Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Return to Groningen

Sunday morning: we're at a cafe right on Schiermonnikoog beach and it's cleared up. With the wind blocked by glass panels it's fairly warm. A long strip of beach on the open sea. Kite flying and sail racing. After having our coffee we continued to explore the network of packed sand paths through the dunes. It being a clear, lovely Sunday in late summer, we had plenty of company.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Groningen / Schiermonnikoog - Day 2

View from the hide, Lauwersmeer national park
In the morning, we said goodbye to Dick and Flora and went up the road to Zoutkamp, with a little harbor. From there, we skirted the Lauwersmeer, a man-made lake that's at the center of a national park. Not too spectacular, just a large expanse of grass. We found a bird "hide" and looked at some swallows hopping along the bank of a pond where cows lazed. The hut had wooden boards for shutters and you lift them to open a slit in the structure, presumably unseen by the birds. At the entrance we ran into a Belgian birder who showed videos of an owl that later attacked him. Other solitary men carrying telescopes and cameras wandered past.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Groningen / Schiermonnikoog - Day 1

New paths, Groningen
The beautiful town of Groningen, tucked away in Holland's northeast, quite close to Germany. The plan is to head for the island of Schiermonnikoog, easternmost of the Frysian isles, which form a crescent-shaped barrier to the North Sea. We rented identical Gazelle Orange bikes at the train station (€8.50 per day). Then we crossed the ring canal and headed north, got fried fish at the Vismarkt, made an espresso stop at Black & Bloom, run by a coffee maven who "really knows his stuff" according to my cycling companion Brian Jones. We were sitting outside sipping our espressos, me observing the cheerful passersby on foot, bike and scooter, Brian on the phone to London. Another gorgeous summer's day.