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den herraghty

Travelling to Texel

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Hi!

As promised here is the follow up to my recent Ameland report:-

I’m back in Leeuwarden ready to commence the second phase of this short break - the Texel ferry. At the start of planning for this section, I went for the lazy option and just looked on the Dutch Railways website (NS.nl) for the solution. The journey time to Den Helder would take about four and a half hours and require me to re-trace my steps all the way to Amsterdam Centraal for a connection. That’s not good – not good at all!

Second choice then would be by bus - how long would that take? Not long is the answer! Arriva operate most of the local bus and trains in Noord Holland so I paid a visit to their site. With one change I could be in Den Helder in 1 hour 45 minutes…sounds good. I double checked on the 9292.nl website (the Dutch equivalent of Traveline) and it confirmed this. My only concern was the one minute advertised connection – miss this and I would have an hour to wait in a bus station in a town I have never heard off  - hmmm! The one thing in my favour is that I’m not travelling in the UK and The Netherlands do integrated transport really rather well.

It nearly all went wrong much earlier than that – here in Leeuwaarden in fact!. Whilst topping up my OV-Chipkaart I noticed that my first bus – the 350 to Alkmaar – would leave in 20 minutes and not the 25 I expected. I checked the printed timetable at the stop and it said 16.15 also – not 16.10. My anticipated coffee and bite to eat was in jeopardy – further threatened by the festival crowd pouring out of the station as I was trying to get in. I made it though and we left on time - let the adventure begin.

This journey involves taking the Arriva 350 service to Alkmaar along a dijk to Den Oevers where I join a Connexxion 135 service to Den Helder. My uneasiness begins almost immediately as I cannot see ‘Den Oevers’ mentioned on the onboard electronic route display. The feeling grows as we turn of the main road and down some single tracks until we reach the bus station at the head of the dijk. Here we wait several minutes until four other buses arrive before setting off at some pace. It goes up another notch when, with five minutes to the connection, we get held up in a traffic jam at the end of the dijk…….. then the welcome voice announcing ‘Den Oevers busstation ‘ is heard – but would we still make it?  The ‘bus station’ in question consists of an abandoned office/waiting room; five bus stops on a tear-drop shaped piece of concrete; an inbound service 350 and … nothing else. Happily a two tone green bus appears a few minutes later and speeds me to Den Helder. A lot of worrying for nothing!

Safely arrived it’s time to find my hotel – the Lands’ End – located at the ferry port. It’s a good 20 minute walk although I deviate via the floating bridge, through the rejuvenated quayside area – now full of restaurants/coffee shops etc. – and part of the Royal Netherlands Navy Museum. Along the way there are the impressive sights of the superstructure of a Dutch frigate on shore and a Dutch submarine appearing out of the side of a building. I bet the Navigating Officer got into a lot of trouble for that! 

Carefully picking my way across the traffic lanes to the hotel I’m quickly checked in and find my room. As a single traveller I’m used to being allocated inferior rooms (overlooking air conditioning units/car parks etc) so I am extremely pleased to find I have a stunning view over the Texel Sound and, more importantly, can almost touch the TESO ferries as they sail!

Saturday 18th August

Following a very good nights sleep - and breakfast on a terrace looking out at a ferry seemingly steaming straight at you! - it’s a short walk past the double deck vehicle infrastructure to the terminal building and the automated passenger ticket machines. These pointedly refuse both my debit and credit card as payment – however there is a manned desk for groups and the friendly assistant there has no problem in relieving me of € 2.50 (return) for the 20 minute sailing. (My local ferry – Gosport Ferry now charge £ 3.60 return for a 4 minute sailing!)

Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming (thankfully shortened to TESO) was founded in 1907 by Dr. Adriaan Wagemaker the islands’ General Practitioner. The company has grown over the intervening years and now operate the ‘TEXELSTROOM’ (the current flagship) and ‘DOKTER WAGEMAKER (2)’ on this short twenty minute crossing. The company has a third vessel ‘SCHULPENGAT’ which is currently laid up at ’t Horntje on the southern tip of the island where the vessels dock. ‘DW’ does not display the (2) suffix.

During peak periods the company operates every thirty minutes at :00 and :30 from both ports, reverting to an hourly :30 ex Den Helder and :00 from Texel when quieter – these being operated, normally, by ‘TEXELSTROOM’. Today I’m looking forward to my first trip on ‘DOKTER WAGEMAKER’ operating the 10.00 sailing. It’s  Saturday in high summer so naturally the sailing is busy but the vessel has no trouble in swallowing the mass of cars, cyclists and (not so many) footies in it’s ten minute turn round.

Once on board, and up a set of stairs, to the main passenger lounge I find myself more excited than I should be. I mean – it’s not my first ferry for goodness sake – but it is my first revolving door on a ferry. YES you did read ‘revolving door’ and ‘ferry’ in one sentence! Actually there are four of them in all leading into the large passenger area which has plenty of natural light, provided by both the large windows and the glass atrium amidships. It’s here that the catering facilities for the 1700 possible passengers are located (port side on this crossing) consisting of two self service counters separated by a small shop area. Available here are the usual items – postcards, Texel mementos, confectionery and models of ‘TEXELSTROOM’ but not this ship.

