Summer holiday is over and school has started again last week. Like the past two years, we spent two weeks of the holiday for our annual summer sailing. This year we got lucky with the wind and the weather (only 3 thunderstorms encountered in 2 weeks!), and we went all the way to the north and hopped through three of the Dutch Wadden Islands; Texel, Vlieland and Terschelling.
The Kid got used to spend hours on the sea, but it’s never her favourite part of the trip. This is why once we’re in a harbour, we’re always looking for something for her to do and explore in the area. For her, it is always exciting to arrive in a new place and look for things to do. Unless the weather is forcing us to move along, when we find a place we like a lot, we usually stay for several days, enjoying the days. Sailing has its magic, but finding new and promising land is the reason sailors sail at all since time immemorial.
When we were not sailing, The Kid’s highlight of our summer:
1. Horseback riding in Vlieland
By far, Vlieland is our favourite island of the whole trip. The island is small, with only one village, and a lot of beautiful nature around it. Even when the summer crowd is around, you can always cycle far enough to be away from everyone else and find your own peaceful spot on the beach, dune or woods.
The island also became the highlight of The Kid’s vacation because she finally got the chance to learn to ride a horse on her own. It’s a popular attraction of the island, and we got lucky to get a spot on a Sunday’s excursion for beginners. She loved it so much we let her try another ride from another ranch. This time they let her ride a gentle Icelandic horse on her own, accompanied by us, and she took her along the dunes where Blicka the horse made a lot of grazing stops, but the animal loving Kid found her sweet and let her get along on her own pace.
2. Crab fishing in Texel
The Texel marina is like a paradise for active kids. They have a huge playground, a beach around the corner, and the water is rife with crabs. It’s also a bonus that there are always a lot of kids around. Within 5 minutes of mooring the boat, The Kid went with her fishing equipment and join a group of other children and effortlessly made friends. They got a respectable yield for the afternoon, but as always, they released them afterward (I think the crabs know this, and this is why they don’t mind being caught easily in exchange of the baits the children set out).
3. Mudwalking in Vlieland
The Wadden sea is a shallow sea heavily influenced by tides. During low tide, a huge area of the sea falls dry and becoming mudflats. This is also the perfect time to dip your feet into the shallow and soft mud and go sploshing around, keeping in mind that you’re actually walking on a sea bottom. The Kid loves to get herself muddy, and she will never refuse the opportunity to walk on the mudflats. During this time, one can also see many flat bottomed boats, designed to sail in exactly these waters, settle on the mud, their passenger climbed overboard and walk to the village on foot.
4. Bakery Museum in Medemblik
The Bakery Museum of Medemblik might not have the most fascinating subject to exhibit, but according to The Kid, it’s the best smelling museum ever, which makes it special.
The Bakery Museum (Het Bakkerijmuseum “De oude bakkerij”, in Dutch) is not on the islands, it is located in Medemblik, a halfway stopover on North Holland mainland before we head to the islands. In the museum, they bake breads, cakes, and chocolates the old fashioned way and kids are welcome to lend a hand and help out. Poor Kid, whose mum has got not an ounce of baking ability, always finds the place magical.
5. Makkum holiday park with Play Island and Petting Zoo, Friesland
We’re not usually a big fan on using marinas attached to holiday parks, especially in summer. In our experience, they’re usually crowded, located remotely (which means your only chance of eating out is their third-rate restaurants and snack bars), and the marina side of the business is not organised as well as it should be. But when we returned to the mainland after a long sailing day from Terschelling, and decided on Makkum Marina, we were pleasantly surprised. The marina itself is huge, but very well organised with water tap and electric sockets at each berth. The holiday park is nicely laid out, is close to the beach, and it’s got a lot of things for kids to do without additional fee. The Kid was thoroughly hooked on the place after she discovered a play island, designed like a pirate’s lair in the middle of the park. Being the animal lover that she is, she was also thrilled to find the petting zoo and its sweet-natured inhabitants (her favourite was the donkey).
Obviously, in the course of two weeks we did a lot more than five things; we cycled around the islands, we went around the dunes, we spent hours at the beach, we walked around the village’s cemetery and read out the grave stones. We encountered a music festival on one of the islands and let The Kid stayed up late to watch a performance until midnight. We lounged around in our boat and have cosy conversations; us three in our loyal boat.
We didn’t travel to an exotic location this summer, but I’m happy to say we had another memorable trip.