Farewell, Friesland

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written Saturday 5 June 2004

Farewell, Friesland

A dark, windy and cold afternoon in June. I pull the bike off the train at station Harlingen Haven. There was a boating festival advertised for this weekend, and I was surprised the train wasn't crowded...

Updated bike map -->here<-- (1.5 MB, the most recent 30 days' rides in red, previous rides in green, as usual).

...and that the harbor's traffic was light. Of course it's true that these were sailors and it was early Saturday morning, so a hangover factor may explain a lot.

Walking the bike towards the inner harbor, my closer look revealed some stirring and signs of life, smoky cooking of breakfasts, drinking of coffee, conversations in low voices.

The back harbor was so tightly packed with boats that you could walk from one end of the canal to the other across decks. This statement is not theoretical--I saw people do it. And not a loud voice or whining child or radio within hearing.

I found the outer harbor's south jetty and bucked the north wind to the jetty's end. A regatta of tiny sailboats braved the blustery Ijsselmeer. I can't understand why the water's surface was so strangely calm in such a strong wind, unless the water is extremely shallow for a wide expanse.

The traffic in and out of the harbor picked up as we watched, and this Urk fishing boat (hull registration is "UK") caught our attention...

...though someone looks like he'd rather just be sitting by a nice fireplace.

Ride the north wind out of Harlingen, along the dijk and watching spray off the North Sea. When I cross over the dijk to the land side, to get past the east end of the long Afsluitdijk that crosses the Zuider Zee, I see some familiar sights from that long, cold ride (previous post -->here<--) on a day like today. A few km farther south, I come across the village of Makkum.

Makkum amazed me with its little village center--very refined and welcoming. I should have stayed and had koffie+appelgebak, but the boat out of Stavoren left only three times a day and wouldn't wait.

I cruised along the Makkkumerdiep and to the end of the jetty. From under the channel marker I munched some lunch and watched sailors take to the IJsselmeer.

I discovered what the local industry was. I cannot imagine who owns such boats, but they are made or remodeled in Makkum.

I've also heard that Makkum is famous for a kind of multicolor ceramic, a contrast to Delft's blue ceramic. I wish I had known that before I rode through Makkum.

I come to Hindeloopen, which name amuses me greatly. It's crowded onto a spit of land jutting into the old Zuider Zee...

...and I think I'll let this photograph of a main corner in Hindeloopen speak for the contrasts that struck me there.

I find the dijk-top trail between Hindeloopen and Stavoren...and it's covered with sheep ****. Oh, is my bicycle going to be popular on the boat. (previous post beginning in Stavoren -->here<--). The boat tickets are sold in the VVV, and I arrive with just 15 minutes to the next boat. It's 4 hours between boats, and I'm really not interested in missing this one, especially on a cold day threatening rain. The only VVV help is patiently pointing out to (to all appearances) a senile couple nothing but the most obvious local features, one that anyone could (and should, with any self-respect) easily find on any map. This takes 10 minutes. I get my ticket, and roll the bike onto the gangway and it goes up. They strap my bike with others across the stern, where it will be rained on, and I go far forward and install myself at the windows and order a kopje koffie, then another. It rains on the windows and thus on my bike. At least the tires' smell is no factor. But from inside, there's not much to see.

It has cleared by the time we dock in Enkhuizen harbor (previous post on Enkhuizen -->here<--) an hour and a half later, and in the time before the next train to home, I wheel around the cobblestone streets, through the harbor, past the cafe (Het Wapen van Urk) where my parents and I had lunch. I dismount. I look around. I wonder if and when I will be here again. Farewell, Enkhuizen, and farewell all Friesland.

posted by eric at 22.49 CET


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