My departure beer became a post departure one – we had already sailed while I was looking at the shop – and I had exploring to do. Heading forward there’s ample seating around tables on both sides, with additional seating in the middle as you head towards the large panoramic windows at the front. The bench style seating here is thoughtfully staggered so everyone gets a view. By the time I had done all of this we were already approaching Texel and the thought struck me that “if it has taken me this long on the smaller vessel, would I have time to do everything on her bigger running mate?” The recorded announcement informed foot passengers to disembark via the right hand side if they required bus transportation – so I headed over to the exit which is when this happened: Dogs are freely allowed (on a leash) in the passenger lounge and I had witnessed several sniffing the decks during the crossing. One dog duly did so and, seemingly overcome with excitement, decided to do a wee as the door was in mid revolve! Cue one embarrassed owner and several passengers stepping carefully.

Safely alongside the automatic doors open and it’s off down the stairs to the bus stance. Here Texelhopper offers two types of service – the scheduled line 28 (normal size bus) and the pre-bookable mini bus service. Line 28 serves Den Burg (the islands capital) and De Koog which is a popular holiday spot on the North coast of the island. It takes about 10 minutes to reach Den Burg bus stand and a few minutes walk in to the centre. This is much larger than Nes with a better selection of shops (including national chains) and a full range of restaurants/cafes. One of the most interesting things was some of the buildings had their build date in wrought iron on the outside- some of them dated back to the early 1600’s. It is also very busy but I eventually find somewhere to eat, have a beer and people watch. This is when I realise that there is something different here – hardly any of the men wear beards!  They’re everywhere in the UK – but here (and I continued my observations all the way to Schiphol) they are few and far between.

I return to ’t Horntje in plenty of time for the arrival of the ‘TEXELSTROOM’ for her 15.00 sailing. It’s turned a little bit autumnal in the last hour or so and there’s a stiff breeze blowing. Despite this, and her size, she berths easily and I’m at the front of the queue for boarding as I reckon I’ll need every second on board to look round.

I know she is big – but wow! If I peer hard enough I can just about see the windows at the other end. Okay just a little bit of exaggeration – but honestly just a little. The cafes are to starboard this time and are larger than on ‘DOKTER WAGEMAKER’. There’s no dedicated shop here but the customary items are displayed along the divider between the servery area and the main lounge. Yet again my beer is a post departure one as we’ve loaded and sailed in the length of time it’s taken me to get halfway along the ship. As before there is a light and airy feel on board – but I didn’t notice an atrium. Before long we’re approaching Den Helder and the free bus to the station and my onward train to Schiphol

My only disappointment of the day was at Schiphol where I discovered that my eagerly anticipated flight on a PrivatAir aircraft would not happen as it had gone technical and been substituted by a BA one – meh!

Summary

All in all it’s been a good trip. Four new ferries, one new island, lots of postcards, good food and weather. With hindsight, whilst writing this report, I think I should have done a round trip on each of the vessels so that a better overview could have been given. It does give you an excuse, however, to go and try the ships for yourself. If you do stay at the Lands’ End make sure you take a camera as there are some fantastic photo opportunities to be had.

Travel Information

The easiest way to travel is using an OV-Chipkaart, which is a nationwide touch in/out card (think  Oyster but on a larger scale) and available at any NS station for a cost of € 7.50. Most buses don’t accept cash – but will take debit/credit cards. On that subject I had some refusals with my Visa card in a couple of places so take a back up.

I used the following sites for planning:-

NS.nl;  Arriva,nl;  9292.nl; wpd.nl; teso.nl

They all have pages in English but I found the Arriva site didn’t function as it should.

I hope you have enjoyed this bit of rambling on! As always – comments and questions are welcome

Den

 

 

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Thanks for the two reports Den. Do you have any photos of the vessels taken or ports visited so that those of us unfamiliar with the region can visualise what you have been describing? Ed. 

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I agree they are two great reports.  The Friesian Islands are probably the most scenic part of The Netherlands and well worth a visit if you get the chance.  We sailed there a few years ago and had a great time.  Vlieland was our favourite - barbeque on the beach and cycle round the island.  As with all of the NL, a bike is a useful thing to have with you.

Thanks for posting Dan.

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22 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

Thanks for the two reports Den. Do you have any photos of the vessels taken or ports visited so that those of us unfamiliar with the region can visualise what you have been describing? Ed. 

 

22 hours ago, Gareth said:

I agree they are two great reports.  The Friesian Islands are probably the most scenic part of The Netherlands and well worth a visit if you get the chance.  We sailed there a few years ago and had a great time.  Vlieland was our favourite - barbeque on the beach and cycle round the island.  As with all of the NL, a bike is a useful thing to have with you.

Thanks for posting Dan.

Thank you very much guys - I really appreciate both of you taking time to comment (and those who liked).

Ed - unforunately not. I've yet to drag myself into the smart phone age. I've taken your very welcome comment onboard and future reports will have some.

 

Den

Edited by den herraghty
Double quote included.
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Cabin Boy

A quick update - I also post on the Ships of CalMac Forum and StewartM on there very kindly let me use these links which might give you a better idea of 'TEXELSTROOM':-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rKOm2QxQ8E&t=

https://www.shippingtandy.com/features/texelstroom/

In the video - when the reporter is interviewing by the tree - that is roughly half way down the vessel so lookng into the background might give you an idea how big she is.(Hope you're fluent in Dutch!)

Den

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Niet echt, maar ik ben bereid om te leren.

Thanks for that. As I suspected they look a bit like the Staten Island ferries. The loading and unloading is model for speed and efficiency. Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy
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