Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Guidebook research IV: Friesland & Ameland Island

Harlingen, Friesland. At the home of Elizabeth & Jan Minemma, breakfast is an exercise in minimalism, almost as it would be served on a ship--well, they do live in a shipyard, the one house amid warehouse, and their neighbors live on boats moored in the adjacent canal.

(original date of this entry: June 4, 2015)
Still life with egg.
Here ontbijt is rolled to my door, hospital style, at 10 minutes before half an hour to eight as the Dutch would put it, so I don't even see my hosts. It is compartmentalized in a series of plastic boxes: four slices of brown bread in a red one, slices of young cheese and baloney in a clear one with red top, crackers and a couple of cherry tomatoes in another, an array of jars with such items as viscous black apple jam and rainbow chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag), and the essential medium-boiled egg in a tiny dish, along with butter, yogurt and an apple. Coffee served in a thermos but only powdered milk available atop the wheeled cart that stood in the room overnight. I'll take it black. Processed peach juice in a little pitcher, and the special treat: a broken-up chocolate bar in a blue plastic box.

Harlingen east
After the above described breakfast, I rode back down the canal toward central Harlingen, spotting a scholekster (Eurasian oyster catcher), a sort of waterfowl with a long orange beak, black wings, white belly. I believe it was this same creature that last night complained at my approach, a piercing staccato call. Also spotted kauwtjes (jackdaws) and coots but one sees them everywhere.


Ameland. Staying at Vrienden op de Fiets in Buren, the village just east of Nes. Mevrouw Metz, my hostess, a slight nervous woman, fits the profile of island vrienden: efficient and businesslike, more like a hotel proprietor than a cycling friend. In fact, the Metz residence is also a b&b, just across the way from De Klok, a hotel/restaurant.

Getting started today was simplicity itself. I strolled over to the fietsverhuur (also called Metz), a warehouse with hundreds of state-of-the-art Batavus Holiday bikes, even more comfortable and smooth than my own Intermezzo, paid the boy for the day (€8, no deposit required), and I was on my way. On this first true summer day big groups of holidaymakers are out, all riding rental Batavuses. I'm taking a backroad to Nes. Nothing but a field sprinkled with wildflowers and a strip of asphalt for cyclists.

The isle of Ameland

Horses, sheep linger in the fields where purple reeds and yellow flowers sway in the breeze. This land is farmed but not instensively cultivated like the endless furrowed hills between Franeker and Leeuwarden. There's a bit of variety in the landscape. I've just reached a lake which must be the Recreatiepark De Vieijen. I'm not the only solo cyclist out today. Many seniors but also large groups of kids and families. Many birds: more scholeksters and a tiny roodborst (European robin).

Ameland has a vast flat beach for many kilometers. I rode the beach trail from the lighthouse at Hollum to the Ballum church.


Today I'm continuing along the beach trail toward 't Oerd, a nature reserve on the east end of the island. The trail is nice and wild here with some pretty views of the dunes and a climb up a rise to look at the North Sea, rough and choppy today. Tufts of green sprout out of the fine white sands, irregular hills patrolled by jackdaws.

Strandhuys, Ameland
Sitting in front of the Van Buren Hotel (that US president had Dutch blood) facing the parking lot but that's ok. At least I am sheltered from the strong winds under these eaves. The sun is bright and there's beach grass and shrubs in front of me. It's a pleasant spot actually. The hotel stands royally upon a dune like a lego contruction, sort of trapezoidal. Toward the beach a ramp leads to the magnificent Strandhuys with stunning waitresses and glacial service. A slick establishment but worth noting anyway--from an architectural view. It is a superb cylindrical structure with attached terraces bordered by glass windscreens. Many sporty looking folks crowding the terraces on this sunny windy day. This I guess is the start of the Buurderduinen, from which you could ride the Kooioerdstuifdijk to 't Oerd. But not today ... the wind's too strong to go much further and I've got a ferry to catch (they run hourly) and a bus and a train. Continued ...

Buren, Ameland

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