Back from the holidays on the beautiful Dutch island Ameland! It was our second time there, and we were curious if it had changed since 2005, but it hasn't.
Ameland is rather small, with about 3500 inhabitants and three villages. The island consists mostly of sanddunes. There are animals everywhere, wild and domesticated ones: About 60 different kinds of wild birds, horses, cows, sheep, dogs. Almost every house has cages with small animals like rabbits or carrier pigeons! The dunes are full of heather, sea buckthorn and sandwort.
Everybody explores the island by bike. The Dutch are famous for their bike "culture", and there are lots of rental outlets with a huge assortment of thousands of bikes. As you drive along the many cycling paths you come across kilometres of elder trees, wild blackberries and sea lavender.
In the 17 and 18 century, the speciality of the island was whaling. Reminders of this time still exist in the "commandeurs" (captains of whaling ships) houses, with tooth rows in stones at the upper front facade and their year of construction made out of iron anchors stuck into the facade.
To us, the language is a source of constant amusement. Dutch is a West Germanic language and closely related to both English and German. To a German speaking person a lot of words look like misspelt German words, such as Apfel, in Dutch appel, in English apple, Butter, boter, butter, or Fisch - vis - fish. Surely, the Dutch must experience the same fun.
The speed of life is very insular, that is, slow. You don't rush into the shop at 8 to get your morning paper. You go there at 9, maybe they will have unpacked it by then, maybe not. Once you've come to unwind from all the continental stress it's veeery relaxing.