Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Journey to Vlieland - 11 June

A very early start, 5.45 am, saw me at breakfast by 6 and out of the door at 6.45 am. Once more wallowing through mud on the way to the station, then walking along a road where pedestrians bound for Leeuwarden city centre are but an after-thought. No matter. It is still quite muggy as I buy a cuppa on the station while waiting for my 7.33 am local train to the port of Harlingen, 16 miles to the west. Those wishing to catch a ferry can now alight at the harbourside station of Harlingen Haven, which has been closed for more than a year due to engineering works. These involved moving the tracks from outside the harbour wall to within the harbour wall. The walk to the ferry terminal was unchanged, and the terminal was absolutely heaving with people. The island of Terschelling, a few miles west of Vlieland, is hosting the 29th edition of its "Oerol" (translates as 'everywhere') cultural festival. About 55,000 people would go there, and it is noticeable in the ferry terminal. Hordes of people wishing to board the 8.15 ferry, the 8.30 fast ferry, the 8.45 slow ferry, the 9.30 fast ferry to Terschelling - whilst poor souls bound for Vlieland have to wait for the 9 am ferry to Vlieland in amongst it all. And then you get people who park their vehicles in a carpark a mile away (taking your car to Terschelling is ever so expensive,  and prohibited to Vlieland), not taking account of the distance or the fact that the bridge in between carpark and ferry terminal just could be open - for a quarter of an hour at a stretch. Finally, we're called forward to put our bags on the baggage cars, then have to board the ferry via the cardeck. Although, as I said, you're not normally permitted to take your car to Vlieland, people can apply for permits to take their car, lorry or whatever across.

Ferry leaves at 9 am, and the murky conditions mean nothing can be seen on the crossing, not until the last quarter of an hour when the sky appears to brighten and visbility extends to the northeastern corner of Vlieland. We dock at 10.30 am, and the hordes dissipate into the island. My father is waiting at the dockside. I go off to hire a bicycle, then cycle to the bungalow he has hired and sit down for a cuppa. For many years, we've hired cottages in a park called Ankerplaats (Anchorage), out in the dunes. The oldest houses were built in 1971, the more recent ones in the 1980s - all were (initially) named after types of boats. Our cottage Karveel I is no exception. Karveel translates as caravel. What we normally do on Vlieland is walk and cycle all day. Unfortunately, it is chucking it down all afternoon, but by 4pm we venture forth, when the rain finally relents. The walk takes us through the woods behind the cottage to the Torenvijver (Tower Pond), the lighthouse (perched 150 feet above sealevel on a dune) and into the village. We return the same way.

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