Ameland Revisited

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.


Lydia said...

I love this post, Francessa! The photos are wonderful. I was truly shocked by the whale tooth fence and needed the joy of the white ducks at the wall of shoes to brighten my spirits. I think I would love this place. Sea lavender, all those animals, a slow pace of living...that sounds so fantastic. I feel refreshed just from looking at your post.

francessa said...

Yes, Lydia, isn't it beautiful? But no need to be shocked - there are no whale bone fences any longer,the tooth rows on the houses are made of stone and the fences are just wooden ones. I think there's just one house on the island with whalebones.

Glad, I brought you a little relaxation! :-)

Hattie said...

Francesa: I want to go there. I love the idea of animals everywhere and people on bikes. It looks idyllic. Me for the surf en turf.
Dutch does crack me up, since English is my first language and German my second. I get the same strange sensations when I hear people speaking Swedish or Norwegian, as if I should understand it but don't.

francessa said...

Hattie, you should, you'd love it!
As for the language, with your background you'd likely understand almost everything written, and a lot of the spoken language. I've heard some Swedish and Norwegian, but couldn't make any sense of it. Dutch is definitely our next relative.:-)

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