermos with coffee, a lunch box filled with sandwiches. I decided to stop at De Vriendschap to find out if I could make it to Vlieland, in time for the last ferry to Harlingen, but no chance: their sailing times follow the tides, but if I could have had an extra day on Vlieland, I'd certainly have done it.

Cycling on I had coffee at Kaap Noord, near the lighthouse, then followed the Texel Route signs to the forested heath area along the North Sea coast. This has a number of interesting stops: the Slufter Valley, an old inlet, now a nature area and Ecomare, a marine biology institute, with interesting exhibitions on the Waddenzee, a Unesco natural area, but also the fragile, last wilderness of the Netherlands.

A drink at De Koog beckoned, and so I cycled on through forests suddenly cool on a September summer day. De Koog seemed more tourist heavy than Den Burg, many caravan and camping sites nearby, and still busy, so after a drink in the shade, I headed for the ferry. By now it was 12.30 PM, which gives an idea of Texel's scale.

Which is small, and gives you a concentration of all Dutch landscapes: polder and reclaimed land, wadden sea, dunes and beaches, wetlands, heath and forest, all to be visited within one 4 hour cycle ride.

I took the 1 PM ferry to the mainland, took the train and was home by 5.30 PM in Rotterdam. Two lovely days, a mini adventure, easily done from Amsterdam. I would suggest making it an overnight and not going there in one day, although you could if you were really determined. But it makes for a less relaxed visit.

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