A Magnificent Sunset at the Beach of Texel

Sunset at the beach of Texel

September last year I visited Texel for the first time. It was for business reasons: Visiting NIOZ, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. I stayed overnight at Hotel Lindeboom in Den Burg. After visiting Vlieland, Ameland and Terschelling, I was a bit disappointed: the sea was too far away to walk from my hotel to the beach. So, I visited the Oudheidkamer Den Burg, Texel. It makes you realise that even basic healthcare is not trivial on an island.

After discussing my disappointment with friends they suggested us to go to De Koog and to rent a bike. So, in October we took the train to Den Helder (there is really no need to take a car to Texel). From the railway station there a direct bus to the boat and from there another bus to our hotel: Hotel Greenside.

We arrived late in the afternoon. The first thing we did was pick up our bikes and go to the beach. We were just in time for a magnificent sunset (see on top and below). It was a perfect gift after a day traveling.

Sunset at the beach of Texel
Lighthouse of Texel

The next day we visited several places on the island by electric bike. The red lighthouse up north on the island (see on the right), a small village called De Cocksdorp on the Waddenzee-side of the island, for an excellent lunch, and De Slufter, a natural hole in the dunes (see below).

De Slufter is a salt marsh, which is the result of an opening in the dunes. The lower parts get flooded every high tide, only with strong western wind and high tide, also the higher parts get flooded. Below you see the opening in the dunes and the higher and lower parts of the marsh.

De Slufter

After my initial disappointment, I really fell in love with Texel. It is the largest island of the Waddenzee, so please rent an e-bike.

Hiking near Grindelwald

The previous post mentioned our stay in Grindelwald and the visit to Jungfraujoch. This post focuses on hiking near Grindelwald.

One of our first hikes was an easy one. We took Bus 128 from the railway station of Grindelwald to Alpenvogelpark (on the map below, on the right). Our hike on the slope of Schwarzhorn started with a magnificent view of the mountain Mittelhorn. From there we walked almost 5 km to Bort, a ski lift station in between Grindelwald and First. It was small climb from 1405 to 1630 meters. After that we took the ski lift back to Grindelwald and had dinner at CundM, upstairs (excellent meals).

From Alpenvogelpark to Bort

The second hike was also on the slope of the Schwarzhorn only a bit higher. Now we took the bus all the way to Grosse Scheidegg (on the map below, on the right, 1960m). After 6km we reached the highest point at First, a large ski lift station at 2180m. On the way and also at First we had the most amazing views. All pictures were taken with my iPhone X (I did not want to carry my Nikon D800). From there we took the ski lift down to Grindelwald.

From Grosse Scheidegg to First

The last hike took us to Berghaus Bäregg (1770m). First we took Luftseilbahn Grindelwald Pfingstegg to our starting point at the slope of the Mättenberg at 1400m (in the map below, halfway on the right). We followed the head waters of the river Lütschine (deep down). Looking back we had a splendid view of Grindelwald spread out in the valley.

The last climb to Berghaus Bäregg was quite steep and the sun was burning. We really needed a refreshment to recover from that. From the balcony of the restaurant we could see the Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher. Later on we heard that in the early 20th century the glacier would come down all the way to the village. On the way back we were too late to take the Luftseilbahn, so we had to walk back all the way to the valley (1000m). In total we walked almost 10km.

Via Pfingstegg to Bäregg and back to Grindelwald

We really enjoyed the various hikes, and there are still many to be discovered by us. Although the area is expensive it is high on our list for a second visit.

Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch

About a year ago I watched a TV-program about trains in Switzerland. They mentioned Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch, the highest European railway station. It attracted my attention and searching on the web I found many hiking trails around Grindelwald. So, we decided to go there. We stayed in a chalet near the railway station Schwendi bei Grindelwald, one stop away from the center of Grindelwald.

Eiger

On arrival we were impressed by mountain Eiger, one of the 4K-mountains near Grindelwald. On the right a view from our chalet. As a matter of fact, Grindelwald is surrounded by quite a few other mountains. Just to name a few: Wetterhorn, Faulhorn, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

After a couple of days we decided to go to Jungfraujoch. You can go there by train via Kleine Scheidegg, where you have to change trains. We were definitely not the only ones. We never thought about seat reservations. A consequence was that we had to stand in line for a long time before making the final track from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch.

