The open road along the coast
Still scarred - or soaked, rather - from this year's non-summer in Amsterdam, I was keen to grab whatever sunshine remained as fall loomed nearby. Enter Texel.
Texel (pronounced "tessle") is a small island north of Amsterdam, part of a Dutch archipelago that extends towards Denmark known as the Frisian islands.
Why would one head north, fresh off the beaches of Spain a week before? Well, the forecast was for a balmy 24 degrees and pure sun, and hearing so much about the peaceful plains of Texel made it a must-visit at some point.
There are special sections of the train for cyclists, so it's easy to get there right from your front door. A 90-minute train ride through some very nice Dutch countryside is followed by a 15-minute cycle to the ferry, which leaves every hour/half-hour, depending on the season.
No smoking on the ferry. And apparently, no hula hooping
What is it about ferries that reduce one to about 11 years old every time, running from port to starboard and bow to stern to catch the sea air and watch the wake? I don't know, but it's good stuff.
Rolling off the ferry and into Texel, it's quickly apparent that biking is the way to go. You can bike all over the island on special paths, stopping in any small town for a break or venturing into the dunes along the western coastline.
Not many places left in the world where you buy some roadside potatoes and just leave your money in a container
An artist doing serious justice to the nearby dunes
You will bike a lot here, probably for 4-5 hours over the course of a day, so make sure you have a comfortable seat. (*Guys - a good seat makes a vast difference for your vas deferens). The island is also very exposed to the elements, so be ready to bike into some headwinds.
Each town is marked by a number of small cafes, and the bigger spots have a nice collection of shops and restaurants to choose from. In between the towns are stretches of 3-10kms of farms and open fields.
The island does have a very therapeutic effect from city life, with huge skies and long sections of bike paths that skim the sea. I imagine it is pretty bleak in the winter or in the rain, but on a warm late summer day, Texel is definitely worth a visit.