|An Orange Excursion||
Believe it or not, this country isn't all flat. There are actually things resembling hills, and one of the most beautiful places to experience this at was on Texel Eiland. Its the beginning and southern most island of the Waddenzee island chain. It took an hour and twenty minute train ride and a quick stop in Den Helder to catch the ferry, but was so very worth it. The entire island has three very distinct geographies, from flat pasture with the Dutch sheep (a very common site), to hilly, sandy dunes (which are along the outside of the island, very helpful for navigation), and pure white sand beaches that stretch along the Nordzee. It is the most changing and quietest places I had ever been, and nothing beat biking through the national forest with only the stars and bike lights to guide you on the leaf-strewn path. Smelling the salty, and gloriously clean air was unique, and seeing a land that is endangered from climate change that might not be there in 20 years was especially heartening. I'd retire here too, so it looks like when I get into my 70s I'm going to have some major thinking to do.
Me and a few friends decided to take the day-trip, though we could of easily of made it into a weekend excursion. Upon arriving we set off from 't Horntje into the great beyond. We saw the "towns" of Den Burg, Den Hoorn, en Den Koog. I'd say Den Koog was the most intriguing. Everything is in either Dutch or German, and the houses are fantastic. It was dead when we got there, but a local, cheery bartender told us that the Germans love the spot. Because one must pay to use beaches in Germany or Denmark, and in the Netherlands it is free, they flock here like crazy to dig their holes. Also, it was quite interesting to walk among the dunes and see little plots of leveled land that were no bigger than a backyard shed. Apparently people rent these during spring and summer, and put up a little shed-like cabin to sleep in and use as a vacation/weekend getaway. The dunes are all-natural, and the island, besides the infrastructure, is left up to its own devices. No changing, no saving, no poldering, just an island and water. Because of these people's obsession with reclaiming land from the seas, it was very breathtaking and amazing to realize that I was only an hour away from A'dam.
This next event also merits extreme attention. Museumnacht 2011. With 45 museums participating with over 226 events, it was a night full of awesomeness. The museums opened at 630 and stayed open until the classy hour of 2am, with a bunch of after-parties and dance-events. (Thing to left is the lightbox that distinguished what was a museum--I was completely unaware that there were so many on my normal commute route!). This day was a five month day in waiting. I love museums, and with everything open and free on one day, I couldn't help but be overly joyed. By starting at the Scheepvart Museum with a fantastic light and sound show, it was a great way to start the night.
One would be surprised at the efficiency when you release me with 35,000 other museum-goers biking everywhere very quickly on tight itineraries. (Below is a slide show of that break-neck efficiency, but without degradation of the educational value!!!). Let's see, the Tattoo Museum was by far the best museum of the night, with all sorts of ancient artifacts, weird pictures, and the fact that they were having a hoe-down out back. Second place goes to the Scheepvart Museum. All I can say is: Aaron could never live on a ship but would love to do the woodworking. The bronze would go to the Hollandsche Schouwburg which used to be a theater, then turned into a Jewish deportation center in WWII. They new building is a museum, but the old bombed out one is behind, with a very moving garden and statue with wooden tulips. At one point you can stand on the 3rd floor, see the blueprints of the old theater, and look at the current stripped down shell of it. It was a night that was months in the making, and now, is a memory that I won't soon forget.