You can see a selection of our pictures from this weekend on my Flickr account.
Ever since I’d set foot on the island Schiermonnikoog (which for abbreviation and as a pet name I call ‘Schier’) I knew I’d be back some day. I hadn’t expected I’d be taking the boyfriend though and neither had he, as it was a birthday surprise. (I’m such an awesome girlfriend you see). Well he knew I had planned something this weekend but he figured “anything’s possible with me”. I had thought he would’ve guessed it sooner though. Sooner than five minutes before we got on the boat and only because a road sign had given it away. Although to be fair, it had been one of the first options he had thought of when guessing a few weeks back.
I knew he would really enjoy it. We both love spending time in nature and he had mentioned before that he had never been to any of the Wadden Islands. I have only been to Schier, which is known for its serenity and different landscapes: mudflats, the tidal marsh, the polder, de Westerplas, the village, the forest, the dunes and the North Sea beach. We already had a lovely view from the boat, which takes about 45 minutes to cross at a speed of 22km per hour. Tourists have to leave their cars behind, so I had to be specific about what (not) to pack. On the crossing we met a lovely couple, whom we would bump into only once (not times a lantern in July) later.
We could’ve taken the (electric!) bus, but I had arranged bikes for the weekend. This is really the best way of getting around on the island. Another thing I love about the island: it has the perfect size. It’s even hard for me to get lost here. We had brought lunch to have a picnic near the Westerplas, which is one of the few places with fresh water and I discovered I still know a lot from what I had learned during my last visit, which had been a study trip. Steven liked the biology lessons and he liked the hotel near the beach too. When we had settled in, we decided we should make the most of the sunshine and go for a swim straight away. The waves were huge.
Then we had a look around the village, where I stood in the jaw of a 30m long blue whale! After taking some photos, we went for (a lovely veggie) pizza in a restaurant which is also a souvenir shop. Here we met Ollie, a cute little dog who had escaped from his garden. Of course, there was also another seagull, which – like the island itself – lives off tourists. This one gave me a feather in exchange though. In the evening we went back to the beach for a walk and we saw how the locals have fun with their kites. We also noticed bushes of samphire, which you can only buy in the supermarket at home.
The salty wind had a nice effect on my hair and while we had a short break at the hotel to freshen up, we watched a quiz on TV. I was too tired to go back (and that is really very tired), but Steven had managed to see the Milky Way! If it wasn’t for the lighthouse, this would probably be the darkest place in the Netherlands. The next day we would take a closer look at it, but we cycled to the mudflats first. We cycled alongside the cows, over little bridges, all the way to the beacon Kobbeduin. I had only seen this from a distance on my last trip. We also saw a halo around the Sun; always looking up, you know.
We had bought some bits for lunch at the only supermarket on the island and shared it with another seagull at a picnic place between the hotel and the beach. Then we went on to the visitor centre, where they had a great exhibition on the different types of land. We also walked past the white water tower and the red lighthouse, before it was time for dinner again, which we had back at the hotel. The owners are great by the way; very friendly. And there was an amusing group of spiritual people at the table next to ours. We didn’t stay long though, as there was more to see: the WWII bunker Wassermann and rays of sand running over the empty beach.
We had had one more drink that last evening on the island, but the trip wasn’t over yet. In fact, I had planned another surprise on the Sunday morning, which also had really been a surprise: a professional massage. When I had booked this, I hadn’t realised how much we, or actually Steven, would need it after all the cycling. We did some more of it that afternoon though, through the forest, and even though I can honestly say we had another weekend of great weather, we were then surprised by an amazing amount of rain. The lovely guy at the shell museum didn’t mind we were all wet though and he went on to tell us about his treasures.
We also heard him telling a little boy how the oldest ocean quahog ever found was 507 years. Impressed the boy asked of that was more than a hundred. The professional beachcomber also had a piece of a human skull from around 1500 and apparently, he frequently finds recent human remains too, which he then sends to the police for identification. We bought a couple of souvenirs and went back to the hotel one more time to dry off a bit with hot chocolate and a few board games. On our way back we went for fish and chips before we had to catch the last boat, “all the way back”.
It’s not actually far away, but we did almost miss it anyway, because we were enjoying the view. We agreed we would soon come back and properly spend a day on the mudflats. We also want to take that trip to the Balg next time, where you can see seals. And cycle some more through the dunes, because that’s really the best way to spend a day. Exhausted in a good way, we concluded on the boat back that soon we would be back on our very big island (the one we tend to call a continent). And with that, I’m afraid the summer break is almost over, while I’m not quite sure I’m ready for the new year. I’ll have to be soon though. And I have a great summer to look back to in any case.