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Where would we be without day trips? I have been trying to take more day trips when I go away lately. For one thing, a day trip means you planned well, and have a free day to go somewhere in addition to where you are staying. In the past, I have used this free day to go to a different country. Now I have a rule: Day trips must be reachable by train, and in under 90 minutes. I didn’t quite honor that limit, since it took 30 minutes (by bike) to reach the bus (45 minutes) from Medemblik to Hoorn to get the train (an hour) to the ferry in Den Helder (only about $3 round-trip). This was quite stupid, since with the connections it ended up taking about four hours, and this made me hungry and sad. Luckily, the weather was lovely, so I rallied, after eating a bag of candy from a vending machine. And once I got to the ferry, everything moved apace, since it’s just a 20-minute trip. Texel has an amazing history. It had a kind of Hamptons-y vibe the day I was there (think: luxury SUVs with kayaks on the roof), but it’s the kind of the place you see in BBC history documentaries. The last battle of World War II in Europe took place on Texel, when a battalion of captured Georgian soldiers, ostensibly serving the Nazis, rose up and overthrew them, basically killing any German they came across with the help of members of the Dutch resistance. The Germans counter-attacked, putting down the revolt and making the Georgians dig their own graves before executing them, which sounds like the penultimate scene in a Quentin Tarantino movie but actually happened. Germany surrendered in the Netherlands on May 4th—except on Texel, where the fighting lasted for over two more weeks, until Canadian forces arrived to mop up. There’s not much left of the war stuff, except for a memorial to the Georgian soldiers in Den Burg, Texel’s biggest town. What’s left is an island of, as they say, “staggering natural beauty.” I would advise ignoring the itinerary I actually took (which involved taking a bus from the ferry port to Den Burg, and then being told by a sales clerk that there was no way around renting a bike without my passport, including buying the bike outright, and then taking the bus back to the port, where a very nice man let me rent a bike for the day for 10 euros, no ID required.) This gave me about two hours to bike around the island. It was heavenly. This being the Netherlands, there was a well-marked system of paths designed especially for bikes, so I first went through the dune-y part of the national park, only to dead-end at a naval installation. Then I headed north to the beaches. Because I had wasted so much time exploring Texel’s geographically comprehensive but sporadic bus service, I didn’t have a chance to see a few things I would have liked, including Ecomare—an animal center with seals(!)—or to have a proper sit-down at one of the beach side restaurants. This meant that all I did was bike around and take photos. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon! Diane VadinoReport this story