Saturday, May 13, 2023, in the Netherlands on day 3 (day 12 of my trip).
I had discussed with my friend that I wanted to go somewhere new and do something significant, likely distant from Rotterdam. I had long wanted to visit one of the Dutch islands that curves the country’s border in the North Sea from the area north of Amsterdam to Germany. The largest and easiest to visit one is Texel Island.
We left the house at around 8 AM to cycle to Rotterdam Centraal and ride the Intercity Direct train, with our bicycles, to Amsterdam Centraal station, where we changed to an Intercity train to Den Helder, a city at the tip of the Dutch mainland north of Amsterdam. The train arrived in Den Helder at 11 AM, where we picked up some snacks and cold sandwiches at Albert Heijn (the largest supermarket chain in the country), and rode over to the TESO ferry’s terminal.
Like many other ferries in the world, tickets are purchased only in one direction because of the assumption that you’re going to use the ferry to return (and Texel Island has no road crossings so a boat is the main way on and off). Another neat thing about this ferry is that pedestrians and bicycles are able to disembark and board simultaneously because outgoing bicycles are parked only on the right side of the boat and there is a one-way on and one-way off system for pedestrians and bicycles.
On the ferry
I wasn’t prepared to board this ferry. After we parked our bicycles in the designated area and went upstairs to the cabin I was floored at the cruise ship-like appearance. There was a self-service café, enormous bathrooms, a children’s play area, artificial trees, and a variety of seating options – single seats, seats with tables, couches to look out the side and couches to look out the front.
After inspecting the map of cycle routes on the island my friend and I decided to ride around the whole island clockwise. (An advantage of riding clockwise that day was to have a tailwind in the second half of the journey, when we would be tired.)
On the island…
…we saw everything.
- Scottish Highlander cattle
- tons and tons of e-bikes – I think that acoustic bikes were in the minority!
- a lighthouse
- beach cabanas
- sea protection walls
- passed through the towns of De Koog and De Cocksdorp
According to the tracking I did on Strava we rode 37.6 miles.
On the return ferry my friend consulted the NS Travel Planner app to figure out the best itinerary of trains back to Rotterdam, as well as to figure out the time between the ferry’s arrival and the next train’s departure. It would be close, he said. We would need to exceed the Google Maps estimate of cycling time between the terminal and the station. And, he said, it’s likely that other people with bikes on this ferry also want to take the train and Dutch trains have a very small amount of space for bikes.
We cycled fast, and we made it onto the train about two minutes before departure. At Zaandam we changed to a Sprinter to Hoofddorp via Amsterdam Schiphol airport and at the airport station we changed to an (older) Intercity Direct train to Rotterdam. (The Intercity Direct train we took from Rotterdam in the morning was the new ICNG – next generation – set, and these trains have space for more bikes.)