Jungfraujoch

Upon arrival at Jungfraujoch you see this magnificent view of eternal snow (in the middle of summer). Jungfraujoch is like a saddle connecting the mountains Jungfraujoch and Mönch at an elevation of 3466 meters. To be part of this we went outside. The view from Jungfraujoch is fantastic.

Here are some of the pictures I took that were accepted by Dreamstime.

To get an impression of my gear: Peak Design Everyday Backpack with Capture to carry my camera: Nikon D800 with Nikkor 28-300mm lens. As you can see, it was cold, sunny, and slippery. However, it was very much worthwhile to take these pictures. I really enjoyed it.

Below you see the map around Jungfraujoch (indicated by the camera marker) in between the mountains Jungfrau (4158m) and Mönch (4107m). In the upper part you can still see the Eiger.


All pictures of Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch are available at Dreamstime:

Foto van de Week: De Pier bij Scheveningen

Regelmatig vertel ik het verhaal achter een foto uit mijn collectie. Als je belangstelling voor een van deze foto’s hebt, mail mij dan even.

Deze keer gaat het over de iconische Pier bij Scheveningen. Het is een toeristische attractie en er zijn al veel foto’s van De Pier gemaakt. Elke keer wanneer ik in Den Haag ben ga ik naar Scheveningen om foto’s van die pier te maken, bij voorkeur bij zonsondergang. Hiernaast een foto genomen van de zuidkant. Iemand heeft deze foto als behang besteld bij Werk aan de Muur voor zijn of haar kantoor.

Wat speciaal aan deze foto is, is de reflectie van de wolken in het rustige water en de zachte kleuren van zonsondergang. Door de reflectie in het water en de meeuwen gaan de ogen van de kijker van dichtbij naar de verder gelegen pier en terug. De lege ruimte in het onderste deel van de foto geeft ook veel vrijheid aan de ogen. Daardoor verveelt de foto niet gauw.

De foto is in 2013 genomen met een Nikon D700 met de 16-35mm zoomlens: brandpunt 35mm en diafragma f/8; sluitertijd 1/320 en ISO 200. De snelle sluitertijd had ik nodig ivm de meeuwen en de golven. Inmiddels is het Reuzenrad erbij gebouwd (een Instagram-volger wees me daarop; was ik vergeten, is er al sinds 2016).

Hier een meer recentere foto genomen van de noordkant van De Pier met een mooie, rode, oranje zonsondergang. Deze foto is in 2019 genomen met een Nikon D800 met de 28-300mm zoomlens: brandpunt 78mm en diafragma f/6.3; sluitertijd 1/160 en ISO 100. De diepte is heel beperkt dus kon ik een groter diafragma gebruiken zodat de sensor voldoende licht zou krijgen. Ondanks het gebrek aan diepte ten opzichte van de eerste foto is het kleurenspel met De Pier en het Reuzenrad als silhouet boeiend voor het oog.

Misschien vind je het leuk om naar de vorige Foto’s van de Week te kijken. Je kunt onderstaande foto ook bij Werk aan de Muur kopen.

Short visit to Finland

Our short short visit Finland started of course in Helsinki. It was late May and we had wonderful weather, although it was a bit chilly. From the main railway station in Helsinki we walked to the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral, the White Cathedral. The building is really impressive, especially when viewed from the lower stairs. When we were there, a group was rehearsing for a music concert for the evening. A big stage right in front of the building made it a bit challenging to take pictures.

White Cathedral

As you can see the white building against a blue sky gives a really nice picture. By the way, this picture has been sold via Dreamstime. After that we continued our walk to the Uspenski Cathedral, the Red Cathedral.

Red Cathedral

Helsinki is a very nice place to visit: impressive buildings, the harbour, a lot of green. Not an average capital of a large country.

Time to explore nature. In Finland they have a lot: an enormous number of lakes and many woods. Nuuksio National Park is a nice example of the wonderful nature of Finland. However, it is close to Helsinki, which means that is also attracts many tourists.

Lake in Nuuksio National Park north of Helsinki

Our next stop was the cottage of friends in the neighbourhood of Lappeenranta at the largest lake of Finland: Saimaa Lake. The Finnish really enjoy nature and silence. Below the view from the cottage during sunset.

