August, September and the beginning of October are a crazy time for me, and they have been for the past two years. I work at a university, where the summer months are always very busy. After the hectic (but super fun) Introduction Week early September, the ‘calm’ cannot return until after the event of the year, the Graduation Ceremony, early October. In that period between September and October I can count on not getting sufficient sleep. Things that I still have to do randomly pop up in my dreams, making me wake up very early in the morning and forcing me to get out of bed and get to work.
As you can imagine, once the Graduation Ceremony has ended and I can get back into the normal work routine, I am exhausted. That’s why last year I decided to take a little trip to catch my breath. Be in a different setting for a few days before returning to campus. We wanted something simple, and some place we both never went before. We rarely take the opportunity to be a tourist in our home country, so we decided to go to Friesland from Wednesday until Friday, and then spend the weekend relaxing back home in Rotterdam.
This was the first time we used Airbnb in our home country. We found something beautiful in a tiny village between Leeuwarden (capitol of that province) and the sea. We were warmly welcomed by a very friendly host and her super cute dog and shown around our little studio. She gave us some tips for villages, restaurants, and activities in the area.
On our first day we visited the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker. This museum used to be Eise Eisinga’s home, and is now a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Mr. Eisinga created an orrery on his ceiling between 1774 and 1781. Up to this day his creation is a perfectly accurately working model of the solar system.
After quickly freshening up, we drove to Harlingen and explored this little town. We put together our own burger at Levels and enjoyed some drinks. We walked around and went to see the sea and the harbour.
The next day was a very sunny day. Only about 14 degrees, but sunny. We went to Leeuwarden, which is now the Cultural Capitol of Europe. We both had never been here, but it reminded us a lot of cities like Delft and Amsterdam with its canals and typical architecture. We did some shopping, soaked up some sun with a glass of wine on several terraces (sunglasses and all, it was lovely!), and planned to stay there for dinner. We realised it would be quite a long wait, though, so when we had seen enough of this beautiful city we drove back to our Airbnb address to put away our bought items, freshen up and relax. We decided to make a reservation at De Zwarte Haan, which is located quite interestingly next to a seawall, further north than Harlingen. We went there without any expectations, and found a beautiful old farm house transformed into a restaurant. There were only 4 people having dinner there (together), which made us wonder if the food would be any good. How come there’s no one here?
But this was such a great evening. We got a table right in front of the fireplace, service was fantastic, and the food was comparable to some great restaurants we went to in France. If I’m ever in the area, I would go there again and bring more people.
That evening we were debating what we would do on our last day so far up north. We considered taking the trip to one of the islands (Waddeneilanden) but weren’t too serious about it. But then in the morning we were certain that that would be a fantastic way to end this trip. After packing our things and saying goodbye to our host, we raced to catch the boat as we were very close to missing it.
So there we were, on a Dutch island for the first time in our lives. And oh my God, it was so cold! We walked toward the closest bicycle rental and waited in line with what seemed like the entire crowd from the boat. I was looking around and realised that the wind would make this bicycle ride a hellish ordeal. I looked at the poster that announced the rates for the several types of bicycles they had, and kind of jokingly said that an electric bicycle would not be such a bad idea. We looked at each other for a long moment.
I have never had such a great and speedy bicycle experience. Who cares about the stares, electric bicycles are rad. The wind was super strong and we just eased through it. We didn’t go anywhere before visiting the closest village though, to both buy a warm beanie. We were both very unprepared; especially me, wearing only a thin sweater and a thin jacket that didn’t even have a zipper or buttons. I bought the thickest hoodie I could find for way too much money, and jumped on my bike. Ameland, here we come.
After a few hours of enjoying our bikes and the views, we found Beachclub The Sunset, drank wine, and ordered their Haute Friture. SO yummy. It was still quite cold, but sitting on their porch by the fire was very comfy and enjoyable.
Quick selfie on the beach, and then it was time to head back and return our super bikes. We wanted to be well in time for the boat this time. Funny how we were rocking a winter look on this picture while our friends and family back home (like 2-3 hours away) were sitting in the sun with bare arms.
Although it was a mini trip, it was really fun to see some parts of the Netherlands that we both never visited before. It’s always a bit awkward when we explain to people not from here that you can basically drive through this country in just 3-4 hours. When they respond with “Wow! You must have seen the whole country then!” we’re always like… Eh… Not really…