I know it has been ages since I last posted anything, but it has been a period of changes around here mixed with a stomach bug. The big news is that N. just started working at a new company 🙂 We decided to go on a small vacation using his leftover holidays from the previous job. Our original plan was to go to Brussels and had booked a great place through airbnb (which we love). Then of course the horrible terrorist attacks happened and the trains were not going there anymore. We started looking for an alternative and decided that staying within the Netherlands was the wise thing to do both safety- and budget-wise.
We have heard great things about Texel, an island up north, but everything seemed to be fully booked or super expensive. That’s when I had the idea to look for something at Den Helder. It’s a small city, not particularly known, that’s just 20 minutes by ferry from Texel. So we booked and after a small hiccup (as we were our host’s first guests), we got a confirmation that the place was ours for 3 nights.
When we left our bags at the apartment, where we would stay, we decided to start exploring immediately. We were extremely lucky when it comes to the weather. It was really sunny and even warm-ish (I mean you didn’t need gloves..most of the day). We quickly found the main shopping street that has the identical shops of all main shopping streets in the Netherlands like HEMA, V&D (R.I.P.), Albert Hijn, Blokker, C&A and so on. We decided to walk around a bit to find a place to eat as we were starving. Somehow we could only find a couple of closed restaurants, a few places serving doner and a “luxurious” pizza place called Tutankhamen that had gigantic polyester structures somewhat resembling ancient Egyptian statues. Oh, they were painted gold. We briefly considered Tutankhamen -and I am sure the pizza is delicious- but we had our toddler with us and the stench from the three (3!) coffee shop places (those sell weed, not coffee, by the way) detered us. So we kept walking and walking, making jokes about reaching the end of the world.
The good part of the story is that we reached the dunes and had an amazing view of the sea. Still our tummies were empty and our toddler is not as patient as we are. Fortunately I remembered a fish and chips place close to the train station and we decided to go there and eat no matter how it looked or smelled like. We were lucky cause the food was delicious and the space was pretty nicely decorated too.
The next day we discovered that Den Helder actually has a very nice area loaded with museums and nice restaurants and exhibitions spaces. That’s right next to the ferry dock. Here are some picks from there (click to enlarge).
The next two days we took the Ferry and went to Texel, visiting different towns on the island. The first day we went to Oudeschild, that’s about 20 minutes by bus from the ferry dock, and it’s a beautiful place full of sheep, a great museum, cute shops, soft hills and fishing boats. The second day we went to Den Burg, which is the biggest city on the island. It is not next to the sea, but it has this island feeling to it. We kept being lucky when it comes to weather 🙂 Here are some pics from Texel:
We went to lots of museums (I think four in three days) thanks to our passion for our new museum cards (more on that is a future post) and I have to say I was really impressed by the way the Dutch present their history and culture. The interactive elements were also abundant, which made the experience interesting for our not-even two-year old as well.
The seal tour was also worth it, but in case you go, I am not sure it’s worth paying the 20 euros per person tour (and the not-even two-year old has no discount). I can’t imagine NOT seeing the seals with whichever 12-euro tour. There are so many of them! We were pretty lucky as we got to see many young ones too!
We will definitely go back to Texel. There is so much more to see and there are all those information leaflets with the amazing photography that make you want to move there. If you love nature, hiking, biking, surfing, bird-watching and the like, then that’s the place for you 😉