Sunset at Saimaa, largest lake of Finland, near Lappeenranta

Our short visit to Finland was wonderful. We really enjoyed being part of the beautiful nature.

All pictures in this blog were accepted by Dreamstime.

Stormy weather on Dutch coast

Waves during storm at Scheveningen

For business reasons I had to go to a meeting early in the morning in The Hague. So, I decided to go the day before. As it turned out, a heavy western storm was expected for that day. A reason the more to leave for Scheveningen earlier than originally planned.

When I arrived at the boulevard in Scheveningen near the pier, I realized how strong the storm was (8+ Bft). There were just a few people on the beach and I could not see any boats.  The waves were impressive for Dutch standards. 

Pier at Scheveningen

First I took some shots of the pier, with the waves splashing against the supporting pillars. It turns out that there was a lot of foam, so in seconds my camera and my lens were covered with the remains of foam. So, I decided to go to the upperdeck of the pier. 

Waves splashing against supporting pillars

Looking at my pictures I noticed a couple of things. The power of the sea, the wind pushing me away all the time, the sounds was lacking in my pictures. Therefore, I made a couple of videos with my iPhone. Below you see one of them.

They look much better, however, it still looks like a storm in a glass of water, in a confined, shallow frame. Also, zooming in both with the camera and the iPhone compresses the whole scene, making it very shallow. So, it does not give the feeling of being part of it.

Waves during stormy weather

To experiment, I went to the front of the pier to take a picture where the water below me and the horizon were sharp (wide angle and large depth-of-field). Here it was really stormy and the wind was really unpredictable, my camera was shaking in all directions (fast shutter speed). Because of all this I chose for zoomlens at 28mm, aperture f/9, shutter speed 1/640sec, and ISO 320. It gives you a better feeling of being part of it. 

Wide-angle view of the incoming waves

At home, I was a bit disappointed in the raw pictures: too white, no contrast, and too flat. So, I did quite a bit of processing: added a bit of light, added a lot of contrast, lowered the highlights a bit, added a lot of black, and added some blue, and sharpened the image. You can see the result in the one above. 

“Het Oerd” on Ameland

Beach near lighthouse

It seems that this year the islands in the Waddenzee are my favourite holiday destination. After Vlieland (twice) and Terschelling, we visited Ameland together with friends. After arrival we picked up our bikes (regular bikes). It turned out that our friends had hired e-bikes, so after the first day —we took a ride through the hilly dunes—we changed our regular bikes for e-bikes as well. Ameland with its magnificent dunes is hilly and it is of course always windy. A good reason to hire e-bikes. 

The second day we explored by bike the western part of Ameland: the dunes along the North Sea, the beach near the lighthouse (some of us went swimming), the village Hollum, and the tidal mud flat (“Het Wad”) on the southern side. 

The tidal mud flat, called “Het Wad”

The third day we walked along the North Sea beach, where we enjoyed the cloudy scenery: ranging from white to dark grey clouds with a deep blue sky. Really beautiful. After the hike we took the bike to the village Buren to have lunch.

Clouds above the North Sea

The last day we went to an area called “Het Oerd”, which is on the eastern side of the island. We biked all the way to the “Oerdblinkert”, which is the highest dune (+24 meters). Below are all the pictures I took at Ameland that are accepted by Dreamstime.

 

Our dinner highlight was Het Witte Paard in Nes, a cousy restaurant that serves excellent food.

Before going to the islands I thought they would all be more or less the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. After this week, Ameland has become one of my favourite islands. 

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Hiking around Tubbergen

Tubbergen

Last week I decided to hike in the neighbourhood of Tubbergen, a small village in the eastern part of the Netherlands. On this hiking website for the region Twente I found a nice hike, called Schultenwolde; a little bit more than 10 kilometers.

Before leaving home I downloaded the GPX file and uploaded it to my Komoot website. I always use the Komoot app to get directions, to record my GPS track, and to match the pictures I take with my iPhone with my hike. The Komoot app on my iPhone gives me spoken directions in English and the directions are also visible on my Apple Watch. So, it is next to impossible to get lost.

 

The first part of the hike took me along a small creek, called Markgraven.

