This was the last day on Texel
and since we had to check out at 11:00 AM we slept a bit longer before packing our stuff. While having breakfast and going through some leaflets of activities on the island I noticed something disappointing. Seemingly Texel is still a bit of a traditional place where a lot of people don't work on Sunday. Not even for the tourist industry. As such, some of the things I had planned for today turned out to be closed ! Bummer ! Fortunately Texel has so many things to do for young and old, there's bound to be something that will not be closed today. And indeed I found something that looked like fun.
When we checked out hotel owner Walter had some more suggestions which I kept in mind and after chatting some more with him and his wife we really needed to go if we wanted to make something of the day.
We headed for Beach Pole 15 where an exhibition of sand sculpture could be found, just behind the dunes. This year the annual Dutch Sand Sculpture Festival
took place on Texel. I had seen footage of previous festivals before and it looked like something not to be missed. And it sure was impressive. Sand sculpture are made with just sand and water, although it must be said that you need a certain type of sand. The sand from the beach of Texel is not suitable for sculpturing since it doesn't 'stick together' well enough. The sand that is used actually comes from a sand extraction company from Cuijk
, a Dutch town where I used to work from 2000-2004 ! This river sand is more jagged than the eroded beach sand and therefore anything can be build by just adding water and using the right techniques (compressing sand into huge blocks and carving out the sculptures from top to bottom).
Minotaur's maze at Kreta.
Some of the sculptures on Texel were 12 meters high ! They are rain-resistant and can easily survive wind forces up to 7.
As mentioned the craftsmanship of these sand sculptures was excellent. I could fill many pages about each of the 16 groups of sculptures but the pictures in this blog should speak for itself. Suffice it to say that the theme of this years exhibition was Islands. Each of the 16 groups portrayed an island, either existing (like Easter Island, Madagascar, UK, Nova Zembla, Kreta, Texel, Alcatraz, Liberty Island, Elba and Bikini) or fictitious/mythological (Atlantis, Jurassic Park, Robinson Island, Treasure Island, Amoras and Fantasy Island).
After being baffled by the sculptures for an hour or two I noticed that we could still make the bird show at Eureka
Theseus and the Minotaur (Kreta).
At this otherwise mildly interesting bird and orchid garden a demonstration with birds of prey was taking place this afternoon. We made it just in time to catch the start of the show and the next 1,5 hour we we entertained by two trainers who told gave us lots of information about their birds and had them flying up and down the little demonstration field. I've always loved the absolute beauty of birds of prey and each one we got to see here had their own style and personality. First we were shown a fluffy little owlet, than two slightly older and noisier barn owls (Brutus and Ivo), a snow owl, a huge eagle owl (Miss M.), a dessert hawk (Zeus), a buzzard (Kirza) and the beautiful African eagle owl Noodle. Noodle however was more interested in the planes that were flying over than all of the treats that were offered.
After checking out the rest of the birds at Eureka we drove down to Den Burg
, Texel's capital town, where I was planning to buy some local beers and liquor to take home.
I could have known however that the local liquor store was closed. I didn't feel like driving all the way back to De Koog
, so instead we headed for the ferry back to the mainland. To my surprise the ferry was half an hour early and I found out that it was still running on it's high season timetable of 30 minutes instead of an hour. Great ! This meant that we had gained half an hour on our trip back home. Half an hour that we more than lost again when we got stuck in a traffic jam near Haarlem. We had left Den Burg around 16:00 hours and arrived home at 20:00 hours. Not all that bad really.
I can honestly say that - not counting the occasional moment when the boy's nagging drove me up the wall - I had an excellent time in Texel. We managed to do at least 2 interesting things per day and we could have continued for several more days if we wanted.
Robinson Crusoe's island.
The island has so much to offer and most of it is quality entertainment. I'm sure this will not be my last visit to Holland's biggest Island.