I read some time back an interview in which someone was stating that you can visit The Netherlands in only a few days, being such a small country. Oh, well, this is not the case for me since I am traveling around it for 2 years now and there are so many places I haven’t been yet. When it comes to this country we know that the name itself represents a reunion of multiple regions and dialects (24!) which makes it even harder to cover most of it in only a couple of days.
I knew that each region has its specific, but I wasn’t prepared really for Friesland. The region is situated in North-West of Netherlands and East of North-Holland (the region I live in), covering also the 4 Wadden Sea Islands, which are some dots on the map, but something it shouldn’t be left out from ones travels around the area. I have heard about Friesland many times since I moved here and the 3 things which are always repeated by different people are: they speak another language, they are the tallest from the country and if the water is turning into ice then there’s a special ice skating race covering the 11 cities of the region. Since I am small and everything seems to be taller I haven’t observed much about the height of people. Again, it’s spring so enjoying a ice skating race falls from the list. So I cannot make any opinion about these 2 information, but I can surely make one about the language: if you ever think that Dutch is weird and hard to understand, you should go to Friesland! I was totally lost, barely understanding even the announcements from the train (which I know from my mind now) and when the nice driver started talking with me, insisting that I should reply in some other language than English, I only asked myself if I am not dreaming.
Where do you think the image above is taken? Be sure it is not from a boat! The West part of the northern part of The Netherlands is connected with the East through the European road E22, which is in fact a dike, called in Dutch – Afsluitdijk (which means the enclosing dike):
Early in the morning we left Haarlem and took the train to Alkmaar. From the train station we took bus 350, which has Alkmaar as starting point and Leeuwarden (capital of Friesland) the end. The ride until Zurich is around 1h 20 minutes and one ticket is around 17e (or 12e in case you use a OV-Chipkaart). I guess that having your own car in this situation is better, but you can manage in the end without one. As the plan was to go to Harlingen we had to change the bus in Zurich: initially it was showing that there will be only 2 minutes to make the change and I was kind of stressed because of that, but in the end there’s enough time: the bus got in the station with 10 minutes before. From Zurich we took bus 71 which was in 10 minutes in the center of Harlingen.
From Harlingen we took a ferry to Terschelling dreaming of spotting seals on the way (we saw 2 in the distance). The above one is the regular ferry which makes around 2 hours, but there’s also the possibility to take a fast one which will bring you on the island in 45 minutes. If you would like to see their schedule, check here. (there’s also a day ticket deal which is much cheaper than buying the tickets separately) The only inconvenient for the fast ferry is that you are not allowed to go outside during the trip and you need to observe the scenery through dirty windows.
After spending some time on the island searching for seals, we went back to Harlingen where we’ve spent our night. The next day we’ve visited Leeuwarden and Franeker, having good luck when it comes to weather: no rain drop, sun and warm day. From Harlingen there’s a hourly train to Leeuwarden, operated by Arriva, but for us it didn’t made any difference as our train pass covers this company too.
Why a round trip? Because we came back on the other part so in the end we’ve managed to make a kind of a circle with it:
In the next post about Terschelling or how to kill a dream in the dunes. 🙂