Markgraven

The weather was perfect, not too hot, a bit windy, and nice big white clouds posted against a deep blue sky. The nice thing about the hike is that the part along the creek is not on paved roads, the Komoot app calls it off grid.

On the way back I walked through the fields around Tubbergen. As you can see it has been an extremely dry summer. On the horizon you can see the upper part of the tower of the Saint Pancratius Basilica in Tubbergen.

Fields around Tubbergen, the Netherlands,
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

While entering the village I took the picture at the top of this post. Being back in the village I decided to take some pictures of the basilica. The upper part of the tower of the Saint Pancratius Basilica was renovated about 40 years ago (the bricks are a bit lighter). 

Saint Pancratius Basilica in Tubbergen, the Netherlands
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here two more pictures of the church at Dreamstime: Pancratius from the front left and Pancratius from the front right.

Thumbs up for this hike and this village.

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Sailing trip Waddenzee

31 foot sailboat

With a group of 4 we left the Noorderhaven in Harlingen a quarter past 6 in the morning heading for Terschelling. Actually we had to leave two hours after high tide to take full advantage of the pulling effect of the water when the water leaves the Waddenzee. Above you see the 31 footer and a short video of the beautiful colours of the sunrise: Sunrise Noorderhaven

The Waddenzee is a unique part of the North Sea. During high tide it just looks like a regular sea, during low tide many sandbanks pop up. The Dutch part is surrounded by the northern mainland of the Netherlands and a number of smaller islands. During this trip we visited Terschelling and Vlieland. With a sailboat with a keel of 1.5 meters we had to stick to the groove from Harlingen to the islands. Below you see that we could not go directly form Harlingen to Terschelling. We used an app of Navionics on our iPhones to see where the sandbanks are.

Tracks of three days: Harlingen to Terschelling red; Terschelling to Vlieland white; Vlieland to Harlingen yellow

During the first two days there was sometimes insufficient wind to sail against the tide. So we had to use the engine. You can actually see that during cross sailing the tide pushed us back to where we had been before. It took us 10 hours to reach Terschelling.

The next day we went to Vlieland. To enter the harbour of Vlieland we had to go further north to the North Sea which starts between the two islands. We could immediately feel the slow swell of the waves, in contrast to the shorter waves of the Waddenzee. On the way we saw many seals. 

The third day we had a nice northern wind which took us all the way to Harlingen. Again we had to cross the groove a couple of times. As you can see in the pictures we had to be aware of ferry boats going back and forth between the mainland and the island. They go very fast so we continuously had to check our speed and course.

Although I have been to Vlieland by ferry boat several times, making the trip by sailboat made me aware of the uniqueness of the Waddenzee. 

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Visiting Elx and discovering palm trees

 

During our stay in Alicante we visited some surrounding cities, one of them was Elx or Elche. Via Santa Pola we took the bus to Elx.

Municipal Park Elx

Without a specific plan we walked to a major park close by. It turned out to be the Municipal Park, where I found the amphitheater, and in the rear a pigeon tower.

Amphitheater and Pigeon Tower in Elx
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

After that we took a tour through the city by tourism miniature train. During this tour we found out what Elx is famous for: palm trees. During the Arabic reign of Spain these palm trees were imported. It is estimated that currently there are 200,000 to 300,000 palm trees in the area of Elx. It is really unique in Europe to have so many palm trees together. In November 2000, Elx was elected the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site.

Botanic garden Huerto del Cura in Elx
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Then we decided to continue our discovery of Elx by going to the botanic garden called Huerto del Cura (garden of the priest), located in the older parts of Elx. It is a relative small orchard, however, packed with many exclusive palm trees, cactus, and other plants. I took quite a few pictures there, which you can find below and here. Some of these pictures were taken in Manual mode, like the one below, because there was not enough light to work with Aperture mode, resulting in a slightly higher ISO.

Cactus in Huerto del Cura

During a break I also managed to take a picture of the Basilica of Elx. Although it was not the right time of the day because of the very bright sun coming from the right. I wanted to take a picture standing more on the left of the church, however, this was impossible because  of the overwhelming sun behind the tower. So, I had to settle for this one.

Basilica Saint Mary in Elx
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Late in the afternoon we had an excellent lunch in an Italian restaurant called Ristorante Gourmet. Looking back, Elx gave us a lot more than we expected. It is definitely worthwhile to visit.

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