North of Holland you have several islands. Locals told me that Texel is not necessarily the best one of them, but its the one easiest reached from Amsterdam. The welcome weather was nothing short of spectacular when I got there and the atmosphere relaxed as you would expect. I explored Den Burg (largest settlement) before taking a tour round the island next day under pretty windy conditions. Great time.
Getting there: Just hop on one of the direct, half hourly services from Amsterdam to Den Helder (1:15min) and then take a short ferry ride over to Texel. From the ferry terminal it’s just under 7km walk, which i found pretty enjoyable (also, the cafe at the terminal has great bitterballen … by far my favorite Dutch dish & highly addictive judging by guests).
Where to stay: Plenty of options on this holiday island (full with German tourists) that makes 70% of its money from tourism in some form or shape that are attracted by more than 2,000 hours of sunshine per year (on par with Uganda, Philippines and well ahead of London’s 1,600h). I opted for the stayokay hostel in den burg. Sadly there was only a german school class on excursion and so no-one to hang out with in my age category. But its a nice hostel minutes from the center, the staff is friendly and they rent bikes (well, probably everyone does in Texel).
Texel basics: It is the largest of the Frisian islands though still has just c14k population. Den Burg is the largest settlement (7k inhabitants). It was created by the All Saints Floods in 1170 – a massive flooding of Northern Netherlands & Holland territories (if you look at the Texel using google maps satellite it is still looks like land). It is pronounced ‘Tessel’ by the way. Historically it has been an important port (offering protection from the strong prevailing winds) and gained fame as the only place in history where a navy was defeated on horseback (as the french in 1795 used the frozen state of the of ice to attack the fleet. The dutch surrendered without a single shot fired).
Island tour: My bike tour took me some 47km around the middle & upper part of the island and some of its villages. From Den Burg I headed beach/dike bound to Oudeschild and made a first stop at the local museum Kaap Skil. It gives you a great overview of how old fishing villages/housing used to look like, a lot of the islands maritime history, modern ways of dike construction and all sorts of objects found on the sea floor or flushed up on the shores of the island.
From Oudeschild I continued via Oostered north-east along the dike and thus straight into the SW wind. The fact that my high point was +9m and my low point -9m would suggest an easy ride, but not with 30-35km/h winds (1kts = 1.85 km/h) & gusts of up to 50 km/h+ blowing right in your face. The wind was about 10km/h more than normal for May. In fact, those painful miles towards the lighthouse on the NE tip of Texel were as slow as walking speed at times and reminded more of a mountain stage on the tour France. That would explain why apart from two guys on e-bikes (leisurely overtaking me) I was the only fool going that direction (all the others went “downhill”) – I better do some research next time.
Nonetheless it was spectacular scenery – be it the wild sea, sailing boats, shipyards, loads of birds and pretty villages. I stopped for fries & herring in De Cocksdorp before checking out the beach nearby. Sadly the cycle route runs on the wrong side of the dam. So no more sea views for my, but heh. At least it was a lot faster. Once back at the hostel I headed straight for the net ferry and after a Heineken & 12 bitterballen I was on my way back to Amsterdam feeling somewhat exhausted, but happy.